My Q&A with Creators of Dustforce! - This 8-Bit Life
The game is nothing if not original in art style, play and, music. What was the initial inspiration for Dustforce?
Woodley: We’ve always liked the idea of an extremely acrobatic platformer where there is lots of opportunity for finesse. I had the idea one day when sweeping leaves off a path, and the mechanic seemed to promote covering ground and being mobile. So we started prototyping it and found that it was pretty fun!
Dustforce seems to use some of the best concepts from similar games and has quite a few unique concepts of its own. What games have influenced the team the most?
N, Nikujin, and Super Smash Brothers were big inspirations. We wanted to make a game that captured movement and speed with flow and elegance. If you watch a pro play those games, the fluidity looks really impressive.
Did the character design start out in its current form or were there wildly different versions during the design process?
Woodley: The character design stayed pretty consistent throughout the game. Since we had already tested out the style in the prototype, we were pretty comfortable going into development of the full game.
Dustforce has launched with a local multiplayer mode that is a lot of fun. Is there any possibility of an online multiplayer mode in the game’s future?
Terence: Right now we’re super busy working on adding more maps, the level editor and the Mac version. We’ve got limited manpower so we won’t really get to think about online multiplayer until we are done with all of that. It’ll be a big task, getting the netcode to feel right.
The game looks like its doing really well on Steam. Are you guys interested in porting Dustforce to consoles?
Terence: Well, we have a lot on our plates still, but it’s a possibility that we are keeping our eye on.
What was the most technically challenging aspect of the games development?
Matt: There’s now more than 11000 high resolution sprites for character animations, props, tiles, effects, etc. Loading all the sprites would require unreasonable amounts of video memory, but I didn’t want to impose restrictions on the number of different sprites a level could use or the number of different animations a character could have. Since only a handful of sprites are needed at a time, I decided on a virtual texturing technique (similar, but much less complex than what RAGE uses) that packs all the sprites in to a 65k virtual texture and loads in 128×128 pages as they’re needed. Fortunately the art style has a lot of solid colours, which gives us good enough compression ratios to just keep all the compressed pages in ram so we don’t have to deal with hard drive latency.
What sort of hardware was the game designed and/or created on?
Terence: In terms of hardware, we just used everyday desktops and laptops. For software, Matt built the engine from scratch using DirectX for graphics OpenAL for sound, AngelCode for scripting. The editors we used were Visual Studio for code, Flash Professional for art and animation, and Ableton live for sound and music.
After the inevitable success of such an awesome game, what’s next for Hitbox Team? Also do you guys have any other concepts that you’d like to work on?
Terence: We all have lots of ideas! Right now we are focusing on finishing up Dustforce still, but after that we will pick our next project. We definitely want to do something 3D.