Hitbox Team on Dustforce

Hitbox Team on Dustforce


We sat down with the guys from indie studio Hitbox Team to talk about their 2D platformer Dustforce.

Hooked Gamers: Hi, thanks for participating in our interview. Can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us what your job is on the team?

Hitbox Team: Lexie Dostal does the game code, Matt Bush does the engine code, and Woodley Nye does the art and animation. Terence Lee does the audio and music.

Hooked Gamers: How did Hitbox come to form originally, and what are the company’s tenets?

Hitbox Team: Hitbox Team started off as just Lexie and Woodley, who are friends from highschool. They started prototyping some ideas in a makeshift studio in Woodley’s mom’s shed, which ended up winning the indiePub competition, which let them add Matt and Terence to the team to turn Dustforce into a full-fledged game.

Hooked Gamers: With the platformer being a prominent genre for indie developers to work within, what makes Dustforce stand out from the crowd?

Hitbox Team: We wanted to focus on capturing the feeling of both momentum and precariousness in Dustforce, which we felt hasn’t been fully explored by many platformers yet.

Hooked Gamers: On a similar note, which, if any, games have provided inspiration for Dustforce?

Hitbox Team: N, Nikujin, and Super Smash Brothers were big inspirations. We wanted to make a game that captured movement and speed with flow and elegance. If you watch a pro play those games, the fluidity looks really impressive.

Hooked Gamers: Dustforce is one part rhythmic ambience, one part hard as nails platformer. Why did you decide to mesh these contrasting design elements?

Hitbox Team: It wasn’t our intention at first, but they ended up complementing each other well. The audio and visuals are pretty relaxing, and help keep the player calm and immersed as they retry the difficult segments over.

Hooked Gamers: Why the decision to have only one Steam achievement?

Hitbox Team: We wanted to have an actual achievement, in the original sense of the word. It’s a truly impressive undertaking to obtain the Steam achievement, so we wanted it to stand out as much as possible by having just the one. We were tired of seeing so many trivial “achievements” in games, like finishing the tutorial, or jumping five times.

Hooked Gamers: Are there actually any mechanical difference between the four playable characters, and if not, why not?

Hitbox Team: There are indeed differences, the most prominent being with Dustkid (the purple one) and Dustworth (the green one): Dustkid can jump 3 times, and can attack very fast. However, she has a much shorter attack range. Dustworth jumps floatier, and has a longer attack range. Dustman (blue) and Dustgirl (red) have more subtle differences in acceleration and friction values, but they still do feel different.

Hooked Gamers: What kind of features and freedoms can we expect in the upcoming level editor?

Hitbox Team: The editor will be essentially the same one we use to make the game. The coolest thing to note is that there is no limit to the size of the levels you can make: since everything is streamed in, you can have a massive world without any extra loading time. We hope to see people take advantage of this!

Hooked Gamers: It's rare for a platformer to be identifiable as a PC-oriented game in this day and age, what are your reasons for this?

Hitbox Team: It’s mostly an issue of practicality - the resources for making a game are most readily obtainable on a PC. Making games for other platforms require considerable additional effort, and we wanted to focus first on just finishing the game.

Hooked Gamers: Presumably, Dustforce has been pretty successful. How do you think it would have fared if it had not been release on Steam?

Hitbox Team: Releasing on Steam let us focus 100% of our effort on making the game. We didn’t have to worry about the logistics of distribution through other means, so we were able to make the best game we could; working with Valve has definitely been beneficial for us.

Hooked Gamers: It is our tradition to give developers a chance to say something about the game that they are desperate to get out. Is there anything burning on your lips?

Hitbox Team: A lot of people may find Dustforce to be far more difficult than the games they are used to. This is intended: we wanted Dustforce to be a game about real player growth. Older games used to push players to their limits - likewise, we want players to really feel like they are actually getting better at the game instead of just luckily stumbling through it after enough brute force. Getting the full experience of the game isn't just encountering all of the levels, art, and music - the full experience is the journey of earning it all.