Review Fix chats with Eneko Egiluz (CEO & Co-Founder, Kaia Studios) who breaks down the frenetic gameplay a pixel art behind their new game, Dynasty Feud.
Review Fix: How was Dynasty Feud born?
Eneko Egiluz: Believe it or not, we started designing and developing a game that had nothing to do with Dynasty Feud. It was a slow-paced Metroidvania-style title. The problem is that we eventually realized that this particular game needed at least three years of work – and our initial plan was to spend no more than 18 months in development. So we brainstormed in the opposite direction and ended up with Dynasty Feud, a fast-paced online brawler.
Review Fix: What has development been like so far?
Egiluz: We’re not a conventional studio: We only have one artist and three programmers on staff – so we knew we needed to work on something, let’s say “technical,” to keep everyone busy. That’s where the online game mode originated; it actually took the most time to develop because we wanted a peer-to-peer system without any need for external servers. Porting to PS4, the online system, and the integration with PlayStation API were a bit tricky – adding a couple of months to the schedule. Everything else went more or less according to plan.
Review Fix: What makes this game special?
Egiluz: Dynasty Feud is a 2D brawler, and we understand this alone isn’t enough to make a game interesting. Even if there aren’t a lot of 2D brawlers out there, we knew Dynasty Feud needed to offer something different to stand out from the pack. Here is where the “Dynasty” concept comes in. A five member team/family with completely different abilities, strength, armor, speed. This adds a lot of strategy to every battle! But we were also looking for something else – something to make the act of playing a game and mastering a character into a natural learning process. So we added the one-hit-kill system.
Okay, so maybe dying instantly is frustrating (it definitely is in the beginning), but instant kills also set Dynasty Feud apart from competing titles. In fact, using the word “brawler” when referring to the game doesn’t tell the whole story. Since we have no life bars and our characters die with only one hit, Dynasty Feud becomes more of a strategic fighting game than a brawler. And not many brawlers can claim having 45 fighters to choose from!
Review Fix: What games influenced Dynasty Feud the most?
Egiluz: Obviously, Super Smash Bros. – from the very beginning. We also took a lot of ideas from indie games like Duck Game, TowerFall Ascension, Lethal League, etc.
Review Fix: As an indie studio, what do you think you guys do differently than the big studios?
Egiluz: Working as a small team allows us to share the design process equally. Although we have a lead designer, five individuals with different points of view can have rich, rewarding conversations about every aspect of the game – which is impossible with huge teams. On the other hand, being small and new forces us to think carefully before making decisions. In the past, we made a number of mistakes due to our lack of experience – so we’re always trying to improve. In Spanish, the expression is “El tiempo corre contra nosotros” (“Time runs against us”).
Review Fix: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Egiluz: Any testing session would provide plenty of examples! We always had ungodly amounts of fun playing our game… Hopefully, we can spread this joy to players worldwide.
Review Fix: Why do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Egiluz: The game industry is growing so fast. As technology improves, game mechanics and player interests change as well. Large companies decided to continue on this path – offering players lavish experiences not within reach of small studios like ours. So we need to offer innovation in other aspects and focus on new visual styles, mechanics, or support for different platforms. Releasing retro-inspired games is not about being stuck in the past. Far from it! Rather, it’s a way to offer players an alternative to AAA games. In our opinion, all participants need to be heard – and have their games played – for the industry to remain healthy.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Egiluz: I remember going to the only game store in town and waiting more than an hour, in the rain, to buy a copy of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It may sound weird – and I was really worried about ending the day without the game! – but when I think about that day, it puts a smile on my face.
Review Fix: How does Dynasty Feud disrupt the video game landscape?
Egiluz: Hopefully, Dynasty Feud will help bring back “couch gaming” (a.k.a., local multiplayer). That’s one of the main reasons why we developed the game in the first place! Instant entertainment and action that can be enjoyed in small 15-minute bites – a killer combination of short matches and non-stop laughter.
Review Fix: Who will enjoy it the most?
Egiluz: Teenagers – even if the 2D pixel art may seem strange to most of them. The character designs and fast-paced, short battles actually skew younger.
Review Fix: How do you want Dynasty Feud to be remembered?
Egiluz: I want it to be remembered as the colorful, entertaining game it is. We didn’t make Dynasty Feud to add an entry to the history of video games, but to provide laughs and good memories to all.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the game?
Egiluz: For it to be a viable option for brawler fans in 2018 – and to be remembered (with a smile!) for years to come.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Egiluz: We have some designs in mind and will hopefully start working on a new game soon!
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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