Being a games journalist can be like trudging through the rainforest, looking for new species of snake, spider, and sloth. Finding new hot games that nobody knows about can feel like an impossible mission, doubly so when looking through the lesser-spotted landscapes of the indie game (read: Upcoming Releases on Steam). As such, when a game falls smack dab into the middle of your lap, and an intriguing one at that, you might have to check you’re not light-headed from viper poison.
Dumb Little Creatures came to my attention when they followed me on Twitter, just as a lot of other small independent titles have been known to do. Yet when I saw the blue banner break out on the bottom of my feed, I had to giggle. “What a fun name,” I thought. Boom. They had me. There was no choice after that. Me and the head of development of the DLC team, Juan Pablo Gonzales at Mismatch Studio simply had to talk about the curious upcoming title, which sees you commandeering a group of tiny, idiotic beings across bodies of water by using structurally questionable bridges. Excited by the idea of a Lemmings-esque title for a new age, I went to work.
BEN: What’s the story of the team behind Dumb Little Creatures? Is this your first project together, do you have different backgrounds in games or are you all starting out at the same time?
JUAN: Dumb Little Creatures is [Mismatch Studio’s] first title. I’ve been working on software development for around 20 years, and have been running an IT consulting and services company in Mexico for over 10 years. Since before even starting working on that, it was games what got me into software development, and over the years we have helped other companies develop their own products, but never made one of our own. So we already had a great team and talent around, but I just had to put them together and decided to open a small indie studio called Mismatch Studio.
BEN: Wow, is that true? Can you tell us a little more about the other projects you provided assistance to?
JUAN: Sure. We are a team of 4. Carlos Azcuaga who is an animator and co-owner of a small animation studio, Jorge Sauri who has been designing and building games for years, Pepe Penaloza who is a really talented 3D artist and animator and me who I’ve been doing most of the development.
Our team initially formed around software development. Though we’ve all worked on other projects in the past, Dumb Little Creatures is a shared vision of the things we love in games. Together we’re putting all of our passion into this project. So we discuss not only technical things but fun things we should get into the project. Things like…“Remember those Guillotines that were on the original release of Prince of Persia? Yes, let’s do that!”
BEN: From the screenshots, your game looks to be about getting the “dumb little creatures” from point A to point B by building a path for them. Is that accurate?
JUAN: That’s right. The story about these Dumb Little Creatures is that they crashed into this imaginary planet, so they appear at each level in some different places like the woods, the desert, caves, etc. They are not too smart, so they just walk out of their crashed ship and keep walking unless you give them instructions. So they fall from cliffs, drown at rivers or just go into deathly hazards like guillotines or saws that are just randomly spread around, just because.
BEN: As such, how would you categorise your game, is it going to be a puzzle game or will more factors be at play?
So in order to help them sort those out, you will need to think on how you can get them to the exit safely, there are certain skills and tools you can give them such as building stairs or digging tunnels, but it’s just a limited amount you may use at each level.
BEN: What’s the scope of your game? How big do you want it to be?
JUAN: For this first title, we are thinking about having 50 levels. There will be 3 different worlds with 15 levels each, and an additional Bonus World with 5 additional levels with fun stuff on them.
BEN: You said your game is inspired by Lemmings, Fez, and Monument Valley. Can you tell us how in these early stages of development?
JUAN: The gameplay for Dumb Little Creatures is not at all a new idea, Lemmings was a very successful game in the 90s. I was a really hardcore fan, not only from Lemmings but many other puzzle games all the way from strictly puzzle games such as 2048 to more complex games such as Portal, The Witness or Braid.
I always thought that getting a good version of Lemmings in 3D should be really fun, they made one many years ago, but I don’t think it was nearly close as fun to the classic version. I think there were many factors, like 3D technology not that advanced at the time. Then years passed, but I haven’t seen that many games with that kind of gameplay so I thought it would be a good idea to revive that idea, but to give it a really fresh and modern look, so we went for Low Poly and bright colors. I also wanted to make some slight changes on the gameplay and features, not that many that it will be too complicated for the player, but have it as simple as possible as the original since it was so good.
BEN: Have you added your own unique spin to the formula?
The most important change is that it is a 3D game, but it is not an open world game and allow them to go into any direction, we are trying to just add 4 other directions by introducing the left/right possibilities. So it is kind of an isometric more than a real 3D. This is something I liked about Fez or Monument Valley, you have to think in 3D but they don’t leave that many options to the player than he or she can get lost. Some additional features is the introduction of hazards like floor saws or guillotines, which I think give a funnier look and I wanted the tone of the game to have some elements like the Happy Tree Friends cartoon in which innocent creatures may get violent deaths.
BEN: What are the plans for the Kickstarter and how much do you want to raise for the game?
JUAN: For the moment we have been self funding the whole design and development, but we do have plans for a Kickstarter Campaign in the following months. We still don’t know how much we’ll be raising, right now we are just trying to estimate how much we would need to get our idea come to life. We want this game to be available for PC/Mac but also port it to PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Anyone interested in backing us can just follow us on our Facebook Page at facebook.com/DumbLittleCreatures and we’ll be giving more information about it in the following weeks.
Dumb Little Creatures will be waddling towards release on Steam in 2019.