DREDGE Launch Interview with Development Team
DREDGE has had a lot of success and coverage! What’s been the most gratifying part of it all?
Joel – Seeing all of the discussions around the story and the true meaning of things has been a dream come true. I always wanted people to have to put in a bit of work to piece things together. I’ve seen a few videos on YouTube where people give breakdowns of the story – most of them are about 90% correct!
Alex – Seeing all the theory crafting from some very investigative players has been my favourite thing. I think that means they really got immersed in the world and story.
Mikey – I’ve really enjoyed watching the clips on twitch. I think on release day I was having a good laugh at watching people’s reactions to world events or unexpected encounters.
Did the final product match your initial vision?
Joel – Well, no. But that’s a good thing! My initial vision for the game was a much more scaled back, rigid experience. We ended up creating a surprisingly vibrant open world with a real sense of adventure – something I absolutely love in other games. I’m ecstatic with what we created!
Alex – To a small extent it did. But, because we left so much room for options as we developed, it evolved so much. It really became its own thing. If we had pushed our own intentions on it too forcefully we may have broken what was there.
Mikey – When I first played the prototype I could see the sort of game it could become and it really did end up being everything I had hoped for.
We know Maps, Photo Mode and Customisations are big requests from players, what’s something else they’re keen on?
Joel – I’ve seen a lot of requests for more storylines, which is really cool! It’s nice to know players want to learn more about our world – and it’s something we hope to deliver in our updates later this year.
Alex – I’ve seen requests for pretty much everything at this point haha
Mikey – More everything! But the thing I’m in agreement with would be adding more kinds of encounters.
What has been your most surprising request from players?
Joel – I didn’t expect so many people to be asking for a “Hard Mode”! We deliberately designed DREDGE to not be a difficult game, as it was always more about the atmosphere and experience for us. But it’s nice to hear that players are keen to replay it with some added difficulty. It’s something we might consider for the future.
Alex – Probably the modes, yeah. I never foresaw the desire for different modes in our game.
Mikey – Add in a feature that removes whales or certain types of fish (not even aberrations) from the game
What’s something players have convinced you to change in DREDGE that you never thought you would?
Joel – I guess I have to mention tutorials here. In the beginning, I was really stubborn and was convinced that we didn’t need tutorials. Playtesters knew almost exactly what they needed to do without them – things like the fishing and dredging minigames communicated really well. But players still felt like there should be tutorials, even if it took longer to read the tutorial pop-up than just looking at the minigame and figuring it out! Still, I’m glad we added them and kept them pretty minimal.
Alex – More tutorials! We watched many playtests where people understood and used the mechanics we wanted them to, but still asked for tutorials. I think they didn’t enjoy being uncertain, even if their assumptions were correct!
Mikey – I wasn’t originally keen on changing the camera angle from a side angle for fishing since I wanted to see more of the boat closer up but changing it to an overhead camera made things really interesting from a gameplay perspective. Simply moving it overhead made the passage of time harder to notice which tied in really well with how we designed things.
What’s something you’ve been asked to change that you never will?
Joel – We’re not adding multiplayer. The game and the world were designed to be these sparse and desolate spaces that evoke feelings of isolation. Having other players zooming around blasting their foghorns might be fun, but would ruin the atmosphere of the game for me.
Alex – Adding multiplayer +1. That’s not something the game is about and would fundamentally change the whole thing. That and making the game “more horror” which I think means jump scares or something. That was also never the intention.
Mikey – I always want to change things as soon as I finish something so i’m always ready to redo things.
What’s something you learned during DREDGE that’s changed how you might do things in the future?
Joel – I’d want to design the game’s demo better. Firstly, it would’ve been nice to allow players to continue their saves into the full game. Secondly, it would’ve been great to keep it around for longer, if not indefinitely (as we had to take the PC demo down after a couple of months). We originally didn’t put much stock in the effectiveness of demos, but in hindsight our PC demo was actually a huge factor in growing the game’s fanbase and raising our profile.
Mikey – I’m always changing up my process or tools that I use for Art all the time but I think for me the big learning was being able to have a lot more ownership of how things get implemented in game so learning how to set things up from scratch inside of the game is something that I’ll be looking to do a lot more of going forward.