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Gang Beasts: “If Street Fighter went drinking…” – interview

Friday, 11th April 2014 08:33 GMT By Dave Cook

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”There’s a story mode complete with distinct districts of Beef City that cover all the ’90s beat-em-up tropes, such as an industrial zone with conveyor belts and mechanical traps, a seaside amusement pier, and a classic street setting.”

Michael sums up the Gang Beasts premise as, “If Street Fighter went drinking,” when I ask him for an overview of how the game has been received so far. The notoriety began with a positive appearance at a local game event in Sheffield, after which Boneloaf gave attendees a build to take home. The IndieDB download came next, and within an hour of publishing that first prototype, Giant Bomb had already featured a Gang Beasts let’s play on its site. The team had no idea it would take off so fast.

“The priority for us is to try and get some version of online multiplayer in,” James replies when I ask him for insight into what future builds may hold. “There may be technical reasons why that doesn’t work out too well, so we just need to take advice on it and try to get an implementation that minimises the impact on network latency. Because the game is somewhat ‘sloppy’ [due to its purposely scrappy combat] we may just about get away with it, but we need to do a lot more work on that.”

“And there’s the whole character customisation stuff,” Michael adds. “So, just the idea that you could have a cape on and get it caught in a grinder, things like that, or detachable hats you can steal off someone.”

“Back-hair,” Jonathan interjects as his brothers laugh. “On some of the larger bosses they may have back hair or chest hair. Chest hair works. Just things that dangle so that other players can grab onto them.”

Speaking of bosses. The Boneloaf trio tells me that while the recent Gang Beasts prototype includes a larger stage boss, they’re keen to give players the chance to step into the shoes of these savage brutes. They told me that gamers could perhaps set up a match where three regular fighters take on one human-controlled boss, and that they’re looking at a wide range of different character models and enemy types. The opportunity to create your own gang, complete with outfit and colour themes is absolutely on the cards.

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”It’s clear that the full game will be bigger than the prototype that’s available now, but when something so simple proves to be so much fun, pulling in cheering crowds with ease, you have to figure that Boneloaf is on to a winner already.”

There’s a story mode too, complete with five or six distinct districts of Beef City that cover all the ’90s beat-em-up tropes, such as an industrial zone with conveyor belts and mechanical traps, a seaside amusement pier, and a classic street setting.

In a nod to 1979 gang flick The Warriors, each area will be governed by its own crew who will give players a rough time. Luckily, there will be a manner of physic-based weapons like plant-pots and pipes lying around to tip the scales a little. You could even take people out using stealth by dropping something on their head from above. It’s early days yet.

“I think the thing that we haven’t explained that well is that all of the arenas we’re modelling at the moment will be steps within the larger story,” James explained. “So you’ll be able to play through them or choose to play them alone. So in the story mode you’d go to a subway station, get on a train then go to a district, fight through that district then end up at another subway station. If you wanted to play multiplayer you’d be able to look at the map and just say, ‘I want to play this arena.’”

“In the multiplayer you’ll be able to play pretty much as any character we’ve made,” he went on. “It doesn’t need to be as balanced as the rest of the game. If I want to challenge you as the largest boss in the game, you either accept that challenge or don’t, because trying and failing can be fun as well, so we want to try and support all those kinds of combinations.

“Plus there’s things like our take on capture the flag. I mean, it’d be our take on capture the flag, there won’t be a flag but something that makes sense to do with the city. But we can do things like VIP where you’ve got a boss to protect and they’ve got a boss to protect, various game modes like that, and there will be stuff like just smashing up a vehicle in a set time period, that sort of thing as well.”

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”I’ve sat and played Gang Beasts a lot with my friends these last few weeks. I’ve hurled them through glass windows, dropped them into meat grinders, tossed them into the path of speeding trucks and enjoyed every single second of it.”

It’s clear that the full game will be bigger than the prototype that’s available now, but when something so simple proves to be so much fun, pulling in cheering crowds with ease, you have to figure that Boneloaf is on to a winner already. The team tells me that customisation will be crucial to the final build, giving players the tools to create a unique gang, complete with outfits and cosmetic items. Best of all, the trio are fully committed to keeping the game open for modders. In fact, they’re welcoming it.

“I think we’d like to do something along the lines of GTA 5′s clans but it’d be a bit simpler,” Michael tells me in regards to Boneloaf’s multiplayer plans. The possibility of 4v4 custom gangs is absolutely on the table, and the idea of leaderboards denoting the best gangs certainly appeals. James adds that if the netcode doesn’t work, then it won’t appear in the final build for the sake of keeping things to a certain quality standard. “We have to look at it because people asked for it,” he stresses.

What’s interesting here is just how quickly word-of-mouth has propelled Gang Beasts into the spotlight, and yet the Boneloaf crew is keen to keep development rolling in tandem with the wants and feedback of its community. That’s the beauty of having a prototype out there so early, and all throughout my interview, the team tells me that what they’re getting is essentially free QA testing from passionate players who want to see the game grow and improve with time. That speaks volumes about the industry today.

I’ve sat and played Gang Beasts a lot with my friends these last few weeks. I’ve hurled them through glass windows, dropped them into meat grinders, tossed them into the path of speeding trucks and enjoyed every single second of it. I’m one of those people who sorely misses local multiplayer games that dispense madness by the second, and the fun that comes with sitting next to my mates on the couch as we get increasingly pissed and competitive.

Gang Beasts fills that gap perfectly, and has all the right ingredients to become a heavyweight contender in the fighting game genre.

You can download the Gang Beasts prototype for free over at Boneloaf’s IndieDB page.

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