After my first contact with Crypt of the Necrodancer there has always been this feeling of inevitability. It was inevitable for me to actually get my grubby mitts on it. After playing, It felt inevitable for a game like this to finally exist. It was an inevitability that Ryan Clark would join us on the show to talk to about just how such an awesome game came to be.
Crypt of the Necrodancer is good. Actually, it’s beyond good it’s golden sushi good. It feels like such a novel and genius idea that it is stunningly that it was only until now that it has come into realm of reality. It is a rare feeling to enjoy something that truly feels new and different in a world where most things feel like iterations. Consider this for a moment, we are in the age of procedural generation and roguelikes, the Spelunky age. Necrodancer takes what was in the early stages of becoming blasse (even the term rogue like is becoming laughable) and makes it more awesome than ever before. Dungeon crawler meets Dance Dance Revolution with all the elements we have come to expect of the indie procedurally generated rogue likes of this era. All of it executed extremely well.
Ryan talked a lot about his own foundation as a developer and what he was looking to accomplish with necrodancer. He, like many of us, has been entertained by the familiar muse named Spelunky or perhaps the crueler mistress of Dwarf Fortress. These are the games that he admires and plays. Those games are a familiar touching stone for many indie developers and indie gamers alike. Ryan wants to capture elements he loved from those games and bottle em, shake em and pour em into Necrodancer garnished with a mashup twist. Ryan loves mashing up game mechanics. He spoke to us about the now archaic game of Breakout. He loved breakout as a kid and when he designed his own iteration of a breakout game he wanted to correct the ubiquitous frustration of break the last brick. What was his answer to that frustration? Steal a page from Katamari and make the ball grow as you progress.
We can see that similar approach to Necrodancer. Obviously the biggest problem with rogue like dungeon crawlers is that they have a lousy soundtrack and no mechanics based on moving to that particular soundtrack! Well perhaps that’s not the biggest problem, but it is part of the mix of what makes Necrodancer an enjoyable shoe tapping experience. It adds much more importance on things like pattern recognition and timing as well as giving players a skill ceiling to reach. We spoke a bit about the organic nature of Necrodancers development. At first it was an ‘Aha’ moment when coincidently music was playing and Ryan was moving to the beat, which then became the primary mechanism. Since then Ryan has describe a call and response relationship with the game looking to see what it needs for completion. This design sense is something I believe and and perhaps feel even more vindicated when a three time nominated IGF developer like Ryan echoes my sentiments. While I might not know what I am talking about, I could argue that perhaps he knows a thing or two!
Necrodancer is still in development and you can keep up to date by following Ryan on twitter or just checking back to their site from time to time. You can also pre-order the game and get a copy of the soundtrack done by none other than Danny B himself. They are also teasing potential custom made DDR pads for players to purchase. My only regret is that I didn’t play the game on the DDR pad at Prime.