Roguelite deckbuilder Dicey Dungeons surprise-launched on Swap in the midst of December and has been holding us busy over the vacations with its addictive mix of eye-catching artwork, cheeky humour, sensible soundtrack and — in fact — dice-based dungeon crawling.
We just lately caught up with designer Terry Cavanagh and composer Chipzel through e-mail to speak in regards to the origins of this gem, how its characters and mechanics shaped and developed all through improvement, and the way traditional British sport reveals helped form the sport and set it aside out of your common fantasy deckbuilder.
First, we communicate to designer Terry…
Nintendo Life: We’ve learn that Dicey Dungeons was born from a roguelike sport jam. Are you able to inform us somewhat about that and the way your concepts developed over time?
Terry Cavanagh: Yep, that is proper! The very first model of Dicey Dungeons was a prototype I made for Seven Day Roguelike jam in 2018. You possibly can really play the earliest model of the sport in a web-browser.
Principally I would been eager to make one thing small impressed by the sport Dream Quest, so when that jam got here alongside I made a decision it was the right alternative for it. The sport I had by the top of the primary week was a large number – however there was sufficient there that I knew it might be one thing actually particular. I made it my full time challenge and have not appeared again since.
Did you’ve got another video games or inspirations in thoughts throughout improvement?
Dicey Dungeon’s greatest inspiration is Dream Quest, which is a cell roguelike impressed by Magic: the Gathering, and is without doubt one of the massive origins of the “deckbuilding roguelike” style. It is a bit of a cult sport, beloved by designers – I find it irresistible to bits. It is arduous to get into why with out getting derailed, however I actually respect its wild method to stability, its playfulness and its pure design focus. I discover it actually refreshing, and actually needed to do one thing of my very own that explored the identical house.
Exterior of video games, I consider Journey Time as being a serious affect for the sport’s total tone and really feel. Afterward in improvement, we thought rather a lot about TV Sport Exhibits as a option to deliver all the things collectively, which impressed rather a lot across the really feel and the story and the development.
Numerous folks on the workforce introduced their very own inspirations as nicely, in fact. For instance Marlowe is a giant fan of Chrono Set off, and you’ll see some references to that in her artwork and within the sport.
The characters every have a fairly distinctive really feel throughout the total framework. Did the lessons and their skills come from character concepts, or did their personalities kind round cool mechanics you needed to check out?
For the playable characters it was positively a technique of determining what I needed to do mechanically, after which determining a personality that match. The robotic for instance was at all times designed as this kind-of blackjack-playing character, but it surely took a short while to determine it needs to be a robotic.
For the enemies it was a bit extra of a combination. Very very early on I simply had lots of fantasy tropes, goblins and wizards and rogues, however I needed to get away from that so I began broadening it out a bit, including weirder creatures, figures from Irish mythology, animals like child squid. For some time there was a blowfish, which finally turned Sneezy, who’s a hedgehog who’s allergic to dungeons.
For some time there was a blowfish, which finally turned Sneezy, who’s a hedgehog who’s allergic to dungeons.
When Marlowe got here on board we talked about eager to get away from D&D-style fantasy tropes much more, so she began altering issues up along with her sketches — developing with new designs that labored across the mechanics, however reimagined the creature — so the vampire bat turned a vacuum cleaner for instance. She would additionally give you completely new characters, and I might give you an enemy design to match. It was a pleasant back-and-forth course of!
Do you’ve got a specific favorite?
I am actually actually keen on the Witch. I simply love how she works mechanically – for me she’s by far probably the most enjoyable character to play. She may not be the most well-liked contestant amongst gamers, however I feel in case you actually, actually get into the sport, you will come to see that she’s probably the most fascinating.
For the enemies, possibly Cornelius. I like his design, the sound, I feel he is enjoyable to struggle in opposition to — the massive scary assault with a very gradual countdown — and he is primarily based on a ghost story my mother and father used to inform me, so I like that about him too.
Some gamers see the time period ‘roguelike’ and swap off, which appears an actual disgrace contemplating how broadly the time period is utilized nowadays. Is the usage of that label – nevertheless correct! – one thing you are worried or take into consideration when deciding the best way to market the sport?
It is humorous, I suppose fashions change! This actually wasn’t a consideration once I began engaged on Dicey Dungeons in any respect, but it surely’s one thing I hear increasingly more now – that persons are beginning to get somewhat uninterested in roguelikes. Roguelikes have been actually well-liked for some time now, so possibly the tide is popping in opposition to them a bit.
However fascinating design areas are at all times going to be fascinating, no matter what the present vogue is. And style is barely helpful to a degree anyway – there’s at all times much more to what makes a sport tick than what style it falls beneath. For no matter it is value, I feel Dicey Dungeons is fairly completely different from most roguelikes on the market (which I discover actually humorous, as a result of it scores very nicely beneath the Berlin definition!).
How lengthy did Dicey Dungeons take to reach in its remaining kind? Was a Swap model at all times on the playing cards?
I did at all times suppose it could be a superb match for Swap, however I needed to ensure it was a very, actually good port.
I began work on it in February 2018, and launched it on PC in August 2019, eighteen months later. Then as soon as that launch was secure and I would had somewhat little bit of a break, we started working on the Swap port. We’re a scrappy little workforce of independents, so it simply wasn’t life like to have it able to launch on all the things directly.
I did at all times suppose it could be a superb match for Swap, however I needed to ensure it was a very, actually good port. I feel it is labored so nicely – we owe rather a lot to our Swap programmer for the port, Ruari O’Sullivan, who did the actually arduous design work of determining the best way to make the controls really feel good on a gamepad, which is not any small downside. I feel the top result’s implausible – once I play the sport myself now, the Swap model is the one I’m going for.
The artwork and music provides a complete different layer to the expertise. Are you able to discuss somewhat about how Marlowe Dobbe and Chipzel got here to be concerned?
The sport did not begin out as a giant challenge the place I meant to place a workforce collectively and make an enormous sport, haha. At first it was simply this dumb week-long sport jam challenge. As soon as I assumed it may be going someplace, I began releasing free alphas each couple of weeks to get suggestions. Across the — I feel — eleventh alpha or so, I began bringing different folks in.
Chipzel was the primary to return on board – I would been in search of a chance to work along with her for years, since Tremendous Hexagon. At that time it turned clear we have been going to wish an artist too – so I ran an open name and have been very fortunate to seek out Marlowe, who’s simply been wonderful. One of many first issues we did as a workforce is put collectively a “teaser” for the sport – which is a bit dated now, however which I discover tremendous fascinating to look again at:
VVVVVV got here to Swap (and 3DS), and it’s nice to have Dicey Dungeons now. As an exceptionally prolific sport designer, is there something in your again catalogue you suppose would possibly match properly on Swap? Tremendous Hexagon, maybe? (nudge-nudge, wink-wink)
Possibly! No guarantees but…
Dicey Dungeons has develop into our new time sink, however what have you ever been enjoying just lately?
I have been replaying lots of The Lengthy Darkish, which is considered one of my favorite video games and which received an amazing Swap port within the final couple of months. I’ve additionally been watching my spouse play Hades and infrequently taking a flip and having fun with it immensely. And I am actually having fun with Ikenfell, an old-school RPG with actually nice writing and fight design.
And what are you engaged on subsequent?
No thought! I’ve some prototypes in thoughts, however I am nonetheless within the early levels, and it is too quickly to actually speak about something but…
And now it is time to swap (geddit!?) to composer and chiptune champion, Chipzel…
Nintendo Life: Clearly, you’ve labored with Terry Cavanagh earlier than, however are you able to inform us somewhat about how you bought concerned with Dicey Dungeons? Does Terry simply have you ever on speed-dial now?
Chipzel: After all! We’re a superb workforce and I’m at all times comfortable to listen to from Terry. I’d been kind of nudging Terry to work on one thing collectively once we occurred to cross paths at completely different conventions or occasions since Tremendous Hexagon and there have been just a few concepts floating round pre-Dicey Dungeons. We ended up chatting over espresso at AMAZE Berlin in 2018. Terry was tremendous excited in regards to the prototype he was engaged on – you already know it’s gonna be one thing good when Terry is worked up about it. He needed to know if I used to be accessible and eager, and I used to be. We began forming the remainder of the workforce a few month or two later.
Did you method Dicey Dungeons otherwise from different tasks you’ve labored on? The tone may be very completely different to the depth of one thing like Tremendous Hexagon.
Sure completely. I choose it that means – I like going out of my consolation zone and attempting out one thing completely different. It at all times makes for extra fascinating outcomes. What was fascinating working with Terry this time spherical was that I used to be introduced in proper firstly – so the path was a mixed effort. From very early days I had talked about to Marlowe and Terry that the sport made me really feel like I used to be on a ’90s sport present — someplace in between to Play Your Playing cards Proper and Crystal Maze — they usually cherished it as a path. We have been in Early Entry at the moment and I had already put in some LSDJ compositions (all written on Gameboy) as placeholder music, which individuals following improvement, together with myself and the workforce, had grown considerably connected to. The music developed over time as we continued to construct the sport from the bottom up. Marlowe’s artwork was so enjoyable and galvanizing – I actually needed to match that aesthetic and vitality with some extra natural devices within the combine. Every of the placeholder items have been primarily remixed to suit as soon as I discovered the usual and sound I needed.
If you’re writing music that gamers are going to listen to on a loop, generally for a lot of hours, how do you retain issues contemporary and fascinating?
I simply see it as constructing rigidity, releasing and controlling the vitality and emotion you need the participant to have. My background is in digital music so I’ve at all times kind of likened loopable online game music to the construction of one thing like trance; the place you’ve got each aspect constructing and unleashing indirectly all through your complete piece. With Dicey Dungeons I needed to nonetheless give that feeling of fixed excessive stakes in danger in battle; as in case you’re in a celebration on line casino on slots about to win massive – so a lot of the items function massive buildups into hovering “choruses” with somewhat little bit of downtime or abrupt modifications to maintain the participant on their toes.
I needed to nonetheless give that feeling of fixed excessive stakes in danger in battle; as in case you’re in a celebration on line casino on slots about to win massive – so a lot of the items function massive buildups into hovering “choruses” with somewhat little bit of downtime or abrupt modifications to maintain the participant on their toes
You’ve evidently received an affinity for the granddaddy of handheld consoles – what’s your Sport Boy of selection? Does it change in case you’re enjoying versus making music? (We think about you should have fairly the gathering!)
I solely have two that I take advantage of! Each are modified for reside performances and composition functions and I don’t actually sport on them sadly – they’re too treasured. I additionally kinda see the Gameboy as extra of an instrument now as a result of I’ve used it as such for therefore lengthy.
We learn via your Introduction to Chiptune suggestions (that includes artists like Anamanaguchi). Are there any specific composers — inside or outdoors of the online game business – that you simply really feel have had a giant affect on you?
There are such a lot of musicians, experimental musicians, performers, composers, actually. I prefer to take inspiration from in every single place I can discover it – I additionally attempt to keep away from having “heroes” to some extent. However I might say Suzanne Ciani and Mort Garson have reshaped a few of the methods I might have appeared on the separations between “conventional” music > digital music > chiptune music > online game music rising up and made me take into consideration the completely different ranges of kinds which might be doable for a composer. That complete period of early digital music and experimental types of music concréte into commercialised ’80s music gear after which into ’90s console sound chips and tracker music is most fascinating to me. I personally choose the weather of enjoyable, play and exploration in music design over structured thought and precision. For those who’ve by no means listened to “Plantasia (1976)” by Mort Garson and imagined a cute little RPG story, you should – I extremely suggest it. It’s a soundtrack for a online game that by no means existed.
You’ve written or contributed to the soundtrack of some fairly unimaginable video games over the previous decade (Simply Shapes & Beats, Octahedron, River Metropolis Ladies, and the Cadence of Hyrule DLC being a few of our favourites on Swap). Do you discover that fascinating tasks like these have a tendency to return to you nowadays? Are you batting away the garbage and hand-picking the greats, or is there a component of luck?
Truthfully I’ve largely tried to work with those that I belief or those that I do know have the identical drive to make one thing enjoyable and thrilling. I’m additionally drawn to issues which might be somewhat distinctive or completely different or tasks once I can discover somewhat. I discover it far more fascinating to go outdoors my very own field and to be continually pushing my very own capabilities – discovering a brand new path that has me excited.
Is there a standout monitor or sport you’ve labored on that you simply’re significantly happy with?
Dicey Dungeons is certainly proper up there – I’m particularly tremendous pleased with “Swing Me One other 6”. I’m additionally extremely happy with the soundtrack I did for Interstellaria – significantly tracks like “Oloke”, “Prelude” and “Gods Give Us Power”.
For those who might work on the music for any current sport sequence, which might you go for?
Oh a bunch! I might love a shot at designing an RPG and even an interactive open world rating like Breath Of The Wild. It’d be unimaginable to be concerned in one thing just like the Samorost sequence and go completely out of the chippy realm and right into a world of enjoyable making bizarre natural sound design and textures.
What have you ever been enjoying (or listening to) just lately? And is there something we needs to be listening for from Chipzel in 2021?
I’m replaying BOTW and Pokémon Sword and naturally Dicey Dungeons. I’m actually having fun with having a Nintendo Swap as my essential console for enjoying nowadays. My music style varies wildly and I’m at all times in search of issues that encourage me in numerous methods however in case you catch me in my automobile then I’m gonna be blaring lots of Queer Pop, Home and Funk and singing my coronary heart out.
Our because of Terry and Chipzel. The sport is offered on Swap eShop proper now — take a look at our Dicey Dungeons assessment for our verdict (spoilers: it is excellent). You could find Chipzel’s soundtrack for the sport (and her again catalogue) on all the same old platforms, or through her web site.