An interview with the creators of Gang Beasts.
GANG BEASTS is, in its current incarnation, a multiplayer brawler that has much in common with a desperate drunken bar fight, albeit one perched atop a moving truck or in a hazardous grinding factory. The participants are top heavy, throw wild haymakers and aren't afraid to swing a low blow or seven.
Even though it’s in the very early alpha stage, the game has become a regular fixture in our gaming calendar so we decided to talk to James, Jon, Jason and Michael about their inspirations, plans and '80s movies.
GoPlayThat: Despite not having any actual wrestling moves, the “RING” stage plays like one of the best versions of a Royal Rumble match we've ever seen in a videogame. Are any of you wrestling fans at all?
James Brown: I was WWF fan as a child, when wrestlers wore fantastical costumes and had unusual props, especially the Main Events like The Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, and SummerSlam. I haven’t watched it regularly as an adult and my favourite wrestler is Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.
Jon Brown: I stopped watching around the same time WWF turned to WWE, big fan of Earthquake and Mr. Perfect.
Michael Brown: When I was younger I was a fan, Ultimate Warrior was my favourite wrestler. Still a big fan of wrestling games where you can create your own wrestlers.
Jason Pugh: Back in the day, now I like race cars. Macho Man Randy Savage is a legend.
GPT: All of the games that you’re working on have “BEASTS” in the working title. Is there a reason behind that?
Boneloaf: The word “BEASTS” was in the name of the game we were working on immediately before Gang Beasts (a game called “Mythic Beasts”), when we started prototyping other games that used the same procedural animation system we playfully gave them naming using the scheme “_______ BEASTS” to avoid wasting time coming up with good game names.
We have made game prototypes that don’t have the word “BEASTS” in the name, for example “Bait”, “Bear Family Simulator”, “Meat Game”, “Treasure Goblins”, and “Greedy Imps”.
GPT: You linked a video of Parachute Joust to Stu, one of the GPT crew, and cite 16 bit era beat-em-ups as an inspiration for Gang Beasts. Do you guys still indulge in some retro gaming now and again?
Boneloaf: We play a mix of retro and more recent games, our favourite retro games are:
James: “Bubble Bobble” is the retro game I play the most (I play it two-player mode with Michael).
Jon: Loads! I still own a SNES, NES, Megadrive and N64. Most recently I've been playing Mario Kart and Final Fight and Street Fighter. I’m looking forward to playing some more Streets of Rage as research for Gang Beasts soon.
Michael: I love retro games, I've been trying to get a bunch of old Amiga games working again but the most recent retro games I've played were Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Streets of Rage.
Jason: Now and again, yes. I love old Mario games (especially Super Mario Kart and World), and the occasional Zelda.
GPT: You list PS4, Xbox One and Wii U as platforms that you are targeting. How far along are you in that process?
Boneloaf: We have had several comments on IndieDB and the Greenlight page asking if Gang Beasts will be released for the current and last generations of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo consoles; Gang Beasts is made with Unity which has or is adding support for building to these consoles, but at this stage we have only been in contact with one console platform.
GPT: Did you ever consider using Kickstarter to fund your game? What is your opinion on crowdfunding game development?
Boneloaf: We identified Kickstarter as a potential source of funds we could use to make Boneloaf games or toys, specifically money for software licences, Vinyl Toy manufacturing fees, and subsistence costs. Collectively we have backed 74 Kickstarter projects (3 are current, 59 were successful, 12 were unsuccessful), many are games that we backed because we wanted to see the prototype made into a finished game.
We also backed the OUYA and the Picade cabinet Kickstarters.
GPT: Your name was inspired by the health pickups in Final Fight and you’ve cited it as inspiration for this game. Are we to expect some co-op side scrolling action in Gang Beasts?
Boneloaf: Gang Beasts was planned as a Streets of Rage / Crime Fighters / Double Dragon clone but with the physics characters we had prototyped for the “Mythic Beasts” game (now called Grim Beasts), the first level made for Gang Beasts was a back alley / back street scene similar to the levels in classic sideways scrolling multiplayer fighting games.
We plan to add more levels and AI controlled enemies (and bosses) that reference classic fighting games, to allow friends to play Gang Beasts as a scrolling co-op fighting game.
.GPT: You’ve mentioned a lot of classic ‘80s movies as inspiration for Gang Beasts. What is your all-time favourite ‘80s movie?
James: Electric Dreams directed by Rusty Lemorande.
Jon: Ghostbusters or Goonies are most probably my favourites although anything made in the 80's is much more watchable than anything made today.
Jason: Too tough a question to answer… Big Star Wars fans so… (I could write a list for this answer, there are too many awesome movies...), Star Wars Episode V.
GPT: Do you plan to implement a climbing mechanism into Gang Beasts? Or is 'dangling desperately and hoping everyone else dies' part of the charm?
Boneloaf: We've experimented with numerous climbing implementations but have not built a single implementation that works for all potential use cases; we did not add climbing to the public pre-alpha of Gang Beasts as we wanted to tweak the control scheme and physics. Currently Gang Beasts has a partially implemented health and stamina system (you can see the green / red health bars in some of the earlier gameplay videos), it is intended to avoid or limit the potential for stalemates when multiple players hold and don’t let go of the other.
The stamina system will also lessen the force of successive punches (e.g. the third punch thrown in quick succession will be less powerful than the first two punches etc.) and limit the time that Gang Beasts can grab on to surfaces or objects.
GPT: Of the levels included in the Alpha, which are getting the most feedback, and does the team have a favourite?
We haven’t noticed a preference, our favourite levels from pre-alpha are:
James: Gondolas (soon to be replaced by the Ferris Wheel).
Jon: I think it has to be the Wrestling Ring.
Michael: Trucks, the movement of the Truck suspension amuses me when the Gang Beasts are run over (and like James, soon it will be the Ferris Wheel).
Jason: Grind. I love the little guys heads bobbling before they get crushed.
GPT: A big part of our activity at GoPlayThat stems from local multiplayer. Can you tell us what you like to play in your downtime? Are you competitive or cooperative?
James: Bubble Bobble, BombSquad (co-op and vs), TowerFall, Nidhogg, No Brakes Valet, and Get On Top.
Jon: Mario Kart, Golden Eye (1 shot kill, no radar, pistols only), recently I've been playing a lot of FIFA online pros with James and some other guys, we play for the Beastenders team, you should give us a game if you play.
Michael: Dota2, DayZ, Kerbal Space Program, Gang Beasts. We play a lot of Super Mario Kart too, though Jon and James hate me… something to do with blue turtles.
Jason: Generally, I like co-op play although Super Mario Kart makes me want to win, by any means, especially against Jon. (edited by Jon: Jason never beats me at games).
GPT: Are there any particular individuals or studios you especially admire within the industry, indie or otherwise?
James: The companies that I have the most affection for are Capcom, The Bitmap Brothers, Cinemaware, Delphine Software International, DMA Design, Imagine Software, Konami, Nintendo, Psygnosis, Superior Software, Taito, Ultimate Play The Game, and Valve. I admire Éric Chahi, Fumito Ueda, and Shigeru Miyamoto.
Jon: Capcom, Nintendo make amazing games as do Rockstar, they make games you always enjoy playing.
Michael: I love Valve and CCP, they have both made some of my favourite games. I grew up playing a lot of games from Acclaim, The Bitmap Brothers, Bullfrog, Maxis, MicroProse, Nintendo, Sega, and Team 17. Mojang is worth mentioning too, I've sunk a lot of hours into Minecraft. I’m sure there’s a lot more I've missed too.
Jason: Rockstar. Their entire catalogue of games is awesome (including my all-time favourite game, GTA: San Andreas), and Mojang.
GPT: What can we expect from Boneloaf in terms of new info or even new versions over the next few weeks and months? We jumped all over 0.0.1 when it was released, and are of course hungry for more. The furnace in particular is looking pretty tasty…
Boneloaf: The key fixes in the 0.0.2 build are:
- A fix for the knock-out bug (that stops Gang Beasts from recovering when made unconscious)
- A fix for the falling state (for situations where Gang Beasts shouldn't be rigid but are, for example hanging from ropes or falling from elevated platforms to make it easier to swing on ropes and to make falling more consistent).
The key additions to the 0.0.2 build are:
- The Incinerator / Furnace stage
- The Ferris Wheel stage
- AI enemies (in the Sandbox stage)
- Wincing/Grimacing (e.g. Gang Beasts’ eyes close briefly when hurt)
- Health bars (green/red bar to show the Gang Beast’s current health when hurt)
- Additional sounds.
GPT: One more before you go: You mentioned that you want to make toys? Can we buy Boneloaf merchandiseanywhere?
Boneloaf: We have had samples for Boneloaf T-shirts made (of the Boneloaf logo and Boneloaf characters), but haven’t sold any Boneloaf merchandise to date and don’t have Boneloaf merchandise to sell currently. Jemma Cropper (Jason’s fiance) is hand-crafting a small number of cute Boneloaf plushes for us, we won’t have enough of them to sell them but have talked about giving one away as a prize.
So there you have it! If you fancy getting together with a few friends to beat each other down on a moving truck, download GANG BEASTS here.
For video footage of the GoPlayThat crew playing GANG BEASTS, check out our YouTube channel!