I sat down with the team behind the upcoming FPS “Viscerafest“. They gave me the inside scoop to the heart-eating romp. Here’s what they had to say:
Console Monster: Let’s start off with some of the basics; Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Noah James Dickinson, I’m 19 years old, an independent game developer (Acid Man Games) and I work alongside Michael Markie (Markie-music) and Elijah Allen (Fire Plant Games) and we are currently developing a singleplayer arena fps known as Viscerafest.
CM: Where is your team located? How would you describe the company, and has your location influenced your games in any way?
NJD: I personally live in Wisconsin, however, Elijah resides up in Canada and Markie in California. We’re generally a pretty small team, I mean obviously, calling us a company feels like a stretch to be honest. We’re more so just a bunch of guys working on a game, think like a few decent friends working on a group project and the impact any of our places of living has made is pretty negligible/nonexistent at best.
CM: Could you tell us a bit about the game you’re working on?
NJD: Viscerafest is a singleplayer first-person shooter in which you play as a mercenary named Caroline Fetter hunting down a warlock named Cromune with the express goal of collecting the bounty on his head. A lot of the core design is meant to evoke the arena shooter genre established by titles such as Quake, Blood, and Duke 3d, whilst playing with core fundamentals in a way that further drives and encourages the aggressive and fast nature of said games home even harder. You’ll traverse non-linear levels using keys to unlock doors, completing objectives, solving puzzles, finding secrets, and juggling your resource pools whilst taking on hordes of unique enemy types. The game will also be broken up by multiphase boss battles, fighting in arenas against an ever-evolving opponent that will truly test your skills with the combat. Whilst the game doesn’t expressly take itself particularly seriously there are also some light horror elements in the latter part of the game as well.
CM: Why is the game called “Viscerafest”?
NJD: The game’s title has changed over the course of its development, some of our older community members may remember at one point It was called Quarantined: viscerafest, but the title of the game has remained in flux throughout. This was largely because the direction of the game kept changing, and what it was going to be was never really one consistent and solid idea, until about roughly 2016. The portion of the title of Viscerafest (which is what the games name was most recently slimmed down to) was chosen to reflect a core mechanic of the game where you gib enemies and eat their hearts to reclaim health. With it being such an integral part of the game that also stood out as being somewhat unique I thought it best to center the title around it.
CM: What platforms are you aiming to release on?
NJD: Primarily PC, but we would like to get the game on Linux and Mac., as well as the Switch post-launch.
CM: This if your first game correct? What’s been the most challenging part of development?
NJD: Yes, and well, I’d say either sticking to one idea and focusing on it, or just scaling my expectation for what I could actually accomplish. When the project began I was the only developer and I had absolutely no experience, the game has been in development for over 7 years as I kept scrapping and redoing work as my skills as a dev grew, my ambitions were shattered and had to be downscaled, or just my desires for what I wanted the game to be on a fundamental level would change. I think the biggest and most valuable thing learned from all of it though was just how important actual game design is, because when you adopt the mentality of throwing crap at the wall to see what sticks you quickly learn that whilst that may be creatively empowering it rarely results in a competent experience.
CM: What is one feature you’re really excited about?
NJD: I mean… I wouldn’t really say there’s one lone mechanic that just has me chomping at the bit to see players utilize but I would say really just on the whole I’m really excited for what we’re doing with the game in general now. We hopped engines earlier this year and since then the game has gone from a janky ok-ish experience to an extremely polished feeling game that’s just such a joy to play. That combined with how we’re handling some of the games narrative elements giving the game this priorly missing sense of production value, it’s just hard to overstate how much of a step up what we’re doing is.
Viscerafest isn’t really the type of game that has this one gimmicky mechanic we’ll use in puzzles throughout the course of the game. The core of Viscerafest’s gameplay is built on familiar elements, there’s just lots of fun little twists on these familiar elements that prevent it from feeling like just more of the same.
CM: Has the team drawn inspirations from any other sources? Film, books, etc.
NJD: For the story, a big prominent inspiration to the point where a lot of his work is directly intertwined with the narrative is Lovecraft’s works. The general themes of the game are geared toward creating a sense of diving further and further into insanity. The main character is heavily inspired by the book the Dunwich horror and the main story has some loose parallels to that book as well. If you’re at all familiar with his works you’ll recognize a few faces.
In terms of visuals and art, I mean… I draw inspirations from all over the place, the look of the Tron films was a big inspiration for the general aesthetic of the games first chapter.
And obviously, of course, 90s fps games play the biggest hand in terms of what we’re generally striving to achieve. We’re constantly comparing, looking at what makes those games great, and asking how we can improve upon their ideas.
CM: Have you had to cut any ideas/content? If so, what and why?
NJD: We literally just cut a weapon the other day actually, it was called the D.O.S. (The Devourer of Souls) pun not actually intended funny enough. It functioned similarly to the BFG from DOOM but we dropped it because we didn’t want a weapon that functioned like a left click to win button. An item that trivializes tough encounters ultimately destroys the point of even having them in the first place.
But I mean we’ve cut at least 3 weapons, not including the dos, like the freeze ray, the buzz saw cannon, a Gatling gun, mostly due to them either not being very interesting or conversely useful in combat.
Not to mention how many enemies that were dropped which is easily more than 15-20 at this point. Either due to changes in narrative, or just making room for more interesting fun types. The game has over 24 enemy types which are a fair amount as is.
CM: What does the future hold for yourself and the team?
NJD: That’s a tough question, mostly because we don’t really know. A lot of me being able to continue in game development is based upon Viscerafest’s success. I’ve poured a lot of time and money into the game and unfortunately, if it doesn’t do well I’m not sure I’ll be able to continue. If I am able to though I and Elijah hope to continue working together which means Markie will naturally be roped along as well too.
I should mention as a side note, I’m referring to myself a lot, and there is a reason for that more so than just a lot of the questions are geared more toward things I’m primarily responsible for. Like I said Viscerafest has been in development for 7 years, since 2012 when I myself was 12. Markie didn’t join development until 2018 when I was in dire need of a composer and stumbled across his amazing work and reached out to him. Elijah I had known since 2016 and we had discussed working together at some point in the future, but when the engine I was using was crippling me he joined development in early 2019 to help me port the game to a new engine that I was unfamiliar with.
None of this is to downplay their importance in the game’s development, they’ve brought so much to the table and poured so much work into the game that I can safely say the game just would not be the same without them, and I’m eternally grateful for their help.
And of course whilst she’s not a developer I can’t go without bringing up Sara Knaepen. She’s contributed to the game through promotional art and is doing work for us on the few cutscenes the game has. Her work is amazing and ya’ll need to go check it out.
CM: What are some of the current favorites of the you and team?
NJD: So Elijah’s favorites are Paper Mario 64 and Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door. Markie’s are DOOM, Myst, WoW, Quake 3, Resident Evil (GC), Marvel vs Capcom 3, Guitar Hero, HL/Counter Strike. For myself some of my favorite games would be Blood, DOOM (2016), Quake 1, but my absolute favorite would have to be Voidpoint’s Ion Fury.
Thanks for taking to time to answer some questions Noah. We can’t wait to see the final product.
If you’d like to keep tabs on the development of Viscerafest, follow their official Twitter account.