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Ever wonder what it would be like to live back in the wild, wild west days? Ever wonder what that would be like with demon cows and creepy rodeo clowns, maybe even some ancient alien life forms? Well then, West of Loathing just might be your thing. I jumped into this game since the DLC dropped this February and my goodness, this is something I wish I had not slept on! What a great blend of comedy, story and puzzles. I enjoyed it so much that I felt compelled to reach out to Zack Johnson, one of the main brains behind the game, to get some knowledge on their process and what’s to come.
Let’s start it out with a light question. If you could describe your game in one word, what would it be and why?
One word could never be enough — it took months to finally settle on a single-sentence description! “A slapstick comedy stick figure cowboy adventure RPG.”
Kingdom of Loathing is a pretty massive world that you seem to still be working on. With that project up and running, what inspired you to break away from Kingdom of Loathing and create West of Loathing?
It was both creative and practical. After working on the same game for 14+ years, we really wanted to work on something fresh, and the gradual decline of KoL’s revenue over time made it so we also needed to do something new in terms of income.
West of Loathing is very text driven in many regards. What is the creation process for a game like this? Did the main story remain relatively the same since first conception or could we have had something totally different before revisions?
As a studio, we’re more about one-off jokes and atmosphere than we are about capital S Story. We had a vague idea of the overall plot (helping rebuild the railroad to Frisco) but we basically made everything up as we went along.
With most of the characters as stick figures, you could have gone with any environment or time period imaginable, so why a Western?
I’ve always felt like the Wild West genre was underrepresented in RPGs. I think it’s very similar to medieval fantasy in a lot of ways: a comprehensible level of technology (guns instead of swords,) a dangerous environment (snakes and outlaws instead of dragons and brigands,) and a primal, hero-centric mythology (gunslingers instead of knights.)
Most of the game is obviously silly, but I feel compelled to ask, why is the currency in this game based in meat? Fun fact, some countries have traces of meat in their currency but I doubt that is your reason.
When I first launched Kingdom of Loathing, I had drawn and scanned a single sheet of paper’s worth of art. When I went to add currency to the game, I realized I hadn’t drawn any coins or bags of gold or anything, but I HAD drawn a steak.
The humor in this game is a major factor of why I love this game so much! Are there any comedians, shows, etc. that you think influenced your humor style?
Tons of influences! Just to pick some at random… Douglas Adams, Monty Python, Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts, The Simpsons.
Moving over to the DLC, you released this new content out rather surprisingly. Was this intentional in an APEX Legends sort of way?
Heh, not really. We just got in a rush to get it out before our producer went on a long vacation, so we didn’t have the spare bandwidth to focus much on marketing or PR for it.
What can the fans or newcomers expect from this DLC that should make them buy this right now!? Are there any new additions that might persuade those who don’t have the game currently to pick up both?
It’s mostly just more of the stuff you’ve come to expect from the Loathing brand! More jokes, more puzzles. I do think the combat in the DLC is a little more interesting and varied than the combat in the main game.
What’s next for the team? Can we expect even more DLC later down the road (a brand new story with a similar feel) or something completely different?
Probably something completely different!
Also on that note, is there any project that you would love to work on or discussed among the team that you thought would be fun but just haven’t gotten to yet?
There are lots of places we want to go with future Loathing games — I think it’ll be really good for us creatively to explore a bunch of different genres.
And lastly, a question we ask quite commonly for our parallax interviews, what advice would you give others out there who want to create their own games or get into the game development field?
It has never been easier for one person to make a game — there are so many free tools and engines for making simple stuff now. If you want to make games, there is absolutely no substitute for the experience of making a game, from start to finish, and releasing it. Doing this with even a very simple game will teach you so much about what the job is actually like.
Be sure to follow the Asymmetric twitter for more news on that potential “something completely different” and if any of this sounded interesting to you, of course support them by getting game either on Steam or for the Nintendo Switch.