In my continuing efforts to discover new gaming talent and bring it to the attention of the industry, I came across indie outfit Hungry Pixel based in Madrid. For some time, the studio has been hard at work on NetherWorld; an open-world side scroller set in a hellish universe containing mysterious characters, a sinister plot, and a plethora of hostile creatures to fight throughout. At first glance, it’s extremely reminiscent of games such as The Binding of Isaac and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, but even a cursory scratch of the surface will reveal that this game has something particularly different to offer compared to the aforementioned titles. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the game is slated for release on both Steam and Nintendo Switch. Curious to learn more, I contacted the company and head programmer Dan Barreno kindly agreed to answer a few questions I had about it. Here were his responses:
What were the influences behind the general design of your game’s play?
It all started playing Undertale, which I think is one of the best games I’ve ever played. After finishing it in 2016, I decided to create an original story with simple mechanics but with a strong narrative. I imagined how would the darkest and most decadent version of Undertale be, adding drugs, alcohol, and realism to it. Stories like the indie game “To the moon” were also an inspiration.
We’ve used tons of references to build NetherWorld, most of them kind of creepy. Some of the characters of the NetherWolian Church were inspired by the Rammstein song Morgenstern, or the desert scenario by Sergio Leone’s films (“For a Few Dollars More”, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”…).
What has the developmental process been like?
Very well! It’s true we’ve passed through treacherous times that required us to go back and rethink some designs, concepts, and ideas in the past. Luckily, now we’re progressing at a very good rate.
How close are we to seeing the finished product?
We’re working nonstop to have the game ready as soon as possible, but there’s still a lot to do. Our intention is to finish NetherWorld between late 2019 and early 2020. As Miyamoto once said: “A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever”. It’s our first game, so we want it perfectly made!
What has been the most exciting aspect of development?
Its evolution. Have you watched the first video of NetherWorld? You shouldn’t. If you compare it to what we’ve got now, it has changed and improved a lot.
However, there’s another one even more exciting and fulfilling: community support. Since I started to post my progression alone and then after the Kickstarter campaign as a team with Hungry Pixel, we receive lots of messages every week encouraging us to continue working on it because they like what we do, and that’s simply amazing.
What has been the most challenging aspect of development?
I think one of the worst parts of it is not having the time you wish to develop the game, especially when you have to combine it with other jobs (yeah, devs need to eat too!). Sometimes it can be very frustrating.
Where did the inspiration come from for the design of the in-game world and its characters?
Well, as said before, we’ve taken inspiration from lots of games, music, and films, but what really encouraged us to create NetherWorld is to make something unique, original, and weird, a world with its own personality and aesthetic. You’re gonna find more than 10 scenarios based on basic climates/ locations (mountain town, big city, desert, forest, snow…) but all of them adapted to world peculiarities.
NetherWorld is kind of a dark and satirical land made of the worst things and taboos of human society: drugs, sex, alcohol, sectarianism… So we can say one of the main inspirations of the game is real life. It happens the same with characters: We wanted them to be quirky, a mix between humanoids, animals, and irregular black simple creatures (all properly dressed –or undressed- depending on their location in NetherWorld). So yes, you’ll find prostitutes, cowboys, cokehead mages, and tons of weird (and funny) people.
Besides Star Wars, are there any other figures in popular culture that will make an appearance in the game? And on the same subject, could the game be theoretically open to modding?
Yeah! You’ll see lots of references to pop culture and other games in NetherWorld, and not only visual things… You’ll have to discover it by playing and being clear-eyed 😉 Regarding mods, I’d love to see NetherWorld mods, although I don’t know if it’ll be possible for me to give other people the necessary tools to create them (wish I finally could do it!).
How well has the game been received so far?
Since the Kickstarter finished, we’ve received lots of positive feedback (even people who missed the Kickstarter and wanted to back the project!). We released a demo for the backers to test most of the mechanics we wanted to use in the final game, and also developed an in-game feedback system where anyone who played the demo could not only score it from 0 to 10 but also writing their opinions about the game, bugs detection, etc. We’re so glad that the results of the first test were so positive, excepting some little bugs that will be fixed for the final game.
The support we received from our 505 Kickstarter backers was awesome, and we’ll be always grateful for it (thank you Netherholics!). Without them, NetherWorld wouldn’t have been possible. We also want to thank all the people who had some words for us through Twitter and Facebook before, during, and after the campaign.
We also like to share our progress through social media, so this way people can see what we are working on at every moment, and we can know their feedback constantly.
What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?
For now, we’re going to release NetherWorld on PC and Nintendo Switch, but we don’t discard considering other platforms in the future.
Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
Maybe sounds a cliché, but don’t give up! You’re gonna find lots of people in your way telling you that’s impossible, but that’s not true. If you have a good idea, determination and you work a lot to get it, you’re gonna move forward for sure.
It’s also very important to build a community everywhere you can (Twitter, dev forums) where people can reach you and send their feedback to you. Sometimes we’re so focused on our beloved project that we miss important details… External people can help us detecting them!
Where about on the Internet can people find you?
On our website netherworldgame.com you’ll find all you need to know about NetherWorld: videos, music, Steam page, mailing list, Twitter, Facebook… Check it out!
Do you have anything else to add?
Yes. Thanks so much for giving us the opportunity to be in your blog, and hope y’all enjoy the interview as well as I’ve enjoyed doing it! 🙂
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dan and Hungry Pixel for sharing what they have to say about NetherWorld and to wish them the best of luck with it upon release. If anyone would like to learn more about the game, there are links below to the game’s website as well as various links to social media pages.
Scouse Gamer 88