As part of our series of interviews with indie developers, I have been talking to Warren Smith, the developer behind Metroidvania style platformer Dark Flame about his latest project and working with the Square Enix Collective.
TechRaptor: Tell us all about yourselves and your latest project Dark Flame.
Warren: My name is Warren Smith – I’m enlisted in the United States Air Force and am about to turn 30. I have a wife and a 2 year old daughter and a crazy programming hobby. I’ve played video games my whole life and have always been interested in the creation of them. I started working on Dark Flame about two years ago…
Dark Flame started off with just me (Warren). This is my first project that turned from a learning experience to a full on game. Within the last few months I’ve contracted out a few artists and a musician to help put assets in the game to make it look more appealing. I’m currently getting ready for a Kickstarter campaign on 1 October 2015 to help with funding for the contracted work. I will also be launching an updated “polished” demo along with the Kickstarter.
TechRaptor: What was your inspiration for Dark Flame? What games would you compare it to?
Warren: The obvious inspiration that you can’t miss is Castlevania. I was actually playing Symphony of the Night and looking for other games to play like it when I decided to make my own game. I really liked the platforming/RPG/exploration/art aspects of the game compared to similar titles. Dark Flame’s basic mechanics are based off this game, but other huge inspirations come from Dark Souls, Warcraft, Diablo, and bits and pieces from various games. If you like the playstyle of –vania titles and the ability to shape the outcome of your story through various events and dialogues, then you will enjoy this game.
TechRaptor: Dark Flame is a Metroidvania style 2D platformer. What made you decide to take this route? What makes it stand out from other games of this genre?
Warren: I created a Metroidvania because I personally love the style of gameplay and because a 2D game is a more feasible game to create as a solo developer. The game will feature a leveling and equipment system like most action-RPG platformers. I am working hard on paving Dark Flame into its own style by creating a tough storyline that tugs on the player’s capability to make decisions. Not only that, but the game will have its own style of spell casting/creating and levels of difficulty that come with a price. Everything in the game has something tied to it that will cause the player to think twice about their decisions. I can’t talk specifics at this point because most of it is still in the concept phase and being ironed out, but there will be some interesting mechanics added to the game that you haven’t seen/heard about yet!
TechRaptor: You've been working as part of the Square Enix Collective. How has the collective helped you with developing the project? How do developers get involved?
Warren: The Square Enix Collective was a very interesting experience. It was also quite the eye-opener for me as it was my first public exposure for Dark Flame. I had the ability to create polls and receive feedback from the Square Enix community. It was free exposure and I would highly recommend it to any indie developer looking to go public with their game. Developers can get involved by creating an account at collective.square-enix.com and submitting their project or voting on existing projects currently undergoing the Feedback Phase.
TechRaptor: Pixel art is incredibly popular at the moment. What made you choose this style?
Warren: Well, it wasn’t something I originally planned. I went through many different phases of styles and how I wanted the game to be rendered. I chose the pixel art style because many of my favorite old school games shared a similar look. The style also looks a lot cleaner and easier to see.
TechRaptor: Dark Flame has a strong focus on exploration. What made you decide to go for this over a linear platformer? What made you decide to combine RPG elements with Metroidvania?
Warren: I believe that this style of gameplay goes hand in hand with exploration. I’ve always had more fun with games that weren’t linear and allowed you to explore more than just “follow the arrow” to the next room. I want the player to feel like they are a part of this environment, and the best way to do this is not limit them to linear exploration as much as possible.
I decided to combine RPG elements with this game because I want to allow for as much player development as possible. With that being said, I don’t want to take away too much from the action so I limited the allocations to only three attributes (Strength, Agility, Intelligence). There are many other elements/status/variables/factors to the game, but these three are the ones the player directly develops.
TechRaptor: You were also recently Greenlit on Steam. Congratulations. What do you think of the Greenlight system and how it has changed game development?
Warren: Thanks! Greenlight was something that I had intended on doing since the start of this development. It was a bit nerve-wrecking when I started because I knew I wanted to do well on it.
I think the Greenlight system doesn’t really change much for the development of the game. I think it will help get Dark Flame in some kind of spotlight (which is great). I am looking forward to incorporating the achievement system and going through the Steamworks tools.
TechRaptor: Finally what advice would you give to other indie developers out there at the moment?
Warren: Keep at it! Creating video games isn’t a quick and easy thing to do. There will be times where you become unmotivated and feel like giving up, but you just have to focus on the goal of completing the game. Set small goals and try to hang around others who are motivated about games and game development.
TechRaptor would like the thank Warren for taking the time to talk to us. You can find out more about Dark Flame on Steam.
What do you think of Dark Flame?