PressA2Join recently had the chance to put questions to Size Five Games, The Swindle Creator Dan Marshall, The Swindle is a steampunk cybercrime caper about breaking into buildings, hacking their systems, stealing all their cash, and quickly running away again before the police show up.
PA2J: A roguelike steampunk cybercrime adventure? Where’d you come up with the inspiration for that particular genre? (It’s excellently done)
Dan Marshall: I don’t know, really. I always liked the idea of doing something Steampunk-y, but all these cyberpunky elements started creeping into the design (hacking, body modification, AIs, etc) so it kind of went along a natural progression from steampunk to something a bit more… techy? It’s nice, because I think it feels a bit different. A big part of that is Michael’s amazing art style, and Tobey’s really wow unique soundtrack…
PA2J: Are there any plans for major future updates or will they all be bug fixes and optimization?
Dan Marshall: Bug fixes are top of the list at the moment, there’s always going to be a few things when it’s suddenly played by tens of thousands of people, suddenly. Once those are out of the way, I can look into expanding the game. I don’t know if there’ll be anything major, particularly, but I’m interested to see if new modes of playing could be introduced.
PA2J: Is there a particular upgrade path you see all players using or is it balanced enough that different gameplay styles have an equal chance
Dan Marshall: I see people going for Bombs quite early on. I also see people neglect that genuinely-handy but boring upgrades in favour of exciting new gadgets; that’s a life lesson right there. The HackAptitude upgrade, for example, is key to getting enough money to be able to progress quickly and afford everything, but it’s boring, so people ignore it. It needs to be high up your list!
PA2J: Any hinting at future game plans? Anything from this game’s launch that you’d change in the next game? Anything you’d keep the same?
Dan Marshall: I don’t think I’d change anything, I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s a really unique little game that does things a bit different, and maybe that could be communicated a little better. I’m looking into that. But no plans for the next game just yet, let’s get this one done and dusted first!
PA2J: How difficult was it for you to balance everything given the vast array of upgrades and random level design? Does anything still feel off
Dan Marshall: The game went through a massive beta with loads of people playing it and feeding back data. So it actually got honed quite a lot and tweaked to oblivion. It was surprisingly easy to do, it just took a little while to work out what the best way of staggering content through the game in an organic way was. Then of course the game launched and people wanted changes to that system, so there have been yet more tweaks. It’s hard to know which feedback to ignore- some people just want everything at once and to not have to actually really ‘play’ the game, they just want to be led through it, and putting what they say on the back burner rather than OH MY GOD knee-jerk change everything to suit them is hard to do…
PA2J: How do you feel The Swindle measures up to other roguelikes on the market today? (I feel like it’s top tier)
Dan Marshall: Ha ha thanks. I don’t even really think of it as a Roguelike – it’s got random generation but that’s about it. There’s no random perks, permadeath is hugely delayed. It feels like a little randomly-generate RPG. But I’ve had more fun playing it than any other Roguelike I’ve ever played so I guess I think it’s absolutely 100% the best Roguelike ever made.
PA2J: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers about the game?
Dan Marshall: Big Ben is always visible in the background, and its chimes are tied to the real, actual time. That’s a nice touch people always seem to like! Also it’s bastard-hard and treats you like a grown-up, so don’t buy it if you’re just looking for a game where you don’t have to think.
Massive thank you to Dan Marshall for taking the time to speak to us.