Hi, I'm Robin.
Yesterday I sat down with Dallen Larson of Team Rumble, the game director of the team behind the upcoming indie platform fighting game, Indie Rumble. The game features a bunch of indie game characters as playable fighters such as Boyfriend from Friday Night Funkin', Welltaro from Downwell, Alex Eagleston/Eggleston from YIIK: A Postmodern RPG and The Kid from I Wanna Be The Guy! as well as stages from SUPERHOT, Tough Love Arena and Mission in Snowdriftland. With out further ado, here's our chat!
(Art by Barddro.)
Robin.: "Thank you for agreeing to this interview! You're the director of the game Indie Rumble, do you wanna tell everyone what it's about for those out of the loop?"
Dallen: "Absolutely, glad to be here! Indie Rumble is a platform fighting game akin to the Smash Bros. Series featuring indie gaming's biggest icons."
Robin.: "Would you consider your game to be an homage to the Super Smash Bros. series then?"
Dallen: "Absolutely. I'm a massive fan of Smash Melee, and I've gone to tons and tons of locals and online tournaments for Ultimate."
Robin.: "What would you say makes this game different from other platform fighters, like Brawlhalla for example, aside from the fighter roster?"
Dallen: "I think the key difference is mechanically we treat Indie Rumble as a more traditional fighter. We use stamina-based gameplay and meters which are usually only found in more standard fighting games. We also feature air shielding, Rollback Netcode, a maximum of 8 players in the standard mode. Most of those features aren't really standard yet, but we think as time goes on other fighting games will adapt a similar approach."
Robin.: "Rollback Netcode is a term I see thrown around a lot when it comes to these kinds of games, but no one's ever really explained what that is to me. Would you mind being the first to do so? And while you're at it, could you explain why you think it's an important part of the game?"
Dallen: "Absolutely! As the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic continues, great netcode becomes more and more of a must have. Nobody likes having connection issues or laggy matches, so Rollback is a great way to lessen that. Rollback, essentially learns your playstyle as the game goes on and predicts exactly what you're going to do in very specific scenarios, based off of what you have done previously. It then sends that to the other screen locally. Essentially, players with poor connection are able to play what the netcode thinks you're going to do, making the game run butter smooth-but then the issue comes up. What if the netcode is wrong? Of course a big part of competitive play is mix ups. As soon as the next frame is rendered, the Rollback checks if it was correct. On the low chance it was wrong, it rolls back to the previous frame's input and corrects itself.
This allows for insanely smooth matches. Some even feeling like a local match. This is opposed to the standard 'Delay-Based Netcode,' which essentially pauses the game while waiting to read each players input."
Robin.: "I see, that makes a lot of sense, thank you! With all the work you're putting into this, I've gotta ask: what's your work schedule like? Is this your full time job or something you're making on the side?"
Dallen: "Of course. I'm a college student, and do my studies online asynchronously- so my college schedule and work schedule for Indie Rumble kind of go hand in hand. I spend almost all day, 7 days a week I work on the game. I don't really need a paying job for revenue, since I get money from my previous games."
Robin.: "Speaking of previous games, how did you learn to develop games? Did you take a class or are you self-taught?"
Dallen: "When I was younger, I thought looking up tutorials was a negative thing and didn't make me a 'real coder.' But in around 2018, I followed a Brackeys Unity tutorial step by step. I really learned that way. After finishing that, I really understood the engine, and THEN took the time to understand the language. I'm completely self-taught."
Robin.: "Amazing! That's good to hear. What was it about tutorials that made you think following them didn't make you a 'real coder' as you put it?"
Dallen: "I believe it's just a social norm, sadly. There's actually a lot of stuff that I feel most devs believe don't make you a "real developer". A big one is using assets. Asset flips are bad, but there's nothing wrong with a solo dev who can't do art using free assets and giving credit in my opinion."
Robin.: "I think that's something we can both agree on, I've been making a short little project in RPGMakerMV these past few weeks using the pre-made assets and I think it's a good way to get yourself started if your not familiar with pixel art or the software. Getting back to Indie Rumble, what characters and franchises are you most excited to be working with?"
Dallen: "That's awesome to hear! I hope that goes well, and if you need help I'm always here! As far as character I'm most excited to work with, that's a really tough one. For me personally, Alex from YIIK comes to mind. There's a ton of character we've been able to work with so it's really hard to narrow it down. The developers who actively continue to follow this project and support it such as Nitrome, ChairGTables, and AckkStudios (among others), make me incredibly excited to work with those IP's."
Robin.: "That's great to hear! Is there any character or IP you wish you had in the game that you as of yet haven't been able to get the rights for?"
Dallen: "I want to clarify, this is only my behalf. Of course when deciding who gets in, a lot of that comes to our development team. Only speaking for myself, Among Us, Five Nights at Freddy's, and Smiling Friends all have characters I really want to explore. Perhaps in the future."
Robin.: "Smiling Friends is an interesting one, because that's a TV show as opposed to a game. Do you think this is kind of a 'Goku in Smash' situation or do you think that characters from a show like that could hypothetically have a chance? This is assuming the rest of the team were on board, of course."
Dallen: "Our current rule is '...as long as the studio developing the media is not AAA were willing to consider. Doesn't even need to be a video game...' The rest of the team has shared a similar sentiment. If we could get into contact with the IP holder(s) for Smiling Friends, we would definitely reach out, as posted to the 'Smash Goku' thing, in my opinion comes down to Nintendo simply not wanting that to happen. Could be wrong there though, haha."
Robin.: "Ah I see, that makes sense. You know something that actually just occurred to me is you have The Kid from I Want To Be The Guy in your game. How tricky is it to adapt his character when it's so heavily attached to copyrighted materials from the old NES era? Stages from that game use music from MegaMan 2, for example, and you fight against Mike Tyson from Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! at one point."
Dallen: "It is slightly more difficult, yeah haha. Pulling off source material that is original from the game rather than stuff the game takes is no easy task. The song on the stage, composed by Exclaim!, is an original compositing using soundfonts and leitmotifs from other games. It kind of fits into a sort of 'parody' category, which fits the character in my opinion."
Robin.: "Right, parody is a fine line but it seems like you guys are doing a good job staying in that lane. Well before we wrap up here, is there anything else you'd like to add? Any final statements or maybe even a hint at what's to come?"
Dallen: "Just that I appreciate the opportunity! I hope your game development goes well! And to keep your eyes peeled for the end of February!" (He put a looking emoji and a winking emoji after that but I can't paste them for some reason so here's me telling you they were there instead.)
Robin.: "Awesome! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview and I hope you have a fantastic day!"
Dallen: "Sounds good! You too!"
(Art by MCVinnyq.)
Thanks again to Dallen Larson for agreeing to this interview! I'd like to give a shoutout to Andrew Allanson, who I also interviewed here, for helping me come up with questions to ask during this interview. I hope you guys liked this interview and until next time, I'll see you all alter.
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