Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Blazej Zbrzezniak, Game Designer at Red Dev Studio, who discusses their new game, “Down to Hell.” Taking a page from retro classics the likes of Castlevania and Berserk, as well as modern-day classics such as Devil May Cry, it’s an experience you have to venture on.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was this game born?
Blazej Zbrzezniak: At first, we wanted to make something similar to Dark Souls but after a couple of weeks, we decided that we have to go our own way so we restarted the development and made the game quicker and more violent. During that time we also came up with the idea of adding metal into the game. We thought that it will fit our atmosphere perfectly. And it actually is.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What was your role in the game?
Zbrzezniak: I’m a Narrative and Game Designer.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How did you get involved in the industry?
Zbrzezniak: I started in Red Dev Studio about two years ago, earlier I was doing some projects on my own.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What was development like?
Zbrzezniak: The game development is one of the hardest things to tell about. I mean most of the people think that you have the perfect job, so on and so on. But actually it is one of the most stressful things to do. You constantly wonder how people will think about your game, do the mechanics fit well, what if we change something in the core of the game? To sum it up the development was hard but on the other hand, making a game filled with metal themes were (and still is) one of the most awesome things that we did.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes this game special?
Zbrzezniak: I think that we have 3 things that we can be proud of. First, it’s the atmosphere and the whole theme of the game. Second, the boss fights, because even tho it’s a 2D game we were able to make the fights different and not simple. Lastly, music, working alongside great metal bands like Decapitated and KORONAL is one of a kind feeling.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?
Zbrzezniak: I would say that we were influenced the most by Castlevania, Devil May Cry and a little bit by Dark Souls. But actually Down to Hell is most influenced by Berserk. If you play DtH you will notice that.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Zbrzezniak: I think that probably one of the wildest moments during the development of Down to Hell was making a level strictly for the PGA 2018. Poznań Game Arena is the biggest computer games and entertainment fair not only in Poland but also in Eastern Europe. Two months before the PGA we pretty much changed everything in the game so we had only a couple of weeks to prepare everything. It turned out that people loved Down to Hell and I think that was the moment when we knew that we are going in the right direction.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What were the major lessons learned?
Zbrzezniak: PROTOTYPE EVERYTHING. Seriously for those of you who want to make own games, make a prototype of everything. Even if you think that you perfectly know how something should work.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Zbrzezniak: It’s a tricky question I would say yes but only if putting that mechanic into the game has a purpose. I think that games as a whole should be constantly developing and when you are incorporating older mechanics into your game you should add something from yourself.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Zbrzezniak: Playing Silent Hill 2. Everything in that game is perfect.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want this game to be remembered?
Zbrzezniak: We want people to remember boss fights and all the feelings that are caused by them.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Zbrzezniak: We haven’t finished working on Down to Hell. We will be working on that game for another couple of months but actually, we started early development of another game but sadly we cannot say more about it. At least right now.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Zbrzezniak: We want to thank everyone for the support and all the good words about Down to Hell. Even tho making this game was hard every kind word shows to us that it was worth it. And of course, if you got Down to Hell remember that we will add more content in the next couple of months. You can also join our discord and take part in the development e.g. choosing the bosses that will be added into a game. And once again thanks for everything!
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega-publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.