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How computer Virus Simulator came to be and my plans for the future (an interview with yours truly)

An interview I did with Fiona Li (xFlowerstarx) about my upcoming game.

Dariusz Jagielski, Blogger

March 22, 2017

15 Min Read

Originally published on Tomb Of Ash, interviewed by Fiona Li (xFlowerstarx). Reproduced with permission.

What games inspired your Virus Computer Simulator game?

D. Jagielski: Mainly early 3D games such as Alpha Waves/Continuum released by infogrames back in either 90 or 91, not sure right now - one of the first if not the first 3D platformers, way before Super Mario 64. Also, demoscene. And it’s Computer Virus Simulator. ;)

What inspired you to use a computer virus as a character?

D. Jagielski: Originality. To my knowledge it has never been done before and I needed something to stand out since I’ve knew full well I won’t be only 3D platformer in town by the time of release. Also this gives me free reign to do as many obscure computer jokes as I please.

Can you tell me a summary of the story of the Computer Virus Simulator game?

D. Jagielski: For now story is still in flux. I think I’ll do it with loosely connected story arcs, similar to what some web comics do. This will make possible to extend the game’s story as long as it is vialable commercially and as long as I have ideas to do so. Each “arc” will be 5-10 levels long, with demo having its own arc.

Is there a main antagonist? Can you describe to me what he/she looks like or show me a picture of him/her?

D. Jagielski: The Creator, who is, well, creator of The Virus has a rival and there will be few clashes between the two, but he’s not the same “main antagonist” in the sense that Neo Cortex is for Crash or Gruntilda for Banjo.

Does the Computer Virus have its own moveset?

D. Jagielski: Yes. While it’s not final, for now it consists of dash, acting both as mobility ability as well as attack, ground pound, gliding, jumping and wall jumping.

You can also pick up upgrades that allow you to shoot.

What does your game development team compose of? Or is it just you developing the game, composing music, programming, testing the game etc?

D. Jagielski: I am doing most of development, including levels, coding graphics and all the sounds within the game. For music I rely on CC and outright public domain chiptunes. I wish I could hire musician for the projects, but the game has basically $0 budget.

Are you planning on launching a Kickstarter campaign for this game?

D. Jagielski: I am from one of those countries where you can’t launch Kickstarter, but IndieGoGo is pretty much in the cards once demo is ready.

Speaking of launching this game, do you have an estimated release date? What platforms are you planning on releasing this game on?

D. Jagielski: I don’t know when I will be able to finish the demo and this is prerequisite for the IGG campaign as I think that in the current crowdfunding climate it is important to give potential funders something more than just a nice video to base their decisions on, especially on IndieGoGo.

But I’ll try to do this before this year is over, hopefully.

Will there be a hub world in your game? A lot of 3D platformers have hub worlds.

D. Jagielski: Actually, the whole main menu itself is playable and has an area where you can select level you want to play. You will be able to play the levels in any order you want to, but of course preferably you’d play them in order. From the main menu you can also get to the level editor.

Is your game open-world? Or is it in the vein of Crash Bandicoot, Super Mario 3D Land, Super Mario 3D World etc?

D. Jagielski: Some levels will be linear while others will be more open. It all depends on needs of the specific area. The level editor contained within the game, same one that I’m using to create levels for the game and which will be available to the players as well allows for both kinds to be made.

How many levels and worlds will there be in total? Do they each have names?

D. Jagielski: The target point at which game will be considered finished is 100 levels. They will all have names.

What are the names of the levels? Can you name a few examples of the levels for me?

D. Jagielski: The level currently in development is called “Datacolumns”.

Will the game have bosses, mini-bosses and a final boss? If so, what are the names of them?

D. Jagielski: Yes, it certainly will have bosses, but at this point I don’t know what kind of bosses they will be as I’ve simply not this far in the development to have to create one.

Due to me working on this alone I have to concentrate on one thing at a time, for now it is level design.

How long have you been working on this game for?

D. Jagielski: I have been working on the Computer Virus Simulator since 2014.

What are the programmes you use to develop your game?

D. Jagielski: I’m developing the game using Unity3D and Blender for artwork.

What is the software you use to compose your music?

D. Jagielski: I don’t compose the music. Music in the game as of right now is Creative Commons and Public Domain chiptunes.

Are they placeholder music?

D. Jagielski: Not sure at this point. Whether I’ll use it in the final product depends on how successful my IndieGoGo campaign will be (planning to launch it in flexible funding so at least I’ll get some money for development). Although I really like the tune that is currently being used for the main menu area.

Are you planning on adding vehicle and turret sections in your game? Or are you not following the trend of most old platformers? Old platformers mostly have turret and vehicle sections.

D. Jagielski: I don’t know at this point whether this would be done.

I guess this will depend on Early Access feedback on it and whether people will want me to do it.

Will there be any power-ups or abilities?

D. Jagielski: Yes, there will be. One such ability that I’ve forgot to mention is the ability to create a checkpoint anywhere in the level so if you die, you’ll respawn in the place where you set the checkpoint instead of having to start the entire level over.

Number of these checkpoints is limited though (at the start of the level it’s just 2 checkpoints), but you can collect checkpoint orbs to add more. Usually checkpoints orbs are given away before any harder parts of the level.

Will there be any save states?

D. Jagielski: You won’t be able to save mid-level. The only way to preserve that progress is through placing checkpoints in a smart manner. All other data such as level high score, how many times you’ve completed specific level and so on will be preserved automatically. The game won’t feature lives system.

Will there be DLC, season passes, microtransactions etc in the future?

D. Jagielski: Definitely no microtransactions or season passes, but there may be DLCs (as in, proper expansion packs) if game proves to be popular enough.

Will there be any NPCs to talk to and help?

D. Jagielski: Not sure about that yet.

What are the main objectives in the game?

D. Jagielski: Every level has its own goal you need to complete in order to finish it (and unlock level exit plate). Sometimes you’ll have to collect certain amount of data stored in datagrams; sometimes you’ll have to kill certain amount of enemies, sometimes other things, sometimes a mix of any of the above.

Is the computer virus is the only character you can play as or there is more than one character to play as?

D. Jagielski: The Virus is the only one. You don’t need more than him.

What or who inspired the Computer Virus character?

D. Jagielski: I see, I see… Well, he’s just a Computer Virus, that’s all. As for what he looks like, it was based on old 8x8 pixel art thing of mine that then I’ve replicated in Blender using Grid object which then I’ve extruded to make The Virus actually 3D.

Will the characters, levels and worlds be colourful and vibrant? Where do you get inspired from for level and character design?

D. Jagielski: Yes, they will be colourful. As for inspiration many of level concepts are based in part on various demoscene demos and early 3D games. Other sources of inspiration include nature and architecture.

What are the collectibles in the game, including the main collectibles?

D. Jagielski: At this point there’s a gun pickup, datagram pickup (datagrams can also be destroyed by careless shooting, so be careful where you shoot when you have to collect datagrams), checkpoint orb pickup. The game isn’t a collectathon by any means (it’s more close to Super Mario 64 and Crash in terms how pickups are used), but there will be many different items that just add score.

What or where is the gun gameplay inspired from?

D. Jagielski: Take any 3D platformer that has user-created projectiles and you’d be mostly correct. The projectiles travel a short distance then disappear (or disappear after collision with a solid surface, whichever comes first). The projectiles are real objects as well, since we’re way past the point where hitscans were necessary for performance reasons.

How many guns and weapons are in the game?

D. Jagielski: For now there’s only destructive gun.

Why did you include gun gameplay in your game?

D. Jagielski: Because it makes gameplay more interesting and are especially useful while dealing with high hp enemies. Also some of the enemies such as Bad Pointers are immune to the Virus’ dash and ground pound ability so using gun is the only way to actually harm them.

What or where are the guns and weapon designs inspired from?

D. Jagielski: I don’t want to discuss this at this point.

What is the main currency in the game?

D. Jagielski: There is none.

Will there be any gameplay mechanics or mini-games to add diversity to your game?

D. Jagielski: Yes, there will be minigames, however you’ll have to be smart to unlock them.

Are there any upgrades to the guns, weapons, abilities etc?

D. Jagielski: Yes.

After getting a game over, do players start from the last time they saved or they start from the previous level/world they visited?

D. Jagielski: There’s no game over, because there’s no lives mechanic. You can create a checkpoint mid-level to be respawned at that point, however there’s limited number of checkpoints and if you die without setting one, you’ll have to start level over.

Does your Computer Virus character have idle animations?

D. Jagielski: At the moment just one.

Can you describe the idle animation without revealing any spoilers?

D. Jagielski: No.

Is there going to be fall damage if the Computer Virus falls from a high platform, ledge, cliff etc?

D. Jagielski: Fall damage? In a platformer? Don’t be ridiculous.

What engine (e.g. Unreal Engine 4, Unity) do you use to develop your game?

D. Jagielski: I’m using Unity.

Why did you choose not to include fall damage in your game?

D. Jagielski: Because only crazy people would enjoy such a thing in a platformer of any kind. I am firmly against fall damage, even in genres where it makes more sense to have it such as first person shooters, open world games, RPGs, and so on. Fall damage simply punishes you for exploring.

What if you don’t make that jump and the ground is several hundred meters below you? Having to get back up there for another attempt is punishing enough, you don’t have to kill player over it.

Will there be any vehicles or a method of transportation to travel from one level or world to another?

D. Jagielski: You’ll be able to play levels in any order from a list in the playable main menu.

Will there be any trophies, skill points or achievements?

D. Jagielski: There will be, although available only in campaign levels to avoid someone making an achievement farm and putting it on the workshop.

Will there be online multiplayer or split-screen local multiplayer?

D. Jagielski: There will be no multiplayer. Computer Virus Simulator is a single-player experience.

Will there be a co-op mode?

D. Jagielski: No.

Will there be any cutscenes? Will there be any loading screens featuring characters or the main character doing an animation?

D. Jagielski: I don’t think there will be any cutscenes, as I don’t want to take away control from the players. But there’s dialogue system implemented that shows up at the bottom of the screen where the player can stop and read what the characters are saying or continue on with the level.

There’s going to be in-game conversations with subtitles at the bottom of the screen?

D. Jagielski: For the loading times, game’s so fast when it comes to loading new level that no load screen is necessary. Put one just in case, but it only blinks and doesn’t consist of much other than the “Loading…” text.  There will be conversations at the bottom of the screen using text boxes. Think SNES JRPG games or what Yooka-Laylee/Banjo had only it doesn’t take control out from you and you are free to ignore it and carry on if you like.

If the game ever comes out on consoles, will it be released on a disc or a cartridge?

I don’t know if I will go physical with the console players at this moment.

Only digital at the moment?

D. Jagielski: At the moment, yes. Plan to release to Windows/Linux/Mac then if the game is successful enough (it will be) I’ll port it to consoles. However whether it will be physical or digital at this point is unknown to me as I have first make the thing before thinking of porting it to the different platforms.

Are you thinking of hiring more people to help you with game development?

D. Jagielski: Once I have money to do so, yes.

If people are willing to help you for free, will you hire them?

D. Jagielski: There are some serious legal issues with that if I want to do business, so no.

Do you ever get creative block? If you do, how do you get over it?

D. Jagielski: Rarely do, however I’ve found that if you force yourself to do for few minutes, the block subsidies.

Do you listen to music to help you concentrate? If you do, what music and songs do you listen to?

D. Jagielski: https://play.spotify.com/user/1181262013/playlist/17PBXT1lem0dRwA4VZZGUN?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open

Does the music and songs you listen to inspire your game?

D. Jagielski: Not really.

If your game ever becomes successful, are you planning on developing a sequel?

D. Jagielski: There will be no Computer Virus Simulator 2.

Will there be merchandise if the game becomes successful?

D. Jagielski: Yes, there will be merchandise when the game becomes a success.

Will there be a series? Or you’re going to work on a new IP?

D. Jagielski: After Computer Virus Simulator I’ll be working on a racing title.

What will the racing game be called?

D. Jagielski: I have not decided yet.

Do you have a link to your Computer Virus Simulator Indiegogo campaign?

D. Jagielski: Campaign will launch once the demo is complete which it isn’t at the moment.

What are the links to your social media and your website if people want to keep up to date with your game?

Follow me on Twitter (@thedarkhog) or read the devlog on tigsource 

Are there other links too? I’ve heard the computer virus have his own Twitter account.

D. Jagielski: Yes. It’s @VirusSimulator *hopes his drive won’t be formatted overnight*

Are you on Instagram and Facebook? It’s a shame your Facebook page of your game is deleted.

D. Jagielski: Not on Instagram, no, and Facebook I’ve made only for few games there which I don’t play anymore.

Couldn’t keep it up and found better to concentrate on Twitter and my tigsource devlog. Maybe when I’ll be able to hire someone to support it for me.

If it’s possible, will you be releasing this game to handheld consoles and smartphones?

D. Jagielski: Handhelds maybe. But it would be nightmare to play on a smartphone or even a tablet. This game needs a physical controller, be it mouse and keyboard (which is preferred) or gamepad.

Would the price of the game vary from port to port/version to version?

D. Jagielski: No, I don’t think so. As for Early access there will be three tier pricing: When the game is launched as an EA title, when it is halfway done andwhen it launches officially, lower the less of the game is complete.

Does the Computer Virus have a signature ability or a signature weapon?

D. Jagielski: Haven’t thought about it yet, but in future he’ll be able to take over other processes and make them do his bidding. Maybe this could be it?

Is the computer virus a hero, villain or an anti-hero?

D. Jagielski: I prefer to not reveal that information yet.

What are the features and aspects that make your game stand out from other 3D platformers?

D. Jagielski: I think the level editor is the biggest one. Because this is the same editor I am using to create levels for the game and I will continue to do so, you’ll have as much power to create your own unique levels as I do. No other 3D platformer that I know of allows for that sort of thing.

It’s been a distinct pleasure doing an interview with you and especially, my first interview at that! Hopefully, we should do this again sometime.

D. Jagielski: Hopefully. Have a good night.

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