Plenty of game developers are content with staying in the background, but that is not the case with Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer. The ostentatious title of this boomer shooter is accompanied by an equally larger-than-life developer, Zane Lofton.
Lofton, a 38-year-old manager for a dollar store in the bustling hub that is Boise, Idaho, first caught my attention on Twitter a couple of years ago. The peculiar way he talks and his crude sense of humor comprising fart and Yo Momma jokes further amplified my interest with the absolute fever dream of a game he was developing.
Quite simply, I just had to dissect what was going on in this guy's head. Thankfully, he was more than happy to oblige through an email interview, where the aim was to learn more about the character that is Zane Lofton, what inspired him to create Slayers X, and to examine some of the game's more peculiar aspects.
The Origins of Slayers X
Slayers X is, first and foremost, a retro-inspired first-person shooter where players take the role of Lofton himself. The town of Boise is under attack by Psykos, this insane group of killers that love to wreak havoc and have a particular grudge against Lofton and the Slayers organization.
Armed with a truly unique arsenal of weapons and the power of the Hackblood, players can rampage through a collection of levels in an effort to save Boise from the Psykos. The lore of Slayers X isn't skin-deep either, for according to Lofton, this is a conflict involving evil robots, aliens, and the X Slayers organization and their rat comrades.
"the Psyko SINdikate are mostly just 2 or 3 evil over lords who control a army of robots," said Lofton. "the Psykos are all built in factories (u can see some of that in map 3) and they are just programmed to destroy you. i cant spoil why they hate the X Slayers.... but its a ancient rivalry of time imemoral. the Psykos also tricked the Jeztas (aliens) into trying to attack the X Slayers by lying about them."
As Lofton tells it, his inspiration for Slayers X was from childhood games
Doom Katakylsm 1 and 3. The inspiration for Slayers X might have stemmed from this aforementioned acclaimed series, but the idea of turning it into a real game has been in the works since he was a teenager.
"What really helped is i won a scratch-off ticket and got $10,000 thousand dollars..." said Lofton, "so i used that to take some 'sick time' (ha ha) & hire some people to help with little things... and a rich british guy noticed & wanted to publish it."
This turned what was once an idea into a reality, and thus, Slayers X was born. The development process for Slayers X was quite visible through Lofton's active Twitter account, and what stood out to me as an unconventional method of game development was crowdsourcing certain assets from the game. Various balloons, and even fart sounds are found within Slayers X, and those assets you can thank the community for providing.
"I dont know i ran out of time & i couldnt wake up my kid one night but really wnated some fart sounds so i just asked people on-line and they came through," said Lofton. "theres over 50 mouth farts from people in here. hopefully mouth farts i didnt check.... bwl. but i think its fun to collab like that. people love being X slayers."
Slayers X, Full of Farts and Fun
Farts and funny balloons aside, there's plenty of other crude, unusual bits of humor sprinkled all over Slayers X. As this idea for a shooter has been formulating since Lofton's childhood, the humor hasn't changed much since then. While poop jokes and rude language might be unsavory to some, it adds to the overall charm and quirkiness of the title. As such, these jokes greatly influenced the level design, scenarios, and enemies in the game.
"most of the jokes are straight from my notebook designs i drew when i was 16-18 or around there," said Lofton. "i didnt change allot. some of the jokes i made less offending or didnt use because I was (to be honest) more of a a***hole back then, like most people. thats why theres so many poop jokes, because I had to delete like half of them bwl.
"but some of the things in the game dont have jokes (like the cutscenes) and are serious. the Psykos are also funny sometimes.... they are really stupid but sometimes they try to be good guys & cant even do that because of there programming, so they get into all kinds of trouble & mess things up. thats a new idea... in the comics i mostly just blew them."
The weapons in Slayers X are their own humorous and clever takes on traditional FPS weapons. In boomer shooters, it's expected players will come across some template for pistols, shotguns, machine guns, rocket launchers, and a melee weapon.
As an example, pistols in Slayers X are duel-wielded and, when shooting them, the player character alternates by shooting them normally or sideways. The way these guns are shot in-game serve no gameplay benefit other than being cool and flashy. By design, Lofton's goal was to make these weapons as different and unique as possible.
"I didnt want any gun to be normal, there has to be something different about the Slayers X guns to make u miss them when you play normal games," said Lofton, "& I didnt want to be accused of just ripping off of Kataklysm. So like the Sludge Launcher is like a grenade launcher but the rats come to help fight when you use it. & they nibble on the gore and even talk to you. Thats something your only getting in Slayers X. "
Thankfully, it seems like Lofton isn't done yet. He says players can expect a few new levels, story elements, and enemies in an upcoming, free update. It's expected to arrive in a few months' time, so Slayers X isn't done yet -- and neither is Lofton.
Disclaimer: Austin Suther, the author of this interview, contributed a small "fart" sound effect which is reflected in the game's credits. He contributed this fart via a callout by the developer on Twitter and is not affiliated with the developer or creation of this game.