If you’ve been enjoying Alien Hominid HD since Wednesday (have you won a trophy?) then you might be interested in an interview with the creator himself, Dan Paladin. The interview takes place before Alien Hominid went Live on Wednesday, but there is more information on the upcoming XBLA game Castle Crashers, which he does all the art for.
Taken from Game Almighty:
Sam Sollars: First off, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at the Behemoth.
Dan Paladin: I am Dan Paladin and I did all of the art you see in castle crashers. I am 27 and I like carrots because I can actually feel them affecting my eyeballs.
SS: Pleased to meet you. Could tell us a little about your upcoming games, Alien Hominid HD and Castle Crashers? Both seem to have a similar feel but also appear to be set in very different universes.
DP: When you say they have a similar feel, I want to be clear about that. I am not sure if you meant visually or not, but here’s my take on it: Castle Crashers feels very, very different to play through. It’s a beat-em-up, whereas Alien Hominid is a platform shooter.
I wanted Castle Crashers to be a little darker than something like Alien Hominid was so I leaned the palette of the world more towards grey. I knew it probably wouldn’t get TOO spooky of a mood because the character designs are light hearted as well as brightly colored. As time went on I ended up redesigning the characters to allow more space on the screen by crushing them into about half of their original height. After the colors and character designs were in place, the rest of the world just came together naturally as I progressed.
In Castle Crashers, when holding down the right trigger all 4 of the buttons on top become spells that are intuitive to the player. For instance, press jump without right trigger and you jump normally. Press jump with the right trigger held down and you do a magic boosted jump. You can unlock a lot of characters to play as - as well as weapons, pets, and items! Every character has their own magic abilities which affect the enemies in different ways.
SS: Sounds Amazing. Can we expect Alien Hominid HD to be much different than the previous versions? Please tell me the PDA games are still thereâ€¦
DP: Yeah, you can expect PDA games! Alien Hominid HD has much higher resolution graphics than its previous incarnation. I don’t know what else I can say about anything at this pointâ€¦
SS: OK, I can waitâ€¦I guessâ€¦
Did you find any differences in developing the art or in the general design approach for a 4-player online co-operative game as opposed to those youâ€™ve done in the past?
DP: Well, bosses are a little harder to think up because now they have to be able to multi-task against 4 people trying to pummel them. There are more bugs to squash because of all of the possible situations you can put the code in. For the art, I found that crushing the characters down very small to keep enough surface space on the playfield was helpful. I had to take some different approaches because of the amount of characters you can play as, and that has its ups and downsâ€¦Probably more ups, though.
SS: One of your earlier games, Alien Hominid, started out as a smash hit Flash game on Newgrounds. Did you have any specific difficulties translating it for specific platforms?
DP: The Gamecube really handled texture memory amazingly well. Instead of using powers of two for pixel sizes (ie: 64, 128, 256â€¦), the Gamecube was able to do multiples of two (ie: 64, 66, 68, 70â€¦). This meant that it could crop the images a lot tighter and keep filesize down across the board, and I was really impressed with that. Since our game is 2D, we are essentially nothing but texture memory. The PS2 was the most difficult to accommodate for due to the texture issues, and the original Xbox handled them in the same fashion but could load more into memory - so it was never a large problem. For the GBA conversion, Tuna Technologies did an absolutely amazing job staying true to the console levels and their art. Unfortunately, we had so much art in the game that the GBA version ended up to what I believe was a larger cart size. This made it more difficult to find an American publisher for the GBA because it cost more to manufacture.
SS: Speaking of difficult publisher, how has your experience been working with the Xbox 360? Any helpful advice for Microsoft on how to improve the development cycle for Xbox Live games?
DP: The power of the 360 is just awesome. The only bummer for me so far has been the fact that we have to keep the game under 50mb. I really feel like we could take this game farther with a larger limit.
SS: From Peacetank to FBI-eating aliens, youâ€™ve given us some unique characters. Whoâ€™s your favorite to draw? Least favorite?
DP: The alien is probably one of the harder ones. They are all essentially a pain in the butt. Since my characters usually end up being minimalistic there are only a few defining features. If you get any of those features wrong you instantly have a screwed up drawing. It’s not easy - even though it looks like it might be! I’d say that the flatheads (guy in my logo) are the most enjoyable to draw.
SS: Where do you find the inspiration for your characters?
DP: It comes from different places, but I’d say most of my inspiration either comes from things from life (taking them and making them their most simple forms), or knowing what the player in the game will be doing and then molding a character to fit that. For Castle Crashers, I referenced crusader knights and went through 3 iterations until they couldn’t really be stripped away of any unnecessary details. Alien Hominid was off the top of my head, but started out hairy & mean.
SS: Whether on Newgrounds or at the IGF, youâ€™ve won some big awards for your work. If you could give an award to another indie game, who would it be and why?
DP: I don’t think it is my place to say who should get an award, but I’ll say this: The latest indie games I have truly enjoyed would have to be Blast Miner and Geometry Wars.
SS: As an independent developer, whatâ€™s your take on the recent controversy surrounding the Slamdance Guerrilla Gamemaker Competition?
DP: I feel it is a shame that they have allowed films on the subject but not games. Hey that almost rhymes! Either way, they were screwed no matter what they did regarding it. I feel somewhat sorry for them - I don’t believe they are corporate monsters or anything like that - like some people have been saying.
SS: Youâ€™re also a musician… Any chances of your work showing up in Castle
Crashers or Alien Hominid HD?
DP: I think someone else would be better suited to be doing the music for Castle Crashers. I have no time with all this art to do even if I wanted to step up for the challenge!
SS: Most of your music has a decidedly retro-game feel to it. What equipment do you use to make it? Who are your inspirations?
DP: I use Modplug Tracker for most of my music. The rest is MIDI. I’d say my main musical inspirations before the Watermelon CD would be Blizzard’s Warcraft MIDIs and random foreign music I find on searches, like Ne Zhdali or Oleg Kostrov. My playlist is basically a billion different artists. I listen to everything from techno to waltzes. After the CD was out, people asked me if I was into Perry & Kingsely, and oh man do they RULE. Three Suns was also introduced to me. I love both of these very much so.
My new CD has a mix between lighter piano or choir pieces and very hard distorted guitar rock. I think I might pull it back a little bit to Watermelon’s feel though for the rest of the tracks.
SS: Watermelon has some great sounds. I definitely recommend that our readers give it a listen. What games are you playing right now?
DP: Nothing really. Nothing has come out lately!
Next month, though - oh boy!! I can’t even remember all my reservations. I have tried Motorstorm for PS3 - that was great, but I don’t have a PS3. Also, I played through some Lost Planet - not really my deal, but an interesting change of pace for multiplayer stuff.
SS: It has been a slow couple of monthsâ€¦Any big games youâ€™re looking forward to right now?
DP: I’d say God of War 2, but you know for some reason, most of the games I play need to be on the 360 so I can get my gamerscore higher. Why? I have no idea. It’s just nice to have a score while you are scoring in the game, I guess!
SS: We love us some gamerscore here at the Alliance, tooâ€¦Can you tell us about any of the Achievements from your upcoming Xbox Live Arcade games? Anything particularly devious or destructive?
DP: We tried to make all of our achievements reachable - unlike some other games out there. (#1 ranking in the world, anyone?? ARGHHH!!!) But some people like to say Alien Hominid is the hardest game ever. This is rubbish! I can think of a billion side-scrolling games that would be extraordinarily harder. But since some people may think that, maybe our achievements are going to be difficult for some!
SS: Alien Hominid is definitely challenging, but in a good way…Certainly not the hardest game ever, though.
What are your plans for the future? Any other console games planned? Dad â€˜n Me could make for a great Wii gameâ€¦
DP: We have other concepts lined up, but nothing official yet. I wish I could spill the beans, but I just can’t!
SS: Weâ€™ll definitely be anticipating your next anouncement. Letâ€™s see if you can release this information: If Chainsaw Dad, Peacetank and the Alien Hominid got into a fight, who would win?
DP: Well, Alien Hominid can take out machinery pretty damn well so Peacetank would probably be toast somewhere in there. The Alien would be up for peace and all, but Chainsaw Dad would perpetuate the fight for certain. As long as the Alien could stay out of reach of Chainsaw Dad, he has the long range advantageâ€¦You know, I could see either one of those two winning. It’d be one intense fight. If the Alien didn’t have anything to jump up on, he’d probably get killed.
SS: Well, damn, I just lost five bucks. Whatâ€™s your take on Vista and its potential negative impact on independent game developers?
DP: I haven’t had any experience with Vista just yet. From what I hear so far I will probably hold off on installing it. I upgraded my internet explorer recently and I have to say I do not like this new version. It sucks if it really is making things harder for independent game developers. Perhaps Microsoft will address it?
SS: Yeah, we hope soâ€¦
Thanks so much for your time! Iâ€™m sure everyone is looking forward to checking out Behemothâ€™s first Live Arcade games soon!
DP: You too. Maybe we’ll crash a castle in the future?
SS: Count on it!
There are some interesting points in there, and a fair bit of information about Castle Crashers, which seems to be shaping up just nicely, and will hopefully fit onto the XBLA perfectly, just as Alien Hominid has done. Four player co-op over Xbox Live for Castle Crashers will also be something not to be missed. Who else is looking forward to Castle Crashers? Let us know below in the comments section.
Thanks nofear360 for submitting.