This week, gamespulp caught up with indie developer Lamina Studios, the creative minds behind retro-style rogue-like dungeon crawler, Dungeon Souls… You can follow these guys on twitter @LaminaStudios.
Dungeon Souls is available now over on Steam.
Lamina is a very new studio – what inspired you to set up and start working in the games industry, and what challenges have you come up against on the way?
Lamina Studios was founded because of the challenges we had along the way when Dungeon Souls was in transition in October 2015. As Lamina Studios’ producer of the game title, Dungeon Souls, I felt there was more potential for the game but, without commitment, to the development, I find it to be one of the most difficult challenges we had along the way. Having said this, in October 2015, I teamed up with Diogo Braga, an indie developer from Portugal, who is the Lead Developer of Dungeon Souls. As a small team, it is important that we have frequent communication in order to accomplish a project. Also, working remotely adds to the challenges. However, this does not affect our development. The challenges we had, has led to a better working relationship and for future projects. We perceive challenges to be gears that enables us to do better and keep the passion going.
I love the concept behind Dungeon Souls because, for me, classic dungeon crawlers are reminiscent of the hours spent playing HeroQuest and other adventure board games as a kid. What led you guys to embrace the genre?
I find that the genre is the most favourite of the gamers and developers with whom I had spoken. Dungeon Souls is also influenced by other games of the same genre and we aimed for the game to have the same and improve the gaming experience as that of the other influences. For this reason, we added more classes and we took the time to make the characters unique as well skills and abilities. Dungeon Souls fits the genre of an action-adventure, RPG, roguelike game. We want Dungeon Souls to have a little bit of every genre that makes the game even more fun to play.
Dungeon Souls also picks up on a trend that we’re seeing a lot at the moment: procedurally generated levels. Was this a conscious decision to add a particular style to the game? How does this style affect gameplay and replayability?
In-fact, yes, because we believe that it does affect gameplay and replayability. The procedurally generated levels give the players a different feel of the game where it gives more flexibility for each level to look different. As a result, the players will find the game less boring because each level will have a different playthrough and thus, players would want to play the game more and more.
You’ve got all the classic hero types, and a very familiar style, combined with an interesting art style that adds something a little different to the game. Was breathing new life into the genre an important consideration? How did the somewhat cute (but definitely grown-up!) art style come about?
Dungeon Souls, indeed, has some of the classic heroes: the warrior, archer, cleric, wizard and although some of the elements were heavily influenced by other games such as Overture and Dark Souls, we added more classes. We took time to think about the kind of skills for the classes because we don’t like it to be clichéd. As mentioned in the previous question, we like the players to have a different gaming experience with Dungeon Souls. The choice we made for the genre that Dungeon Souls falls under has been one of the considerations because of how many players are playing games that fall under the same genre. Our developers preferred the genre to be fun and exciting and that’s what playing games is all about—to bring the fun and excitement. In regards to the art style, we have used several resources to bring the art concept into the game because we know that since the game has been heavily influenced by other games of the same genre, we want the art style to be unique and visually attractive.
How long does it take you to create a game, from start to finish? Are there any parts of the process that you find frustrating?
It took three months before we were able to have the demo, but the game was already playable by that time so we got greenlighted by Steam and went on Early Access right away on July 2, 2015. I must say that we’re almost one year and two months in development and hopefully to get off Early Access before the end of the year. Any game has to go through several testing and debugging stages. When one issue has been resolved, another or new issue is found—which is natural for game development. However, we take every issue as a challenge. For a small team, like us, we get to spend time brainstorming and working remotely was never a hindrance for us to let frustration get in the way. It serves us well in terms of learning new things and finding resolution is an accomplishment.
Do you think there’s enough support for indie games developers such as yourselves?
What we appreciate about the indie industry is that we find very approachable people such as our publisher, Black Shell Media, other developers reaching out to us as well as the community. The support we are getting really comes from those who appreciate our game concepts and those who encourages us to never give us on finishing the game. As indie developers, we also have been in touch with other indie game developers, gamers, game journalists, and live streamers (Twitch and YouTube). Their feedback, comments, and suggestions are very valuable to us because they give us their honest and constructive criticisms to help us improve the game.
I notice that you have a number of different strings to your bow, including web design and game branding. With this cross-channel perspective, I’m wondering what you think biggest challenges and changes are for the games industry right now?
Our goal is to be diverse in terms of skills and talent we bring into our studio. Although our main focus is game development, the web design is important as well because the web development team also assists us bridging many talents we empower to be part of our current and future projects. We also need web developers for testing our game with web applications (for web and mobile platforms). We have a goal to work together through collaborations because as a game studio, we have to cater to the community who seeks opportunities to get involved and help us in promoting the game. For example, community leaders would like to help in bringing news and directing players to us so our web development team is always innovating to think of new concepts to help facilitate collaboration and communication. Aside from this, we like to work with new artists (music and graphics) as well as with aspiring game developers for new game concepts and innovative ideas.
And finally… what games should every aspiring indie dev play?
When it comes to what is the ideal game to play for every aspiring indie developer, my advice is to check out every game that many players have liked to play because the audience is a very important factor when considering to develop a game of any genre. Another pointer is to consider the player’s interactivity with the game and the experience they have playing the game. In the case of Dungeon Souls, we are happy with how the audience likes the game’s art style. It is attractive, addictive to play, has unique characters and abilities, and with many other features added to the game are just some of the factors every aspiring developer should look into. They should also try to try exploring other avenues by checking out other games to get inspiration in developing their own games as well. That way the concept gets even better in order to improve the player’s gaming experience.