Independent development in Australia has been going from strength to strength over the past few years and the PAXAUS Indie Showcase serves to highlight some of the fantastic work being put out by local developers. Player2.net.au caught up with each of the developers awarded a spot in this year’s Indie Showcase and give a sneak peek at what PAXAUS attendees can look forward to.
PAXAUS 2015 Indie Showcase – Death Squared
PC & Consoles
SMG Studios should be a familiar name to mobile games with such addictive titles One More Line and One More Dash under their belts. We spoke to Lead Designer and Developer Patrick Cook to ask him about the studios first foray into console gaming with PASAUX 2016 Indie Showcase winning title Death Squared, a co-op puzzle game coming to consoles and Steam for PC.
Stephen del Prado: SMG seems to have a knack for crafting that ‘one more turn’ style of gameplay – is it difficult to incorporate this into a co-op title?
Patrick Cook: We feel like working on a console title is going to mean a very different approach to the twitch mobile games we’ve released recently, however I think in Death Squared you’ll very quickly notice a possibly familiar “one more try” kind of situation. Being co-op just makes people yelling at each other loudly part of the core experience.
What inspired Death Squared‘s unique minimalist aesthetic?
We really love a minimalist aesthetic, and it’s especially perfect for a game that’s very mechanics-first in its inception. We’re still exploring the game’s art direction and it may change during development, but our simple cube characters will remain, and our grid-design will also stay constant as it makes for good readable spaces. Deciphering the mechanical behaviours of Death Squared‘s levels is the single most important thing that players are tasked with.
Is there a possibility of a level editor and/or will there be further levels to look forward to after the initial release?
A level editor is something we’re considering options for, but at the moment we aren’t slating that as a launch feature and its inclusion at all is uncertain. We’ll have more info on that stuff in time, but additional levels post launch would be very likely.
What was your initial reaction to Death Squared‘s selection for the Indie Showcase?
Surprised, and really excited. We’d kept it fairly quiet up til that point. We’d seen a lot of people have fun with it when we hand them the controllers in our studio, but sending it off to be looked at by unknown people in a totally different context, we had no idea what’d happen. Now we’re super psyched for that opportunity to share it at PAX.
What can PAXAUS attendees look forward to from SMG Studios?
We’re bringing lots of stuff. We’ll also be on an SMG booth separate to Death Squared to show our other titles – both in development and recently released. We’ll have a four-button One More Line station, and demo builds of our soon to be released mobile game Thumb Drift, and possibly some other things.
PAX BONUS ROUND: Death Squared Thoughts
I was lucky enough to play an early build of Death Squared that I still found very impressive. The two-player mode is engaging, although it quickly becomes apparent why SMG have not yet mentioned the inclusion of online multiplayer – Death Squared is at it’s best as a couch co-op experience played with a friend.
As one player moves, touching certain squares in a level can trigger hazards for the other player, thus requiring precise and coordinated movements. This brings a puzzle aspect to the game as you predict what effect certain moves will have. Loading was almost instantaneous on the build I played and hopefully that will stay true for the final release.
One thing I did experiment with was Death Squared’s solo playability, which I have to say was both challenging and enjoyable. Although not the aim, single play is certainly viable on a keyboard and requires utmost coordination and planning to solve the more challenging levels.
For anyone attending PAXAUS 2015 with a friend or significant other, stop by the SMG booth and put your hand-eye coordination and relationship to the test with Death Squared.
Stephen del Prado
It was whilst toiling away in the bowels of the now mythical Australian Gamer forums that Stephen del Prados attempts at writing were recognised by then up-and-coming Matt ‘Hewso’ Hewson as “not terrible”. Since then Stephen has contributed to such sites as The Age’s now defunct Screen Play, the recently retired Black Panel and currently serves under Editor-in-Chief Hewso for Player2.net.au, at least until the pattern of decline obvious in his previous engagements is picked up by Hewso and he is exiled from games journalism forever