Home » Interview » Interview with Game Developers from Kraden’s Crypt

Interview with Game Developers from Kraden’s Crypt

You’ve been the last to be banished and sealed into the Kraden’s Crypt, You must make your way into the very depths where Kraden himself resides, but many dangers await! Fight alone or with friends with the physics based battle system, where you control every hurl of your spell, every swing of your weapon or every pluck of your bow. Mix and match equipment and weapons to determine your class and play style. Fight Epic bosses, hordes of enemies and why not celebrate your victories in the tavern rooms with a few friendly crypt creatures? You may meet new characters that tell the story of the Crypt from many different perspectives. Never play the same game twice with our randomly generated Crypt that can catch you off guard through any given door!

I interviewed Kraden’s Crypt’s dev team over the weekend. Here’s what they have to say about their game! 
(it turned out longer than I expected! Thanks for putting up with all my questions, guys!)

About the Dev:

For those who don’t know you, who are you and what do you do?

Claudio: A computer scientist from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Has done research with computer vision and robotics in the past, got his masters degree last year after developing a framework for 3D reconstruction with Kinect and inertial sensors. Is passionate about computer graphics, and when bored, will either write for his (very technical) blog or read Gantz.
Sam: Artist and animator, Wigan, UK. No real certified qualifications like my brother Peter, Claudio and Ian, mostly college level stuff and the rest is self taught. Although I have been practicing animation and illustration from an early age, I guess that balances things out. Outside of that I love to play games (usually with Pete), it’s great “research”, I’ve also dabbled at some singing in a couple of bands and love music.
Ian: My name is Ian Hern, I am a software developer from Canada, and I am currently trying to make it as an indie game developer.  Last year I released my first game MoonBus and now I am working on Kradens Crypt, a game about bringing skill based controls to dungeon crawlers.

When did you get into gaming? What is the first game you remember playing?

Claudio:Most of the games that I’ve played during my childhood were either SNES or N64 titles, starting with Donkey Kong Country for the SNES, in the mid 90’s. I was around 8 years old back then, so it took me quite a while to get used to the whole game thing and make it through the first DKC level (yeah, the one in which the only challenge was to skip a pit). I still enjoyed every second of it, and have been a gamer ever since.
Sam: I think since I was around 5, I asked for a “comfuter“ for christmas, (I didn’t even know what the heck they even did I just thought it sounded cool). It turned out to be a Commodore 64 console in which games were cassette tapes like an old walkman. I don’t remember much about the games… I  can recall one called ”Vixen” a side scroller in which you played a woman who randomly turned into a fox, maybe from collecting something… but my true golden days of gaming came from the Sega Megadrive or otherwise known as “Genesis” with games like Sonic, Streets of Rage, Light Crusader, Gunstar Heroes and Dynamite Headdy.
Ian: I was about 7 when I started gaming.  A friend had a nintendo so it was probably Super Mario Bros.  My best friends older brother was into PC games and we played Dune 2 and some obscure top down shooter I can’t remember the name of.  I also had an original game boy as well as spending lots of time playing the Simpsons game at the arcade.  The thing that really ticked me over from hobby into obsession was when one of my dads friends gave me his old copy of Diablo.  It was the first time I really hunkered down and played for hours and hours on end.  That was back when I shared a computer with the family and we also had dial up so I could only play online for short periods of time otherwise nobody could phone us.  I could talk about this forever but I figured you didn’t want a two page essay.

How did you get started in game development and why have you stuck with it?

Claudio: My first contact with programming was right after I got my first computer. Ironically, it wasn’t powerful enough to run games, so I used it to learn web development — writing php code was as puzzling and fun as I expected a good game to be. A few years later, when I had a slightly better computer, Half Life² was unveiled with promises of stunning graphics never seen on a game before. I was so amazed by what I saw that I promised myself I’d become a graphics programmer.
Sam: RPG MAKER 95! Seriously once Peter and I had a furious battle over who’s turn it was on the computer because of the ability it game us to piece together a game, if that’s not passion I don’t know what is . However If you want to to really make the game of your dreams, you’ll most likely have to learn to code or collaborate with a coder. I have tried collaborating on games before but the coders would often leave the projects. However things are different this time around with Claudio and Ian on the team. I stick with it because it is rewarding to see the game evolve and exciting to discuss new features and directions in which we could take it. I’m sure when people start play and enjoy the game, this will also have a huge rewarding feeling.
Ian: When I was a child I would design real life turn based strategy games made out of paper with little men drawn on them.  They were terrible but it was a start.  In junior high I made some games with scripting and hyper-studio that were also terrible.  In high school I finally started to learn programming and got into this game designing phase where I would design these huge grandiose games that would be impossible for anybody to build (though I tried).  Finally in university I managed to finish my first game.  I programmed most of it in the back of a truck on a road trip across Canada and the thing was my friends and I had a blast playing it.  There’s a combination of making something from your imagination real, and watching people enjoy your creations, that  drives me to make games.

If you weren’t a game developer, what would you be?

Claudio: Most likely a computer graphics researcher. If not that, then possibly a web developer. As a teenager, I sometimes used to envision my future as a graphic designer, but it’s hard to say I’d really make it.

Sam: Just an artist and animator for visual media, before making the decision to make games, I used to do freelance animation. If I were able to have a choice, after a game developer, I’d like to be a singer as pouring your heart out into a song you’ve written is also a great sense of achievement and self-expression.

Ian: I have a thing for programming so I would just revert to software developer, it’s a good gig with interesting problems and measurable progress.

Software & Business:

Which game development tools are you using or have you made your own? Are you using any third party tools such as map editors or animation suites?

Claudio: We are using XNA/MonoGame combined with Farseer Physics (for physics simulation) and Spine (for 2D animations). We also have our own map editor, which was written using only the resources provided by XNA/MonoGame.
Sam: I’m gonna let you take the floor with the programmy stuff Claudio. For the arty stuff we use
Flash to draw and animate objects within the game and Spine A program that helps us layer and organize the complex and vast animation states into a series of tidy file formats.
Ian: I built a level editor that also lets you edit items and monster behaviours.  It’s a little rough around the edges but it gets the job done.  We also use Spine for animations which I think has saved us lots of time.

What is your computer setup? Do you have a dual monitor setup? Mac or PC?

Sam: Dying PC that’s on it’s last legs, that’s my setup, Although Peter and I share and take turns with our Waccom 12WX drawing tablet, we can’t afford another atm because they are really expensive.

Claudio: All my work is done on an MSI gamer notebook. As I’m mostly responsible for the Linux build, I spent most of my development time using this system, although sometimes I switch over to Windows to make sure my contributions work identically on both platforms.
Ian: I’m a PC guy (though I am leaning towards linux).  Unfortunately I have been moving around a lot lately so I have been working from an 18 inch laptop.  I very much so miss my 26 inch screen.  It’s an ASUS gaming laptop which would be nice if it didn’t have bad graphics card drivers that has trouble with some openGL games (eg. Fez, Ironclad Tactics, Broken Age).  I tried to get in touch with them but they gave me the run around, which would be less ridiculous if it wasn’t targeted as a gaming laptop.  Boo ASUS.

What is your favorite platform to develop for?

Sam: I’d say PC is always going to be the most straightforward so It means you can test and play your games more easily. Although I haven’t tried much else… It would be cool to develop something for an Oculus Rift though.
Claudio: I have almost no experience with macs, so I can’t talk much about them. On PC, though, I have a preference for Linux over Windows, as the former is faster and it has a great collection of tools that are invaluable to any developer.
Ian: I don’t really have enough experience to answer this, ask me again when I have release a smartphone and a console game.

What programming language do you prefer to use in developing your games on and why?

Claudio: C++ contains the features I like the most: (relatively) high performance, operator overloading (doing some linear algebra can be a nightmare without it), high order functions (specially useful for some programming patterns), multiple inheritance, a very sophisticated templating system (can save you from rewriting a lot of code if used wisely) and a relatively large base of libraries. It’s very error prone, though.
Sam: I managed to make pong with C# once.
Ian: C# because I am lazy and it lets me get stuff done faster.

Any other recommendations for software? (project management, etc)

Sam: I recommend Google Drive for management, Google Hangouts for meetings, and I recommend people take a look at Spine even if you lack an artist as it has many uses, some of which we don’t utilize in our game.
Claudio: A source code management tool like Git or Mercurial is invaluable for scalable software projects, games included.

Ian: We are using a lot of google documents which is great mainly because they exist in the cloud, otherwise nothing comes to mind.

 How many people are involved in the making of Kraden’s Crypt?

Sam: Altogether there are 5 of us involved: Myself (Artist), Peter (Artist) Ian (Programmer) Claudio (Programmer) and Brett Coop (Composer and Sound Engineer)

What have you done marketing wise?

Sam: We have been trying to be active on social media such as twitter (@IanMakesGames,@KradensCryptSam, @thatgamedev, @KradensCryptPey) and facebook, we have been Posting our game on forums of various game dev and gaming sites. We have organized an attendance at a game convention (London Anime and Gaming Con), We have set up an IndieDB page for our game where we post blogs and news about the game. 

What has gone right/wrong during development?

Sam: For me personally I’d say most of the art assets have turned out good, I’d say we’ve somewhat neglected the GUI aspect of the game and It makes it hard to make decisions on what items to equip in the game. Although this is something we are going to rectify.
Claudio: I’d say that our decision to roll with our own map editor was a very risky one, considering it has consumed its development time. On the other hand, it fits beautifully with the components we are developing for the game itself.
Ian: I built the level editor into the game which seemed like a great idea at the time but I think we should have kept it external as I had to write a lot of code just to have buttons and drop down lists and windows, and they still break easily.  I could have made the editor outside of the game using Microsoft technology and you get all that stuff for free.
Instead of having the programmers import all the artists assets into the game we built a system so that Sam and Peter can do it themselves.  Claudio and I have less work to do, Sam and Peter get instant feedback and can iterate quickly.  Also every once in a while Sam and Peter impress us by building something we hadn’t intended the system to do.

What lessons have you learned from developing your game?

Sam: I’ve learned to organize myself and take each aspect of developing the game on at a time by making a list of small goals each day. Otherwise I’ll think about all the things that need doing at once and then find myself rocking back and forth in my chair. I’ve also learned that solid and constant communication between your team makes a world of difference to the workflow.
Claudio: It is common for programmers to be introverted and focused on their tasks. As an indie developer you have to leave this mind set and get out of your comfort zone, take your time and perform tasks that you wouldn’t in a big company, like working directly with your artists or marketing your game so you keep getting exposure.
Game & Inspiration:

Can you tell us about the startup of Kraden’s Crypt? When did you start working on Kraden’s  Crypt?

Sam: Peter and I came up with the idea to make a video pitch emulating what our game would look like around early 2013, we set off and discussed the mechanics of the game, drew lots of artwork on paper and then moved on to animating the video pitch. The plan was to find people who were in a similar mindset and wanted to work with a dedicated team. The art style and “gameplay” in our video was convincing enough to attract a great response from a lot of Programmers from which we first recruited Ian in August that year and Claudio around March this year to the team.

How long do you estimate development to take?

Sam: **Sobs**  I really can’t say for sure… I’m hoping we get it to a finished somewhere within 2015, but it’s too early to make a solid prediction at this stage of development.
Claudio: Considering our current progress, it may be finished as early as Q1 2015. However, we expect to freeze development during our kickstarter and greenlight campaigns, as the whole team will be mostly concerned about presenting the game to the world. Considering that, we won’t make any promises for now.
  How did you come up with the concept for Kraden’s Crypt?
Sam: Peter and I love co-op games, and game’s like Mount and Blade Warband, that give players the direct ability to control attacks in a way I’d never experienced and Super Smash Brothers Melee a game that broke every rule about fighting games and yet worked so well. we grew tired of playing dungeons crawlers in which you had to simply click on an enemy to kill it and press the number your abundant potions were slotted. We wanted to make something fresh, something in which you could have more control of attacks, then we thought “physics” and then the beginnings of Kraden emerged from there.

What were your inspirations?

Like I mentioned above: Smash Bros Melee and Mount and Blade, along with our childhood Megadrive games and even modern indie games like The Binding of Isaac and Castle Crashers.
 Which games have inspired you the most?
Sam: That’s tough… It’s hard to choose, I’d say Mount and Blade in the case of gameplay as I wanted to take away some of the mouse controlled combat from that game and apply it to a co-op dungeon crawler, however the art is more inspired from the likes of Castle Crashers, and Binding of Isaac, but the 90’s generation of gamers might see some Dynamite Headdy and Light Crusader in there.

What platforms will Kraden’s Crypt be released on and why? 

Sam: So far PC, Mac and Linux but I’d love to see it on other systems, although it’s not as simple as wanting it unfortunately.

Personally, I love indie games and programming. I would love to get into indie game development. What advice do you have for aspiring indie game developers? 

Sam: I don’t know if I’m in a position to give any advice on “commercial success” yet or advice on programming but if there was one bit of advice I would give it would be that you should make sure you make the game you always wanted to play but nobody made and have a good time doing it.
Claudio: If you intend to become a game programmer, never underestimate the importance of math and physics in your life. Also, as an indie game dev, make sure you are frequently escaping your comfort zone.
Ian: Just do it.  Make something today, start small.

In your opinion, what are the key programming languages to learn?

Claudio: A short answer is that it depends on what kind of game you want to make, and where do you intend to run it. Many simple games can be written very quickly with javascript, which can be deployed on most platforms. On the other hand, a sophisticated desktop game could benefit from the relatively high performance that you can get from a well written C++ code.
A more elaborate answer would be: don’t limit yourself to learning just one programming language. On Kraden’s Crypt, we are using C# for the engine, HLSL/GLSL for shaders, SciLab for generating shadows from spritesheets and bash script to call file conversion tools. Each programming language has its own benefits and purposes, so having an open mind and trying different languages can end up being very rewarding.

Ian: All programming is transferable to some degree, learn any language well.

Anything else you would like to add?

Sam: Make sure to Check out Kraden’s Crypt and look out for our first playable demo and  Steam Greenlight page,  also thanks to you Nerdy Fox for interviewing us and thanks to the readers for getting this far! May they be blessed with lots of XP and epic loots.
Claudio: Those interested in the game can get a feed with the latest updates on our IndieDB page,www.indiedb.com/games/kradens-crypt. I’d also like to thank the dedicated developers from the open source projects MonoGame and OpenTK, as those projects have enabled us to target different platforms other than Windows.

Thanks for putting up with all of my questions, guys!

Links and such for the game:
Website: http://www.kradenscrypt.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KradensCrypt
Twitter accounts:
Ian: https://twitter.com/IanMakesGames
Claudio: https://twitter.com/thatgamedev
Peter: https://twitter.com/KradensCryptPey
Sam: https://twitter.com/KradensCryptSam

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