Deathwish Enforcers

  • Couch Co-Op: 4 Players
  • + Co-Op Campaign
Deathwish Enforcers - Developer Interview
Interview by

Deathwish Enforcers - Developer Interview

Learn how Deathwish Enforcers got so gritty, funny, and weird in our in-depth interview!

Deathwish Enforcers is an amazing run-and-gun shooter/platformer in the style of Konami's classic arcade game, Sunset Riders. The unusual mix of grimy 1970s vibe, dark humor, gangsters, and zombies certainly make for a memorable shooter. To find out how it all came together, we interviewed Christopher Obritsch, head of Monster Bath Studios (as well as director, lead programmer, lead art, co-designer, and more).

Christopher Obritsch, Monster Bath Studios

Co-Optimus: Thanks for taking the time to visit our hidden compound for this stubbornly in-person interview. First, could you tell us a little about your experience in game development?

Christopher: Thanks for having me! I’ve been developing games for about 11 years now, but originally went to school for programming (not gaming) many moons ago… 25-plus, I believe. I fell into game development one day, just for fun, and one of my personal projects caught the eye of a media company looking for someone with my skill set. I ended up doing a Space Harrier engine [for them] as my first “real” game… I [made] Insanity’s Blade with another dev. [That game] released between 9 and 10 years ago. Then I went to work at a place called HB Studios on a golf title and a snowboarding title.

After that came Battle Princess Madelyn, on which I focused on the art and direction, and my co-dev did the programming. After he left, I took over all of the programming and moved on under a new company name. I reprogrammed Battle Princess Madelyn for Exa-Arcadia as “Super Battle Princess Madelyn,” and then [created] Deathwish Enforcers.

Battle Princess Madelyn

Battle Princess Madelyn

That’s a cool pedigree! And what are some of your favorite classic and modern games?

Christopher: Non-run-and-gun games I love would be mostly beat 'em ups. From Kung Fu-Master to Splatterhouse, Double Dragon to Streets of Rage 2, The King of Dragons to Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara – I love all of that stuff. Modern games find me playing things like Diablo 3, Shadows of the Damned, and Lollipop Chainsaw… [I’m also a] huge Left 4 Dead 2 fan. The most recent thing I finished would be Dead Island 2.

[As for run-and-gun games,] classic games like that impressed me would be Ghouls n Ghosts (if that counts), Contra, Super C, Sunset Riders, RoboCop, and Sly Spy, just to name a few. My favorite modern run-and-gun would be Blazing Chrome, of course. That team s**** gold every time!

Blazing Chrome

Blazing Chrome

Co-Optimus: Your pixel art on Deathwish Enforcers, Battle Princess Madelyn, and Insanity’s Blade is truly impressive. Can you tell us about how you draw and what your goals are with your art?

Christopher: Thank you! Very kind of you to say! I’ve used Construct 2 to draw forever. I have gotten so used to the layout and its quirks that I can spit out pixel art at Mach speed. While I often use other paint programs to swap colors for my final palettes, I stick to Construct 2 for the most part. I can’t actually hold a pen/pencil for more than a few minutes now, thanks to overworking at desks for the past 17 years. My hand cramps right up. So, everything is done with a mouse, and I click away until I’m happy with what I have.

And there is literally no concept art – I do it all in my sprite editor until I get what I want, and then I go from there. Doing the art for any of our games puts me into a zone where 20 hours can fly by, and I don’t know it. Thanks, ADHD!!!

As far as goals go: just to make art I’m happy with at the end. I tend to change up style per game to match what I’m trying to emulate. If anything, my art is heavily influenced by Capcom and Sega, but for Deathwish Enforcers, I stepped out of my safe zone to try something new. It worked, I think?

Deathwish Enforcers - PlayStation

Co-Optimus: Art is a big part of a 2D game like Deathwish Enforcers, but several people contributed to the final product. Can you briefly tell us what everyone on the team did for the game?

Christopher: For sure! Reese Holland does a lot of design concepts for how enemies should work, some of the initial player design bits, and boss fights. But his major contribution is Level Design and Enemy Placement. He knows exactly what he wants and where he wants it (not a sexy joke!). He really nails the balance of the levels, which was much harder for this game than a single player game. [With] up to 4 people playing at once, it requires a lot more thinking!

Gryzor87 always does our music and always knocks it out of the park! His music is the soul of the game. He also does the majority of the SFX for the game. He knows exactly what I want every time and is always a pleasure to collaborate with!

[My wife] Lina did the female character voices for the game, and helped out with play testing. She always does all of the wheeling and dealing with the company, the planning and budgeting. [She’s] my greatest supporter, along with my kids! Sometimes [she] assists with the print art work as well.

Deathwish Enforcers design screenshot

Mission 2 development screenshot

Ben Hebb does a lot of the voices with me. He started back on Battle Princess Madelyn Royal Edition, did some more for Super Battle Princess Madelyn, and did the voices of the first 2 bosses in Deathwish Enforcers as well as the announcer voice for the final game trailer! 

Edward Di Geronimo Jr. handles the Sony side of the ports and helps me when I get stuck with the Nintendo side. He’s also wonderful for keeping me up to date with what’s going on with the various SDKs for the different systems. 

Matt Murray does all of the Trophy art and splits the fun for doing the cover art with me! I’ve been working with Matt since my HB Studios days – amazing artist and a real stand-up guy… He knows exactly what to do when it comes to style that matches a game.

We all test the game, but we also have a few people step in to do multiplayer testing as well – a huge shout out to them for helping us get to where we are!