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Developer Interview: Derrick The Deathfin

Posted by on September 27th, 2012 | 0 Comments | Tags:

Back at GDC I ran into the developers behind Derrick the Deathfin. It was the end of the show and the expo staff were tearing stuff down as I played. Suffice it to say, I didn’t have much time with the game. But I wanted to know more so we set up this little Q/A a few months back. Now that Derrick has a release date, it seems like now is a great time to learn a little more about it.

Q: Where did the inspiration for the papercraft look of Derrick the Deathfin come from? Do you have team members who enjoy papercraft?

My initial thought for the look was to have everything flat pop-up paper style – a bit PaRappa the Rapper like – and inspired by some of Ronzo’s paper art pieces like this one – (plenty more where that came from at http://www.ronzo.co.uk/ btw). However it was only when Ronzo properly came onboard the good ship Derrick & he started to scope the visuals that the papercraft idea really formed. So it is pretty much all Ronzo’s doing, and luckily he loves building all the models too!

Q: How did they decide on the style, and what was the process like animating them?

Animation of our assets, along with all the 3d modelling, was handled by the excellent CGI dudes at Ten24. We sent them shots of our real papercraft models and videos of us moving them around puppet-like on strings as reference. Luckily there are a supremely talented bunch and got the paper look and feel down straight away – with all its imperfections, detailed folds and the like. On the animation side too they treaded the fine line between making everything look rigid and papery and making it too jerky perfectly. Animation of the characters was tricky because of the paper construct – and in some cases such as the Polar Bear was not possible at all. We ran a bunch of tests and as soon as an animation is too exaggerated or involves too much distortion the effect quickly moves from paper -> cartoon, which is something we were keen to avoid.

Q: This is your first game to be published on the PlayStation Network? Why did you decide to go with this platform?

Yes this is our first game on PSN. After some experience with web games and iPhone games we wanted to make a proper console game, got funding and approached Sony with the idea first. They were very supportive and we haven’t looked back from there really.

Q: Are there any plans on a Vita version?

No plans at this stage no, Derrick the Deathfin is a PS3 exclusive. However it is impossible to predict what will happen in the future, unless you live in England in which case I confidently predict the damp spell will continue. So we are ruling nothing out basically.

Q: How did the collaboration of Different Cloth, RONZO, and Tuna come about and how has the collaborative process been working on Deathfin?

I – or different cloth as I sometimes call myself – managed to secure the funding for Derrick from Channel 4 and Screen Yorkshire and set about building a team to make it. I had met Alex from Tuna at GDC the year previous and his company Tuna was recommended to do a lot of the initial technical work on the engine as well as some consultancy, which they did excellently. Ronzo I had been friends with for a while, we met about a decade ago when doing web work for an unrelated agency. It was obvious even back then that he was insanely talented and his styles would compliment videogames perfectly. So naturally I made sure I didn’t tell him that and kept the idea in my back pocket until I found the opportunity for us to work together!

Q: Will the game include time trials, leaderboards, or ways to compete with our friends? Any multiplayer plans?

There are 3 types of level in the game: normal, speed and disaster. In the normal levels you speed around constantly eating, moving, flying through the air and collecting things. Speed levels are time trials essentially as you suggest. And then the disaster levels are kind of action puzzle levels, in which you must trigger events that set off massive environmental disasters. Derrick is a single player game but all options are open for the future.

Q: The game looks reminiscent of Ecco The Dolphin. Is that intentional, or purely co-incidental? In what ways is it similar? In what ways is it different?

Well the reference is certainly intentional. When I was a child – or rather when I was a much younger child – I very much enjoyed Ecco on the Megadrive. What I didn’t very much enjoy though was my sister hogging the machine to play the game the entire time when I wanted to play Sonic on it. During a discussion in the pub about this we decided it would be a cool idea to try and marry the styles of the two games somewhat. So a fast paced arcade underwater adventure with lots of leaping out the water essentially. Set that in a paper world, add some stupid jokes, mix it around a bit and Derrick is born.

Q: At one point in the teaser trailer, Derrick moves a bomb underneath a drill to destroy an oil rig. Is the game’s plot centered around cleaning up the ocean/being environmentally friendly?

Derrick’s parents are callously turned into soup in a brutal assault at the outset of the game, and Derrick vows to take his revenge on humanity and all its trappings as a result. A major part of human interference in his world are these manmade polluting structures which he has to destroy to progress. But he blows them up not cleans them up, so its a kind of reverse environmentalism if that makes sense?

Q: Will there be a Jaws reference in the game?

Only in the fact that Derrick has two of them and he uses them to eat things.

Q: I saw a finish line in the trailer; will the game award players for completing levels quickly?

They do get awards for this in speed levels yep, you get medals and trophies for being super speedy. In the other level types you can attain medals by eating all the things in a stylish fashion.

Remember Derrick the Deathfin is out October 9th for only $7.99. I want to thank Gordon over at Different Cloth for taking the time to answer our questions!

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