Developers Oointah discuss Death By Game Show “a love letter to Mike Judge”

Scheduled to launch on January 22 2016, Death By Game Show is a twitch-action and strategy game, a hybrid where reaction and resources are equally important. Inspired by the movie Idiocracy, pop culture, and game developer Oointah’s skewed sense of humor, this is a unique twist on off-the-wall-strategy. We recently had the pleasure of chatting to Oointah’s Game Designer, Duane Beckett and Malcolm Michaels, Founder of Oointah to find out more about the game that is set to take STEAM by storm.

PressA2Join: Death By Game Show sounds and looks like a lot of fun, can you explain how the concept for the game came about?

Duane Beckett, Game Designer: The concept started as a sandbox-open-creative-strategy game, with the objective being plundering planets in an open universe. We kind of hit a wall with scope; our estimations underplayed the time needed and as we’re a very small team we had to adapt.

I love classic arcade gaming. I love its challenge, that one-more-try feeling you get each time a little more progress is made. So we began dissecting our sandbox-open-creative-strategy game into a bite-sized core arcade game.

This is how Death by Game Show feels like an arcade game in pace, progress, and gratification but still has much of the freedom and gameplay of a sandbox-strategy game.

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I’m a huge fan of Beavis and Butthead and Mike Judge in general, Death By Game Show is inspired by the film Idiocracy, is it safe to assume you’re big fans of the director?

Duane Beckett: At the start I was heavily pushing Idiocracy. Specifically how Not Sure (the lead from the film) was sentenced to rehabilitation. Our story premise is an homage to that plot point from Idiocracy―it’s a great film!

For me this game is a blank slate, something we at Oointah want to build outwards pulling from popular culture, not just Mike Judge. We’re hoping that players take our creative options and also add their own comedy.

I know Malcolm loves Mike Judge and in fact, considers this game a love letter to him.

Malcolm Michaels, Founder/Pin Monkey: I’m a huge fan of Mike Judge and his stuff. I watched a little of Beavis & Butt-head when I was younger, yet really got into Judge with Office Space. Then Idiocracy, followed by such under-the-radar stuff as The Goode Family animated show and the movie Extract, which I loved.

I was Day One with Silicon Valley and really love that show. Can’t wait for Season 3. So yes, as Duane mentioned, the game in a certain way is a love letter to Mike Judge. Duane and I have spoken about how we like using a great director as inspiration. The two other projects that we’ve mapped out, which could be part of a Death by Game Show trilogy one day, are inspired by the Coen Brothers (Fargo, Big Lebowski) and Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds), so you get a sense of who we are and what we love.

And of course, the topic of the day is that little movie called Star Wars. And it’s a coincidence that our game is set in space, has a hero with a mechanical hand, and is surrounded by droids. At least I think it’s a coincidence.

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For readers who don’t yet know about the game, can you explain a little about how Death By Game Show works?

Duane Beckett: You are sentenced to be a contestant on Death by Game Show. Each challenge has enemy spawns and buildings which are trying to “rehabilitate” you, Idiocracy-style. You need to fight your way through all challenges to win the O’Face Cup and freedom.

So what makes this interesting? As a contestant you can rarely attack enemies directly. You need to use minions, buildings, and power-ups earned throughout the game. This means you have to strategically use the inventory available throughout 50 challenges, and most are freaking hard!

Strategizing, reacting quickly, using your inventory judiciously, and responding not only to what is attacking you but to your challenge objectives make Death by Game Show a strange mash-up of game types―one where you actively need to play to win, a tester told us.

I loved the game’s original title ‘iLikeMoney (or, How I Almost Died on a Game Show)’ what made you decide to change the name?

Duane Beckett: The sad truth is, many people didn’t take us seriously. Our game was already hard enough to explain without such an unusual title. We needed a more action strategy vibe. To be blunt, iLikeMoney sounded too casual for how absolutely insanely hard this game is.

Malcolm Michaels: Yeah, it sounded like the name of a mobile game and we are not mobile. We’re PC gamers at the core, with some dabbling on the consoles. Plus ‘iLikeMoney (or, I How I Almost Died on a Game Show) might have been a little too clever for our own good.

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Death By Game Show has six very unique and insanely funny names like ‘Sexy Time’ and ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’, can you explain a little about how the exciting power ups will work in the game?

Duane Beckett: Those six items are just the power-ups. Everything has funny names, and the droids and buildings say funny things. This is our theory on how a TV game show gets viewers in the future: Violence, rudeness, and general offensive behaviour.

So to answer your question, Sexy Time gives the player more time to beat the challenge. Mama Said Knock You Out adds a boxing glove to the player’s game show grabber, temporarily allowing them to kill enemies in one blow. Very simple but in the context of the game they become invaluable.

Players have the chance to build their own challenges through the use of the editor feature, can you explain how this will work and what kinds of things players will be able to create?

Duane Beckett: We really want the player to customize this game. We’ve added a challenge editor which is what we’ve used to make every challenge in this game. So you can place buildings, choose spawn locations, and decide what spawns and how often. You can name, add signs, decorate, and define all objectives. You can set the score milestones, items won from the wheel of misfortune spinner, etc.

We’ve also made it so every droid, building, and the player character sprites can be edited in any art application. All you need to do is copy and paste the simplified asset sheets from the game root directory into a new folder and paint over them. These can then be loaded into the game via our menus very simply.

You can do the same for all the text in-game. So if you want to customize the game for your own personal liking, or Twitch streaming, or Let’s Play on your YouTube channel―go for it! It works the exact same way as our sprite customization.

The best thing is all your creations can be shared via Steam and the best each month will receive $100 of Steam credit. For the less creatively inclined, sharing a great video or screenshot of the game can also get you a $100 Steam credit prize.

Finally, we plan on supporting the editor over time with new ways to customize content and the sprites used in game. For example, one goal is to allow the player to load in new surface textures and props. We really want to push how creative a player can be so expect us to be looking out for great suggestions.

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The game has a beautiful look to it with lots of colour and great characters, how much fun was it to design and develop?

Duane Beckett: We’re seven months over schedule but even though there is a lot of pressure, the development has been mostly fun, definitely interesting and a learning curve. We’re still busy trying to improve and test in time for launch but we wanted something unique, fun and quirky―which I believe we have achieved.

It’s fantastic that you feel it looks great. We hope people enjoy the game, or at least appreciate the fact we’re trying to do something different from the norm.

With Death By Game Show scheduled to arrive on the PC, Mac and Linux later this month, are there any plans for a console release in the future?

Duane Beckett: We’d love for it to be on console but we need to ensure the product is all it can be on Win/Mac/Linux first. It’s such a mash-up of ideas that we’re just hoping players enjoy it as much as we do.

Malcolm Michaels: One of the things we did with Death by Game Show is build in full controller support. And I think we’re all pleasantly surprised on how well it plays on a controller. It’s fun, though mouse/keyboard still rule.

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Is there anything else you would like to say to readers interested in Death By Game Show?

Malcolm Michaels: We’ve set out to make something fun and different. Maybe it will be the second greatest game of all-time, or maybe not. Yet we’re proud of it, we love playing it, and want to continue to support the game over the coming years.

Some have said we’re a little Mario (the coins), we’re a little Swords & Soldiers, and a little Plants Vs. Zombies. High praise. Yet, in the end we’re Death by Game Show, a game that―we think―is different from most games out there right now. You get to be the Judge (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Huge thanks to both Malcolm Michaels and Duane Beckett for taking the time to chat with us.

Death By Game Show launches on STEAM from January 22nd.

About Daniel Pitt

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Dan has been gaming for nearly 30 years and has survived everything from Nuclear Fallouts to Zombie Outbreaks but his main love is Survival Horror and don't we all know it. Favourite games include Resident Evil and Grand Theft Auto, he can be regularly found cruising the streets of Vice City listening to the classics.

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