Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Q&A with Malebolgia's developer, Jochen Mistiaen

I was able to get in touch with Jochen Mistiaen, the one-man team behind the upcoming horror game Malebolgia, and asked a few questions about his promising project.
What inspired you to get into independent gaming development?

I've been wanting to create "worlds" and adventures since I was a kid playing with LEGO. I started making some Zelda fangames, with GameMaker, when I was around 15 or so. They never really got anywhere, but I picked up very important knowledge on programming, asset creation and production planning. I also started developing a lot of my own ideas for original games, based on media (books, music, film, other games) that I encountered. "Malebolgia" however only started as a concept recently and got into production around early 2013. I have plenty of other ideas and even unused assets, and I hope I can realize some of them in the future. Actually, I've been adapting "Malebolgia" a lot to incorporate some of those older concepts and assets.
Why develop a horror game?

I'm not sure. Can't say I consider myself a "creep", but horror is kind of my favourite genre in media. Well, I would pinpoint it to monster design and architecture. I'm a very visual person and the expression of fear through shapes and forms is of great interest to me. Horror media often takes a familiar or classic setting, and then twists it around with unfamiliar scenery, creatures or impossible architecture. HP Lovecraft and Guillermo Del Toro are huge influences to me.
What makes Malebolgia unique compared to other indie horror games like Amnesia?
Lately, almost all horror games originate from Western/European developers. Consequently, staples of Western games, namely first-person view and realistic graphics, are ingrained in this new current wave of horror games. There's plenty of horror games these days, but I felt they were all about homogenous. I wanted to break free from that and create something that is more like the Japanese-developed games that I like. Something with a different art style, something 3rd person and not something that involved you running from one enemy type (like all those Slenderman games). 
Can you talk about the combat and enemies in more detail? 
The majority of the enemies can actually not be fought. Consider them more as environmental hazards that you need (to find out how) to avoid. Since all enemies damage you by being close to them, it's not recommended to fight them at all. Still, you have a basic lock-on and single attack at your disposal. Enemies are strong, but if you hit them while they are vulnerable (usually when they are about to attack you), you can kill them quickly. The most important thing is to not get overwhelmed. Oh, and there are some actual bossfights against big monsters that should be a good challenge. Bosses seem to be a rarity in horror games these days, so I wanted to put them in. "Dark Souls" is definitely an inspiration, though "Malebolgia"s combat is extremely simple and one-dimensional in comparison.

How is Malebolgia progressing? Can we expect a beta? Release date?
Game is still on route to be released October/November this year. It'll depend on feedback from playtesting; if there happen to be any big bugs or if the gameplay needs work, then it could get some delays. I am working on a demo, but I am not sure if I will make that public yet. I am planning a small Kickstarter soon (still need to work out some practical and legal issues), and I will first send out the demo to a select number of people for marketing purposes. If the feedback is good, I may make the demo public for everyone who's interested.
You can read more about Malebolgia here or vote for it on Greenlight.

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