Co-Optimus: The game was successfully funded on Kickstarter with some of those (now dropped) features listed. Have you received any feedback from that community about these changes to the original project?
BFG: It wasn’t an easy decision. We promised to deliver an exciting experience with Dieselstörmers. A game that will be fun to play. We could’ve easily continued development, release a “final version” to Steam and be done with it. It happened before. But that’s not what we want. We want to deliver on our promise.
We received all kinds of feedback after we announced the changes: There was disappointment, as well as players embracing the new gameplay, and everything in between. We expected that, to be honest, because change makes most people uncomfortable. Overall the feedback is positive, though.
To ease the transition we let both versions live side-by-side for a while. For one, we wanted to give players a chance to get a feel for the new gameplay early on. And because that meant to release a very basic map, without any dressing, we decided to keep the old version alive, to provide a visual outlook to those unfamiliar with Dieselstörmers.
Co-Optimus: Are you able to describe at all how changes like these affect timeline for the game and its budget? I wouldn’t thinking changing course on a game that’s been in development for a year plus would be easy.
BFG: It’s certainly not easy. One ramification was that we had to modify most of the existing 3D art assets and create completely new ones. Also we had to code new features and create new level designs. So we’re talking a considerable amount of man months that went into the roguelike Dieselstörmers and had an impact on our budget. It also means that we will have to push back our estimated release date.
Co-Optimus: Looking at the silver lining, what are you excited about with these changes? Is there some particular feature that plays or feels better with the shift? Do you feel there’s a better game being made now?
BFG: We streamlined the gameplay so it is fun from the very first minute. There is quick character growth and very intense action. With the next update the upgrades will be noticeable immediately and will have direct impact on how your character can act. For example they greatly boost your damage, or confer game-changing properties to your projectiles or abilities to your character. We can take bigger risks balance-wise and allow super-powerful combinations as these only dominate one session at most and not the entire remainder of the game.
In short: Yes, we took Dieselstörmers to the next level, having now a great base for the balancing, polishing, features and content to come.
Co-Optimus: Do some of these new features have an impact on the cooperative gameplay at all?
BFG: First, the idea of delivering a great coop-gameplay never changed and with every step we do we have the multiplayer in mind. The new approach adds some advantages: Player character power discrepancy no longer is an issue. It’s perfectly acceptable to simply start a new multiplayer session together or even join a running session because you can catch up quickly if the other players give you first dibs on the upgrades.
Players can still apply the same tactics as before or slightly modified ones. Last but not least, the new distinct player characters definitely will impact your team play and will challenge you to adapt your tactics to the team setup.
Co-Optimus: What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned from all of this so far?
BFG: Crowd funding and Early Access publishing actually taught us the biggest lesson so far. Both make funding and developing a video game public. It removes the black box surrounding you and exposes parts of game development that gamers were unlikely to notice before – like our game design change, for example. It changed our way to communicate and also the way we develop a game. The process to optimize the game to offer not only a playable, but also enjoyable, experience starts very early compared to the usual process.
We'd like to thank Black Forest Games for taking the time to answer our questions and to shed some more insight into the changes they've made to the game. There is no release date for Dieselstormers yet, but you can pick it up for $18.99 via Steam Early Access.