On Saturday, V.o.lynn got the chance to chat with Derek DeLizo, Lead designer for Digital Future Lab, and Megan Smart, one of the 3D Animators for their upcoming game “Seed”.
Digital Future Lab is a small homegrown programming group in Washington sharing their work at Emerald City Comicon this year. They have three games to try out, but for those who can’t make it to the con can certainly hop on Steam for their work. “Ghostlight Manor is actually released on Steam right now. It’s kind of like a space invaders game. It’s a match three game, you light them up with the ghost light and scare them all away.”
The game that they’re most excited about, though, is Seed.
“It’s a reverse tower defense game,” Derek explained. “Instead of trying to kill the characters, you’re trying to save them and help them reach the end.” This is Digital Future Lab’s first 3d design attempt, and they’re attacking it with gusto. The gameplay is fun and still in beta, with the adorable “Tali” (Pokemon-esque critters with lifespan timers) walking a path from one end of a maze to another, with little life-force boosters that are set by the all-knowing (and fallible) player. “With the 3d design in Seed, it was a new jump for us. We were building layouts, but we never really found a core mechanic that said ‘this makes SEED fun’. Jason Pace helped focus on system design.” With Seed, they had to think differently about it – working from the inside out, with the solution in mind. At its core, Tower Defense is a puzzle game – stop them all from getting to the end. Also, unlike some mobile platformers, SEED isn’t going to be built for microtransactions for “boosters” – puzzles can be solved with the powers given.
“The Digital future lab started at the University of Washington Bothell, and I personally got involved as a QA tester. We have a very diverse set of backgrounds and fields of story. I’m from electrical engineering, we have physics majors, and CSS, and they all kind of work together. They all have a different way of getting in.”
As DFL’s lead designer at the moment was mostly in bug catching (playtesting), the knowledge of learning a game inside out was the best carryover from Ghostlight into Seed.
Megan, the 3D animator I spoke with was really happy with the progress of the game since she joined. “They mostly pull from Bellevue College for their 3D assets. It was interesting trying to pick up where other people have left off.” She had some shuffling to do on the rig and the animation for some of the magic jars, and recently she mostly works with the “Tali”. “I’m working on a walk cycle right now and will be doing a fainting animation yet. It’s really all about positive life force.”
She really likes DFL’s inclusive standpoint when it comes to recruiting interested parties to create games. “They want to have as many different kinds of people with as many backgrounds as possible, which I think is really cool and is a really positive work environment. They also focus on nonviolent games, so it’s a good alternative for families and it gives them lots of different options.”
Digital Future Labs really seem to keep the focus being a positive platform for creative puzzle play for all ages.