Dungeon Punks is an upcoming team fighting game and is out this week. We loved the look and style of the game, so we caught up with Hyper Awesome Entertainment’s co-founder, Dan Goldstein, to find out more.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Can you tell us a little bit about your studio and how you got into developing games?
It’s my pleasure! I love seeing the incredible vibrancy of the PS Vita community – it’s been just amazing to watch. While in development we honestly didn’t realize what an dedicated set of fans were using the Vita, but we sure do now!
My brother Josh and I grew up loving everything about games – for C64, PC, Amiga, Consoles, in the arcade, you name it. There was just something that moved us about them, and the 80’s and 90’s were such an incredible time of development and innovation. New really unique kinds of games were coming out all the time and it was fantastic being able to experience that kind of constant wave of brand new ideas.
Out of college I started a game company that nearly immediately failed, but that didn’t deter me from wanting to work on games! If anything, it was the opposite. I worked on MMORPG’s for Turbine for a bit, then Josh and I started working on our own new projects. We made series of multiplayer web games that were featured all over the internet. The best known one was probably Kung Fu Chess, which won the Independent Games Festival’s Audience Choice Award. It was a realtime-strategy (RTS) genre take on the classic game of Chess, in which your pieces take time to move across the board and you never had to wait your turn because you can move all of them at once!
Josh and I did a bunch of things afterward, including starting a games advertising company, but we always wanted to get back to developing new game ideas. And we did, with a large-scale web MMO called Shadowtale. Dungeon Punks is the evolution of our ideas on the brawler and RPG genres that started with Shadowtale and matured over a period of about eight years.
We are here to talk about your upcoming title, Dungeon Punks. What is it about?
Ultimately, Dungeon Punks is about mastering a deep real-time fighting system while enjoying a wild romp through a series of crazy mayhem-filled adventures. You’re in charge of a growing party of up to six unusual heroes. And each hero features his or her own special set of upgradeable magical spells and special moves.
There’s a great and unusual story that we’re very proud of as well. And non-linear explorable dungeons with side quests to give you plenty to do on your adventures. Basically, if you’re looking for an action RPG experience that has a very funny and unique story and deep meticulously crafted gameplay, you’ve come to the right place.
What was the inspiration behind Dungeon Punks?
As teenagers, we went to the arcades all the time. And the 90’s was a time when just an incredible number of brawlers and fighting games were hitting the arcades. Whenever there was a new machine we would figure out how to get there somehow, whether it was a deli, a tiny hole in the wall pizza place, or an amusement park. Playing these together was just an absolute blast. There’s something about the camaraderie and sense of adventure when you’re exploring a new virtual world together that just can’t be beat.
More recently, we tried to find an experience online or on consoles that would give us this same awesome feeling. And we just couldn’t find one that felt the same to us. So we wanted to make a game that would let us have that experience again, but lengthen it and make it deep and compelling for hours. We spent nearly five years working on Dungeon Punks trying to recapture that feeling, and after thousands of different experiments, testing, and hard work, we finally felt that we had succeeded and were ready to put it out.
What gameplay mechanics can gamers expect to encounter when playing?
The tag-team fighting system is a really key part of the game. As you place these heroes into teams of two, they function like they would in arcade fighting games like Marvel vs. Capcom. So you can string together combos in whatever fashion you choose, for example turning your Tempest Knight into a whirlwind to suck up a bunch of nearby enemies, jumping in with your Lezen Warrior, rolling through the storm and doing a backflip to blast the entire ensemble with lightning. The set of possibilities is huge, and allows you to develop your own unique play-style.
One of the last things that got changed right at the end of development was our system of rideable mounts. And we’re very happy with where they ended up. Each mount has its own set of two attack moves, but while you’re riding one you can also swing your own weapon to smash monsters. So it creates this amazing controlled chaos where you’re riding a laser shooting unicorn, goring bad guys with your horn while galloping across the screen and swinging your sword wildly at the same time.
And there’s lots more, from customizing your heroes’ spells to choosing the right equipment, exploring the world, and using your enemies attacks against them. The game is very accessible, but it has a lot of layers, and the more you play the more is there for you to discover.
How much is there to see and do in the game?
There are twelve totally visually distinct areas, each with its own traps and dangers. Our estimate is that it takes over 12 hours to get through the main campaign, and then another 15 on New Game+ mode. We tried to keep everything really varied, so that there’s always something new around the corner. We have just an immense number of monster types! And to really master every one of the six heroes and their interactions together you’ll have a lot of fun experimentation to do. Keeping the gameplay and experience fresh was really important to us, so you’ll constantly encounter new kinds of creatures, items, quests, rideable mounts, traps, interactive environments, bosses, mini-bosses, and more.
Will the game work on the PSTV?
Yes! And not only that, but you can actually hook up three wireless controllers to your system and play co-op or PvP just like on PS4! I have a PSTV at home, and those modes are just awesome on it. It’s amazing what such a tiny and inexpensive device can do. We’re really glad we got to add support for it.
By the way, it’s a cross-buy title, so if you purchase it for PS Vita you’ll be able to download the PS4 version for free, too. If you do get to play on PSTV or PS4, the PvP Joust mode adds a whole other layer of replayable fun with your friends.
Can you tell us something new about the game?
There are three very cool levels that didn’t quite end up making it into the final game. Right now Alex is sitting across from me playing around with some ideas for our indoor/outdoor snow castle area! We’re still looking into what we can do with these, and whether there are some fun new experiences we can bring players of Dungeon Punks going forwards, through DLC or otherwise. There are a lot of cool possibilities, including the potential for procedurally generated dungeons!
What made you want to bring the game to the Vita?
Well first of all, we ourselves own Vita systems. Being able to take a game on the go with you when riding the subway, hanging out in the park, or whatever, is just great. And it’s got so many great titles, especially indie ones. When talking to Sony, they were incredibly positive about Vita. And even though the game wasn’t originally designed for it, after some early experiments, it seemed like it would be doable to fit the game on there and have it be really great.
What do you think of the Vita as a system? Have any games stood out to you?
It’s been really great seeing all these games that have been on Steam come to Vita. To us, that’s maybe it’s strongest point in terms of its library. Taking games like Super Time Force Ultra on the go is something we didn’t expect, and is just plain awesome.
Of the two Vita models, the Slim and the OLED which do you think is best?
Man that’s a tough one. The OLED screen is something really special. But I think in this case form factor wins for me. So I say Slim! It’s just way more comfortable.
We would like to thank Dan for his time and Ami from lvl Up Marketing for arranging the interview. Dungeon Punks is released from today and we will have a review for you very soon!
This article first appeared in the August issue of Vitamag. Look out for more exclusive and magazine first content in the magazine soon!
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