Another day, another interview. We are joined by The Indie Forge who will be discussing Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle available http://www.desura.com/games/claustrophobia-the-downward-struggle
Please tell us a little bit about your game.
Claustrophobia is a score based graphical roguelike, which combines traditional roguelike features with newer and smoother mechanics. The game takes place in a series of ever descending randomly generated dungeon floors, packed full of monsters to slaughter and loot to pillage. Claustrophobia plays like a traditional roguelike, but with a clean UI, a slick, action orientated turn based combat system, and a massive range of enemy types, skills, gear and room designs to explore. Every feature, from the gear you find, to the effects of potions and scrolls you discover, is randomly generated at the start of every game, making each play-though an entirely new and unique experience. With features like crafting, skill trees, character customization, and smart terrain generation, Claustrophobia is a love letter to traditional RPG rougelikes.
How did you come up with the idea behind your game?
Claustrophobia started out as a simple terrain generation project. I had not done much programming in C# (the language Claustrophobia is written in) at the time, and I needed a small project to work on to get used to it. Inspired by the large number of modern day roguelikes I had been playing at the time, I tried different techniques and methods for creating dungeon layouts of rooms connected to each other by doors. I initially built on this engine with the intention of just making an environment that you could move a player object around in, but, obviously, it grew a little beyond that.
Since game development is not my full time job (although it hopefully will be in the future), Claustrophobia became something that I would work on in my spare time, adding and changing things all the time. The initial development process saw the game go through many different changes, and that trial and error process allowed me to really pin down on features and systems that I felt really worked, and shape them accordingly.
How many people were involved with the making of your game?
I am currently doing all programming, graphics, and design, while the game’s music is being composed by Chris Kukla.
What makes your game different from other indie games on the market?
Although there are a few very well known roguelikes on the indie game market (Dungeons of Dredmor, HackSlashLoot, Binding of Isacc), I feel that it’s a genre that needs a bit more love, considering how so many features in gaming originate from Rogue. I could say that Claustrophobia’s main unique selling points are the fast paced (for a roguelike) skill driven combat, and the shear randomness of each game, offering a massive amount of replayability, but more than those things, I think that the thing that makes it different is what’s still to come. Claustrophobia’s development and game directions are based as much on player opinions and suggestions as it is on my opinions. In fact, some of Claustrophobia’s best features have been something a player suggested, and because of that, every player can benefit. Games are made, after all, for the people who play them, so it’s their ideas that count. And judging by the increasingly exuberant ideas and suggestions that are coming in, and the increasing number of players, I can safely say exciting things are to come!
How difficult is it to promote your game in such a competitive market?
There’s no doubt that getting noticed is no easy thing. Even more so when you don’t have a budget for marketing. Considering the lack of advertising that Claustrophobia has had so far however, I am more than happy with the number of people who have found it. The best way I have found to promote freely is by keeping my blog, twitter, and news feeds active, hand out review copies wherever they are requested, and participate in promotions, such as the Hellish Indie Bundle.
What would you have done differently if given the time, money and/or technology?
Considering that the game is in Alpha, I feel like there is still the time (and hopefully the money to come!) to achieve and change everything that I still have planned. Of course, a fancy budget to begin with would have been great! I think the one thing that I would have loved which I never see happening (with this project) is a networked multiplayer mode. There is a whole design I have sitting around somewhere of how a multiplayer roguelike would play, but I lack the time and the means to put it together.
At any point, did you just want to give up with the project? if yes, how did you overcome this?
Definitely. I am terrible at sticking to things. Claustrophobia is my first commercial project, but before it I had begun development on countless projects which got to the point of the first few screenshots… and then I’d abandon it and work on something else. There was a point almost a year ago now where I looked ahead at everything that still had to be done for it to be in an acceptable state, and everything that I had already done, and I felt like that was kind of it, that I’d got to the point that I was going to. It was actually down to the pestering and general verbal abuse I received from all of my friends on telling them I had stopped working on the project that made me continue. Motivation! Turns out they did the right thing!
Do you plan on submitting your game to Steam Greenlight or starting a Kickstarter?
Claustrophobia is already on Greenlight: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92940102
Greenlight was actually the first place I announced the game, before starting the Desura alphafunding campaign.
Do you have any advice for people looking to start an indie company and/or game development?
As a self taught programmer, don’t jump in at the deep end, and stick to it! You do not have to make Dwarf Fortress straight away!