Many Indie Developers tend to take a game concept create a game around it with very little in the way of innovation; many seem to simply try cash in on what’s popular at any given time, with low quality and a quick production being the hallmarks of such games. Indie developers who are actually worth their salt manage to come up with something new, be it something that’s entirely unique or a new version of something that’s been around for a while. In short, they manage to create some form of uniqueness to their game, and that’s where Doborog Games and their first title Clone Drone In The Danger Zone come in.
The two man team managed to take a game concept that’s been around a while – that of a sword fighting competition – and make it entirely their own, through adding a couple of unique features which take the game to an entirely new level. Chief among these is the games Twitch Mode, which allows Twitch viewers to take part in a game, instead of merely being bystanders. With the game currently in Steam Early Access – where it’s getting glowing reviews at the moment – we sat down with Doborog Games in order to chat about Clone Drone In The Danger Zone.
Clone Drone In The Danger Zone just hit Steam Early Access, at looks like it’s getting some positive reviews at the moment. Obviously, this must mean a lot to the team. In terms of feedback, does the team plan on making many adjustments to the game, or is it too early to say?
Absolutely. Interacting with and making major game changes based on our early access community’s feedback and reactions is one of the main reasons we chose to launch on early access and plan to spend this year continually improving the game before calling it a full release. Even though there are hours of gameplay already, and some positive reactions, the community sees great potential for further development of the game, and we do, too!
The game is Doborog Games’ first release. Were there many nerves when it came to releasing the game, or did being able to go through Early Access and have the chance to improve the game (if needed) set them at ease?
Clone Drone in the Danger Zone was originally released as an alpha on the wonderful indie game platform itch.io — so our fantastic community was able to help shape the game in its infancy and help smooth out the roughest edges already. But Steam Early Access takes that to the next level, so this release we made sure to balance adding fun new features that our most dedicated supporters would have a blast with (i.e…. FIRE! and challenges), and making sure we had enough time to fix bugs and polish the user experience since it would be the first impression for so many users trying it out on Steam. Still—we were nervously double checking everything on a Skype call before we pressed the RELEASE AS EARLY ACCESS button and braced for impact.
In terms of style etc, did the game have many influences? For some reason, I’m getting a slight Star Wars-esque feel off some of the weapons that players can wield (in a good way).
If there’s one game worthy of calling out as an influence it would be Jedi Knight 2’s multiplayer mode! The melee combat in that game was really fast and acrobatic, in stark contrast to many other sword fighting games that focus more on pressing the block button at exactly the right time. We wanted to capture a similar sense of movement, timing and weapon reach with the combat in Clone Drone.
The volatile nature of being able to die instantly from a sword cut means you have to use real skills to gracefully weave through the enemies. Our vision was that it should be super easy to learn the controls, but expose a large potential for mastery as you progress through tougher challenges. The other thing we found, more through research than inspiration, is that people love games where you can kick things. This guided much of the design that lets you kick enemies into spikes, saw blades and lava in the game.
Commentary is a big thing in the game – the commentators have over 3,000 words to work with. Was there any inclination to make the commentary humorous, serious or a mix of the two?
Ah, we need to update the press kit. It’s over 10,000 words now. If you look at the premise of the game it is incredibly dark. Though your human mind is alive, you have been brutally murdered by robots, and everyone you knew and loved are dead. There is probably a version of this game that captures the intense psychological trauma that would come from this impossible situation, but we are not trying very hard to tell that story.
Instead we treat this abhorrent premise with a lot of humor. There is something funny about logical machines looking at human situations with a complete lack of empathy and emotion. We walk the line between making the commentators entertaining sports casters and trying to capture this alien frame of mind that does not see the world in the same way we do.
Once the Steam Early Access campaign is finished, is there a set timeline as to when we can see the full game released?
We want to make sure the game is in a great place we feel proud to call a full release before finishing the Early Access campaign and doing a full release — with all of the fun game modes, storylines and weapons we have dreamt up but haven’t had a chance to make yet.
Clone Drone in the Danger Zone has also got a Twitch mode, where streamers can get their Twitch viewers to take part in the game, for better or worse. Was this difficult to integrate into the game? What was the inspiration behind it?
From an engineering point of view it was very easy. Twitch has a wonderful API that is mature and easy to work with. The design of Twitch Mode was a lot harder, and is still not done yet. There are very few games that have great viewer interaction out there, so we have had to figure a lot of stuff out from experimentation.
The idea to incorporate betting as a central component came from watching Gateway2Drillbit stream the normal game (before Twitch Mode) where they would manually place bets on things that would happen using a chat bot. We hung out in their stream and had a blast trying to accumulate their fictional currency; bacon!
Obviously the game is set for a PC release. Are there any plans to release it on other platforms, such as console or mobile?
We want to focus on developing the core of the game on PC before exploring other platforms, and how much we decide to invest on porting will depend on the game’s success and ongoing demand. We suspect it’ll be a great fit for consoles, but would want to make sure the user interaction still feels great so would want to spend a bit of time exploring control schemes for that. As for mobile, VR, etc., who knows! Maybe a good game jam project for us to try out and discover how it feels.