Low on Gas. Surrounded by Evil. No we aren’t talking about Ash from S-Mart (shop smart, shop s-mart) but this weeks creator spotlight creation, a new game about road trip in a world of existential cosmic horror. So top up the Delta as we take 5 with Mike Black creator behind Dead Static Drive.
What are you playing/watching right now? I’m watching Hereditary! I saw it on opening night and I’ll be watching it again today and probably tomorrow as well. I absolutely adore this kind of 70s horror, which focuses on tension and disrupting the audience’s feelings. And it has themes in it that encourage more screenings – I can absolutely see myself watching this a dozen more times.
Also, I’m finally playing Breath of the Wild on my Switch, and it’s extremely good. It’s so fascinating to see a game that’s built on so few mechanics and such a sparseness of content, but that is still enthralling.
What is Dead Static Drive? Why is it important? Okay, so Dead Static Drive is Grand Theft Cthulhu. I love GTA and the open-world driving genre, and I love horror, and I’m making this game as a way of exploring my love for both. It’s about driving, and it’s my way of encouraging players to engage even more with the kinds of mechanics that I love in those genres.
What I’m making is a game that’s about driving and running from the law, but also about a slow encroachment of horrific creatures. I want players to feel that encroachment and that change, and the fun of developing it is in getting the right sensations through the playtime.
disappointingly realistic pic.twitter.com/5R8Do5IZiZ
— mike🌵black (@kurtruslfanclub) September 29, 2017
Apart from your game what should everyone be looking out for in local Australian Pop Culture? Oh there are so many great artists in Australia right now – so many that listing any feels like a crime against anyone I didn’t mention. Charlotte Allingham is an incredible artist making political and indigenous fantasy art. The team at Paper House are making Paperbark, which is a quintessentially Australian game about animals and the summer. I desperately want more Knuckle Sandwich, the game Andrew Brophy is making.
Major prediction for Pop Culture 12 months from now? In single-player games, we’re going to see a lot of hard games come out. Initially everyone jumped on the Dark Souls bandwagon, and there were a few announced at E3 (three new Souls-like samurai games?!) but I feel like enough developers have taken from Dark Souls that we can actually present a fair challenge that can be hard but also gripping. I think there’ll be a swell towards more difficulty in singleplayer games until some developer overshoots it and maybe a year from now they’ll make a game that’s just too far on the “let’s screw over the player” side of the spectrum and that’ll be the peak for hard games.
— mike🌵black (@kurtruslfanclub) May 26, 2018
In multiplayer games, ohboy – we’re seeing the rise of the battleground, just like we saw the MOBA bandwagon and the MMO bandwagon before it. But what’s interesting to me is that the generations seem accelerated. Boss Key announced their battleground Radical Heights, and within three months of me first hearing about it, the studio and the game were shut down.
On the flipside, Fortnite has taken an existing game and tweaked it maybe 20% to change it from a coop to a battleground, and it’s been staggeringly successful. I’d like to think that the tragedy of Boss Key is a sign of the end of bandwagon genres in general, but I think what it’ll actually be is a distillation of the bandwagons. When a huge game comes out of nowhere and changes the landscape, mid-tier studios won’t want to touch it, but the AAA behemoths will do whatever they can to add that mode to their games.
We might see a Battlefront last-man-standing (god help me if that happens) and I suspect that a lot of games that offer both single- and multi-player will offer a battleground mode as their multiplayer variant.
Best last thing you ate? DUMPLINGS! I mean, dumplings are the best food of every cuisine. Pierogi, ravioli, dim sum. But my favourite dumpling right now is from Shandong Mama Mini – a small hole-in-the-wall just off Flinders Lane in Melbourne CBD. They have mackerel pot-stickers that are my heaven, and their home made chilli sauce is so good that you can buy it.