Interview With Nevernaut (SlashDash)

Slashers and Dashers

Recently I have had the pleasure of speaking with the Developers behind the upcoming ID@Xbox Title SlashDash coming to the Xbox One. I got the chance to ask them a few questions about themselves, their games, and the ID@Xbox Program… Hope you enjoy!

    1. We like to start of every interview with the same question, to see the many responses we will get. The question is very simple. What game has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

I think its best if we each answer this individually.

Alex and Armand: WInd Waker. Played that game endlessly and just fell in love with the the exploration and discovery. You always felt like there was something new just an island away and that sensation has stuck with us ever since then.

Adnan: I’d have to say Starcraft 2. I’ve played it more than any other game in my life and played it consistently over the last few years. It’s helped me keep in touch with friends and is still one of my favorite things to do. (Although lately I’ve been watching a lot of Super Mario 64 speedruns which is another favorite of mine.)

Vivian: I guess the first game I ever played… Mortal Kombat 4. Although it’s not the best game, it was the first video game I ever played and I have fond memories of it. I remember thinking it was so cool and since then really getting into video games. I wouldn’t be here now making games if it wasn’t for my dad and Mortal Kombat 4.

Collectively: Super Smash Brothers (all of them)

    2. Could you give our members a quick synopsis of SlashDash? What type of game is it and what can the gamer expect?

Sure. SlashDash is a top down competitive local multiplayer game, with ninjas, for up to 4 players. Players can slash with their sword to kill, shoot kunai to stun, and teleport to evade attacks. Using these three techniques the players compete in games of capture the flag. SlashDash is fast paced, easy to pick up, but requires strong teamwork and tactical nous to be the best.

    3. Local multiplayer is something that most developers have chosen to ignore in recent years. Your company seems to embrace the idea. What made you want to make SlashDash a local multiplayer game? Any chance of an online or single player component?

I think SlashDash exists as a local multiplayer game due to restrictions we have in presenting an online experience that would match the environment of playing in a local setting. SlashDash started as a local multiplayer game and it just always worked really well that way. There is an emotion you get from playing SlashDash, and other local multiplayer games, that you don’t get from playing an online multiplayer game. We want to tap into that nostalgic feel of playing with you friends in the same room and really getting hyped when you pull off an awesome move, or have everyone laughing when someone messes up in hilarious fashion. We still get excited playing the game even though its been in development for almost 2 years.

We are aware though of the limitations of making a local only multiplayer game and we want to make SlashDash accessible even if you don’t have 4 players. While you won’t get a campaign mode, we do have other modes that will allow players to play by themselves, but we can’t say more than that at the moment.

    4. I have always been a big fan of knowing the history of games. Did your team always know that you wanted to make a game like SlashDash? If not what ideas were thrown around originally?

Well SlashDash started in a video game modding class at NYU. It was there that we had 3 weeks to make a mod of a game. So for the final project Adnan wanted to make a game with multiple units like in starcraft and Vivian wanted to make a CTF game. After the 3 weeks the game have 2 units, a soldier who could only shoot and had a jetpack and a ninja who could slash and teleport. During the presentation of the game our professors felt the soldier was hard to play as and so we combined the 2 units into 1 unit who could shoot, slash, and teleport, suddenly the game was a real blast to play.

Almost a year later we took the game (with completely new art and advanced mechanics) to IndieCade, where we won the Audience Choice Award. Since then its been a crazy roller coaster ride that culminated with our announcement at the Microsoft E3 press conference in the Indie Montage.

    5. Shots, katanas, and teleporting play big parts in SlashDash. When the game makes its way to Xbox One will those be the only skills available, or will other skills be unlockable down the road?

Those are the only skills are your disposal, but those 3 actions allow for incredibly deep and competitive play if used in inventive and creative ways. It was very important for us to make the game accessible to first time players. We intend for the game to be easy to pick up and be a blast to play from the start. But, high level play is very important for us, and the 3 skills allow for a surprising amount of depth. For example, you have the ability to cancel your teleport, bluffing your opponents and stunning them if they are too close. There are many more high level moves that you can pull off simply by using your skills in a particular order or with certain timing. Also the importance of teamwork and cooperation cannot be understated. Working well as a team and finding new strategies is very rewarding. Its all about experimenting to outsmart and out-skill your opponents.

    6. I unfortunately have been unable to visit any conventions lately, so I haven’t been able to get my hands on SlashDash. How much skill is involved in being a great SlashDash player? Over my long history of gaming I have learned that even though something may look easy to use, that is not often so. Do you consider SlashDash more of a user friendly pick up and play type of game or a game that may be easy to learn but hard to master?

You are correct. As I said above it was very important that first time players can pick up the game easily and have a lot of fun without needing to know specific strategies, but also to allow experienced players to find a lot of rich and deep gameplay. I feel SlashDash finds a happy medium between being a pick up and play game, but also one that takes skill and knowledge to master. There have been many times that KirbyKid, our guru for all things competitive play, has been able to do things that we didn’t know were possible (I won’t spoil them here). Players will be able to uncover the depth of the gameplay simply by playing and noticing how their actions are effecting the other players. Most importantly, though, being a great SlashDash player means playing well as a team. But, SlashDash is also a lot of fun to play even without all this knowledge and that to us is important.

    7. Your team will be taking advantage of Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program. How has the program helped you? Would your game have made it to an Xbox console if the program didn’t exist?

The ID@Xbox Program has been incredibly helpful to us. Not only are the people who work there very passionate about indie games, but are also just really great people. The program itself has allowed us to put our game on the Xbox, giving us dev kits and support, as well as taking us to events, that would not have been available to us without it. We’re really glad that both Microsoft and Sony are supporting indies more and more and can’t stress how instrumental that has been to us being able to release our first game on a console. Whether we could have made it onto the Xbox without the ID@Xbox program? I really don’t know, but we are glad that we can be part of it.

    8. Capture the Flag has always been a fan favorite when it comes to multiplayer games. Were other game modes played around with? Have you considered adding any in the future?

Capture the Flag has been the only mode we’ve shown off so far, and it really has become the primary game mode for SlashDash. We are working on new modes, one of which we aim to have playable at PAX Prime, that will allow for more flexible player numbers as well as diversity in gameplay.

    9. I love the level designs I have seen so far in the trailers. Just big enough and creative enough to add the right amount of challenge. How many levels in total are there? Were they each designed by hand or will they be randomly generated?

Thank you! Yes our level design is instrumental to our artistic and creative vision. All the maps are designed by hand, which takes time, but allows us to create unique and diverse locations. We currently have 6 maps, all of which offer varieties of gameplay experiences. Some are bigger, some are smaller, some have interactive elements. It is important to us that the player never sees the same place twice. That they’ll need to adapt their strategies depending on what level they are playing on. 1 map in particular has a very cool twist on the capture the flag mechanic that we can’t wait to see players figure out for themselves.

    10. Lastly I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down and answer the questions Xbox Culture members and Staff have had about your latest game SlashDash. The last one we have for you is this: When can gamers expect to get their hands on SlashDash, has your team set a release date yet?

We currently haven’t set a release date, but you can expect SlashDash to come out in early 2015. WE also frequent events and festivals, so keep your eyes open or follow us on Twitter @NevernautGames and at facebook.com/slashdashgame so stay up to take with events and so on.
Thank you very much for the interview!

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Written by: Hugo

“Don’t be so gloomy. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” ~ The Third Man

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