If, like me, you’re old enough to remember the glorious, early 90’s heyday of overhead, 2D, action/adventure/RPG’s in the vein of Secret of Mana, Ultima and – perhaps most enduringly – the Legend of Zelda games, then the folks at Light-Up Warrior Games might just have the game for you. Trust me you’ll be pining for your Ninja Turtles lunch box and Jurassic Park pyjamas in no time. With art by Wrangler (Mitch), and music by Mimk (Maurice), Dungeon Buster is Light-Up Warrior Games’ first title and, having successfully made it through Steam’s ‘Greenlight’ process in late 2014, will release for PC sometime in 2017.
With charming pixel art graphical style, 8 bit music and trademark tongue in cheek humour, it looks to be a worthy successor to a couple of much loved gaming franchises.
As the titular character Buster – a once-famous knight – players will fight their way across the rich, diverse overworld of Jorokiim; a fantastical land teeming with all the right action/adventure elements, and plunge deep into many lovingly crafted dungeons and secret areas in a game inspired heavily by Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
Created using Construct 2 by Scirra, the game is shaping up to be a truly authentic tribute to a very specific moment in gaming history. With charming pixel art graphical style, 8 bit music and trademark tongue in cheek humour, it looks to be a worthy successor to a couple of much loved gaming franchises.
The team’s motivations for creating the game are laudable – going beyond the desire for commercial success or acclaim, they seem to be driven by the process of creation, nostalgia and a desire to inspire others. And if you needed any other reason to love these guys and wish them every success…the game will be released for free, along with the Construct 2 project source files.
I first talked to co-founder and art lead Mitch shortly after their Greenlight success (for another online publication) and thought it was high time we caught up with him for an update on the game and general chat.
Thanks for speaking to us Mitch! So for those who don’t know you can you tell us a bit more about yourself? How did you get into game development, do you have a “day job” etc?
I guess you could trace my roots in game development back to a fateful evening in 1998 when my Dad pointed out that our copy of Half Life came with a level editor. These were my formative years and my introduction to game development in a loose sense. It was only when I went to university that I really found my feet in development and realised that an artist role would be my strongest option. Sadly that didn’t pan out, and I returned to Northern Ireland to start Light-Up Warrior Games (and hold down a regular day job too – I work in telecoms).
We are fortunate to live and work in an age in which people can remotely collaborate on projects, something that has undoubtedly “levelled the playing field” (or at least broadened the talent pool) for indie developers and smaller teams. You guys are an “international” team; how did you end up working with someone based in Germany?
Maurice actually approached me through an online forum that I was using as a platform for showing off development progress. He said that he really liked the look of the project and wanted to help with the music. The search for a music artist for Dungeon Buster hasn’t been easy, but Maurice is incredibly talented and reliable, and he’s an awesome dude to chat to. He’s like a brother!
When we first spoke you described your game as a kind of homage to Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Tell us more about the game-world and how and why it pays tribute to such a seminal game.
If I’m honest, as time has passed I’ve found myself straying from the original Zelda mould I had in mind, and have made changes to many aspects of the game. The core inspiration still remains however; I’ve played, replayed, and replayed again (January this year!) Link’s Awakening since I was 8 years old, and I have always wanted to create my own version. LoZ:LA’s overworld is something I really wanted to capture in my own way; those well-defined area themes are something that I love, as well as the massive amount of secrets that you would expect from such an expansive overworld. The secrets are something that I really love about all Zelda games, so it feels right to stuff Dungeon Buster full of hidden extras. Dungeons aren’t tied as tightly to the Zelda format; not all of them have a boss fight for example, but there are plenty of puzzles and hidden areas to find, just like Zelda.
You have been using Construct 2 by Scirra to develop the game; why that software?
I settled on Construct 2 fairly quickly into the project; coding a Zeldalike from scratch in with absolutely zero programming experience was a little harder than I expected it to be, who would have thought? I needed a solution that let me be an artist mostly, and only required a loose knowledge of programming. Construct 2 was perfect for me, it uses a visual scripting system that is incredibly robust, extendible, and above all easy to use. The Construct 2 community are very kind and helpful, which made things easier as I could ask my daft questions and get logical answers.
The game looks feature-rich, extensive and with great production value certainly seems like something I’d pay money for, yet you’ve chosen to release the game for free; why so generous?
All the best things in life are free, or so they say. I started this off as a passion project with the intention of releasing the game for free with source code so that others can pick it apart and maybe learn something, and I intend to follow through with that promise.
When do you expect to release and do you think you could/would bring the game to other platforms?
It’s taken me a very long time to get the project to where it is now; I’ve rebooted the game 3 times but the style I’ve settled on now is permanent. I’m hoping to get the game out within a year, but that remains loose as I’ve many other things going on. I’m hoping to get the game out on Steam for both PC and Mac. After that I’ll look into other platforms maybe, but I’ll be happy to release on these two platforms for now.
Any advice for budding game developers out there?
Network, engage actively in communities both on and offline, network, network, and mostly network! Did I mention network? Jokes aside, this industry is founded on who knows who, so get yourself out there and show off those screenshots, videos, logos, whatever! Make friends, have fun, play games, make games!
Finally, other than Dungeon Buster, what are you playing at the minute and why?
I’ve been playing a lot of ‘Geometry Wars: Evolved’ lately; it’s very addictive and both the girlfriend and I enjoy helping each other beat levels we’re stuck on. I’ve been playing a lot of Sven-Coop with an online friend too; nothing better than slamming through the Half Life campaign with a friend.
If the critical acclaim and commercial success of games like Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight has shown anything, it’s that nostalgia is a powerful tool in the indie developer’s arsenal. Sure, the game still has to be good – but we now have a whole generation of gamers who played these kinds of games first time round and appealing to their misspent (joke) youth seems like a bit of a no brainer. Hopefully Light-Up Warrior can use this to their advantage too and hopefully Dungeon Buster won’t be the last we see of them. For more details on the game visit the team website or the successful greenlight page.