At PAX West 2019, we sat down with Adam Volker, the Creative Director of the one of a kind pinball hack and slash “pinbrawler” title, Creature In The Well. We talked to Adam about mechanical and visual design influences, other choices, and his hopes for the game.
IndieHangover: So something I noticed when i first started playing was that the creature has dialogue, which for this type of game doesn’t seem like the norm so what influenced this decision?
Adam Volker: Yeah so the creature kind of came out of an NPC that we built where it was somebody in town talking to you out of a pit, so we found that was really evocative and ended up building the antagonist of the game around it. We didn’t really plan to do that, but it was something created very early on and it just kind of evolved from there.
IH: With the main gameplay influence being pinball, how were you able to come up with different dungeon designs to keep players engaged?
AV: Once we figured out the core mechanic, the sword and the pinball part, we starter=d building different kinds of bumpers and figuring out which bumpers were interesting to interact with and which ones had enough of a design that we could build an entire dungeon around. We have a room of test bumpers that we were always iterating on and built the dungeons around those.
IH: What influence the visual design of Creature In The Well and its characters?
AV: So the visual style of the game is based on one of my favorite comic book creators named Mike Mignola, the guy who made Hellboy, and we wanted to find a good marriage between the mechanic and a style that was simple enough to accommodate how noisy and busy and energetic it was. I just love his work, so I was happy to try and emulate what he does for our game.
IH: So you mention Hellboy being an influence, and I remember you mentioning in another interview how The Legend of Zelda was also a big influence. Are there any lesser known influences that players might not pick up on as easily?
AV: So we started the game with the desire to emulate something that Rocket League is doing, which is controlling a ball with a weird object, so the idea of combining sword and pinball came from that.
IH: With something like Rocket League as an inspiration, what made you decide that single player would be the best experience for Creature In The Well?
AV: It was just kind of based around the team that we had. Multiplayer is a big undertaking and we weren’t sure that was the type of game we wanted to make. We wanted to do something that was a little more story focused, so building dungeons out of our mechanic was the obvious conclusion instead of something that was more multiplayer based.
IH: So what is the expected play time for a game like this?
AV: I think it’s between five and 10 hours for most players. It depends on whether the want to find all of the secrets and little bits or if they want to just get through the dungeons. That’s kind of what our testers have been returning to us, that’s the amount of time that people are taking to play.
IH: So it may be too early to ask this kind of question since you’re focused on launch right now, but can we expect additional content in the future?
AV: There are ideas floating around but we’re going to wait to see how the game does before we decide how much we would want to add to it.
IH: What are your hopes for Creature In The Well and what would you say to players who are interested but still on the fence about it?
AV: I just hope that people like playing it. I think the thing that we’re trying to attract people with is the different art style and something like they’ve never played before. So if players are looking for a new type of game then this is something we made for them.