Dr. David's Indie Spotlight: Dejobaan Games on Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby and Drunken Robot Pornography
I recently interviewed Ichiro Lambe of Dejobaan Games. The studio previously released AaAaAA! and is currently working on 1...2...3... KICK IT! (Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby) and Drunken Robot Pornography. Both of these games are available for purchase through Steam Early Access, which allows players to voice their thoughts on the games as they're being developed. This lets Dejobaan continue work on the projects so the team can make improvements and progressively enhance their games. Think of it as winged dog that can only fly during a full moon. Okay, so it's nothing like that. In any case, check out what is easily one of the most unique interviews in GameZone history. After you read it, you'll probably be thinking about cats with wings, too. I mean, dogs with tails. Whatever. You know what I mean.
The zebra on the left is sporting a sweet Ichiro Lambe mask.
GameZone: Can you please describe both Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby and Drunken Robot Pornography for folks who may be unfamiliar with the two games? What similarities do these projects share? What differences separate them from one another?
Ichiro Lambe: You bet! You see ...
GZ: There's a clear connection between ...
IL: ... wait a second, I wasn't done!
GZ: ... Ugly Baby ...
IL: ... ah ...
GZ: ... Drunken Robot Pornography, and your previous release AaAaAA! How do you go about making each game stand out from the other? Is it a difficult process?
IL: Okay, I'll answer the first one last. So:
"Can you please describe both Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby and Drunken Robot Pornography for folks who may be unfamiliar with the two games? What similarities do these projects share? What differences separate them from one another?"
Yes! It's like this:
In Ugly Baby, you BASE jump within worlds created from music. Your music. Our music. Everyone's music. Here's what the Web tells me about the game:
Battle your favorite drum 'n' bass track, or relax as you fly through that trance album. 'Ugly Baby' takes your MP3 music library and creates floating cities for you to explore. Ten years after the events in Dejobaan's award-winning AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, technology has advanced to the point where individuals can create architecture with colossal 3D printers.
If it's on the Web, I insist it's true. But what we haven't really told folks before is that it's also going to be an opera set before the Technological Singularity. As we're working on it now, the game will take you through seven of its very own musical tracks that talk about the future, all the weird sh*t that technology is bringing, and how we'll increasingly experience future shock (as in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_Shock, and not the other future shock).
In Drunken Robot Pornography, you're this small dude, Reuben Matsumoto, who programmed his robot bartender, Tim, to feel feelings. Tim didn't like that, so he burned down your bar and pulled your 12 other robots into a posse called the Drunken Robot Centerfolds. He gave them 30-story tall bodies, and now they're trying to end human suffering by destroying all of Boston. The logic's flawless:
1. Suffering is bad.
2. Humans experience suffering.
3. End humans to end suffering.
Also from the Web:
30-story tall giant robots. Jetpacks. Guns. Drunken Robot Pornography (DRP) is a bullet-hell first-person shooter for Windows. Battle giant robots — called Titans — as they try to slice you apart with their lasers. Pick off their missile launchers, fry away their carbon fiber armor, and tear off their claws, leaving them writhing.
Also, if you (the player) want to switch sides, you can build your own Titans and foist them onto your friends on Steam Workshop.
"There's a clear connection between Ugly Baby, Drunken Robot Pornography, and your previous release AaAaAA! How do you go about making each game stand out from the other? Is it a difficult process?"
You whispered this to me while I was dreaming. Your breath was hot and steamy but also sultry. I'm looking up photos of you on the Web. There are two of you in a t-shirt, then there's some wrestler, and some weird anime where a girl's being eaten by ghosts. What?
The more I work, the more I believe that all our games take place in the same timeline:
- Aaaaa! (2009) takes place around 2010 in our fictional timeline.
- Inago Rage (2004) takes place around 2012.
- DRP and UB (20??) take place in 2032.
- Galaxy Rage (2007+) takes place around 4050.
Gameplay-wise, most similarities are unconscious ones and probably stem from a lack of imagination on my part. It wasn't until a journalist told me, "Well, DRP looks like Aaaaa! with robots" that I started thinking about making it look different. Joan Crawford said to herself, "NO F*CKING RECTANGULAR BUILDINGS," and she was talking about me and making DRP look different from Aaaaa! So, I'm tryin'.
UB should look and play a bit like Aaaaa!, but we're hoping it looks awesomer(!), and that some of the narrative we'll be adding will take things in a fresh direction. See: http://www.dejobaan.com/category/uglybaby/
Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby is a pretty game, but ugly babies are ugly.
GZ: Ugly Baby and Drunken Robot Pornography are currently playable through Steam Early Access
IL: (Looks one second into the future and answers the first part of my next question, where I ask "How has this experience been for you ...") It's actually pretty comfortable and sexy! Before Early Access existed, we: a). opened early versions of DRP up to two handfuls of users; and b.) included the pre-release of UB in the Portal 2 ARG. So, we've had a connection with Steam users for some time. We've talked to 'em about what they liked and hated. "How about this type of audio feedback?" "Do you prefer this kind of level, or that?"
That sorta thing!
GZ: How has this experience been for you, and what's the fan reaction like? What kind of feedback do you get from the players?
IL: It's been great. Both really novel and also a throwback to when I first started writing games. During my tenure at Dejobaan, when we've created games, it's been like this:
3. Show to the universe! Roll the dice. Is it great, or does it suck?
4. Lament that we only thought of some really neat ideas after we launched.
But now it's like this:
3. Show players who aren't your friends.
4. Get ready for honest feedback.
5. Figure out what the feedback means.
6. Iterate on design.
7. Holy crap, we have this great new idea now!
8. Back to Step 2!
Step 5 is interesting, because sometimes players will make suggestions that sound good, but will paradoxically make them unhappier when we implement it.
Google Drunken Robot Pornography and scroll down, and you'll find a picture of a robot grabbing another robot's boobs.
GZ: What's been the most influential remark someone's made about Ugly Baby or Drunken Robot Pornography?
IL: Ugly Baby: WHAT THE F*CK IS TAKING SO LONG? WE HATE DEJOBAAN. GO OUT OF BUSINESS.
GZ: Steam Early Access allows you to almost interact with the fans as you continue to develop your games. What percentage would you say Ugly Baby and Drunken Robot Pornography are at as far as their development is concerned, taking into account that you're monitoring what is essentially live player experiences and feedback?
IL: David, this is such sexy new territory that the best answer I can give you is the second (8-step) process above. Our next milestones are:
1. Do a sort of crunch week and really grind to make the games shine.
2. Don't look at them too closely for a few weeks.
3. Come back, refreshed and filled with ideas.
To be continued ... on the next page! So click the thing on the bottom.