written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Welcome to the world of Nefarious, a side scrolling platformer with an interesting spin on the protagonist. I mean, who says that the protagonist has to always be the good guy? In Nefarious you are the bad guy, imagine playing as Bowser as you kidnap the princess... forced to go toe to toe with Mario.
This is a game that HAS to become something, make sure to check out their Kickstarter and help get this beast funded! I got a chance to interview the team behind Nefarious, personally I am looking forward to this being a thing and I am confident that you will feel the same way!
Lifted Geek: First off, can you each introduce yourselves and briefly mention what you do on the project?
Josh: Hello! My name is Josh Hano, the creator of Nefarious. Nefarious is an idea we’ve been toying around with since 2009. My role on the project is primarily the project lead, providing art, animation, aesthetic direction, and making sure the game is as beautiful as possible.
Rosstin: I'm Rosstin! I'm a game designer who focuses on constructing fun environments and enemies. Josh approached me about the project and I was immediately struck by the charming art style. Also, I have a massive thing for princesses.
Jameson: I work with mobile software and video games both in development and production roles. For Nefarious, I worked with Josh for several years now refining what this game is, how we’re going to build it, who is going to help, as well as programming the prototypes in Unity.
Brad: I’m Brad, you might know me from the Fancy Pants Adventures game series. It has been my life mission to bring pants powered platforming goodness to the masses!
Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew. You may know me as the artist and writer of Nintendo parody comic Brawl in the Family. I’m also working on a game of my own, Tadpole Treble, and am a writer and artist for NF Magazine. I’m happy to now be one of the lead composers for Nefarious!
LG: How did Nefarious come to be? What was the inspiration behind flipping the script and making the villain the protagonist?
Josh: Originally Crow was the villain for the project, back when it was called Macro. We were going to invert another trope; We had an intentionally generic hero as the protagonist, but as the project went on the villain was the most interesting thing about it. Which got me thinking. What would a game be like if you played as Bowser? or Ganondorf? What sort of game mechanics would arise from that?
We liked it, because it would allow the player to spend more time with the Princesses than the hero normally would. And then the idea that each one could bring a new mechanic that affects how Crow moves while carrying them. After that we basically ran with it.
Jameson: As Josh mentioned, initially this was a much different project called Macro. Josh and I worked on this idea when we were roommates back in 2009, going through maybe 6 different prototypes. Over the years we’ve been discussing the idea and it’s evolved into what it is now after finding something really fun.
LG: Among your contemporaries, where did you draw inspiration for the gameplay and art direction?
Josh: There is certainly quite a bit of inspiration going around. The core mechanic feels very much like if you gave Mario the Demoman from Team Fortess 2’s grenade launcher. Mixed in with a bit of ‘Splosion man for good measure. With an art style that draws on Megaman and Metal Slug.
Jameson: I’m a huge fan of Team Fortress 2, a look at my Steam profile shows I’ve spent over 10 million years playing the game, and usually as the Demoman. I always thought it would be great to see some of that gameplay in a 2D setting, so it ended up in a prototype. So there is a heavy inspiration from that game, but more importantly I think is the reverse boss fights. That idea basically just came from every platformer you’ve ever played on SNES. Take those scenes, reverse them, and you get pure awesome.
Brad: I personally like to design around the personality of the main character, and Crow’s bombastic, over the top villainy actually makes my job much easier! Crow’s more likely to blow a hole through a wall rather than open a door, and that’s just a blast (ahem) to design gameplay for.
LG: Can you recount any challenges you guys had while producing the game?
Josh: Time was the biggest enemy. Doing quality animation takes a lot of time. So working on the game on and off between day jobs and all the other little life interruptions made for very slow progress. But, if we’re funded I will be devoting 100% of my time to the project. That should make progress quite swift.
LG: Anything notable get cut due to budget or it not being able to be implemented well into the core game?
Josh: There is one mechanic that’s been cut. Back when the project was called Macro, a core element to the game was making recordings of yourself so you could simultaneously perform actions alongside your previous recordings hence a “Macro”. But ultimately we abandoned it in favor of the more action packed bouncy grenades, sticky bombs, and princess mechanic. Maybe we’ll revisit the idea one day.
LG: Rando-dando… if your team were all party members of a Fantasy RPG, what do you think each of your character classes would be?
Josh: I think I would be DPS. My stylus is my sword. I enjoy tackling a problem and getting it subdued as fast as possible.
Rosstin: Healer. Gotta keep my party alive!
Jameson: Probably the healer or tank. I like to set other’s up for success, support them, and see where they can take it. I’m constantly impressed by the members of our team and what they’re capable of, given some resources.
Brad: I usually play as ranged, so I’m the archer making precise contributions wherever I can, making sure things animate and play just right.
Matthew: Looks like our team has three healers! I think I’d prefer hanging back and helping out the braver warriors.
LG: In another stroke of rando-dando… zombie contingency plan… GO!
Josh: When I was young I used to work at a pawn shop. While working there it dawned on me how surprisingly awesome a pawn shop would be to hold up in during a zombie apocalypse. Barred doors and windows, fenced in back yard (The one I worked at was electrified at the top with razor wire). Tons and tons of generators to keep the place powered with electricity. Massive supplies of guns and ammunition. Plenty of DVD’s and games to pass the time with, Mini fridges, plenty of tools to use. And no one would think to hold up in a pawn shop, everyone would be ransacking Walmarts. The only drawback is no food, you’d have to periodically scavenge for it.
Rosstin: Stairs, polearms, and a hydroponic farm!
Jameson: If living through Hurricane Katrina taught me anything, it’s that you want water, gasoline, first aid kits, weapons, and canned food.
Matthew: I’m spreadin’ out the Zombie Paper!
Brad: Chances are I wouldn’t notice and just keep animating for weeks.
Josh: And now I feel silly for giving such a long and detailed answer.
LG: Okay, we’ll get back to the interview… I see on the Kickstarter you plan to bring it to WiiU, any plans to bring the game over to say the XBOX One or PS4? Even the XBOX 360 or PS3? Vita?
Josh: We may be making an announcement regarding Xbox and the Ps4. Stay tuned to the Kickstarter to find out more!
Jameson: This has yet to be determined, but I will say that this is something we’re working on.
LG: This is for the artists… how did the lead character’s look evolve over the course of the game?
Josh: Crow changed a little since his original incarnation. A sketch I did in 2009. Though he did go through a wide variety of looks before arriving back near his initial design. Subsequent concepts I did of him weren’t bad, but they made him look to much like a jerk. And, though Crow IS kind of a jerk. We want him to be a likeable jerk. Eventually I had Andrew Dickman do a sketch that I absolutely loved and committed to being Crow’s final design.
LG: Do you have any secret Princesses that you haven’t revealed yet?
Josh: We do actually! There are some which are stretch goals. Hopefully we overshoot our goal, and then we’ll be able to talk about them in more detail.
LG: What games are your current obsession at the moment?
Josh: Definitely Shovel Knight. I was kind of a late-comer to the Shovel Knight party, I picked it up on the Wii-U after hearing all the buzz and fell in love with it. Beat it in three sittings.
Rosstin: I've been playing some old classic platformers like "Another World". That game is like a string of transcendental moments, like Journey if it was made in the 1980s.
Jameson: I just started playing Fez again with the PS4 release, that game is really a great platformer with some nice twists to the standard formula. Also Hotline Miami, way too much fun.
Brad: I’ve been playing through Rogue Squadron 2 again at night with my 2 year old (or ‘wee weesh’, as he has dubbed anything with spaceships), so my current obsession is finding games that he gets excited about.
Matthew: Every time a new Smash Bros. character is announced, it’s like Christmas morning for me…!
LG: Anything notable on your wall of shame? (games you are yet to play)
Josh: Any of the new Rayman games. I have them. I love the look of them. But I just haven’t sat down to play them yet.
Rosstin: The Path is on my to-play list. I really should have played Gone Home by now, as well.
Jameson: Planetary Annihilation. I backed it and have it on Steam, but I just haven’t had much time to dig in yet.
Brad: My Steam backlog :( Oh, and A Link Between Worlds. The wife is playing through it, but I haven’t touched it yet. A new Zelda is out and I’m not currently playing it? That’s just embarrassing.
Matthew: I’m woefully behind on non-Nintendo games. I need to get around to The Last of Us sometime...
LG: The look and feel is very old school… what are some of your favorite games from the 2D era?
Josh: I was obsessed with Earthworm Jim when I was a kid. It was such a perfect blend of humor, animation and gameplay. Theres a lot of that here inspiring the mood and tone of Nefarious. It’s not quite as cuckoolander as EWJ was, but there is some zaniness there. Theres also a bit of a medieval Megaman vibe going on in the designs. I can’t deny that I’m a huge Megaman fan. MegamanX being one of my favorite games ever.
Jameson: Super Mario World will always be my favorite game of all time. I’ve beat that game hundreds of times and every great once in a while I find some secret that I somehow never found.
Rosstin: From my work on Rex Rocket, it's probably obvious that I love the NES Megaman… I admire how together that game is, doing so much with so little from the NES era. The design still holds together perfectly after all this time.
Brad: Mario Bros. 3 is gaming perfection, but I played through all of the NES Megaman games fairly recently and there’s a lot to love there that’s influenced my own game design.
Matthew: There are so many, but if I had to pick one, it’d be Super Metroid. The original speedrunner!
LG: Finally, do you guys have a message for our g33ks? Why should they care about Nefarious?
Josh: The team as a whole has a history of making great games. Fancy Pants Adventures, Rex Rocket, Dream Flight, Reactor HD, and the (currently in progress) Tadpole Treble. Nefarious is basically our Captain Planet. “With our powers combined!” I’m fully confident that when we get together we’re going to create an unforgettable and badass experience for the players.
Jameson: Reverse boss fights, they’re amazingly fun.
Rosstin: Nefarious is a dream project for a lot of us. It's got amazing cartoon art and great opportunities for fun and solid design. I just think it's a project that needs to get made.
Matthew: There’s a lot of talent in this project even at this fairly early stage--ever since Josh told me about it, I thought it was a great concept with a terrific look to it. Keep an ear out for the music!
Brad: You steal ALL THE PRINCESSES. You know you need to play this game. There’s also a ton of talent in the team. We’ve all worked on great games separately, but together I know we’re going to make something truly awesome.
Absolutely, please check out this game and help get this funded! Check out their main website for new updates. Stay Frosty and Get Lifted.