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Feature: Dicey Dungeons’ Terry Cavanagh And Chipzel On Inspirations, Characters, And The Crystal Maze

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Dicey Dungeons Lady Luck© Distractionware

Roguelite deckbuilder Dicey Dungeons surprise-launched on Switch in the center of December and has been protecting us busy over the vacations with its addictive mix of explore-catching art work, cheeky humour, obedient soundtrack and — clearly — dice-based fully dungeon crawling.

We recently caught up with clothier Terry Cavanagh and composer Chipzel by email to speak about the origins of this gem, how its characters and mechanics fashioned and developed at some level of mutter, and the plan in which traditional British sport shows helped form the game and living it other than your moderate delusion deckbuilder.

First, we speak to clothier Terry…


Nintendo Lifestyles: We’ve read that Dicey Dungeons was once born from a roguelike sport jam. Can you direct us a minute about that and the plan in which your suggestions developed over time?

Terry Cavanagh: Yep, that is actual! The very first version of Dicey Dungeons was once a prototype I made for Seven Day Roguelike jam in 2018. You can genuinely play the earliest version of the game in a web-browser.

On the entire I could possibly well been desirous to supply one thing minute impressed by the game Dream Quest, so when that jam got here along I determined it was once the supreme opportunity for it. The sport I had by the stop of the most important week was once a mess – but there was once sufficient there that I knew it’ll be one thing genuinely particular. I made it my tubby time conducting and haven’t looked support since.

Did you’ve got got got any other video games or inspirations in mind at some level of mutter?

Dicey Dungeon’s biggest inspiration is Dream Quest, which is a mobile roguelike impressed by Magic: the Gathering, and is with out a doubt one of many broad origins of the “deckbuilding roguelike” model. It be a minute of a cult sport, beloved by designers – I tackle it to bits. It be arduous to salvage into why without getting derailed, but I genuinely admire its wild skill to balance, its playfulness and its pure affect center of attention. I gain it genuinely refreshing, and genuinely desired to realize one thing of my possess that explored the the same position.

Out of doorways of video games, I judge Scuttle Time as being a significant impact for the game’s overall tone and feel. Later on in mutter, we belief plenty about TV Recreation Shows as a skill to bring all the pieces collectively, which impressed plenty around the feel and the memoir and the event.

A entire bunch folk on the crew brought their very possess inspirations as correctly, clearly. As an illustration Marlowe is a big fan of Chrono Trigger, and you can survey some references to that in her art work and in the game.

The characters each and every possess a pretty extraordinary feel at some level of the general framework. Did the classes and their abilities come from character suggestions, or did their personalities affect around frigid mechanics you desired to investigate cross-take a look at?

For the playable characters it was once indubitably a technique of knowing what I desired to realize automatically, and then knowing a character that fit. The robot as an instance was once constantly designed as this form-of blackjack-taking part in character, but it took a temporary time to make a decision out it is a long way going to level-headed be a robot.

For the enemies it was once a minute extra of a combine. Very very early on I appropriate had a host of delusion tropes, goblins and wizards and rogues, but I desired to salvage away from that so I started broadening it out a minute, in conjunction with extra extraordinary creatures, figures from Irish mythology, animals tackle toddler squid. For some time there was once a blowfish, which finally grew to became Sneezy, who’s a hedgehog who’s allergic to dungeons.

For some time there was once a blowfish, which finally grew to became Sneezy, who’s a hedgehog who’s allergic to dungeons.

When Marlowe got here on board we talked about desirous to salvage away from D&D-model delusion tropes mighty extra, so she started changing issues up with her sketches — coming up with fresh designs that worked around the mechanics, but reimagined the creature — so the vampire bat grew to became a vacuum cleaner as an instance. She would additionally come up with fully fresh characters, and I’d come up with an enemy affect to compare. It was once a fine support-and-forth task!

Attain you’ve got got got a utter current?

I’m genuinely genuinely fond of the Witch. I appropriate love how she works automatically – for me she’s by a long way the most fun character to play. She obtained’t be the most neatly-appreciated contestant amongst avid gamers, but I believe when you occur to genuinely, genuinely salvage into the game, you are going to come to be taught about that she’s the most attention-grabbing.

For the enemies, possibly Cornelius. I tackle his affect, the sound, I believe he’s fun to fight in opposition to — the broad scary assault with a terribly gradual countdown — and he’s based fully on a ghost memoir my other folks extinct to direct me, so I tackle that about him too.

Dicey Dungeons Witch© Distractionware

Some avid gamers survey the duration of time ‘roguelike’ and swap off, which looks an real shame fervent by how broadly the duration of time is applied right this moment time. Is the spend of that label – on the opposite hand upright! – one thing you trouble or agree with when deciding how to market the game?

It be silly, I mutter fashions alternate! This genuinely wasn’t a consideration when I started engaged on Dicey Dungeons at all, but it is one thing I hear increasingly extra now – that folk are initiating to salvage a minute drained of roguelikes. Roguelikes had been genuinely popular for some time now, so possibly the tide is popping in opposition to them a minute.

But attention-grabbing affect areas are constantly going to be attention-grabbing, no topic what the fresh vogue is. And model is simplest significant to a level anyway – there could be constantly plenty extra to what makes a sport tick than what model it falls under. For no topic it is price, I believe Dicey Dungeons in all equity various from most roguelikes accessible (which I gain genuinely silly, because it ratings very correctly under the Berlin definition!).

How long did Dicey Dungeons steal to advance in its closing affect? Was once a Switch version constantly on the cards?

I did constantly mutter it could maybe possibly well well be a upright match for Switch, but I desired to supply fine it was once a terribly, genuinely upright port.

I started work on it in February 2018, and launched it on PC in August 2019, eighteen months later. Then once that commence was once proper and I could possibly well had a minute little bit of a shatter, we started working on the Switch port. We’re a scrappy minute crew of independents, so it appropriate wasn’t life like to possess it ready to commence on all the pieces straight away.

I did constantly mutter it could maybe possibly well well be a upright match for Switch, but I desired to supply fine it was once a terribly, genuinely upright port. I believe it is worked so correctly – we owe plenty to our Switch programmer for the port, Ruari O’Sullivan, who did the genuinely arduous affect work of knowing how to supply the controls feel upright on a gamepad, which just isn’t any minute difficulty. I believe the stop consequence is inconceivable – when I play the game myself now, the Switch version is the one I toddle for.

The art work and tune adds a entire other layer to the expertise. Can you speak a minute about how Marlowe Dobbe and Chipzel got here to be appealing?

The sport didn’t delivery out as a huge conducting where I intended to set up a crew collectively and produce a gargantuan sport, haha. Before all the pieces it was once appropriate this dull week-long sport jam conducting. When I belief it could maybe possibly well be going someplace, I started releasing free alphas every couple of weeks to salvage feedback. Spherical the — I believe — eleventh alpha or so, I started bringing other folks in.

Chipzel was once the most important to come support on board – I could possibly well been having a gape a possibility to work with her for years, since Extensive Hexagon. At that level it grew to became sure we had been going to make a decision on an artist too – so I ran an delivery call and had been very fortunate to gain Marlowe, who’s appropriate been unparalleled. One in every of the most important issues we did as a crew is set up collectively a “teaser” for the game – which is a minute dated now, but which I gain trim attention-grabbing to gape support at:

VVVVVV got here to Switch (and 3DS), and it’s huge to possess Dicey Dungeons now. As an exceptionally prolific sport clothier, is there anything else on your support catalogue you judge could possibly well fit correctly on Switch? Extensive Hexagon, possibly? (nudge-nudge, wink-wink)

Possibly! No guarantees but…

Dicey Dungeons has became our fresh time sink, but what possess you been taking part in recently?

I’ve been replaying a host of The Long Darkish, which is with out a doubt one of my current video games and which got a huge Switch port in the closing couple of months. I’ve additionally been staring at my wife play Hades and every now and then taking a flip and collaborating in it immensely. And I’m genuinely taking part in Ikenfell, an broken-down-college RPG with genuinely huge writing and fight affect.

And what are you engaged on subsequent?

No idea! I genuinely possess some prototypes in mind, but I’m level-headed in the early stages, and it is too soon to genuinely speak about anything else but…


And now it is a long way time to swap (geddit!?) to composer and chiptune champion, Chipzel…

Dicey Dungeons Lava© Distractionware

Nintendo Lifestyles: Clearly, you’ve worked with Terry Cavanagh earlier than, but are you able to direct us a minute about how you got appealing with Dicey Dungeons? Does Terry appropriate possess you on speed-dial now?

Chipzel: Clearly! We’re a upright crew and I’m constantly overjoyed to hear from Terry. I’d been form of nudging Terry to work on one thing collectively when we took self-discipline to substandard paths at various conventions or occasions since Extensive Hexagon and there had been a pair of suggestions floating around pre-Dicey Dungeons. We ended up chatting over espresso at AMAZE Berlin in 2018. Terry was once trim interested by the prototype he was once engaged on – you understand it’s gonna be one thing upright when Terry is interested by it. He desired to grab if I was once on hand and fervent, and I was once. We started forming the rest of the crew a pair of month or two later.

Did you skill Dicey Dungeons differently from other initiatives you’ve worked on? The tone could maybe be very various to the intensity of one thing tackle Extensive Hexagon.

Effective fully. I decide it that design – I tackle going out of my comfort zone and trying out one thing various. It constantly makes for added attention-grabbing results. What was once attention-grabbing working with Terry this time spherical was once that I was once brought in actual in the initiating – so the route was once a blended effort. From very early days I had mentioned to Marlowe and Terry that the game made me feel tackle I was once on a ’90s sport display — someplace in between to Play Your Playing cards Dazzling and Crystal Maze — and they loved it as a route. We had been in Early Derive admission to at that time and I had already set up in some LSDJ compositions (all written on Gameboy) as placeholder tune, which folk following mutter, in conjunction with myself and the crew, had grown considerably connected to. The tune developed over time as we persevered to make the game from the flooring up. Marlowe’s art work was once so fun and appealing – I genuinely desired to compare that gorgeous and vitality with some extra natural devices in the combine. Every of the placeholder pieces had been in actuality remixed to suit after I came upon the identical old and sound I needed.

Should always you’re writing tune that avid gamers are going to hear on a loop, in most cases for many hours, how attain you reduction issues unique and attention-grabbing?

I appropriate survey it as building tension, releasing and controlling the vitality and emotion you in deciding on the player to possess. My background is in electronic tune so I’ve constantly form of likened loopable online sport tune to the structure of one thing tackle trance; where you’ve got got got every element building and unleashing in some design at some level of your entire portion. With Dicey Dungeons I desired to level-headed give that feeling of fixed high stakes in possibility in fight; as when you occur to’re in a occasion on line casino on slots about to retract huge – so loads of the pieces characteristic huge buildups into hovering “choruses” with a minute little bit of downtime or abrupt adjustments to reduction the player on their toes.

I desired to level-headed give that feeling of fixed high stakes in possibility in fight; as when you occur to’re in a occasion on line casino on slots about to retract huge – so loads of the pieces characteristic huge buildups into hovering “choruses” with a minute little bit of downtime or abrupt adjustments to reduction the player on their toes

You’ve evidently got an affinity for the granddaddy of handheld consoles – what’s your Recreation Boy of desire? Does it alternate when you occur to’re taking part in versus making tune? (We consider you’ve got got got to possess rather the sequence!)

I simplest possess two that I spend! Every are modified for stay performances and composition functions and I don’t genuinely sport on them unfortunately – they are too treasured. I additionally kinda survey the Gameboy as extra of an instrument now because I’ve extinct it as such for goodbye.

We read through your Introduction to Chiptune suggestions (featuring artists tackle Anamanaguchi). Are there any utter composers — inner or delivery air of the gain sport industry – that you simply feel possess had a huge impact on you?

There are so many musicians, experimental musicians, performers, composers, the truth is. I decide to steal inspiration from in each self-discipline I will gain it – I additionally strive to manual sure of getting “heroes” to a pair of extent. But I’d mumble Suzanne Ciani and Mort Garson possess reshaped a pair of of the systems I’d possess looked at the separations between “broken-down” tune > electronic tune > chiptune tune > online sport tune rising up and made me agree with the many ranges of styles which are imaginable for a composer. That entire generation of early electronic tune and experimental forms of tune concréte into commercialised ’80s tune instruments and then into ’90s console sound chips and tracker tune is most attention-grabbing to me. I really decide the weather of fun, play and exploration in tune affect over structured belief and precision. Whereas you’ve never listened to “Plantasia (1976)” by Mort Garson and imagined a resplendent minute RPG memoir, it is most life like to – I extremely indicate it. It’s a soundtrack for a online sport that never existed.

You’ve written or contributed to the soundtrack of some moderately unbelievable video games over the previous decade (Genuine Shapes & Beats, Octahedron, River Metropolis Ladies, and the Cadence of Hyrule DLC being a pair of of our favourites on Switch). Attain you gain that attention-grabbing initiatives tackle these tend to come support to you right this moment time? Are you batting away the rubbish and hand-picking the greats, or is there a element of obedient fortune?

Truthfully I’ve largely tried to work with those who I believe or those who I know possess the the same pressure to supply one thing fun and thrilling. I’m additionally drawn to issues which are a minute extraordinary or various or initiatives when I will explore a minute. I gain it mighty extra attention-grabbing to toddle delivery air my possess box and to be constantly pushing my possess capabilities – finding a fresh route that has me enraged.

Is there a standout music or sport you’ve worked on that you simply’re specifically proud of?

Dicey Dungeons is basically actual up there – I’m especially trim overjoyed with “Swing Me But any other 6”. I’m additionally incredibly proud of the soundtrack I did for Interstellaria – specifically tracks tackle “Oloke”, “Prelude” and “Gods Give Us Energy”.

Whereas that you simply must possibly well work on the tune for any gift sport sequence, which would you toddle for?

Oh a bunch! I’d love a shot at designing an RPG or even an interactive delivery world bag tackle Breath Of The Wild. It’d be unbelievable to be all in favour of one thing tackle the Samorost sequence and toddle fully out of the chippy realm and proper into a world of fun making unparalleled natural sound affect and textures.

What possess you been taking part in (or being attentive to) recently? And is there anything else we must level-headed be listening for from Chipzel in 2021?

I’m replaying BOTW and Pokémon Sword and clearly Dicey Dungeons. I’m genuinely taking part in having a Nintendo Switch as my major console for taking part in right this moment time. My tune model varies wildly and I’m constantly having a gape issues that encourage me in various systems but when you occur to retract me in my automobile then I’m gonna be blaring a host of Peculiar Pop, Dwelling and Funk and singing my coronary heart out.


Our which skill that of Terry and Chipzel. The sport is on hand on Switch eShop actual now — investigate cross-take a look at our Dicey Dungeons evaluate for our verdict (spoilers: it is very upright). You can gain Chipzel’s soundtrack for the game (and her support catalogue) on the total traditional platforms, or by her online web page.