RPGamer Feature - Indie Developer Pow-Wow - Epic Dungeon Interview
Developer: Eyehook Games
Publisher: Eyehook Games
Release Date: 12.2010

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Dungeon crawlers were made for the most hardcore of RPGamers. They require precision, patience, and repetition. Whether you grew up playing Dungeon Master or Dungeon Explorer, these were games that never held your hand, and death was inevitable. Eyehook Games is attempting to bring back this feeling of pain with its upcoming dungeon crawler, Epic Dungeon. To get us ready for our fifty floor trek, Eyehook Games’ gives us the skinny on how to prepare for the journey ahead.

Greetings, Eyehook Games. Since you're new to the beat, mind introducing yourself to the audience?
Mike Muir: Hi. I'm Mike Muir. I'm the guy behind everything at Eyehook Games. I've been involved in software development for quite some time now. In January, I asked myself what I really wanted to do, and the answer that came back was "make games." So, here I am.

How many people are involved in the production of your games?
MM: Just me. Epic Dungeon is my digital baby. It was important to me that I create the entire experience from start to finish on this project; however, in the future, I think there's a good chance that I will be collaborating with others.

That said, none of it would have been possible without help and feedback from the larger XNA (Xbox Indie) community. If I had developed Epic Dungeon in a complete vacuum, it wouldn't have been as fun or as polished as it is today.

We've heard that Epic Dungeon is a retro dungeon crawler. Does it play in the same vein as games like Dungeon Master or Dungeon Explorer?
MM: I think you'll find it to be more in the vein of Dungeon Explorer. I, personally, like to think of it as an action roguelike with the classic top-down 2D view. It has a much more accessible and fast feel than a classic text-based roguelike, since it is in real-time.

Tell us a bit about the game's mechanics. You've stated that the game boasts a unique encounter system. Can you share a bit about it?
MM: Sure. Epic Dungeon includes optional encounters that you can activate as you descend into its depths. For example, you might discover an ancient stone idol. Do you pray to the ancient god or steal the gems that adorn it? The outcome of these encounters is affected not only by your decisions, but also things like your stats and class. All encounters have multiple branching paths, so it'll take awhile to see everything they have to offer.

They really give a nice bit of color to the game.

What are the four playable classes in Epic Dungeon? Does each class have its own special abilities?
MM: First off, there's the Berserker. His primary skill is Frenzy which gives him the ability to hit all surrounding monsters in one powerful swing. He's pretty much the damage dealer of the bunch.

Next, there's the Shaman. He can freeze enemies temporarily, which is great for crowd control. Also, hitting a frozen enemy guarantees a critical hit.

Then, there's the Tinkerer. He's been very popular in playtesting. He has the ability to create a mechanical ally--the Orb. The Orb will fight alongside the Tinkerer, or can be detonated for a nice bit of damage.

Finally, there's the Gambler. His primary skill is Poison which causes pretty hefty damage over time.

There's also a regenerate skill, which will regenerate health over time. Skills are not limited to each class. You can mix and match them as you please. Primary skills are just learned faster than the other skills.

How much is Epic Dungeon like traditional Roguelike games? Will there be a million different ways for players to meet amusingly gruesome deaths?
MM: It definitely has a roguelike flavor. Levels are randomly generated and are filled with all manner of gold, items, monsters, traps, secret doors, and shops. It also has features like tombstones where you died on previous attempts, so you will definitely get a bit of nostalgia.

A lot of time has been spent on balancing Epic Dungeon, so it shouldn't be too brutal for players new to the genre. However, death is permanent, and surviving all 50 levels is very challenging. It also keeps track of your playtime, so even if you do survive, you can always shoot for a faster escape on your next play through.

What are some of the challenges you've faced while creating Epic Dungeon? What do you think are some of the game's strengths?
MM: It's been a real struggle to stop adding features. You always want to add one more thing, but if you do that, you'll never finish. But, I must say, I'm very happy with where it's at and I think people will find it to be a great experience.

Its main strength is how fun it is. I sit down and play it every night, and I'm still not bored with it. It definitely scratches that dungeon crawling itch. Secondly, it's polished. I spent a lot of time streamlining things like inventory management and shopping--which often feels like an afterthought on console games. And finally, I think it has a lot of character.

What would you say is the most important aspect in developing an RPG?
MM: For Epic Dungeon, it was finding a balance between all the different elements. I've probably spent the most time trying to find that perfect mix to make it as fun as possible.

Do you have any upcoming projects at the moment that you'd like to share with our audience?
MM: Right now I'm squarely focused on Epic Dungeon. I hope to continue development on it or a sequel. I still have a lot of ideas for future releases.

What is your philosophy behind your process in making games?
MM: It's pretty simple. I make games I want to play. Beyond that, it's an evolving process for me. It basically revolves around having an overall concept, creating a rough implementation, and then continually refining and testing it until I have a finished product.

Any final words you'd like to share with our readers?
MM: I just wanted to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about Epic Dungeon and putting a spotlight on indie game development.

I'm very excited about releasing Epic Dungeon as part of the Indie Games Winter Uprising. Be sure to check out all of the participating games on the Xbox LIVE Indie Games channel the first week of December.

RPGamer would like to thank Mike Muir for all of his insight and enthusiasm on Epic Dungeon. If you would like to purchase Epic Dungeon, the game will be 80 Microsoft Points ($1) on Xbox Live Indie Games, and will be released the first week of December. Check back with RPGamer in a few days, as we'll be profiling Zeboyd Games and its upcoming release, Cthulhu Saves the World.

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