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Boot Hill Heroes interview with Dave Welch

For some time now, Indie developer Experimental Gamer has been toiling away on Boot Hill Heroes, an RPG inspired by classics including Earthbound, Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and even spaghetti western films. After receiving some much-needed funding on Kickstarter, Experimental Gamer has continued working on the project and hopes to launch the game in October on PC and Xbox Live Indie Games.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing one-half of Experimental Gamer. Dave Welch is in charge of programming, art, and writing, so it goes without saying that his responsibilities as far as Boot Hill Heroes is concerned are pretty vast.

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David Sanchez: First off, give the readers some background info on Experimental Gamer. What made you decide to create your own game?

Dave Welch: We’re roommates and we often play games together.  Like most gamers, we couldn’t help but come up with our own ideas while playing. After getting inspired by what others in the indie scene had done, we realized there was no reason we couldn’t attempt to make a game as well.

DS: Boot Hill Heroes has drawn plenty of comparisons to the legendary Earthbound. How big of an inspiration was the SNES classic for you? Did the game only inspire the art design of Boot Hill Heroes, or the gameplay, too?

DW: Most of the Earthbound influence is in the art design. We’re fans of that minimalistic, colorful, clean style and thought it would fit this game nicely. However, the gameplay is more of a hodgepodge of other classic console games with a few original tweaks.

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DS: What other classic RPGs served as a basis for inspiration during the development and creation process of Boot Hill Heroes?

DW: Maybe our perception is clouded by nostalgia, but there’s something about the classics that makes them great even today. Our theory is that because of the technical limitations of the hardware, developers were forced to do more with less. This made the games more focused with tighter direction. We’re trying to capture that with Boot Hill Heroes. Games like Final Fantasy VI and Super Mario RPG had excellent direction and pacing — something I don’t often see in modern games. 

DS: If I’m not mistaken, it’s only two of you working on Boot Hill Heroes, right? Is it tough creating an RPG with only two people at the helm? I imagine a lot of late nights and busy weekends.

DW: It’s us plus some additional art assistance, and Jake Kaufman of OCRemix fame doing the music. Overall we’d say the amount of work is more than we thought, but the difficulty of the work is less than we thought. The really difficult stuff comes with the early stages when building the engine. The rest of the work is easier, there’s just a lot of it.

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DS: Can gamers expect to encounter some wonderfully offbeat baddies akin to the enemies in games like Earthbound and Cthulhu Saves the World? Can you share a strange enemy type or two?

DW: Although this is set in the real world, it’s more of a cartoonish version of reality. Some of the wildlife can get pretty strange. Our idea was to come up with animals that don’t exist, but believably could — like the blue dwarf bear, grim matron spider, or the emperor mouse. Human opponents can be silly, too. There’s a scene early in the game where you fight off a bunch of schoolyard bullies.

DS: One of the tropes in Boot Hill Heroes will be the drop-in/drop-out co-op. Why did you decide to include such a contemporary gameplay element in an otherwise retro-style RPG?

DW: The simple answer is that it’s more fun to go on an adventure with friends. There’s no good reason a lot of classic RPGs could not be multiplayer. Since we had so much fun playing through RPGs like Final Fantasy VI and Tales of Vesperia together, this was a feature we definitely wanted to include.

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