Interview with Casper van Est of DoubleDutch Games
Tell us a little bit about yourself/company/team?
We’re a young Dutch company, consisting of two guys; Casper van Est and Gert-Jan Stolk. We founded DoubleDutch Games in 2010, and Speedrunner is our first game.
What made you decide to use the XBLIG platform for your game?
Well, XBLIG is basically the only option you have when you’re a new studio with no track record and no money and want to make games for a console. It’s a really great platform for people like us, as it allowed us to actually create a product and have it released. We’ll have to see whether or not it’s actually a viable platform for making enough money to keep our heads above the water, but then again, we hope it can serve us as a stepping stone to other platforms such as Steam and XBLA.
What was the biggest hurdle in getting this game finished?
I don’t think there were any majorly specific hurdles; just all the day-to-day stuff. When you’re working with such a small team and such a low budget, you really have to be economic with the choices that you make, you know? You really have to do everything yourself and that can be quite challenging, especially when you also want to have a social life. Also, since this was our first game, it was a big learning experience with regard to game design and the development process. In the end, I’m really proud of how well the development went (even though it took us twice as long as we had anticipated) and of the quality of the game that we delivered.
Do you have plans to continue developing games for the Xbox 360?
Yes, definitely. Whether or not we’re staying on XBLIG depends on how well Speedrunner HD does. I think we delivered a really great game, especially when compared to 90% of the other games available on the marketplace. However, we also made a significant investment in developing the game, so if the sales numbers disappoint us, then we’ll probably be forced to switch to a different platform. We did enjoy developing for the xbox tremendously, so we’re hoping that we might have a shot at doing something for XBLA in the future.
How does it feel to know that your game was chosen by your peers and community?
Being a part of the Summer Uprising made us really proud. Also, I don’t think we could have gotten the same level of attention without it, so we’re really happy to be a part of it. In the end, the reason that we’re making games is to bring entertainment to people, and then it’s really rewarding when you get feedback from players (or other developers) that they liked your game. That’s what it’s all about.
What games directly influenced your game, both positive (wanted to mimic) and negative (things you didn’t wants players going through or feeling).
For Speedrunner HD, we focused on delivering a great multplayer mode. Our influences in this regard were definitely Micro machines, Mashed and Mario Kart. On the singleplayer side of things, I think Canabalt was an important influence. Not just for the gameplay, but also because Adam Atomic released his Flixel library (which he used to develop the game), which allowed me to really quickly make a prototype of the gameplay. I’ve read a lot that Speedrunner reminds a lot of players of Super Meat Boy and N+. While I’m a big fan of the former, I never really played the latter, so that definitely wasn’t an influence. I’m also still heavily inspired by the original Mario games; their level design, how they teach players to play the game, etc.
How did you get into making games?
I had always wanted to be a game developer, so I decided to study Computer Science. During my studies, I got an internship at Coded Illusions (a Dutch game development studio, which went bankrupt during the financial crisis of ’08), which turned into a part-time job. After that, I worked on some serious games and after a while I decided I wanted to make my own games. I had saved some money during my studies and I felt I had the necessary skills (programming, game design) and connections (ex-colleagues from Coded Illusions) to give it a real shot. So that’s when I started DoubleDutch Games, together with Gert-Jan and Speedrunner is our first game, so here we are.
Do you feel your final product fully reflex the vision you had in your head?
For the most part, yes. With any creative product, whether in games, film or music, there are always things that you want to improve. But at some point, you have to say “it’s done”. And so was the case with Speedrunner. If we had unlimited amount of time, we would have preferred to include more levels, online leaderboards and even a level editor. However, we also really wanted to be a part of the Summer Uprising, so at some point we just had to say “this will have to do”. That being said, we’re really proud of the final product. I feel the singleplayer and multiplayer levels are really polished and the controls work really well. In that sense, we came as close to our original vision as possible.