Developer Speak – Romain de Waubert

When Early Access games started to hit Steam I wasn’t sure what was happening. Was it wise to start selling games before they are done? I decided to not engage with Early Access, I didn’t know how they would fit into how I cover games. Fast forward a few months and enter Dungeon of the Endless. Just because I haven’t been purchasing Early Access games, didn’t mean I hadn’t been watching their trailers. I am a gamer after all!

doe2I watched the trailer for Dungeon of the Endless several times. Something deep inside of me was doing leaps of joy at what I was seeing. There was something about this game. I knew I had to play it. So, that is just what I did. You know what? I really enjoy Dungeon of the Endless.

I wanted to know more about this gem shining in the sea of Early Access games. A few emails later I had some questions in the hands of Romain de Waubert — the creative director of Dungeon of the Endless. Enjoy!

DNF: Mixing Roguelike with Tower Defense is a unique. How did you come up with the combination?

Romain de Waubert: The short version: By being drunk.

The long version: On Fridays, every now and then, we hold a B2G (Beer2Gether) at the office where we invite other devs, friends and community members to hang out with us. During one of these events, the gang ended up discussing our favorite Rogue-likes with Max (our marketing director and game designer) and Maxence (game designer on Disharmony).

Two things came up fairly quickly, if we were going to make our own Rogue-like:
The player should be able to possess and make the dungeon that they are discovering their own.
This means they should be able to defend it against the previous owners who want to get it back! That gave us the mix with Tower Defense.

The tricky thing is that there are a lot of Rogue-likes coming out lately, and just hearing “Tower Defense” can make some people throw up. Yet we figured that by mixing both and adding a few other tricks that we had up our sleeves we could make our game something different, something we’d really be proud of.

DNF: The visual style in Dungeon of the Endless is striking, how long did it take to come up with the look?

Romain: It came really fast; we fooled around with Unity and worked 3D objects with a pixel art style, lightings and SFX. After 2 or 3 weeks of playing around, we came with a look that really clicked. Strangely enough though, we were still missing a few touches, mainly in term of colors, lighting and FX. These last touches came when we worked on our first teaser trailer. It was generated with in-game assets, but we took the time to polish every single pixel. When it was over we knew exactly what the final game was supposed to look like…. But I must admit that it suddenly became way more ambitious than initially planned.

DNF: The game is in Early Access right now, at what pace do you plan on releasing new features?

Romain: The team is very small, only 4 guys, so we can’t release new content too often. We are aiming to have one new content update every two weeks, starting mid-January. We will of course release fixes and tunings as often as needed.

DNF: Are you planning on adding new characters?

Romain: We are hoping to add more than 20 new heroes to the game, each with their own gameplay and story. Each one of them will be linked somehow to some of the other characters, thus creating interesting events and game combos that players will have to discover game after game.

DNF: Your studio is very involved with its community. Has community feedback or ideas led to changes or the creation of new features in Dungeon of the Endless?

Romain: Of course! Just to get the right balance, before releasing the game in Early Access we had our core community members playing the hell out of it. Each time we built a modified version based on their feedback — changing the interface, adding ways to heal the heroes, adjusting how the heroes position themselves in the room, and so much more that I can’t remember. In fact, I don’t always know what came from us… And I am not even sure anymore if “us” means 4 people or 70.000…

DNF: How has the reception been for Dungeon of the Endless?

Romain: It was tremendous, way beyond our expectations! Originally it was just a game we did for fun; we were lucky to have the chance to spend some time on it thanks to the success of Endless Space.
I have yet to read anything negative about it… except that it is way too short, but we are working hard to fix that.

DNF: Thanks for your time, anything you would like to add before we go?

Romain: We have to thank all the players that believe in us and take the risk to buy the Early Access version of the game. Thanks to them Dungeon of the Endless is not just a small hobby project anymore. We are big believers of qualitative Early Access, because Alpha is a time were a game can become either a success or a failure. Receiving players’ and journalists’ feedback once a game is finished can be frustrating. Maybe this is why we never consider our games to be finished; we never want to face these frustrations.

Of course, for an Alpha release to be a success, it needs to be polished when it goes out the door. When you have that, feedback is not geared towards bugs but towards gameplay – towards improving the game, not just getting it to work right. I hope that other developers going for Early Access will understand that, so we keep having more and more players participating in the early development of games.

Thanks again to Romain for taking his time to tell us about Dungeon of the Endless. Also some extra thanks to Max Von Knorring over at Amplitude for making this all happen! Watch the trailer below then check out the Steam page. You just might want to venture into the Dungeon of the Endless yourself.

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About Donald Conrad

Donald Conrad is an avid father and a dedicated gamer -- or maybe that's the other way around. He loves his games, and he loves his family, and he's pretty sure he loves sleep, even if he doesn't remember what it was like. Follow his life confusion on Twitter @ConManEd