Ant Workshop Interview: Accessibility Versus Simplicity

Indie icon Tony Gowland was interviewed by GamesIndustry.biz, about the issue of moving beyond a hardcore audience, without making them unhappy…

“When we started making Dead End Job, I really wanted to do a twin-stick shooter or something that felt like Luigi’s Mansion, that nice kind of vibe,” Gowland recalls. “My art direction to my artist was really light and broad. There were two points: I didn’t want it to be pixel art, because there are a lot of pixel art games. I wanted a bright art style that grabs people’s attention. That’s what he has delivered, but he’s almost done it too well.”

The game’s accessibility, tested at various shows and events showed Tony that some of the assumptions about the game were incorrect:

“What we found – and it was something that took us by surprise – was that twin-stick shooters are quite difficult for a lot of people,” says Gowland. “We always thought that twin-stick shooters were something that people could understand; you move with one stick and aim with the other. Especially in an event like Rezzed where people have paid ¬£20 to go along – they are gamers. But when we were actually getting people coming and playing it, we were finding that that’s not true at all. A lot of people were moving around with the left stick but were asking how they turn around.

“We realised that art style casts a broader net. If we had gone for a pixel art thing, we’d have got people who were more of the audience that were already into these kinds of games. Our vibe and audience is reaching a lot wider than that. It was a little heartbreaking to see so many people struggling with it, but having come through that, it’s really given us a lot more definition of what it is we are creating and the audience we are creating it for.”

Whether you’re a developer, designer, or a player, the whole article is very well worth your time. It can be found over on GamesIndustry.biz.

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