Monday, 14 September 2015

Cuphead Interview with Studio MDHR


Today here at Gamer2Gamer Evolved we are joined by a very special guest. One of the developers of a game which after its debut at 2014 E3 had the world talking, yes, today we have the privilege to speak to one of Cupheads creators, Chad Moldenhauer.

Scotty-Chad let me begin by saying thanks for speaking to us today as I know you are in your own words Doomsday busy, so how are things coming along with Cuphead?
Not a problem at all, we are grateful to you for letting us take part of this!

We are all busy in the best way. Making a game like Cuphead is a ton of work (especially for a small team), but none of us feel like it is ‘work’ – so I think that makes it OK…right?

We are now currently working on a lot of the later areas of the game and building/polishing platforming levels among 99 other things. To sum it up: it’s going great!

Scotty-Now let me take you back to the beginning, what was the first computer or console you owned and some of the earliest games you played?

Jared and I are only 18 months apart by age, so we experienced everything together. Our older brother had a Vic20, and this was our first foray into video games. We don’t remember the first game we played, but we do know it was one of these: Centipede, Space Invaders, Frogger or Road Race (Vic20 versions). Shortly after that, we got a Sega Master System – and this is the reason that cemented our love of gaming forever. It may have been the underdog of that generation, but there was a lot of really awesome games: Phantasy Star, Wonder Boy III, Penguin Land (build your own levels and save them!), Zillion, Golden Axe Warrior, Shinobi, Space Harrier and more.

Scotty-Tell us about StudioMDHR, how did it come to be and what are your long term goals for the company?

We’ve always wanted to make a video game but there was never really a market for non-casual games until recently. We didn't fully pursue this passion until witnessing (get it?) Jonathan Blow’s Braid and Team Meat’s Super Meat Boy succeed. That was the moment we were no longer afraid of the dark or midday shadows, so to speak. Our initial long term goal was to complete one game and go from there, but that has changed. Our main goals are:

1) Create games that focus on gameplay

2) To keep traditional, hand-drawn animation alive as long as possible

Scotty-is Cuphead the game you wanted to make right from the start or has it changes since its beginnings.?

We always wanted a run-and-gun game that had our own spin on it, so that much has stayed true. The basic style of the game has remained intact. We learned quickly that an iterative design process is the best approach, so a ton of gameplay and game ideas (like: parry, EX weapon attacks, towns, unlockables) came from rounds and rounds of testing to find what works best within in our vision.

The biggest change we’ve had lies within the scope. Cuphead was originally planned as a boss rush game consisting of 8-10 boss fights and no platforming levels. We have now set our sights on double the boss count and adding platforming levels to the mix.

Scotty-Tell us what it was like after you showed the game the first time at E3 and has it now made it harder with all the expectation on the game?

After E3 2014, we went from being a totally unknown game to being at least “decently known” in the world of gaming…and that is HUGE. It sparked so many things that it’s easier to just list them off:

· was the moment we decided to go ALL in

· led to the awesome partnership with Microsoft that we have now

· expansion of the scope

· expanded our team from 3 to 14 (and more soon!)

· made our ambition factor jump from 200% to 1000%

To this day we are still humbled by the reaction, it is life changing. We can’t thank all our fans and folks in the industry enough. But, none of this has made anything different about the expectation of the game to us – we are striving to make the best game we possibly can, and we can dream that a bunch of other people will feel the same way!

Scotty-You have certainly recreated the 1930s cartoon look of the game, have you animated each frame the same way they did back then?

The animation is created with the EXACT same methods as the old days: pencil and paper with a light table. All the inking is done by hand too, and we push our hardest to ensure the art stays very true to the era. But the glue that makes all of this happen is the fine artists that are working on Cuphead, they all deserve a Slurpee and a haircut! But seriously, everybody on the team is Disney quality and it makes everything that much easier.

Scotty-What are the characteristics of a 1930s cartoon, what did you have to do to give it that period feel?

The characteristics lie in every detail of the era: pupils, hands, feet, mouth shapes, what shapes to exaggerate, how emotion was expressed/drawn, proportion ratios, being off model once in a while, shadows, timing, spacing, motion blur, and a million other details. We study, study and then re-study cartoons of the era as an on-going task to make certain that we are mimicking the artists of the old days. We are all going to know way too much about these cartoons after Cuphead is completed!


Scotty-Phil Spencer himself has said its super hard to play, is it hard to find that balance of being challenging but fun at the same time?

Phil Spencer did awesome when he played it for the first time (a moment we will never forget!). We’ve always known that we need some form of “easy” mode in the game and we are actually in the final days of locking in how that feature will work within Cuphead. We still stand behind the fact that if someone really likes the game, they won’t have a problem playing through it all.

It’s not necessarily hard to find the difficulty balance, we usually know what it needs and it’s just a matter of time and extra iteration.

Scotty-If this game goes as well as I think it will, what changes and challenges do you see at StudioMDHR in the near future?

There won’t be any major changes because we want to stay pretty small and agile. The only real challenge will be “what to work on next”!

Scotty-I think I know the answer to this but our fans would kill me for not asking, when can we own Cuphead?

It will be coming in 2016, “when it’s done”. There is an easy way to make that date come sooner – make a deal with the devil.

Scotty-What's the average play through time and are you looking to add things over time through DLC?

We don’t have any average times yet as there are still unfinished parts of the game, but we do know this: The people that played and defeated everything in our demo take about 2-2.5 hours (this includes the time to ramp up and get a good feel for the game). Since our demo is less than ¼ of the total game, that should give you a feel for what the average play time might be.

There are no plans for DLC right now. We are focused on making Cuphead the best cup in the world!

On a final note I want to thank Chad for his precious time and for those great answers, and you are definitely not giving this a release date yet?

A release date can happen, remember: black magic, some magicite, some materia and the devil could possibly change the fate of the future AND guarantee you a Slurpee and haircut on the same day, even if it means you have to miss a bit of work and get in trouble. (You can always use the excuse that you “needed a haircut and getting a Slurpee just happened to be on the way to work”)

Lastly we think your next game should be a 1940s themed game based on the Tom and Jerry slapstick violence but you need a rake to stand on that will smash you in the face when you do, you can keep that for free Chad, haha

Sweet! Thanks for that idea, we may just use it.

So from me Scotty Jim and the whole team here at Gamer2Gamer Evolved thanks again


1 comment:

  1. Great interview guys! I cannot wait! So glad they ramped up the content to platform levels not just bosses. Wow this looks good