≡ Menu

Interview: Daemon Detective: Gaiden

Last year, during the first ever Indie Game Maker Contest, I had my first year as a judge. It was a crazy amount of work, but we got to play a lot of really fun games. One of the best games I remember playing last year (seriously, play 400 games in a row and tell me if you remember any of them that weren’t either amazing or terrible), was a cool little platformer called Daemon Detective: Gaiden.

After the contest, it was picked up by our game publishing branch: Degigames, and is set to release in a few days!

In preparation, a member of our team caught up with the DD:G dev in order to ask a few questions.

What was the inspiration for Daemon Detective: Gaiden?

It draws from a lot of different sources – the gameplay is mostly inspired by Mario and Castlevania games, where the main challenge is about avoiding or defeating enemies rather than getting your timing perfect when jumping between platforms or avoiding stage obstacles. This is partially because I make games I enjoy myself, and I happen to have a terrible sense of timing, but also because the game is very focused on the different daemons and their personalities, so they obviously need some screen space!

The story is supposed to be a light version of detective comedy novels, and is mostly inspired by the Disgaea games and some Donald Duck detective specials I loved to read when I was a kid. The main setting within New Magma City is actually inspired by a documentary about Mumbai, which highlighted how inefficient the police were and that it has the highest relative number of detective bureaus in the world.

I figured that having the protagonists being detectives would give them a good reason to fight monsters, and represented the inefficient police with penguins for comedy appeal and to avoid making my depictions offensive. Over time, penguin-shaped objects being used for all legal equipment became a part of the general Daemon Detective design language, again because it looks so silly with e.g. penguin-shaped cars.


Daemon Detective: Gaiden was well-received from the contest. How did you feel about that experience? What did you learn?

I have to say that I was pretty surprised, especially since I had to cut out more or less half the planned content because of running out of time. The experience taught me that people actually enjoyed what I was doing, and I’m super excited to have one of my games released on Steam!

During the contest, the difficulty level of Daemon Detective: Gaiden reminded me a bit of Super Meat Boy. How do you feel about the game’s difficulty now?

I feel it’s much more accessible now after the addition of two easier difficulties. Players that like the challenge can play the contest-version Normal difficulty unaltered, players that struggle a bit with getting past enemies in one piece can play Easy to get an additional hitpoint, and players that aren’t that confident in their platform game skills can play Double Easy to get extra footholds in more tricky sections, such as having bottoms inserted in bottomless pits or platforms that give you a safe spot to hide from from enemy projectiles.

There’s also a proper item inventory that lets you bring power-ups and even have them be used automatically when you die and restart a stage, letting you use your favorite weapon each try, no matter what power-ups are available in that level, and you get two free items every day from the Reinforcement stages.


Can you tell us about your history with making games? How did you get to this point?

I originally started making games with RPG Maker and Game Maker around 11 years ago. A friend of one of my older siblings used them on a very basic level, I tried them a bit while they were doing other things, and since I’m such a nerd in general I ended up learning how to use them at a faster rate than they did. I spent years doing relatively bad games, such as an infinite runner called Pony that just repeated the same 8 obstacles over and over without actually getting harder, but at some point I decided to make a game for a competition hosted by the Game Maker company, Yoyogames.

I didn’t get a very good place in the competition, but I got tons of feedback. Something about that was kind of addicting, and I realized I could actually learn from this and get better at doing games. I kept on joining every competition and game jam I could come across, and learned more and more about what is fun and what people likes to play over the years, and eventually reached a level where I actually made games worth playing. I got a bunch of top-3 GMC Jam placements, but my first really big achievement was winning a RPG-making competition at a site called 64Digits with a game called Shattered World. (I am kinda proud of a time when NAL, one of the most well-known Game Maker developers, reviewed all games for a competition and my entry, Heart Of Ruin, ended up being his personal 2nd place favourite… but that sadly didn’t result in a place in the finals)



What would you say are the most unique or notable things about Daemon Detective: Gaiden?

I’d say the most notable thing about the game is the length – you can probably run through the whole game in about an hour or so if you’re an expert speedrunner, but then you’ll be missing out on all the stolen paintings and most of the level design. The levels are meant to be replayed and mastered, and I’ve taken care to use all the available level space to place stuff. Most of the paintings are hidden in their own challenge rooms, and getting them and then getting out of the level in one piece is a lot more challenging than just running through the level.

Many levels have alternate paths and shortcuts – some lets you skip half the level if you spot them and have the right power-ups equipped – so each playthrough will be a different experience. I don’t believe in streamlining the game too much – gameplay is about making choices, not about walking down corridors. The levels are also sorted in an order that makes two subsequent levels as different as possible, to keep the gameplay fresh and varied. Some levels has been reordered several times down to even being moved between worlds because of this reason.

How are you feeling about Daemon Detective: Gaiden’s upcoming launch?

I’m super excited to get this chance! I’ve generally only been able to cater to relatively small audiences before, but Steam is essentially a worldwide channel that everyone is aware about. I’m looking forward to see how the game is received, but no matter how people like it, just reaching this far is a dream coming true for me. I still nurture my childhood dream of making a living by making games, and while I’m certainly not there yet, having come this far has made me feel that maybe it’s not just a dream, but possibly an attainable goal.


Are you planning any expansions or DLC for Daemon Detective: Gaiden?

In one way, it feels like I never want to stop adding new stuff to the game, so I actually have some plans for that. No occult platformer game would be complete without a boss battle against Count Dracula, so I’m planning an expansion titled “Dracula’s Castle”, which wouldn’t just be a boss battle but a whole new world. It would also be fun to make expansion worlds based on my previous big games, such as Shattered World, Gun Princess, and Heart Of Ruin, featuring updated versions of the environments in those games, the music, and the enemies.

I’ve also got some plans for DLC characters – I originally planned to add in a secret character that was able to destroy terrain, but didn’t have time to implement it during the competition. I still really like the idea of deconstructing level design quite literally, though, so if there will be DLC characters, the destructive oversized dragon boss is first on the list. Secondly, the mascot characters of the DDG series – the chinese daemon fairy Hua Po and the penguin police – would totally deserve a day in the limelight, bringing their unique special abilities (and general incompetence) into your grasp. These two would most likely be bundled with some other DLC because they’re meant to be joke/challenge characters.

Finally, Sunshine from Gun Princess would be a fun addition to the roster as well, being my mascot and all. Her play style would revolve about using power-ups on her gun instead of on herself, making her completely projectile-based and radically different from all other characters.

Are you dreaming up plans (if not already) for another game in the future?

I’m always busy working on new projects, and in case DDG becomes a hit, I just can’t let people down, can I? The most important one probably is Daemon Detective Tactics, the game Daemon Detective Gaiden started out as a spinoff to. The idea is that the game takes place on a theater stage, and your main objective isn’t just to win, but also to win in the most entertaining way possible. I’m playing a lot of RPG games, and many of them often has a relatively simple strategy that you’ll end up using over and over, making the game boring – DDT will actively reward you for mixing up your strategy all the time. Another important element is being able to recruit both random bystanders and enemies to join your party, one of my favorite gameplay mechanics from games like Pokémon and Disgaea. Yal, Matt, Sugar and Anikel will of course take up the most screen space, but you’ll need to flesh out the party with some generic characters as well to not get too outnumbered.

It would also be pretty exciting to make a traditional sequel to Daemon Detective Gaiden, and make it “bigger and better” – for instance by making the game focus even more on fighting enemies rather than being a pure hop-n-bop platformer. I’ve always been a huge fan of metroidvania games and exploration platformers, and a possible DDG sequel would have even more secret areas to find!


Anything else you’d like to mention?

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who test played the game and gave me feedback – Degica crew, contestants, assorted friends and family – because without knowing what’s been bad, I would’ve been unable to fix it; without getting the suggestions I got along the way, many fun ideas never would’ve been added to the game. Two eyes can only see that much, and even though I cheat by wearing glasses for a grand total of four eyes, it’s still nothing compared to all the support I’ve received along the way.

I’ve learned a lot of things about game design over the years, and many of the best game design principles are just common sense – players want to have fun, so you should always make your game reward the player, not punish them. I’ve seen a lot of games that don’t follow this principle, and a lot of them are made by hobbyists such as myself. The most important part of a game is having fun, people… don’t forget that!

Have some questions about Daemon Detective: Gaiden? Want to chime in on your experience with the IGMC? Join us in the comments section below!

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment