Nintendo Enthusiast revealed that Triple.B.Titles had added a Wii U stretch goal to their Kickstarter — a game which simply must be seen in action, offering an unrivaled level of customization and the promise of asymmetric gameplay — a couple of weeks ago. We simply had to get in touch with the developers to find out more about Popup Dungeon. We spoke with founder Enrique Dryere about the game’s inspirations, customization options, and just exactly what would happen should they not reach their Wii stretch goal.
Who are Triple.B.Titles and what games and consoles did you grow up playing?
We’re Triple.B.Titles and we’re a little family-operated indie studio based out of a hut in Texas. Our only game prior to Popup Dungeon is called Ring Runner, which blends the fast-paced action of a space shooter with the passionate storytelling of an RPG. It features tons of customization, a 30-hour, story-driven campaign, and plenty of multiplayer options, so it was a really great game to cut our teeth on.
Like most children of the 80s and 90s, we were raised on a steady diet of Nintendo and PC games. If you polled the three of us — my brother, my wife, and me — you’d see that our favorite consoles pretty much correlate to our ages. For me, it’s the NES; for my brother, it’s the SNES; and my wife would answer N64. Aside from the classic Nintendo staples of Zelda and Metroid games, you’ll find that our favorites are a healthy blend of almost every genre, from Might and Magic and Red Alert to Diddy Kong Racing and Silent Death Online. We love variety!
How long have you currently been developing Popup Dungeon and what kind of experiences should players expect?
I’ve been working on it for about half a year; my wife has been working on it part-time for about as long; and my brother, Paul, has only been on the project for about three months, since he was still busy with Ring Runner.
Popup Dungeon is a rogue-like digital-papercraft board game with tactical RPG gameplay that lets you create any weapon, ability, enemy, or hero you can imagine. I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but players should expect the unexpected. With the option to automatically download user-generated enemies and a nearly inexhaustible stream of characters to choose from, no two runs will be alike. We’re taking special care to make sure every dungeon presents a unique challenge and experience.
If you can imagine a character or ability working within a game like Final Fantasy Tactics, it will be possible in Popup Dungeon. So this gives players a pretty wide berth of play styles. Our hope is to get as close to “if you can imagine it, you can do it” as possible.
What kind of variety in gameplay can we expect and will there be a co-op or multiplayer mode of any kind?
Often times we get questions like “Will I be able to have a character that does this in game?” and players are pleasantly surprised to discover that not only can they do that but several variations of the effect in question as well. For instance, can you “grapple” an opponent, immobilizing you both? Not only can you do that, but you can make the effect stun you both or snare you both, or maybe you are immobilized but they are stunned as with a sleeper hold. The beauty of our ability creation system is that you have fine-grain control.
The entire game can be played through coop with up to 5 players — six if you include the Dungeon Master. This can be done locally, online, or through a combination of the two.
To get an idea of how ability creation works, I highly recommend watching this video:
The game features an immense level of customisation/creative options. Can you explain them to our readers?
At their core, enemies and heroes are basically just a collection of these abilities — three in the case of enemies, five in the case of heroes, and three simple stats: Power, Endurance, and Speed. To import the graphics for an enemy, you simply need to select an image with transparency or on a flat, color-matted background. For characters, you just fill out the texture template we provide. The seams are automatically drawn in, so it’s pretty easy! In the case of the Wii U, we plan on providing players with in-game abilities to draw these textures.
Weapon creation is a snap as well. Like enemies, all you need is a simple 2D image to get started — the game automatically 3D-efies it for you. Then, you just choose a damage type, range modifiers (that determines the weapon’s potency at specific ranges), and its bonus, which can be nearly any effect you can imagine, like extra damage, chances to stun, the addition of custom tags like making a target “cheesy,” etc. In short, Popup Dungeon will be one extremely customizable game, but not only that, it makes this customization as quick and easy as possible. It’s as much a creative tool as it is a game! And you can share any of your creations online with your friends.
How do you plan on making use of any of the Wii U’s unique features? Have you considered using the second screen in unique ways?
The Wii U GamePad’s screen is a tantalizing prospect for our Dungeon Master mode, which allows one player to assume the role of The Wizard and take control of the enemies, determine variables for the dungeon’s creation, and use special DM abilities that can alter an adventurer’s fate. For non-DM gameplay, we’d still like to make use of the screen with either maps or inventory displays.
The Wii U version likely won’t be ready until 2016. Unfortunately, we’re a very small studio and our resources are limited. However, if we can pick up a publisher or if our Kickstarter campaign does well enough, we might be able to hire a team to work on the port alongside us.
The Wii U has had a hard time of late. Why did you decide to bring your game to Wii U?
Well, first of all, we have a Wii U, and it’s currently the console we play the most. Second, we listened to our backers and they were most interested, or at least most vocal, about a Wii U version. We think its controls and resources are a very natural fit for Popup Dungeon. Becoming a Wii U developer was a snap. We simply filled out a form, and a couple of weeks later, we were approved! We haven’t actually worked with them in releasing a game, but so far, our relationship has been positive.
Why did you choose Kickstarter? How will the $80,000 base goal be used?
We turned to Kickstarter out of necessity. The money we raised with Ring Runner was not enough for us to survive on — certainly even less to grow as a studio. The $80,000 is about what we estimate that we need in order to be able to focus all of our attention on development without having to take part-time jobs. I’d like to take a moment to clarify this because I feel that a lot of people see $80,000 as a really big amount of money — and to be fair, it is — but here’s the reality of the numbers:
$80,000 — Amazon and Kickstarter Fees — Software/Hardware Expenses — Promotional Expense — Composer Fees for three people over two years. Last year, the interest on my student loan was a bit over $9,000. The only reason we can even do this is because we’re supplementing this money with our income from Ring Runner.
What will happen if you miss your goal? Could the Wii U version still see light of day if you don’t quite manage the stretch goal?
We have a few options if we miss our goal: seek out a publisher that will help us bring the game to completion or use the remainder of our funds to try to get the game closer to release and relaunch another Kickstarter campaign. We could also take part-time or full-time jobs to support ourselves as we work.
The problem with doing this is that it really slows down development. Ring Runner took us five years to complete because we were working other jobs and going to school. If we would’ve completed it in two years, we would’ve released to a very different moment in the indie market and very likely wouldn’t need to be running a Kickstarter now.
If we don’t reach the Wii U stretch goal, we’ll likely use our initial profit to fund development. There’s also the possibility of working with a publisher that would facilitate this transition.
Thanks to Enrique for taking the time out of development to answer our questions!
To keep up with the latest news about Popup Dungon, you can stay tuned to Nintendo Enthusiast, where we will be covering the remainder of the Kickstarter campaign and any subsequent news. Alternatively, you can stay up-to-date with Triple.B.Titles via their website, their Facebook, or their Twitter pages, but most importantly, check out their Kickstarter page!