Ivo: There seems to be a trend where more games are in this headspace, if you will. There’s multiple games that have similar themes being released around the same time.
Paul: A lot of people developing games are getting to the same age and have experienced the same teenage years. I’ve always loved doing mock-ups of old movies I used to enjoy as a teenager, but as a pixel art game. I like to explore those situations for inspiration and see what that could look like.
Ivo: What element of the game would you say you're particularly proud of now that you’re almost ready to release?
Dave: I think the fact that we’re almost ready to release (laughs)
Paul: (laughs) We had to play through the game a LOT recently. That would be the first time really playing the game from start to finish. I liked how all these different stories and multiple locations all fit really well together. Genuinely these characters, to me, fit really well like they should just be there. That was very rewarding to me. It’s actually how all these loose ideas put together actually did come together. That’s really the moment when you get to stand back and look at what is there, what game is there instead of just some separate cases.
Ivo: I can imagine you’re both looking forward to launch day, while also being scared in a certain way.
Paul: Yeah, it’s our first game together that we’re pushing out the door, managing all the aspects; [wondering] how will people react to it, will they enjoy it, will people want more? So looking forward to having it out of the door while also being a bit terrified of what’s next. Will people like our baby?
With reviews that have already come in, they largely say what we expect them to say so that’s good, but will that also be reflected in the fanbase, because obviously a lot of the people reviewing things are like ourselves. They played these games when they grew up, but what happens when it goes to the general public, who might not be in that demographic? We know from bringing it to events, we’ve seen younger gals and guys playing the game. I’m not entirely terrified to see how it will sit with the younger audience, but I do think it’s going to be harder to get a buy-in from the audience. So I’m really curious how that will work. Me personally, I’m very interested to see how a game like this will be received; with the market changing in interesting ways, I’m very interested to see that data first-hand.
Ivo: Absolutely. I remember once reading a comment on Steam for Thimbleweed Park, someone quite a bit younger that was hammering on the developers for being lazy as the art was such low quality. In a way that made me laugh, but in another way that really shows the different perspective nowadays on styles like pixel art for instance.
Paul: Thimbleweed Park exists in this kind of in-between state of trying to keep it simple and keep it detailed and interesting. We know that for certain audiences it might not be that obvious it’s very stylised. Maybe Thimbleweed’s art style wasn’t as obvious to some, and the culture reference of what the older games were.
Dave: It sounds really weird, but I really like seeing what it is that people tear a thing apart for. I see people with nearly 1000 hours in a game giving a negative review, because they say they didn’t get their money’s worth on this. Knowing I bought it myself for 10 quid, I just can’t fathom what more people want want out of something. I find it fascinating; I feel it’s a totally unpredictable world, so we’ll see what happens.
Ivo: You once said, somewhat jokingly on social media, that there would be a possible release even on the Nintendo Switch. In seriousness, what platforms are you currently targeting?
Paul: We’re looking at doing consoles after our PC launch, but we’re not sure what consoles we’ll do. We are so focused on the PC that we haven’t really focused too much attention on ports yet. I’ve done some investigative emails to find out about devkits and all that, but we have to push that back for now. The Switch really seems like it would lend itself well with its touchscreen and all. We won’t commit to any of them yet, though; we’re mostly saying we’re interested in them.
Dave: Just to emphasise, we’re coming out with Mac, PC and Linux at first.
Ivo: What storefronts are you thinking of?
Ivo: What more can we expect from Spooky Doorway in the future?
Paul: We’ve always said we’d like to do more Darkside – some DLC cases; we’ve joked about doing special Christmas cases for a while and ideas for a sequel with season two. There’s some other ideas we have that are less humorous and more serious. Less point-and click-adventure, more action-adventure. Still very narrative-based, focusing on our strengths of doing interesting stories. We have lots of things up in the air, but we haven’t fully decided yet. It really depends on the launch of The Darkside Detective, but we’d love to do more.
Ivo: Do you envision that in an ideal state there can be full-time focus on Spooky Doorway, not developing games alongside another job?
Paul: I think so, yeah, but we’re all willing to keep other jobs as long as it's needed. Ideally we’d like to fully focus on getting games out of the door. It may be possible for myself and Dave to work part-time to a certain degree until we can switch to full-time. But hopefully we can do well with Spooky Doorway and then just push as far as we can with what we can actually make.
Ivo: We certainly look forward to what’s to come and the release of The Darkside Detective. Is there anything you’d like to close off with that you’d like to say to our readers?
Paul: We’re doing a special launch sale, kind of like a thank you for people waiting for us all these years. The full price will be $12.99, but launch week will be $9.99. Did we forget anything, Dave?
Dave: Well, you can certainly buy multiple copies if you want (laughs) or leave a tip on Humble. We’ll gladly use this to make bigger, longer and deeper games in the future.
Also, a big shout-out: I know it’s easy with games to talk about the art, the music and the story quite a bit, but obviously we wouldn’t have a game without Tracey putting it all together as the developer and putting in painstakingly long hours to get our dumb ideas to work. Chris testing it makes certain we didn’t leave stuff in that we shouldn’t or leave things out.
Paul: There’s so many people you’ll see in the credits at the end of the game. There’s a massive list of people that gave advice along the way, helped solve problems; the list of testers was huge! It’s always the entire team that makes the game.
Ivo: I really appreciate you guys taking the time to have this chat with Adventure Gamers!
Paul: Cheers, thanks for the time, Ivo!