2D stealth is a genre that isn’t attempted often, few try it, and even fewer actually get it right. Curve Studios, makers of Explodemon, are throwing their hat into the ring with Stealth Inc. I had the opportunity to sit down with Rob Clarke, PR and Marketing Manager of the studio, where he told me that lasers should be in every single videogame ever. I believe him.
I guess the easiest place to start is Stealth Bastard, tell me a bit about the origin of the game, and, with a name like that, did you ever intend it to be on the PlayStation?
We never intended it to be on any store of any kind, and certainly never imagined it would eventually become a PlayStation game. It was created by our design director, Bidds, in his lunch hours and during his development, it was basically an interesting project but nothing we had spent any money on or dedicated a team to work on.
We put the original freeware version live on our own site, and over the course of a week the whole thing just exploded in popularity. Obviously the name had something to do with that as it was pretty eye-catching, especially with the tagline of “Tactical Espionage Arsehole”. More than that though, it was a really challenging, accessible little free game that didn’t take itself seriously but provided a good challenge to people, so it was instantly something people began sharing with their friends.
At Curve Studios, how does Stealth go from a game Bidds is working on in his lunch hours to something in full blown production?
Very quickly! That’s the bonus of being a smaller studio. We were very lucky to have had a lot of the original talent left from when we created our older platform and puzzle games like Hydroventure and Explodemon, so we built a team of people with experience in making those sorts of games very easily. Even with that team though, it still took 6 months to bring the game from a little freeware platformer to the fully featured Deluxe edition that would later become Stealth Inc.
Did you expect attention to blow up like it did?
We hoped people would enjoy it, but we never really expected to be making it into a Vita game when we released that freeware version. It’s part of the beauty of indie development though – you can just put out an idea after a few weeks or months playing around, and sometimes that can turn into something much bigger just because you create a community of people enjoying the game. It puts us directly in touch with our fans right from the start of development, which has been a really valuable experience.
2D stealth always seems to cause trouble design-wise, did Curve run into any problems like this?
Working with 2D is obviously a lot easier for many reasons, and requires a great deal less resources, but you’re right, it’s not a traditional fit for a ‘stealth’ game, as many stealth titles rely on your enemies being able to see in all directions. The way we got around this was to rely more on light than on ‘visibility cones’, allowing us to do some clever things with the light and dark in the game that would have been nearly impossible (or at least, a huge amount of work) in 3D.
Curve self-publishes on Sony platforms – how helpful is that service to smaller studios?
We self-publish on a variety of formats, though we’re most well-known for our work with Sony. We do all our own publishing which has obvious advantages, but it’s also a lot of work. We have a team of people that just work on the publishing side. They manage things like submissions, our own in-house QA and marketing. When you have a team of ten people it’s possible to do yourself, but if you are an indie developer in a one or two man team, that’s a huge challenge. That’s where Curve come in – we offer a publishing service that is sensitive to the way the indies work and we have our own first-hand experience in publishing indie games to the console market.
Why do lasers always appear in stealth games?
We’re honestly not sure, but lasers should totally appear in every game, if you ask us. In Stealth Inc, the lasers certainly give the game a nice blast of color, even if they are designed to blow you apart and generally make your life more difficult.
If you’re interested in Stealth Inc, it is available now on PSN and Vita. Also, find out more here.