Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Q&A with Proxy Blade's developer, Ben Grauer

Between an Indiegogo campaign and Steam Greenlight, Ben Grauer, the one-man team behind Proxy Blade, is busy working on the upcoming action game. However, he was able to spare a few minutes and answer some questions about his game.
What inspired you to start a career as an indie developer?
Jon Blow? Maybe not (laugh). It was never a question of if, but a question of when. I never really asked myself why I make games. I just always did. I still have hundreds of notes and schemas for games since childhood. I just can't stop doing it, I am compelled to.
You’ve developed smaller projects including Fearless, Faceless, and IceWolf. Did these early projects influence Proxy Blade in any way?
Well, IceWolf certainly had a an influence, but mostly on the code side of things. Vampire x Knight (an older amateur demo of mine) too had a big impact on my design decisions. Proxy Blade is sort of a natural evolution from the few action demos I made in the past.

Proxy Blade has been developed over the course of two years. Has the project changed or evolved since its inception? How close is the current version to your original ideas?
I made a few important adjustments in early 2012, but in general all the big parts of the design were already put on paper as far as 2011. You'd be surprised how close it actually is. Actually, the design document goes quite a bit farther than what the current incarnation of the game is. It was a matter of picking which parts I could make by myself.
The game seems very polished already. How much of Proxy Blade is completed?
The entire game can be run end to end on hard mode (the only one existing right now), with the exception of the boss battles. I can speed-run it in under 3 hours, but I estimate the real run-time for a normal player to about 5~6 solid hours of gameplay. Of course, this is not considering the additional difficulty modes and other missing features.
What I have left to do are mostly the bosses, then the current tutorial needs a rewrite, there's still no save yet, and the menus need complete rework to look finished. Then, a lot of polishing and bug fixing left, don't underestimate those last steps.

Your Indiegogo page mentions Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry as inspirations for your game, games known for their difficulty and combo-heavy combat. How else have these games influenced Proxy Blade and what makes it unique?
In hindsight, apart from the basic concept of the genre, Proxy Blade was pretty much thought as it's own thing from the ground up. I also love fighting games, and I worked to somehow reproduce some of the feelings of great fighting game duels in Proxy Blade.
As such, attack and defence are both has important in the game. I wanted great looking back-and-forth fights between the player and his enemies, and I think the current balance is pretty good at that. It was also the occasion to solve some hold pet-peeves of mine such as bad cameras and repetitive dominant combos.
Super Meat Boy, Rogue Legacy, Volgarr, Electronic Super Joy...hard games are popular. Proxy Blade promises to offer gamers a challenge. Why do you think challenging gameplay is so appealing?
Because it makes things matter. The feeling when you finally kill Ornstein and Smough in Dark Souls is indescribable. Though, Proxy Blade is in a slightly different genre, I think I made the fights feel more fair than in some of those games.

The trailers for Proxy Blade have all been very gameplay focused. Do you have plans for a narrative?
Yes I do, it will be pretty simple (think Megaman 2 style of narration). Depending on the success of the fundraiser, I want to add more to it, there is a lot of room for it and there is no shortage of ideas.
What features would you most like to add to Proxy Blade?
Among the many more features I'd want, one would be a customizable skill slot system, adding a new sense of personalisation for the player by collecting and choosing what special techniques he wants to equip. Another would be new traversal skills and a revised environmental design to go with it. That would be a big undertaking too, but I'd sure as hell do it if I had the time.
You can read more about Proxy Blade here, help fund the game on Indiegogo, or vote for it on Greenlight.

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