I caught up with the team behind Nefarious this week to talk about their villainous game and what we can expect from the final product. They are in the process of raising funds for their Kickstarter over here and this is one game I am personally looking forward to playing. The basics of the game is you play as a villain kidnapping princesses, stopping heroes, and taking over the world all in the beautiful look reminiscent of Mega Man X and Mighy Switch Force.
What were your inspirations for the game and how did you come up with the idea of using a villain as your protagonist?
Josh: Originally, Crow was the villain of our first idea, but somewhere along the way, we thought, “Our villain is so much cooler than our hero. What if we make a game about him?” and then, we began to wonder what a game would be like if Bowser or Ganondorf were the main character and what sort of mechanics would arise from that. That’s how we arrived at the kidnapped princess mechanic.
In the Kickstarter, you mention each princess you kidnap will affect the gameplay. Will each level start off from the point you kidnap a princess or will we get to seek out and capture her ourselves?
Josh: The first level will start you with a princess already. We want the focus to be more on teaching the player how to use the grenades and bombs through gameplay. The following levels will have the player start without a princess and then, they must reach them and then escape with them.
Jameson: Part of the challenge of the game is capturing the princesses in the first place and finding the princesses is not always obvious. In some of our level designs, we have princesses that are completely secret up until you run across them in hidden areas. They’re not required to beat the game, but they are required for 100% completion. We think this adds some mystery to things and gives people a deeper challenge after completing the main storyline.
The main character also sports a power glove (not the cool version from the 80s, unfortunately). Will this be an upgradeable item such as Mega Man’s buster cannon or will it be a static ability? If upgradeable, can you share some details as to how we would upgrade it?
Josh: Yes, the power glove will absolutely be upgradeable and customizable. Maybe Rosstin can talk more about that.
Rosstin: The power glove can be upgraded to fire different kinds of bombs. Standard grenades have a short timer and create explosions that can be jumped on. Remote grenades can be set and then triggered at the player’s discretion. I’m also planning a rolling nuke that terrifies enemies and creates a huge explosion.
You’re taking a unique approach to boss fights in this game by giving players the big guns, mechs, and whatever other villainous device you can think of to fight the measly hero. How do you ensure boss fights are still challenging all while letting the player, or villain, feel like they have the upper hand?
Jameson: Great question! In a typical boss battle, the focus is on dealing lots of damage over time to weak points while trying to avoid taking damage yourself. They’re kind of like tanks, where the player is a damage dealer. This is pretty challenging because it’s kind of an endurance battle and it’s usually pretty easy to get killed throughout. We thought at first we would make the battles feel the same way, where the hero just had a bunch of health and took forever to kill, but we realized that wouldn’t really be fully exploring the concept.
So instead, we decided to think of the boss battles as a challenge of outsmarting the hero. Unlike bosses, heroes do not move in predictable patterns. They do not just operate in a loop that you can learn; they should look and behave like a real player would. So the challenge here feels something like trying to outsmart an opponent in an online game.
The trailer looks great so far. How far along are you in the development cycle of the game? Assuming you hit your Kickstarter goal, when do you expect the game to be completed?
Jameson: There’s several aspects to answer in this question, but the short version is that we still have a lot of levels and boss fights to build out. We’re targeting early next fall for a gold master release, but we plan to have a limited version out to our backers as soon as January.
What’s your goal for the scope of the game? Are you aiming for a minimum amount of levels or a certain amount of gameplay hours?
Jameson: We’re still working on what feels right, but I think we ultimately want a primary gameplay experience that lasts between eight and twelve hours, with enough additional content and challenges to keep the completionists playing for months.
Finally, I’m always curious as to why an indie developer would target the Wii U as its only console release. Do you have a reason?
Jameson: It’s important to focus on delivering a great experience for the initial release. There’s no reason we can’t make a push for other platforms later on, but the initial release needs to feel right. Spending our last bit of development time working on the tiny variances in different platforms seems like a bad idea. We would rather spend our time making the game the best it can possibly be on the Wii U. How that may translate to other consoles is something we can think about after we ship something incredible on the Wii U. A multi-platform release consumes a ton of energy and I would just rather see that energy go to the game.
Rosstin: I think the Wii U is just a natural fit for this kind of game.