Hitbox Team may have released the first indie breakout hit of 2012 with Dustforce, a smooth, flowing arcade style platformer that I can only describe as the love child of Super Meat Boy and Sonic the Hedgehog. The gorgeously addicting, increasingly difficult platformer’s been getting fantastic reviews across the board; our own John Colaw reviewed it and thought it was the bee’s knees.
I was curious as to where this talented, newish team of developers came from, so I asked Woodley Nye, one of the designers of Hitbox Team, about their unexpected success, their original ideas for Dustforce, and any other future plans.
Can you guys briefly explain the development process behind Dustforce? According to your blog it took nearly 2 years for the game to finally come out, with a complete overhaul of the game; I understand that’s pretty common for most indie games, but was that ever expected or planned?
We work in an iterative style – when we first started prototyping Dustforce, it was a very different game. It is over time that we notice design quirks that we like or don’t like, and slowly shape it into something we’re happy with. We were originally working in Game Maker, and knew that we couldn’t make the game we really wanted to make unless we used a better engine. So after we won the Indiepub competition, we realized we had enough funding to make the complete version. I think we underestimated how much time it would take, but it did go through multiple fairly major changes in that time.
Everything about Dustforce adds up to what seems to be a recipe for massive success, from the novel premise, to the simple-yet-striking visuals, to the old-school gameplay. What was the inspiration for all of that?
Lexie and I had always talked about wanting to make a fast paced acrobatic platformer. I had the idea of ninja-ish dust sweeping when i was sweeping leaves off the path at my uncle’s house, and went to my computer and wrote a brief summary of the idea. It wasn’t for more than a year that we actually started prototyping the idea. We were actually working on a different prototype before switching gears to Dustforce.
Just in the past couple years, there’s been a ridiculous amount of growth in the world of independent games, and likewise, a proportional amount of recognition not only from bigger media outlets, but from the general public as well. Has this affected Hitbox Team and Dustforce in anyway?
It’s exciting to hear about indie developers becoming successful, because part of you is saying “I could make something too…”. So I guess that’s a form of drive, but mostly we just love making games.
I see a level editor is going to be available shortly after launch, but do you plan to continue to add to the game in the form of DLC and how do you plan to approach that?
Any additional content post-release will be in the form of free updates. We’re very excited about letting people use the editor – it’s really a powerful tool.
Speaking of the level editor, will there be some sort of hub available for sharing levels with our friends?
We do have plans to add a level sharing portal in-game, much like the online replay system. Not sure yet when we’ll get around to that… but it shouldn’t be too far off!
What are your honest expectations for Dustforce; could you have ever anticipated the kind of press and recognition you’re getting just from a trailer announcing the release date? Moving on, do you have any more endeavors for Dustforce, such as an attempt to get on the PSN and/or XBLA?
We didn’t anticipate such a positive response. It has been amazing to hear that everyone is having so much fun with it! We’d love to put the game on PSN and XBLA – it just depends on whether we can get devkits or not.
What’s next for Hitbox Team? I personally think Dustforce is going to be immediately successful; if/when that happens, when/where/what is the next Hitbox Team hotness?
I’m not sure when we’ll be completely done with Dustforce, but we have plenty of ideas for our next game! The hard part will be deciding which one we like the best.
Dustforce is now available on Steam.