Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Phil Gonzáles, Co-Founder of Meteorbyte Studios, who gives us an update on the nifty roguelike and what’s next for it in 2019.
Woodpunk is a fast-paced roguelike retro shooter, set in an alternate Medieval Era with futuristic inventions and warfare. Players take over the role of Aquinas, a genius inventor. His weapons are randomly assembled from independent modules, allowing for wild combinations like ice-shotguns, wooden chainsaws or bomb-firing machineguns – over 1400 unique weapons are possible with this system, helping greatly in the fighting off the hordes of enemies swarming the screen, as well as the gigantic bosses.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What has the early reception of the game been like so far?
Phil Gonzáles: WOODPUNK had sort of a soft launch, and the game has been slowly gaining traction as we continue developing content for it. Since its release, the community has bombarded us with feedback that has helped us extensively when deciding what changes to implement, or what content to develop. This feedback has been key to making the WOODPUNK a better game.
One part of the community was happy with the state of the game and didn’t have many issues, but the Chinese community especially disliked a couple features WOODPUNK had, mainly that weapons could be not saved between rounds.
After receiving this type of feedback we decided to change WOODPUNK’s core mechanic of weapons been given at random at the start of each stage. We spent a complete month developing a new system where weapons can be saved between stages and they have a degradation system which makes break down after extensive use.
Now that these changes are implemented, we believe that WOODPUNK is at a better state than when we launched it!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What have been some of the lessons learned since release?
Gonzáles: Working on Balance is key for these type of games. We did not have enough feedback before launch on WOODPUNK’s difficulty level. Our main feedback was earned at events we attended where we showcased the game. The difficulty curve was not correctly adjusted. Players who tried the game only tested the first couple of level/maps, therefore the latter stages of the game were not balanced. The hardcore roguelikes players found the end game too easy. So we’re mainly saying that balancing and adjusting the difficulty curve is key to having a good launch if you want to get the word of mouth flowing.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How did this game change you as a developer?
Gonzáles: This is our first game as a studio, so we changed as developers through the whole process of releasing a game. Hindsight there are several aspects we would have done differently if we knew what we know now. Sometimes we focused too much on features that finally weren’t so important, while others struggled behind.
As we developed WOODPUNK we learned to stay focused on the next objective, and not get distracted on small features that took time off what was really important. We love receiving feedback from the community, so when they gave us a good idea on what to implement, we would get distracted from what we were previously doing and started working on that instead.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want this game to be seen a few years from now? What do you think its legacy could be?
Gonzáles: We want WOODPUNK to be remembered as the next iteration in Roguelikes where not just the map is random. In WOODPUNK enemies are random, weapons are procedurally generated, everything is destroyable and of course, as in many other roguelikes, the map is randomly generated as well. So being remembered as a fresh take on roguelikes would be great!
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any hope for a console release?
Gonzáles: Yes, we’re working on it! Porting to console will start soon!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Gonzáles: For now we prefer concentrating on making WOODPUNK the best game possible. We have to work on the ports that will take a while, plus we’re planning on introducing more content in the near future, so everything is WOODPUNK, WOODPUNK and WOODPUNK.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Gonzáles: We would like to thank our awesome community, especially on out Discord. They’re constantly helping with every aspect of the game, so we couldn’t be more grateful!
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.