One of the most controversial headline-stealing indie games of 2012 is Hotline Miami, an uber-violent kill-fest that reminded us of schlocky video nasties - right down to the ‘80s setting and acid trip visuals.
We spoke with the creative minds behind it...
GD: Hotline Miami is set in our most favourite decade, the 80s - what was the inspiration behind this, and will we be hearing Flock of Seagulls in the soundtrack?
Jonatan Söderström: A big part of the inspiration came from watching the movie Drive. It captured this sort of modern 80s feeling, and didn't really try to mimic the 80s as it was, but rather render a stylized version of it that got rid of all the annoying parts. The soundtrack is all new music made in the 21st century, so no Flock of Seagulls.
GD: In the game, the main character wears creepy animal heads that gives him special powers. What kind of cool abilities can gamers who haven’t picked it up yet look forward to?
Jonatan Söderström: Well, everything from being able to take a bullet, to running faster or punching harder. Usually nothing major, but it does allow for some strategic decisions to be
GD: You also get to do incredibly nasty things to people with drills, bricks and all manner of pointy/nasty weaponry. Does this stem from a lifetime of watching video nasties, and is it a ploy to get the Daily Mail/Fox News incredibly agitated?
Jonatan Söderström: It does stem a bit from video nasties. We tried to make the violence as repulsive as possible, whereas most games these days seem to stylize and legitimize their brutal tendencies by ignoring the vicious nature of violence. The violence in Hotline Miami is all about taking other people's lives, and show what an ugly act that is.
GD: Our extensive background research (a.k.a. a quick look at the game's Wikipedia page) shows your previous effort was entitled 'Keyboard Drumset F*cking Werewolf'. This immediately sounds like the most awesome game ever. Tell us about it, and did you take any ideas/experiences from it and use them in Hotline Miami?
Dennis Wedin: Keyboard Drumset F*cking Werewolf was a game I wanted to make for my band (F*cking Werewolf). Yes, I'm the guy singing in that song. I knew Jonatan made games so one day, when we were drunk, I asked him if he wanted to make it and he said YES on one condition, that I made the graphics. So I did and it was great working with Jonatan. So I think what we brought from that game to Hotline Miami was our partnership.
Next we spoke to Sandy Duncan, CEO of YoYo Games. YoYo Games are responsible for the GameMaker: Studio development kit which was used to create Hotline Miami. Intrigued, we thought we’d see if we’d be able to create our own game (The Sexy Adventures of Squee being one possibility...) and get mega-rich from it.
GD: It must be incredibly satisfying to see successful projects like Hotline Miami being made with your very own GameMaker tool. Do you know of any other upcoming potential hit titles that have been created with GameMaker?
A: There are a lot of exciting games on the way! It’s not our place to spill the beans so we’ll leave the unveilings to the developers. It’s hugely rewarding to see really big hits being created with GameMaker - they prove everything we've said about its flexibility and power. Our own hits, like Mr. Karoshi, They Need To Be Fed and Reflexions, are demonstrations of what GameMaker can do as much as they are straight products, so to see games like Spelunky and Hotline Miami win such huge acclaim and build loyal fan bases is amazing. Our latest 'demonstration' game, GraveMaker, will hopefully open the door for indie devs to start creating their own social games, with full social functionality.
GD: We've seen how popular apps and indie games have become, and we want to get stuck in and make tons of dirty cash and get a big old vat filled with gold coins that we can swim around in, Scrooge McDuck style. Only problem is, we have no programming or design skills.
A: GameMaker: Studio is an environment that can be used by novices as well as experienced designers and programmers in that it combines drag and drop with a powerful scripting language. Give it a try and let us know what you think.
GD: Ooh, so GameMaker might be suitable for us? Tell us about GameMaker's flexibility - can budding game designers create a title in pretty much any genre they like?
A: GameMaker can create just about any game you can imagine. In terms of flexibility, we use a very straightforward "building blocks" paradigm of objects (for interactive objects) and rooms (for environments), which is a very broad concept that the user can refine very easily to fit their chosen designs. GameMaker is also built around drag-and-drop philosophies, so a non-technical user can start creating games without having to write a single line of code. Everything can be defined with drop-down menus and a total novice can have a rudimentary game up and running in minutes. However, the C-like scripting language is there as well to add a profound layer of depth and gameplay possibilities. In combination with our Wiki and community for help, tutorials and problem-solving, a complete newbie can genuinely learn how to make just about any game in GameMaker.
Big thanks to Jonatan Söderström, Dennis Wedin and Sandy Duncan for their time. Hotline Miami is out now through sites such as Steam and Gog.com
You can grab GameMaker for free and get developing your version of the next Indie hit. Good luck and if you start making a game then be sure to let your buddies here on GD know.