Gamers Classified spent at of of time in the PAX Rising section of PAXAUS this year. PAX Rising is the dedicated area for upcoming independent developers and their works. Queensland had a strong contingent at this year’s PAX Rising including Screwtape Studios which showcased Damsel: their first PC title. We spoke to Screwtape Studios Co-founder and Damsel Developer, Meg Summers about Damsel’s storytelling and the video game scene in Brisbane. For a review of Damsel, please click here. To watch our full interview with Summers, please see the video below.
Damsel’s arcade style game play was not what Screwtape Studios had initially planned for their first major title. Damsel started life as a more linear, story-driven title, but a meeting with an Editor-Publisher changed that. Summers recounts that the Editor-Publisher’s comments were ‘We love it. It’s beautiful and the story is great but we can’t sell it’. It turns out that the market for that particular style of game was saturated at the time.
This is the part where some creatives would dig their heels in and insist on not making any changes. Summers and the rest of the team took a more flexible and practical approach. ‘We wanted to sell our game because we want to make another one. So, we went back to the drawing board. We realised that we had this nice, tight loop [in the game play] so we could get in and out [of the game].’ This lent itself very well to an arcade style game and had the added bonus of appealing to gamers who don’t have the time for a 60 hour title.
While the gameplay of Damsel may have been changed during the production process, one thing that remained the same was the concept for the visuals. From the beginning, Damsel was inspired by Saturday morning cartoons. Summers wanted to capture the joy and whimsy of these cartoons and was able to do so by working with a comic book artist design Damsel. The added benefit of comic book story telling is that it is an efficient way to progress a stroyline. As Meg explains, ‘it allows for charaterisation and storytelling without being too big for [Screwtape Studios]. It meant what we could localise and do all of our languages without having voice actors right now. Those things are in the future for us but right now, Screwtape Studios is a small team, and we wanted to do as much as we would with what we have right now.’
Screwtape Studios is based in Queensland, and Damsel was produced with the help of Screen Queensland. In its own words, Screen Queensland aims to ‘grow the screen industry’ and this branches across any type of artistic project that is displayed on a screen. Meg has nothing but praise for Screen Queensland’s support of the Australian video game industry which has a strong presence in Brisbane. She notes that the Queensland contingent at this year’s PAX Rising (the PAX section dedicated to independent developers) is was formidable thanks to the help of the Screen Queensland.
To purchase Damsel and support the Australian screen industry, visit damselgame.net or the Steam store. To purchase associated merchandise (like the tights Summers is modelling above) please visit the Screwtape Studios Red Bubble store.