Ross is a writer, educator, and performer who lives and works in NYC. When he's not doing any of the aforementioned activities, he's playing video games.
(this piece has been lightly edited for clarity)
We caught up with the head of Woblyware, Lauri Paakinaho, to find out more about the making of her new tough-as-nails 16-bit platformer.
Gravity, it weighs heavily on us all, keeping us grounded but also grinding us down over the course of our lives. It may be a constant, but if you really think about it, it weighs heavier on some more than others. To the tiny sprites in platformers, for instance, gravity is as deadly as heart disease. In fact, it’s the leading cause of death in the genre. There’s nothing quite as tragic as when your little pixelated character comes up short on a jump and plummets into a row of spikes or down a bottomless pit, especially when it’s completely preventable. That’s why, thank god, it’s so important that 16-bit whiz and the founder of Woblyware, Lauri Paakinaho invented the “Magic Dagger,” a nifty projectile which allows you to avoid lethal mishaps with the simple tap of a button. We were lucky enough to get them on the record to discuss how they came up with such a life-saving teleportation device while designing their newest game, Daggerhood.
Me: What other video games inspired Daggerhood?
Lauri: I’ve created quite a few similar style platformers during my career as an indie developer such as League of Evil and Gravity Duck which have been fairly popular on mobile. These games were created around 2010-2011, and I felt it would be nice to try to expand on them with some new ideas. There were a few flash games back in the day that inspired me to work on this kind of game, most notably the original Meat Boy flash game.
Why did you go with 16-bit for the game?
It’s just my style. I’ve used pixel art graphics on almost all of the games I’ve created over the past decade, and it’s the style I’m most comfortable working with. When I was growing up, all games were made with pixel art so it has a special place in my heart.
How did you come up with Vincent S. Daggerhood and did his character evolve during the game’s development?
A: From the start, I knew I wanted to make a hard platformer with short levels. The original idea was a parkour style game in a futuristic city where you’d jump on top of moving cars and stuff like that. When I came up with the dagger mechanic I decided to move the game from a futuristic setting to a fantasy world. The main character had a dagger and a hood so that’s how the character of Daggerhood was born.
Where did you first get the awesome idea of teleporting dagger?
A teleportation mechanic felt like something that hasn’t been explored much in this type of game. Initially, I had a thought of a teleportation orb that would fit a sci-fi setting, but when I came up with the idea of a magical dagger, it just made more sense. This way you could use the dagger to teleport and to deal with enemies so it would solve two problems at once. And having the teleportation and attack behind just one button would allow me to keep the controls as simple as possible.
How about the other mechanics introduced in each new world?
Most of the other stuff like power-ups are pretty basic stuff seen in many platformers over the years, such as the feather that allows you to fall more slowly or the boots that increase your jump height. The gravity flipping I have also used previously in my game Gravity Duck where it was the main mechanism. I tried to come up with as many mechanics I could that would work well with the core dagger mechanism and add to the challenge.
Can you explain how you went about designing all the challenging levels?
I wanted to have enough new mechanics like the power-ups and different kind of traps so that I could introduce something new every few levels. I tried to create the levels around each new mechanism to make the game feel fresh all the way.
What is your favorite boss fight and why?
I think the first boss is my favorite. I like how he drops down and surprises the player when they’re probably not expecting a boss level.
Any tips for first-time players?
Don’t worry about dying too much. You can restart quickly and will be at the same spot again in a few seconds. Also, you don’t have to go for three stars, five treasures, and the fairy in one run. They can be collected in separate runs and you still get the badges.
Anything else you’d like to relate to our readers about Daggerhood?
I’ve been working on a mobile port of the game. so anyone interested in playing some Daggerhood on-the-go should be looking for a release sometime later this year. I’ve been tuning down the difficulty a bit on the mobile version to make it more manageable on the touch screen controls. With only a few buttons though, I think the game feels great on mobile!
Do you have another game in development at the moment, and if so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
I’m working on a light RPG game which takes inspiration from games like Paper Mario and Darkest Dungeon. It’s going slow as I’m working on some other projects as well but I post some updates about it on Twitter every now and then.
Make sure to keep a lookout for Woblyware’s forthcoming light RPG (Paper Mario meets Darkest Dungeon, can’t wait to see what that looks like) and definitely give Daggerhood a spin. Check out the trailer below to see if it’s your speed. At under five bucks on PS4, Xbox, Switch, and mobile before long, it’s a real steal.