While at GDC Online in Austin this year, I had an opportunity to talk with indie game creator, David Sushil (“like Sushi with an L”) of Bad Pilcrow. His award winning game, “Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix and Her Nightmare” was unusual and intriguing in both name and gameplay, as evidenced by the rather long que waiting to play it. It won Best Design in the 2010 IndiePub contest, and quite frankly had my vote for best overall game. Here’s what David had to say:
- In your own words, what is the game, Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix & Her Nightmare, all about? Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix & Her Nightmare is a 2D platform game mapped to a 3D cube. It follows the adventures of a young girl named Vanessa, who finds a mysterious puzzle box in her father’s antique shop. She is an excellent puzzle solver, but this one has her stumped. Then one day at school, some bullies break the box open and it sucks everyone inside. Vanessa discovers that she can solve the puzzle from the inside, and sets off across 36 levels to do so. The game follows standard platform mechanics (moving blocks, finding keys, etc.); however, there’s a twist – Vanessa can rotate any face of the cube she occupies. In a way Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix & Her Nightmare is Super Mario Bros. meets Rubik’s Cube.
- When did you have the idea for Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix & Her Nightmare? One morning back in February I woke up with the name of the game and the concept fully fleshed out in my head. It was the first time that’s ever happened to me! I decided that day to set aside all of my other creative projects and work on it. After about a month I had a decent prototype fleshed out, and realized that the concept was fun enough and potentially marketable enough to throw myself into it whole-heartedly. Here we are, eight months later, and Vanessa has been awarded Best Design in indiePub’s 3rd Independent Game Developers contest. Not bad!
- How did you come up with that name? Give us a brief history of the evolution please… I wish I could take more credit for it. I suppose I was thinking about the game in my sleep, but one morning I woke up and there it was! We had a French fan who was very excited to know about the history of Vanessa’s last name. I’m aware Eugene Delacroix is a famous French artist and somewhat of a national icon, so the box art for Vanessa is going to riff a bit on his famous painting, Liberty Leading the People.
- How many levels will the final game end up with? Story Mode features thirty-six levels. It takes most gamers between two and three hours to complete. The game also supports downloadable levels, and at the moment we have four.
- Regarding replayability.. are there different difficulty levels or something else to contribute to that? There are no difficulty settings, however Vanessa does feature an online leaderboard. Competitive gamers can replay levels for higher scores (by improving their times and decreasing the number of required turns). Additionally, Vanessa supports downloadable content. At the moment, there are four bonus levels accessible via the Internet; I plan on adding at least ten more.
- You stated that you are porting it over from the PC to the XBox 360 platform. What other distribution channels do you plan to use? The original plan was to release Vanessa via the Xbox LIVE Indie Games distribution service. However, after all the attention we received at GDC Online, that may change. We’re talking with publishers about bringing Vanessa to a wide variety of platforms.
- Will there be achievement rewards / badges for either version? If so, would you please share a couple of them with us? If Vanessa appears on Xbox LIVE, it will feature rewards or achievements. The player will earn medals for meeting certain performance targets.
- Will the PC version be available on Steam or some other downloadable content provider? Yes. The first service to offer Vanessa is Spoon’s brand spankin’ new cloud gaming portal – which is amazing, by the way! It will likely be available by the time this interview is published. I’ll provide you with a direct link as soon as I have one.
- Are there any future plans for games that you wish to share with us? I’m always working on new ideas. There are a few I’m very excited about, but it’s too early to share them.
David Sushil is a professor of Game and Simulation Programming at Devry University. For more information about Vanessa and Bad Pilcrow, go to http://www.badpilcrow.com. They are also featured on the IndiePub website. My personal rating for the game is a 9/10 for design and gameplay, a 8/10 for replayability.