Kickstarter remains a source of multiple titles — current and on the way — for Nintendo's eShop platforms. Another that's potentially coming to the system, having just launched its own crowdfunding campaign, is Six Miles Under, which is shaping up to be a rather moody action brawler. It strikes a fairly mature tone that could be relatively unique on Nintendo's system, with 2D gameplay and a fighting system that promises a great deal.
With the campaign's launch we've caught up with the co-founder Looney Bin Studios, Mateusz Pacuszko, which is seeking £20,000 with Wii U part of that core goal. He explains more about how the game's shaping up and why the Wii U has been selected as the only core-target home console alongside PC and Mac.
First of all, can you introduce yourselves and tell us a little about Looney Bin Studios?
Hi! My name is Mateusz Pacuszko. Looney Bin Studios was started by me and Sanjin. We actually met in WoW, “back in the day.” When we met in person a few years later, I casually mentioned my plans for developing a game. I was saving up for a large project I had in mind and then, out of the blue, Sanjin said “Well, I have some savings I’ve been looking to invest – let’s make a game!” After this, I set out to find an artist and quickly found Grzesiek Wróblewski. And then, we had more people join us during the first months of the project: Marcin and Maciek handle the music, and Ola is working with us on the script.
Six Miles Under has already been in development for some time and been Greenlit on Steam, so can you outline the project's history to date?
Six Miles Under started as a SFML/C++ project with Box2D as its physics engine. We created a prototype and tested it with good results. Shortly after, Unity 4.3 came out with an integrated 2D toolkit, with physics based on the same engine. So we assessed all the pros and cons and decided to port the game to Unity. It turned out to be a good decision and development sped up nicely after we learned the ropes. We polished up the graphics and finished the basic mechanics and pushed it out to the world.
Combat is the main focus of our game. The whole mechanics revolve around controlling the enemies with a wide range of knockbacks, counters, all depending on your position and the things that are “there” in the environment.
Greenlight was a big step for us, because along with getting on Steam, which is obviously very important, it was our first attempt at showing Six Miles Under to a wider audience. We were greenlit in 2 weeks and received a lot of positive comments, so we decided to create a Kickstarter campaign.
Conceptually, Six Miles Under was meant to be a brawler from the very beginning. The combat system at the core slowly evolved over time, but the aesthetic changed drastically. In the first pass, we actually aimed for a light colorful feel, and a completely different world. But after working with Grzesiek a bit, it was obvious that he really shines with darker tones. And as the story continued to develop, we moved the action to an underground city, which used to be a prison, and that’s how it became Six Miles Under.
Can you tell us more about the title's approach to the 2D action genre?
Combat is the main focus of our game. The whole mechanics revolve around controlling the enemies with a wide range of knockbacks, counters, all depending on your position and the things that are “there” in the environment. Ranged weapons are meant to be powerful, but limited in availability. For example, an energy shotgun that you get in the beginning can be used to unleash a powerful blast, throwing back multiple enemies, but then it has to recharge, which makes it a nice option when things are going south, but you can’t depend on it. The final version will feature multiple melee weapons to use, some of which will be acquired by disarming the enemies, along with several limited use items for devastating effects.
The shadow aesthetic is quite striking; was this a creative choice, a means of simplifying development or perhaps a combination of both factors?
This was a purely creative choice, though I won’t deny that it does have some perks when it comes to development. We felt it fit nicely with the post-apocalyptic underground aesthetic. In terms of production, it allows us to focus more on the mechanics, on expanding the number of available actions, thus increasing the combat variety. Although I must say that it also adds some problems, such as balancing the visibility of characters with the background.
The combat system will clearly be integral to the experience, can you tell us more about its nuances and environmental attacks that are highlighted in the Kickstarter campaign?
Using the environment to your advantage is going to be an important element of Six Miles Under. It’s also our way of spicing up the combat, and making it a little bit different for every level. Each section of the game will feature a set of mechanics that can either harm the player or be used against the enemies. For example, in the mines there is easy access to dynamite, but explosions may cause cave-ins that the player has to avoid while pushing enemies under falling rocks. The laboratory will feature laser based mechanics, with an energy shield capable of deflecting fire and additional weapons (available to the player). Additionally, some of the scenery will be present in multiple levels, such as spikes or broken pipes, which can be used to impale your foes.
We believe there is great potential for Nintendo's Wii U (7 million consoles sold and climbing!), and we are very happy about being able to bring Six Miles Under to Nintendo fans since a game like this is just what they need.
With the final game set to have around eight levels, minus stretch goals, are you aiming for a short and snappy experience, will there be replayability?
We want to deliver a focused experience, with minimal downtime and no bloat whatsoever. Depending on which stretch goals we hit, we plan to add a secondary playable character, with another point of view of everything, and this will include a set of new levels. Another stretch goal would include co-op into the game, with more additional content on top.
Also, many levels are split into sub-levels, in which scenery changes considerably. For example, you begin scaling the cliffs outside a district of the city until you finally descend to ground level and find yourself on the streets. In-between fights, you can visit nearby houses to gather information or to find some clues. And then, you end up fighting a boss. Between actual combat areas, in-game cutscenes, NPC areas and boss arenas, there are dozens of different sub-levels.
You're targeting PC, Mac and Linux and Wii U in your core goal; why did you opt for the Wii U as the primary console?
We believe there is great potential for Nintendo's Wii U (7 million consoles sold and climbing!), and we are very happy about being able to bring Six Miles Under to Nintendo fans since a game like this is just what they need. Developing on Unity makes it possible to release on the Wii U.
Will there be any features unique to Wii U, or do you expect parity across all versions?
In essence, the core game will be the same for all versions, but we definitely are looking forward to utilizing the unique features available to us thanks to the Wii U GamePad.
Are you confident that Nintendo gamers will be excited by this project — does the system have the audience that'll be keen for this sort of experience?
Definitely! Nintendo recently had a talk at Unite 2014 where they shared some very interesting stats showing the demographic of those that visit and purchase games from the Wii U eshop. Plus, we've talked with our fellow indies that have released games for the Wii U, and overall they are pleased with their results.
Do you have a final message or pitch for our readers regarding Six Miles Under?
We’d like to invite everyone to join us at our Kickstarter campaign for Six Miles Under. We’re releasing on the Wii U along with PC, Mac and Linux because we believe that the Wii U audience deserves mature games that can truly test their skills. With your help, we can make this a reality. And once Six Miles Under is launched on Wii U, well, there is this other game idea I have floating around my head right now that I’d love to explore…
We'd like to thank Mateusz for his time. More information on the game can be found on its Kickstarter page.