Shigeru Reviews recently did an interview (Q&A session) with Josh Hano, developer for Nefarious. Here it is for you to enjoy.
Nefarious is a game that offers an interesting perspective flip on the classic rescue the princess formula. Can you describe the genesis of the project? That is to say what led you to want to make this game?
Josh: The game has actually been stuck in my head since around 2006. It started out as a simple mechanic that I developed an aesthetic and story around. Though originally Crow was the actual antagonist. (Instead of being a villain protagonist.) We also arrived at a completely different game play mechanic than the one we started with.
Eventually I began to realize the hero character was dull. So then I thought it’d be fun if I inverted the norm, and let you play as a princess kidnapping villain. This led to a thought exercise that dictates the game design to this day. What mechanics would be different if you were a villain? This thinking has led to the princess mechanic and the reverse boss fights but It even informs small decisions, such as which side of the screen your health bar is on during boss fights.
I see that Mario is a big influence on the game as well as Zelda. What other games are among your influences in this game to create the world and characters?
Josh: Earthworm Jim is a big influence for me. It’s liquid smooth animation, quirky sense of humor and crazy environments are all things that I think go into an awesome game. There also a bit of Megaman thrown in there for good measure.
Related to the last question, Which games do you want to pay homage to with this game? I see some Megaman influence in the game, are there other games you wish to pay homage to among the classics ( or not necessarily classics)?
Josh: There is a lot of homage paying to games that really drive home classic tropes. There is a little bit of absurdity in the idea that certain princesses are kidnapped frequently to the point that you have to wonder what the princess does while she’s in the villains stronghold. What sort of relationship with the villain does she have? In Nefarious there is very little focus on the typical heroes of video game norms. It’s all about villains and princesses.
Nefarious by its nature stands out among indie platformers with its own unique identity. That said the indie game market can be a tough one. How do you plan to help get attention for Nefarious?
Josh: Getting the game into the hands of “let’s players” is a big part of it. We also try to make it out to shows such as PaxSouth. Reddit has also been a good place for us. The gaming subreddits appreciate the trope inversion, and we often share our knowledge and experience on /r/gamedev.
Nefarious is both a parody of classic games but also adds a new twist on them. What are some neat innovations do you have planned for the game?
Josh: Reverse Boss fights are always crowd pleasers. In a lot of ways the journey between the hero and the villain is similiar. Both have to dispatch waves of lesser defenders. But in one major way they are different. Boss fights.
In Nefarious, you don’t fight a boss, you are the boss fight. At the end of each stage a hero catches up to you, and you must use one of your many dastardly devices to dispatch them. (Sorry, villains are super big into alliteration for some reason.)
So you get to be the guy who takes up the entire screen, trying to squash a little guy trying to hit your weak point.
There is also the princess mechanic itself. Since you are kidnapping princesses from a lot of different kingdoms, they all have a different effect on Crow while he is carrying them. An insectoid princess flapping her wings might make Crow lighter. Or a princess composed of pure energy might super charge his abilities.
Nefarious will be coming to the Wii U. Obviously this type of game tends to do well on the system. What do you think of the Wii U eshop and the indie scene on Wii U?
Josh: Nintendo is super cool towards indies now a days. They are also very understanding when it comes to small budgets and like to help small devs get those much-coveted dev kits.
Do you feel Nintendo fans will appreciate the game? What do you think of the Nintendo audience in general?
Josh: I think Nintendo fans are going to have a great time with this game, a lot of the tropes were deconstruct and invert were popularized by Nintendo itself. So, they’ll be instantly recognizable. Plus Nintendo has been my personal favorite console since 1988. (When I was first old enough to play them.) So you can say I’m a big fan of the Nintendo audience.
I like that the characters are very fleshed out from what has been seen, all with distinct personalities. How important has characterization been in making the game universe?
Josh: We walk a very fine line of having a story, but not being over-bearing with it. Characterization is super important to me, because I think it’s one of the things we can explore with Nefarious that other games can’t, or don’t. In most games the princess is absent 90% of the time. They just show up as a reward at the very end of the game.
But Nefarious gives us the unique opportunity to make the princess a co-star with the player. It let’s us give them personality.
What is your end goal with Nefarious? Do you hope to create more games in this universe if it sells well?
Josh: I do have plans for games, post Nefarious. I have more mechanics in mind, and more tropes to invert with them. As for the ‘Nefarious verse’ I’m a big fan of how Valve handles their in-universe games. They are simultaneously connected, but also immensely ambiguous as to when they take place. Such as all the Half-life references in portal. They are practically just easter eggs for people who are fans of both games but you don’t need to play half-life to fully enjoy portal.
What replay value will there be in the game? Anything to keep players coming back again and again?
Josh: We have plans for replayability. A major component of that is mastering each level. Getting it down to a speed-run where you don’t die and you manage to grab all of the levels collectables. Our goal is to have this unlock additional content, hidden bosses, perhaps even a different ending. Star road from Mario has always been my favorite example.
As someone making an indie game what are some indie games recently released that you feel stand out?
Josh: Though it’s been out for a while, Shovel Knight is a big one that I really dove into. I think given the similar game types, there is a lot we can learn from Yacht Club.
Do you have any words for those looking forward to the game?
Josh: I just want to let you guys know we’re hard at work. I spend nearly all of my waking hours working on Nefarious. My personal goal is to not only deliver on the promises of the Kickstarter campaign, but to go above and beyond the call of duty. Nefarious is loaded with little rewards and surprises for players who explore off the beaten path.
Thank you very much for doing this interview and we wish you the best of luck.
You can learn more about Nefarious here.
Source: Shigeru Reviews