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Q&A: Cursed Castilla dev talks ports, pricing, and history

Having previously released all of his games for free on PC on his site, now, game dev Locomalito is releasing his excellent games on consoles, striking out into new markets.

Cursed Castilla, the remade port of Locomalito's Ghost n' Goblins homage Maldita Castilla, was released on PS4 last month. This marks a different era for Locomalito. Having previously released all of his games for free on PC on his site, now, he is releasing his excellent games on consoles, striking out into new markets.

I spoke with Locomalito and Abylight on the partnership that brought his games to a whole new audience, the historical figures and mythologies his retooled version of the game contains, and the challenges of charging money for things he's always given away for free.

What prompted you to put Maldita Castilla on consoles and Steam years after putting it out for free on your site? What brought you back to the game?

Locomalito, developer of Cursed Castilla - It's always been my intention to put my games on as many platforms as possible (hello, Ouya), but I can only work as a game developer at night after my daily job, so self-publishing at a commercial level is out of my reach in terms of energy and time. Instead, I've been using my spare time to keep making games.

Some publishers have been contacting me since the release of Hydorah back in 2010, but because of conditions and/or because of personal circumstances at that time, I never managed to achieve an agreement.

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I never cared much about it anyway, as I'm always focused on making games. But, years later I found myself talking with a friend at Abylight. Soon, their CEO contacted me, and we had a nice talk about how things worked for each other, and how could we make something interesting. We ended up with the idea of making an extended and enhanced version of the game for commercial systems.

I was not sure about how a more-developed version of a previously freeware game could perform on publishing, but some fans encouraged me to try it, and the guys at Abylight were decided to take the risk. The good part is that, whatever the result, we would have a version of the game that had been highly-polished with some extra months of development on my part, plus the touch of great pro devs at Abylight.

Since your game had been previously available for free, was it daunting to put a price tag on it? What thoughts went through your head when creating a version of the game to sell?

Locomalito - It's always daunting to put a price tag to your own work, for everyone, always, and it's that much harder if it is for a personal project. As a free game, I feel like I'm sharing something very personal and valuable with other people, like when a grandmother spends a full day making a cake for her grandchildren. Ask the grandmother how much the cake costs, and you'll get a poker face in return: too much and so little at the same time.

I just let Abylight decide this, as they can look at the project with more objective eyes than I.

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Putting a game up for sale is new for you. What brought about this change?

Locomalito - A few things. On one hand, I reached a point where I felt I needed some funding for my upcoming (bigger) projects, but I didn't want to ask for money in advance. So, I thought it would be a good idea to get those funds by selling something that was already finished.

Also, with a little girl around the house, I can't help but think it's important to bring some stability to my family. It's the Call of Parents Duty, you know...

What challenges did you meet in creating the game for all of the different consoles? How much work went into each port?

Miguel G. Corchero, product manager of Cursed Castilla at Abylight - We have worked in close cooperation with Yoyo Games, the game engine developer of GameMaker, to secure Maldita Castilla EX for all the platforms that the engine supports. Regarding the amount of work, there is one that is taking us more time and will come as a great surprise, but all in all, the port work has been the same for all platforms.

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How did you balance the new areas in the game with the existing challenges of the original? Do you feel that adding those new areas and enemies made the game much harder?

Locomalito - The new areas were imagined along with the rest of the game back in the day, but were removed from the full game plan for various reasons. So, they already fit the game in terms of logic.

Honestly, after the original release, I was a bit sad that I never did put in the Aqueduct level.

As for difficulty, what I had in mind during the extra development was the fans of the original game. My intention with the EX version was to give something new and interesting to people who already played the original version and wanted to see more of it's particular universe (or kingdom).

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Much of the original version drew inspiration from places around Spain and European folklore. What new inspirations did you include in the game? What other historical places?

Locomalito - The Aqueduct level is entirely inspired by the Aqueduct of Segovia, the city that originally inspired the game.

Also, in many places in Spain, you can find tombs that has been looted by soldiers during the different wars - even tombs of kings from the middle ages. So, I came up with the idea of the Decrepit King, a boss that is so upset with its situation that it doesn't even have the will to fight you.

The boss Tragaldabas is a creature from another myth from Spain. It even has a festive day in Palencia.

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What was the appeal in drawing from folklore to create an action game? In sharing some of your country's history and folklore through a game?

Locomalito - Focusing everything around a certain period of time and location, with their architecture, clothes, myths, and even visual style (grotesque creatures, I mean, not pixel art) in mind, makes everything more solid, and, I don't know, maybe more exotic to people who never heard about European myths outside of the Greek or Nordic ones.

Not only that, but to make the background of the game more consistent. We're used to classic European chivalry made in Japan (which I deeply love), but those games usually mix different cultures in a bizarre way. Think of how many times you've seen Greek-like columns on German-like castles in old games, and you'll know what I mean.

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