Post Script

Gary Cor­riveau, lead de­signer; Au­gusto Qui­jano, con­cept lead


As­mall team at Drinkbox Stu­dios started work on Guacamelee 2 while the rest of the stu­dio fin­ished work on dark first­per­son ad­ven­ture Sev­ered. Lead de­signer Gary Cor­riveau and con­cept lead Au­gusto Qui­jano were among the for­mer group; here, they dis­cuss pac­ing, speedrun­ning tech­niques and where the game’s many jokes come from. When you de­cided to make a se­quel to Guacamelee, did you have a par­tic­u­lar story idea in mind, or did it be­gin with cer­tain me­chan­ics you wanted to ex­plore? Gary Cor­riveau Prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit of both. I think Au­gusto had the story pretty early on, but it was in­de­pen­dent from the me­chan­ics. That was more about, ‘What are we go­ing to do to pre­serve the feel of the first game, as well as mak­ing it feel fresh?’ That was the big thing we were trying to sort out in pre-pro­duc­tion. Au­gusto Qui­jano For the story, there were sev­eral ques­tions be­cause the first game had a nor­mal end­ing and a good end­ing. So I re­mem­ber ask­ing Graham [Smith, Drinkbox co-founder] ‘Which one’s canon?’ and talk­ing about how we’ve got dif­fer­ent time­lines now. And then we were like, ‘Okay, that’s in­ter­est­ing.’ [laughs] So we started ex­plor­ing those av­enues with the char­ac­ter. How long has it been? Does it take place right away or a few years later? Where’s Juan now? Apart from that, it was pretty open for the de­sign team to come up with ideas. It’s quite a bold choice to keep Juan’s moveset roughly the same as the first game. Did you try out new ideas, or was it a case of, ‘If it ain’t broke...’? GC Close to that, yeah. We did ex­per­i­ment with some new me­chan­ics for Juan, but we wanted to keep his same ba­sic moves. Ad­di­tion­ally it was pretty clear that there was a lot more we could do, par­tic­u­larly if we fo­cused on some unique en­vi­ron­ment ideas that would force you to utilise those core me­chan­ics in a new kind of way. We did some dif­fer­ent ex­per­i­ments and they were okay but noth­ing that would be ground­break­ing. Then we were tak­ing a look at the chicken and there was a lot more room there, sim­ply be­cause it was not fully ex­plored in the first game. We started do­ing a cou­ple of things with the chicken and trying to give it a very dif­fer­ent feel from the hu­man form.

Mov­ing the ac­tion seven years on from the orig­i­nal is a good ex­cuse for Juan to lose his pre­vi­ous pow­ers... AQ Yeah, ex­actly. When he fin­ishes the first ad­ven­ture it’s like, what’s next? I liked the idea of a pe­riod of peace where he gets a bit bored be­cause there’s just noth­ing to do. And hav­ing him strug­gling to fit into a fam­ily role was also in­ter­est­ing from a char­ac­ter per­spec­tive. We wanted a dif­fer­ent sce­nario from the first one to show that there’s a per­ma­nence to this world. Videogame se­quels are of­ten more like re­boots. If you play Mario or Zelda... I mean, there’s lore in terms of how they con­nect, but you’re kind of start­ing from scratch each time. With Guacamelee 2 we thought it’d be in­ter­est­ing to keep the nar­ra­tive go­ing and see where it takes us.

Pac­ing is im­por­tant in a game like this. Given that Guacamelee 2 is a sig­nif­i­cantly big­ger game than the first, was that one of the main chal­lenges you faced? GC That’s a re­ally good ques­tion. There was cer­tainly no short­age of ideas. When we were do­ing the pa­per de­sign for the lev­els we were list­ing out all the things we needed to do: we need to in­tro­duce the player to this, we need to teach them that, we need them to be able to prac­tise it in a ba­sic form and then we want to chal­lenge them. By the time we were done we had so much crammed into the lev­els that when we did our playtests it was too much, too in­tense. It was one thing af­ter an­other. So yeah, there was a lot of it­er­a­tion around the pac­ing side of things to cram in all the stuff that we wanted to cram in, but not make it feel over­whelm­ing.

It’s ap­par­ent you’re more con­scious of speedrun­ners this time. Have any spe­cial tech­niques emerged through playtest­ing? The chicken looks handy. GC Yeah, def­i­nitely the chicken, but there are other things as well that I won’t men­tion. There are pretty clever tech­niques both in terms of me­chan­ics but also in terms of how you’re ex­plor­ing and cer­tain ar­eas that you may be able to skip. AQ I also find the skill tree in­ter­est­ing, in choos­ing what to in­vest in first. GC Yeah, some­body is go­ing to crunch the num­bers and fig­ure out what the op­ti­mal path is. It’s not im­me­di­ately clear be­cause the up­grades were all de­signed around peo­ple be­ing able to choose the path that best ben­e­fits their par­tic­u­lar playstyle. When I go through can­vass­ing playtesters in the in­ter­nal stu­dio here, every­body’s got a dif­fer­ent op­ti­mal way to do it which is great. I mean, that’s what we’re shooting for.

Fi­nally, and most im­por­tantly, who came up with the Won­der­wall line? AQ I did! [laughs] GC The jokes come from a lot of dif­fer­ent places. It’s such a mish-mash be­cause if some­body is im­ple­ment­ing some­thing they’ll put in what they prob­a­bly think is place­holder di­a­logue. And then sud­denly every­body’s laugh­ing at it, and it’s like, ‘That’s not place­holder – that’s ship­ping.’ AQ Yeah, if it’s funny, it stays.

We were tak­ing a look at the chicken and there was a lot more room there

Au­gusto Qui­jano (top) and Gary Cor­riveau

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