In gaming news, we caught up with up and coming indie game designer Dani Prokisch to chat about his debut solo commercial mobile game Damcell, out now on iOS.
Would you mind describing your personal background and what influenced you to become a professional game developer?
I’m Hungarian but I graduated in Dublin, Ireland with a degree in fine art painting. My interest in game design started with my degree project about the uncanny-valley where I made semi-realistic portraits of artists to interview them. My interest in the uncanny is still present in game design and in DamCell in the form of the finger-like alien creatures.
What are you looking for players to get out of Damcell, and what tools have you found to be most effective?
Like most game designers, I created a game that I would enjoy playing. It’s an action-puzzle adventure with an intriguing story. It was important for me that the game would have an interesting and compelling narrative. I chose to tell the princess’s story through interactive digital paintings. These cutscenes function as a kind of reward for finishing each section of the game as well.
One of my first video game memories I can recall is rescuing the princess in Super Mario Land and this trope of the saving the damsel in distress is ubiquitous in the gaming world. As a twist, I wanted to allow the player to play as the princess saving herself while unraveling the mysteries of the dungeon. The puzzles are fairly complex and take understanding of the layout of each level to progress, so it’s a bit challenging too.
What is your opinion of the mobile gaming scene right now in regards to independent developers?
I’m very much interested in the future of mobile gaming as handheld game consoles such as the Nintendo Switch are thriving, not just with big name titles but on the Indie scene as well. Mobile platforms are dominated by the Free to Play (F2P) games but there are more and more games that reject this scheme and are proud to be what I would call “Pay Once to Play”. Some of these games that inspired me with their art style or unique game mechanics include Monument Valley, Framed and Reigns.
Can you describe your design process?
As I’m relatively new to coding, I usually start of with asking myself “What can I make?” and then improve on that while I go. Naturally I overshoot my coding capabilities and then work my way up to it while I simultaneously work on the art as well. As a solo game developer I need to work fast and progress in all aspects of the game the same time. It’s very important make make the game playable from an early stage to see where it needs to be improved. The only aspect of the game design I’m not capable of doing myself is the music. For DamCell I asked a good friend of mine Aleksander Lelievre, to help me out on that.
You’re operating currently as a one man show – is that something that is common in the game industry and how do you find it?
There are lots of very small teams (indies) in the game industry and it does happen that one person can make a finished commercial game. One of these game designers who inspired me the most that I can do this alone was Thomas Brush, the creator of Pinstripe. Creating a game alone can be very difficult to get used to, especially when it comes to time management and it can feel very overwhelming. The creative freedom makes it worth it, though.
Who are some of your game design heroes?
While studying game design I came across a lot of people teaching different aspects of the discipline such as Bark Brown from Game Maker’s Toolkit, Extra Credits and Rami Ismail from Vlambeer. My favourite game designer is probably Jonathan Blow, the creator of the ingenious puzzle games The Witness and Braid.
Can you tell us a bit about any upcoming projects?
Currently I have a few working prototypes for other games in the making as well as updates for DamCell. An Android release is also coming soon!
By FF ©FM