June 30, 2022

Hands On With Wrongworld: EGX 2018

“Crash-landed on a surreal, low-poly world filled with freakish inhabitants, choose between permadeath and non-permadeath modes and embark on an epic (and ridiculous) survival adventure. Will you manage to stay alive as you unravel the mysteries of Wrongworld and search for a way home?”

That is the set-up for quirky survival game Wrongworld from developers SLUDJ Games. One of the more unique games we got to play at this years EGX. With its unique art-style and brilliant game-play this game is already building a lot of hype.

This game oozes charm and we loved every moment of the build we played. As usual we got to spend some time with one of the dev’s and ask them a few questions.

Once you have a good game idea, how do you come up with the characters and bring them to life?

I don’t really have a set process for designing characters; I tend to toy around with a bunch of ideas until something jumps out at me. Sometimes I start with a pencil, sketching whatever pops into my head; sometimes I’ll play around in my modelling software, creating vague body and head shapes, waiting until inspiration strikes; and sometimes I already have a set idea in mind for the kind of character I want to add to the game, either because it randomly popped into my head and seemed like a fun idea at the time or because I needed a creature that serves a specific game purpose. For example, at the start of early access, the game had 4 biomes, each of which required its own native beastie, and the characters designs flowed naturally from the type of biome.

The next two beasties I added grew out of my plans for a new crafting tier: the nuclear tier. So, radioactivity was the order of the day, and that led to Wadioactive Wabbits. And I also wanted to include Acid as a resources for a few different purposes… And where does acid come from? Alien blood, of course!

Can you tell us about the team?

The team is just little old me.

For the readers who are unfamiliar with you and your work, would you mind describing your personal background and what influenced you to become a professional game developer?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved games. Not just video games either, but board and tabletop games, and pen and paper RPGs. As a kid, I used to make my own quite a lot, so I knew it was the career I was always aiming at.

I briefly went to study Computer and Video Games Design at Salford University, but I dropped out after just a few months. The course was still in its infancy and wasn’t great, plus I just wasn’t really in a formal education frame of mind at the time.

I spent some years after working as a Graphic Designer, then a non-game business opportunity presented itself, and I ran with that. Fast-forward about 12 years and I felt it was time for a change. I picked up Unity and started teaching myself game design again, and got about 6 months into the creation of a 2D puzzle platformer, but I never really warmed to Unity. I’m not a strong programmer, so it always felt like a struggle. I ultimately stopped development of that to work on some other non-gaming things for a while, but about 6 months later picked up the Unreal Engine, threw myself in, and instantly fell in love with it. After a few months of prototyping random ideas, the beginnings of Wrongworld began to take shape.

What game accessibility option do you have in your game? (remap keys/ diff control sets / subtitles etc)

Most of the keyboard controls are fully customisable, but gamepad controls are fixed at the moment. At some point, I plan to visit those to refine them a little, and also add a few presets.

And the game doesn’t really feature any dialog, so subtitles aren’t something I’ve had to think about!

Are there any classic or current games/films that changed your creative vision or that stand out to you as must play/watch and why? Have you been impressed or surprised by any recently?

Back when I was prototyping ideas, I was playing a lot of Don’t Starve, and one of my initial thoughts was, “I wonder if I could make a Don’t Starve-style game in 3D”. A few months later, I had a fun little prototype of what would ultimately become Wrongworld up and running! So, Don’t Starve was definitely a big influence on the game, at least at the start. In the end, it’s morphed into quite a different beast altogether, but I think you can still feel the influence underneath some of the game systems, such as the crafting system and random events.

As far as films go, you may notice quite a few little easter eggs and references in the game… Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, Aliens, and I’m sure there are plenty more in there too. And I’ve got a list of other film-related things I’d like to add in future as well!

What was the most challenging aspect while developing your game?

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m not a great programmer (I understand the basic structure of code, but I always get caught out by syntax), so the initial learning curve was a little steep. However, Unreal’s Blueprint system is something that clicked with me pretty quickly, and it definitely helped alleviate the challenges associated with that aspect of development.

Time management was also tricky. As a solo developer, I felt like I was spinning a lot of plates and always struggling for time, which can lead to a lot of stress and an inability to switch off. I just have to remember to stop and take a breath from time to time, and force myself to have some downtime every now and again!

Nowadays, PR and marketing seems to be my biggest challenge. It’s not something I’m comfortable with, and it feels like I’m regularly banging my head against brick wall with it. But, with every passing week, I think I’m getting a little more comfortable with it. Like everything, it’s a learning process, but I’ll hopefully get better and better over time as long as I continue to throw myself into it!

How long have you been working on Wrongworld?

Almost 3 years, although some of that included teaching myself various aspects of development, so I’m sure I could shave some of that time off if I were to start over again.

Where do you think the games industry will be in the next 5-10 years?

With companies likes Nintendo hurling the occasional hardware curveball into the mix, and Apple throwing their marketing power behind whatever innovation they want to push, I think it’s very difficult to predict. Maybe VR will have become more accessible and have taken hold by then; maybe streaming services will have rendered obsolete the need for our own powerful machines; or maybe something will come out of leftfield and change everything in a way nobody saw coming!

Either way, I’m sure it’ll still be a fascinating place, and I think there’ll always be room for a wide (and ever-growing) range of ways to play.

Personally, I’m still hoping holographic technology becomes a thing. I want a 3D world beamed into my living room, without the need for wearable gear. But we’ll probably have to wait a little longer for that!

What inspired the art direction for your Wrongworld?

My artistic ability with a pencil and paper hasn’t really evolved since I was about 10 years old. Y’know how kids draw? Very 2D, big googly eyes, ridiculous creatures, wonky proportions. That’s how I draw, and it’s an art style I love.

Beyond that, N64-era Nintendo/Rare graphics are something I love – bright, colourful, simple, relatively timeless. And, on a more subconscious level, I think I may have been influenced by a wide range of sources, ranging from things like Aardman Animations all the way to the art of Van Gogh!

How did you get into game design?

I think I probably covered this in the “personal background” section, but the short version is:

Brute force, and a refusal to give up!

Are you considering to include any streaming options in your game (twitch commands, Like the ones in (Next up Hero)?

Yes, I want to add both Twitch and Mixer viewer interactions, so viewers can influence which random events trigger, and also mess with the streamer in a bunch of different ways (like spawning beasties on the player). I still need to work out all the details, but the wheels are already in motion for this.

You’ve been selected as a finalist in the TIGA awards 2018, how did that come about?

I think I saw someone on Twitter talking about finalising their own TIGA Awards entry, so I decided to submit my own! I genuinely didn’t expect anything to come of it, though, and being selected as a finalist definitely came as a massive (and very pleasant) surprise!

How do you feel about being selected?

Honoured, humbled, overjoyed… And very fired up to push onwards and upwards!

Being selected in the “Best Start-Up” category is very flattering, and it’s a really nice acknowledgement of all the effort I’ve put in over the last few years. And I’m insanely grateful to the super-supportive Wrongworld community, too… Without their feedback and words of encouragement, I may well have burnt out long ago, and I’m sure Wrongworld wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is today, so they definitely deserve some of the credit!

Do you feel this will assist your game in any way?

I’m sure I’m not the only developer who feels like this, but I’ve always struggled to get the attention of the gaming press, which is very frustrating because the game’s been so well received by the players! Marketing is not my strong suit, so when it comes to boosting awareness of the game, I often feel a little out of my depth… And the fact that I didn’t really do any PR at all until the game had already been released certainly didn’t help matters! Also, because the game looks rather silly, I think some people overlook it, assuming it’ll be lacking depth, so I hope the nomination will add some legitimacy to the strength of the game, hopefully putting it on the radar of more people.

But it won’t alter my plans for the game; I’ll be continuing to work on new content updates regardless for the foreseeable future. And as long as I’ve got enough money for food and maybe the occasional bottle of vodka, I’m happy 🙂

We will definitely be bringing you more on this game so keep an eye on our news-feed!

For more hands on’s with games from this years EGX stay tuned to ABG.

If you like this why not check out our hands on with retro run ‘n’ gun Valfaris.

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