Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Aaron Maus (Founder & Lead Designer, Misdirection Games) about his new indie party game, Riposte!
About the Game:
Inspired equally by medieval art and Monty Python sketches, the game’s huge variety of bladed weapons are the stars here with direct player control and cunning moves that make every successful stab a thing of beauty (see trailer below):
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was Riposte! born?
Aaron Maus: Riposte! started out as a very different game called Fully Simulated Fencing, which I prototyped on a long plane flight. It was something more like a QWOP swordfighting game and was nearly impossible to play. In the process of making the controls feel better, I realized I should be making that game instead.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What was your role in the game?
Maus: Well, I’m a solo developer – so I did everything except for the art and the music, which I outsourced to freelancers.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How did you get involved in the industry?
Maus: Riposte! is my first commercial game. Before this, I had only worked on hobby projects and game jams. At some point, I reached an “internal quota” of business meetings and decided I needed to make a game.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What was development like?
Maus: It was quite a ride! When I get around to writing a postmortem, I’m thinking of titling it “I quit my job to make a game, got a puppy, had a baby, and released during a pandemic.” I am very tired.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes Riposte! special?
Maus: There aren’t many other dedicated 2v2 fighting games – and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one where players control the weapons instead of the characters!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?
Maus: I tried to capture the spirit of traditional fighting games to some degree by pulling in concepts of positioning, baiting, pressure, etc. – and of course, Mario Party 🙂
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Maus: My amazing wife did the voice for the female knight in Riposte!. To get more into character, she grabbed a short sword from the shelf (note: it’s a bookshelf, full of books; there just happened to be a sword on top, too) – but it slipped out of the sheath and cut her finger! Fortunately, it wasn’t bad. We put a Band-Aid on it and got back to recording.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What were the major lessons learned?
Maus: Take the time up front to do it right. Designs change, mechanics change…. Everything can change. A flexible architecture will save you a thousand headaches.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Maus: I think it’s inevitable – and that’s a good thing. Even if you think you’re doing something 100% new, there will still be ideas and pieces from what came before. But I also think that slavish devotion to the classics isn’t ideal. There’s always room for iteration and improvement: Whether it’s a new gimmick on top of the original mechanic or a subtle twist, game designers should (and mostly do) strive to create new experiences.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Maus: Almost all of my favorite gaming memories are playing games in person with friends (part of why I chose to make a local multiplayer game). If I had to pick one, it would be the time a friend and I rented Eternal Darkness (for the Nintendo Gamecube) from Blockbuster (now I feel old!) and did a full playthrough, switching occasionally.
The game plays tricks and pranks on the player to sort of simulate the loss of sanity (spawning the character a zombie for a moment, flipping the controls, etc.). Near the end of the game, at the save point (before the upcoming big boss fight instead of the normal save menu), it brings up a prompt to “Delete all saved games. All progress will be lost. Are you sure?” – and then moves to YES regardless of what you do and plays a slow deleting bar animation to really hit it home.
We had just played straight through all day – a little over 12 hours. I’m sitting there speechless, because I had been at the controls. My friend turns to me on the couch and just says “What. Have. You. Done.”
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want Riposte! to be remembered?
Maus: “That silly medieval fighting game!”
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Maus: In the immediate future, I want to port to Switch. After that, it’s prototyping until I find the next game.