Causal Bit Games Talks About Father/Daughter Bonding While Making "Battle Princess Madelyn"

Causal Bit Games developer Christopher Obritsch makes his daughter Madelyn a Knight in her very own video game. Here's the tale.

Thunder rolls in the middle of the night as the sound of swords crashing against one another echoes throughout the graveyard. You, a young princess with incredible prowess in battle, are tasked by your grandfather to help save the kingdom and your family. Now, alongside the ghost of your dog Fritzy, it’s up to you to save everyone. Can you do it?

Well, of course, you can. You’re Battle Princess Madelyn!

A project that originally started as an idea between father and daughter after many hours playing Ghouls ‘N Ghost, Battle Princess Madelyn has decimated its funding goal with one quick swipe of the sword and is working on hitting more stretch goals up until its Kickstarter campaign ends. This dream project has quickly become a reality for the father/daughter team, and I had a chance to sit down with developer Christopher Obritsch from Causal Bit Games and talk to him about the game and the process behind it.

GameSkinny (Angelina Bonilla): On your Kickstarter, it states that you made this game for your daughter, who’d watch you play Ghouls ‘N Ghosts and wanted to be in the game itself. Are there any other games she watches you play that get her as excited as Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, and has she given it a go herself?

Causal Bit Games (Christopher Obritsch): Sunset Riders and Turtles in Time are two other games that she loves -- she even plays the TMNT games with me! Robocop, she used to love watching me play, as well as Legend of Hero Tonma. It’s usually specific events in the game she likes: Green head for GnG, first boss fight in Sunset Riders -- same for Robocop. Legend of Hero Tonma is the final boss fight (not very easy!). Turtles in Time she likes playing in general, but loves the big Krang suit at the start saying, “Prepare to Die!”. Ghostbusters on the Genesis is one shes like to force me through, too!

GS: While playing through the demo, I noticed that there didn’t seem to be quite the same difficulty curve as there was in the game it was inspired by. You can respawn quickly after all your lives run out.  Are you planning on making multiple levels of difficulty that the players can choose from, or is it just going to be a consistent level throughout?

Obritsch: Although we now have hit a few stretch goals, which will add in some extra-hard difficulties, self-adjusting difficulty is the “Normal” difficulty setting. In this mode the game will determine how well you are playing, and if it senses that you are doing too well, it will ramp up the difficulty of the game. Or otherwise if you’re struggling, it will tone the difficulty down accordingly, without ever becoming boring or frustrating.

You will also be able to set different difficulty modes the traditional way as well, so beginners to platforming can play a nice, light version of the game that still lets them experience the story, collectible items, and exploration of the big maps!

GS: With the immense success of your Kickstarter, how long do you think it’ll take to add all of the newly met stretch goals to Battle Princess Madelyn, or were you planning on adding those anyways?

Obritsch: We know that unexpected bugs can appear while developing games, and left quite a bit of room for testing, especially as we did not know how well the pre-alpha build (in its currently unoptimized state) would run on everyone’s computers. However, we were really pleased to see it working so well in our testing on Steam, so it should balance out that the new features are done within our time budget!

GS:  Will your dog companion, Fritzy, you find at the beginning of the game, be the only sort of help you’ll be getting? Or will there be a wild assortment of creatures following Madelyn around giving her a variety of abilities and helpful power ups?

Obritsch : Fritzy gets different powers during the game -- power ups that the player can use where needed to progress the game, and since he’s a very crucial character plot-wise, he will never leave her side! He was our family pet in real life -- Maddi’s first. His character was added in during the prototype when we realized the real life Fritzy was not in the best of health as he was so old -- and that Maddi would miss him horribly when he passed away. Since this is her game, this is a nice way for her to remember him by, and she loves it!

GS: The boss fight in the demo only gave you three lives before it reset to the beginning of the fight again. Unlike the rest of the game, this was the only encounter that actually limited the amount of times you could die. Are you going to do this for the bosses throughout the rest of the game? And if so, are you going to put an indicator of just how many lives you have left in classic game style?

Obritsch: What happened here is that Fritzy ran out of Soul Magic. You collect it as you kill enemies! However, we do have a hint to share: During this particular boss fight -- if you stay far back from the boss, he will eventually hit the ceiling, which in turn summons enemies in falling coffins to get your soul magic back.

In the upper left-hand corner, you have an armor HP system. The number in the pre-alpha is a placeholder, but it lets you know how much HP you have left. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen is Fritzy’s Soul Magic meter. This number has to be above half in order for him to bring you back to life!

GS: Your choice to use two types of soundtracks in the game was an interesting way of going about it, especially in regards to allowing your players choose between them. What gave you this idea in the first place?

Obritsch: Different people have different tastes; some people want retro styled music with their game, others want it orchestrated. So we figured, why not give them both! And for some people, it’s an even bigger reason to go back and play the game, for at least a second time, just to see how the soundtrack affects the mood of the game. And because both of the musicians are bringing their own style into each track, no two are the same!

GS: Looking through though the Kickstarter, I noticed there was no indication that the game would be available for Mac or Linux platforms. Why is that?

Obritsch  Unfortunately, because we don’t have the hardware and testing teams to ensure it will work flawlessly on them, we currently have no plans to support those platforms.

GS:  Would you be willing to make more games like Battle Princess Madelyn, taking a classic retro game and adding a new twist to it?

Obritsch: We have a few other prototypes ready on the back-burner to be fleshed out once Battle Princess Madelyn is completed. We’re certainly looking into doing more retro styled games with modern comforts!

GS: Outside of it selling well and being received positively, what sort of reactions are you hoping from your general audience and what sort of audience are you looking to attract with Battle Princess Madelyn?

Obritsch: We would be so excited if players fall in love with the game as much as we have. So far, it’s been really fun turning Maddi’s ideas into actual gameplay and sprites, and we hope the player gets that same joy on their end!

I know she really enjoys watching us bring her ideas to life, too. She was over the moon the first time she saw the skeleton boss freaking out! As far as the audience goes, we’re trying to attract anyone who is willing to have fun. We’re trying our hardest to make this game accessible to children, yet flexible enough to also be as hardcore as it needs to be for an old school gamer who is looking for those familiar mechanics in a new experience!

GS: Since Madelyn is the creative assistant in all of this, does she have any enemies or powers in the game that she likes the most?

Obritsch: Sorry, I can’t tell you which enemies yet, since we haven’t shown them and it would be spoilers -- but she has quite a few! Her favorite power in the game so far is making Fritzy eat the bad guys with his giant chomping! We still occasionally get a laughing shriek out of her when she sees it!

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I would like to thank Causal Bit Games' Christopher Obritsch for taking the time to answer my questions. Battle Princess Madelyn looks like just the right mix of retro fun with a zesty twist to the formula which will make you keep coming back for more. 

Check out Causal Bit Game's website for more information. If you want to show your support, there's still time to back Battle Princess Madelyn on Kickstarter!

Published Apr. 10th 2017

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