Interview: 2Awesome Studio's David Jimenez discusses Dimension Drive and it's sabotaged Kickstarter campaign
The initial Kickstarter attempt for Dimension Drive, the first game by Dutch developer 2Awesome Studio, fell victim to a troll who saw fit to 'donate' enough to see the game reach its pledge goal. After the bogus donation was revoked, the project was rendered unsuccessful. However, with a second campaign resulting in $36,996 pledged by 1,194 backers, Dimension Drive was finally successfully funded on Kickstarter. We caught up with the game's designer, David Jimenez, to discuss the game, the studio's experience with crowdfunding and what the future holds for Dimension Drive.
In today’s games industry, with open development platforms and self-publishing tools readily available to everyone, games need to have a hook and an original angle in order to stand out in this highly competitive market. Taking the essence of old-school top-down space shooters, Dimension Drive aims to do that with its dual-battlefield mechanic. This is a split-screen set-up with two dimensions running side by side that a single player must warp between in order to defeat enemies, solve puzzles and generally progress through its colorful comic book-style world. When asked how the team came up with the concept for Dimension Drive Jimenez said:
“Like most ideas it came in a moment where we were having fun. One evening, Alejandro and myself (David) were playing shoot'em ups from our childhood together and having some pizza and beers. At some point we ended up also watching some YouTube videos of hardcore players playing these kind of games, "superplays" they are called. We saw one guy playing 2 player mode, with 2 controllers just by himself. He managed to somehow dodge all bullets, kill enemies, and finish the level with the players single-handedly!!! We looked to each other and said … “let’s make a game like that”. We did, and it was almost impossible to play for an average player, but we have been iterating from that original idea together with our community till the solid concept we have today.”
Fending off an alien invasion across two dimensions simultaneously sounds rather frantic, and the ability strike a balance between a chaotic concept and rewarding gameplay is crucial to this type of game.
When asked about how the team are approaching the games difficulty Jimenez explains that they are aiming to create an experience that will satisfy shooter veterans, but won’t alienate those less familiar with the stereotypically punishing genre.
“We are trying to strike some middle ground with Dimension Drive. The shoot'em up genre has become a hardcore niche especially when you consider 'bullet hells' from Japanese devs. We want to make Dimension Drive a challenging experience and bring some of that old-school difficulty without resorting to just fill your screen with bullets. On the other hand, we are implementing some game modes catered towards beginners. There's a resurgence now of the genre and we want to bring something new and innovative to the table.”
As already mentioned, Dimension Drive almost wasn’t funded.
The team had a second shot at Kickstarter after the first attempt was sabotaged. In the final hours of the first campaign, 2Awesome Studio received a pledge of €7,000 from a mysterious savior, leaving Dimension Drive just €200 shy of its €30,000 goal. Much to the delight of the team the project was funded, but disaster struck when Kickstarter informed them that the generous donation was, in fact, fraudulent - dashing the spirit of a company that was unfairly conned into believing their dreams had just come true. Addressing the team’s reaction to the failed campaign, Jimenez said;
“It was devastating as you can imagine. It was hard. It could have been the end of Dimension Drive. The day after we didn’t know what to do, and we were mentally broken after an exhausting campaign ending with that incident to be honest.”
But 2Awesome Studio and the gaming community believed too much in the potential of Dimension Drive to let it end like that, and leading lady Jack came back fighting fit with a second Kickstarter campaign.
“Our second Kickstarter was not only about funding Dimension Drive, but also about not throwing the towel. We had people from all over the world sending messages of support and encouragement. They were asking us not to give up. We discussed with the team members and we decided to fight back. We really happy we took that decision. In the end, it's thanks to the community that we will be able to make this game. It was really tough, in the end we run two Kickstarter campaigns without a break and that is a huge amount of work.”
And after the gruelling business of running two Kickstarter campaigns there’s no rest in sight for the team.
The game has also reached many of its stretch goals that now need to be fulfilled. These will add a boss mode, horde mode and also the chance to share dimensions with a friend via two player local co-op, or blast them away in PvP. Curious as to how two player mode will be incorporated into the dual dimension set-up we quizzed Jimenez about it.
“We are still discussing how 2 player mode will be but one thing is clear for us, it has to be something new. We don't want just to slap another ship in there and call it a day. We would like that the two players have to really interact and play together to beat the levels in two player mode. For example, we are considering having them sharing the Dimension Energy, that way teamwork will be essential. Also, as Dimension Drive has been funded through Kickstarter we plan to gather the feedback of our backers and see what they would like this mode to be.”
Unfortunately, Dimension Drive missed out on the stretch goal that would have seen it reach the console market via PS4. But the team hasn't ruled out the possibility of bringing the game to other platforms.
“In the end it all boils down to time, funding and agreements with platform owners. We want to concentrate on the PC version first but we are open to port it to other platforms.”
With Dimension Drive expected to launch at the end of 2015 for Windows, Mac and Linux, we asked Jimenez what the future holds and whether we’ll see any more space shifting antics from the studio.
“We will, of course, support the players in case bugs or issues arise. If people want more of Dimension Drive and Jackelyne we will obviously work on expansions and sequels. It really depends on what people would like to see from us.”