Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We believe they deserve a wider audience with the Joystiq Indie Pitch: This week, Crankshaft Games' Daniel Menard talks about his PC co-op puzzle-platformer about breaking out of Hell and storming Heaven, Party of Sin.
What's your game and what's it about?
Our game is called Party of Sin. It's a puzzle-platformer where you get to embody the Seven Deadly Sins. The Sins are locked in a prison deep in hell after an angel sting operation lead by the arch-angel Michael. You must use the Sins' seven unique powers to solve puzzles and battle your way out of hell and take the fight to the angels in Heaven. You can swap sins at any time (much like Lost Vikings or Trine) and must combine their powers in interesting ways to overcome the challenges that await.
The game also has a coop mode, and in coop the Sins can directly interact with each other. They can use their to help the team, or fall to the other side of morality and backstab / grief each other. Two players can't have the same sins, so there is a lot of social interaction involved in solving the puzzles.
How did Crankshaft Games come about?
Crankshaft originally formed in the mod community. I lead the development team of the Half-Life 2 space mod "Eternal Silence". It was a super ambitious title, with space combat inside the HL2 engine and large capital ship battles. We spent 5 years developing that game, eventually releasing it on Steam. After working on hardcore sci-fi, I felt like it was time to do something more light-hearted and reminiscent of the classic games I played as a kid. Party of Sin is our follow-up title and our first commercial release.
What's the most neat-o thing about Party of Sin?
The sin powers are my favorite. If you play the game with a friend, the possibilities are endless. I've spent countless hours with my colleagues here in Montreal just messing around in the game and coming up with new combinations. Here's a quick example: Sloth, the sin of laziness, can slow down players and objects. This also has the side-effect of making them lighter. If you combine this with Wrath's headbutting ability, you can send a player flying to previously unreachable places. The sin that got a boost can then switch to Greed and use the hookshot to pull the other player up.
The good and evil side of your friends will come out as well. Gluttony can swallow another sin and spit them upwards for a boost, or spit them out into a pit to get rid of them. Lives don't matter in Party of Sin, and you quickly respawn after a few seconds. If things get out of hand it can start to feel like Super Smash Bros. The bosses are especially funny because they require timing and coordination, and players tend to die in hilarious ways.
What inspired you to make Party of Sin?
Like most of the games I've made, the path to the final idea tends to be a bit chaotic. Party of Sin was originally supposed to be a top-down vertical-scrolling shooter game. I had heard of Ikaruga, which is a game where you can switch colors (black and white) to heal or damage enemies. I thought the concept was really cool, and thought to myself "wouldn't it be cool to have all the colors of the rainbow!". After looking up meanings for all the colors, the Sins leapt out at me as an interesting idea. Religion is a theme not often explored in video games. As I started talking to artists and designers and putting together a team, the rest of the game starting coming into place. It would be a side-scroller instead of a top-down perspective, and you could play coop so the sins could interact.
Why go the Indie route? Why not just join the ranks and work for The Man?
It's all about the risk really. I'm young and full of ideas, but no company will hire me and immediately let me start working on my crazy/ambitious ideas. It's just too risky. On my own, I can bring those ideas to reality without too many constraints. I can push the boundaries in ways The Man would never dare. Games are a huge time investment for anyone. World Wars have been fought in less time than it takes for some games to come out. Ultimately I want to work on games that are meaningful to me, because chances are I will only publish a dozen or so in my career. Better make each one count!
Sell Party of Sin in one sentence.
Party of Sin: Decipher, debauch and destroy as you embody the Seven Deadly Sins on a classic-game inspired odyssey, erupting out of Hell to crush God's legions.
A long vacation, preferably in Europe or somewhere tropical, then right back to games. We will probably do a DLC for Party of Sin, then start on new projects. My supply of ambitious ideas isn't about to run out and I want to keep making games. I'm thinking an RTS maybe?
Party of Sin is slated to launch sometime in November. While we'd argue the best parties are a bit sinful, Joystiq takes no stand when it comes to religious matters. We usually sleep on it and decide the next day.
If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email jess [at] joystiq [dawt] com or david [at] joystiq [dawt] com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch" – though, fair warning, Dave doesn't write nearly as many as these features as Jess does. Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.