Hey, have you heard about Spartan Fist, the colorful first person brawler where you punch dudes really, really hard? Well, you should, because the game’s out in two weeks. In light of the game’s upcoming release, I had a quick chat with lead developer Megan Fox about creating this candy-colored roguelite and what’s next for Glass Bottom Games.
You’ve shown Spartan Fist at various conventions during the last year. What has been your best takeaway from this?
That fighting games aren’t just for mid-20’s and 30’s guys. We’ve got a pretty hardcore brawler here, with a lot of systems to learn, but we had all ages, all genders walk up and try it out. Not only that, but we had all ages, all genders actually get through the tutorial, and then just play and actually have fun with it.
The game will have roguelike elements, which is usually another way of saying “this is going to be quite challenging and you will die a lot” At the same time, it looks colorful and, well, friendly. How do prevent more casual or inexperienced players from getting frustrated too easily?
A tutorial is incredibly important for novice players. I don’t know if I could point at another fighting or shooting roguelike/rogue-lite that actually… teaches the player how to play. They all pretty much assume you already know how a twin-stick or side-scrolling brawler works. Critically, that tutorial also needs to teach you that DYING IS OK. We saw novice players quitting when they died in the tutorial, until we added a happy little “it’s ok! this was supposed to happen!” sort of message, and then, generally speaking, it clicked.
You don’t need to keep your casual or inexperienced players from getting frustrated, you just need to tell them how to play. Once they understand the rules and expectations put upon them, it may not be the game for them, but for many, they’re still into it.
There aren’t too many first person fighting games out there. How did you get the brawling to feel just right from a first person perspective?
By looking at games that are effectively first-person brawlers but nobody realizes it, heh. Specifically, God Hand. We spent a ton of time peeling it apart, trying to understand how its enemy design worked, and – well, just go look at footage again. See how large the player is on screen? See how limited the FOV feels? See how you can’t even see the player’s feet? It isn’t a third-person action game, it’s an FPS where your gun is shaped like a punching guy.
Also, there are some good actual-first-person-brawler references. Zeno Clash is the titan in the space, even after all these years, and Zeno Clash 2’s arena mode is part of what inspired Spartan Fist’s play structure.
What’s something you love about the games industry at the moment, and what would you like to see changed?
I love the diversity of play experiences available. I’d really like to see more of the experimental ones have a better avenue toward financial success, though.
Your best advice for gamedev rookies would be…
Don’t quit your day job. Keep your project going on nights and weekends as long as you possibly can. It’s way, way easier to make the sort of game that’ll do well at market if you aren’t stressing about the money going into it.
What does the future hold for Glass Bottom Games? More Emma Jones or something else entirely?
It depends how Spartan Fist does, but I figure, Emma and Franky probably deserve a break at this point. They’ve been firefighters, detectives, death-arena brawlers… man, they just need a vacation.