January 27, 2013 4:00 PM | Staff
For the second year in a row, music-focused developer Lucky Frame has racked up an Excellence in Audio nomination in the IGF with Bad Hotel, which follows on from last year's Pugs Luv Beats (you can read about that game here.)
As before, the gameplay is tied into music -- but this time around, you're building hotels that are under constant attack -- an unusual, even punnish outgrowth of the tower defense genre. In this interview, Lucky Frame founder Yann Seznec talks about the inspirations behind Bad Hotel, why the developer cares so much about music, and just where the developer got that fantastic title from.
What is your background in making games?
Lucky Frame has been making games just for the past year and a half or so, though Jon (coder) and Sean (artist) have worked on many games over the past few years. Our company is grounded pretty heavily in music, and we tend to come at all of our creative projects with some sort of musical approach. That doesn't necessarily mean our projects are all "music games" as such, but rather that our designs stem from musical thinking and often include creative musical elements.
What development tools are you using?
For Bad Hotel we used openFrameworks, Lua, our own game engine called Blud, and the audio is done in Pure Data using libpd.
How did you come up with the concept?
Jon came up with the concept during a game jam for Ludum Dare. His basic concept was to make a literal tower defense game, where you had to defend a tower. We decided to take it further when we realized that building a tower has really exciting musical potential.
How long has your team been working on the game?
We took about six months to make Bad Hotel, from February to August 2012.
What was the inspiration behind the game's art style?
Clearly Art Deco is a big influence! That basically came from the idea of bad hotels being run down decrepit remnants of past glory. It also fit with the game design, which forced the rooms of the hotel to be blocks, so we needed something that toed the line between rigid squares and classy rounded corners.
Sean developed the pastel color palette mostly just to have fun, and to take it away from being overly gritty. We always try to inject some humor into our games, and the slightly bizarre colors help that along. Additionally, the hotel is such a central element to the game that it really needed to pop from the backgrounds.
The enemies are the other main element, and they are totally wild. Definitely inspired by 1940s and '50s comic books... We wanted to create a funny mix of implausibility and humor, mixed with annoyance. Like, the rats with bombs are weirdly cute, but also annoying to deal with, and also how did they strap those bombs on?!
Have you played any of the other IGF finalists? Any games you've particularly enjoyed?
I want to play Year Walk! It looks amazing. Super Hexagon is a Lucky Frame favorite for sure, and Incredipede is brilliant. Also, Jon has been playing a game of VESPER.5 for the past two months or so. It's a great spectator game.
What do you think of the current state of the indie scene?
Well, if the IGF list is anything to go by, it's great! What an incredible mix of games. It's also really interesting to see a game like Super Hexagon do quite well on the notoriously brutal App Store. It gives us hope!
You did extensive work on the complexities of the sound engine for your prior game. Are the musical underpinnings of Bad Hotel similarly robust? How do they expand on your work with Pugs?
Yes, Bad Hotel is a music generation game too, and we used the same engine to build a generative engine for the sound. We took a few different approaches this time around, particularly because the game design is so wildly different -- Pugs Luv Beats was an ambient exploratory experience, whilst Bad Hotel is very much a challenge with loads of restarts and losing and winning and so on.
So the music generation had to mirror that, and I particularly wanted us to use the idea of building -- which is the main game interaction -- as a musical element. All of the music in the game therefore is created by your hotel, which will make different sounds based on how you construct it.
What a great title -- did the title come first, or the game concept?
The concept and title were pretty much born at the same time, during Jon's Ludum Dare project. It's a brilliant name, because it instantly creates an image in your head!
[Christian Nutt wrote this article originally for sister site Gamasutra.]