INTERVIEW: THOM GLUNT – DEVELOPER OF STRAFE

We all remember staying up all night playing Doom, screaming in frustration when being killed by a boss or not being able to find a medkit on an impossibly hard level, and the feeling of delight when your shotgun blasted away creatures from hell. If you miss the good old days of the 1990s FPS, then look no further than Strafe, a nostalgic throwback to the days of Doom and Quake.

Here the game’s developer Thom Glunt talks us through what to expect.

What exactly is Strafe?

STRAFE® is the fastest, bloodiest, deadliest, most adjective-abusing, action-packed first-person shooter of 1996! Auto-generating levels of pure mayhem constantly change up the carnage.

How did the idea for Strafe come about?

Stephen and I have spent an incredible amount of our time playing older shooters, We’ve also play a lot of “rogue-likes”. We’ve been waiting for someone to take the best elements of both and slam them together but there hasn’t been any releases that has scratched that itch. So we decided to take a stab at it ourselves. 

So did you guys all grow up on 1990s sci-fi shooters like Doom and Quake?

Yes, our hunger and reverence for those games is what’s making STRAFE®. We still play them regularly. 

Can you tell us more about how Strafe will pay homage to old school sci-fi first person shooters?

The most obvious homage is the gameplay, our game plays faster than most modern shooters and has a focus on offense as defense. We’ve abandoned modern shooter conventions such as recharging health, realistic graphics and cover. Of course our aesthetic harkens back to that time as well as our story… which doesn’t really exist. 

Was it a challenge to make a game with such a decidedly retro feel?

It takes a bit of creative thought when creating new assets. We try to find the simplest way to render something while keeping it recognizable. We have been adding elements that couldn’t have been rendered during 1996 such as advanced physics simulation and a lot of dynamic lights. 

And the retro visuals look like a charm. Can you tell us more about that?

The look of the game is due to our amazing talented artist Thibault Calabrese. He is one of the strongest low poly artists I’ve (Thom) ever seen and I’m picky when it comes to game art. He’s made almost every art asset in the game so far. He’s amazing.  

So what exactly is the story about?

John Carmack has a great quote from the 90’s. “Story in video games is like story in a porno, it’s expected to be there but it doesn’t matter much”. Of course times have changed and we no longer agree with that but that mindset is what gave us DOOM and QUAKE so we’re sticking with it. 

It’s your yearly scrapping mission, but this year is different. Your humble scout ship has been recruited to join the massive spacecraft ICARUS. They plan to head to far edge of the galaxy, to a remote sector where other scrappers have not yet dared to venture.

The rewards could be unimaginable. But so are the risks. It may be unexplored space, but it’s agamble you know you must take.

You lost.

You return from a run empty handed, but worse, ICARUS is no where to be found. You check your coordinates. You try the coms. No answer from your comrades on ICARUS. Yet their teleporter appears in-range and responsive.

So you grab a gun “just in case” and teleport onto ICARUS. What could go wrong?  

Will we have a silent ‘Doomguy’ style protagonist or someone who talks?

The only time you hear his (or her) voice is when you get hurt or killed. 

What can we expect from the soundtrack?

Face-melting retro jams filled with aggression and fueled by blood. ToyTree is making the music and we’ve been landing somewhere between John Carpenter and DOOM. It’s all been very catchy so far. 

 https://soundcloud.com/toytree 

How will the shooting mechanics work? Will Strafe differ from most modern shooters by focusing more on straight up action rather than cover shooting?

The shooting goes back to the feel of those older games. But your guns are upgradeable so the further you make it in the game the more chaos comes out of your barrel. 

And one of the most important aspects of any shooter are the guns. What kind of firearms will be on offer?

The player will choose 1 of 3 guns in the beginning of the game a shotgun, machine-gun or railgun. This weapon will be theirs for the whole game and they will upgrade this weapon until the end. They will come across other weapons on their journey but they are treated like guns in a John Woo movie. You unload them, then use the empty gun itself as a weapon, rinse and repeat. 

And how about melee weapons?

There are some planned but we are keeping them secret for now. 

Will the player have the ability to purchase or find upgrades?

That is a large part of STRAFE®, They upgrade their weapons as well as the player. They can acquire power-ups to make them more agile and protected. Jump Boots, Turret buds, Poncho (Acid protection), and Steroids. 

What kind of enemies will go up against the player? Can we expect the grotesque monsters from the games that Strafe pays homage to?

Our enemies aren’t demons from hell so DOOM has us beat there. We have a non intrusive story but we do have a story and the enemies that they player will murder in large numbers will help tell it. With that said they are brutal and unforgiving and each set of levels introduce new foes. 

And how about boss fights?

We’ve never enjoyed an FPS boss fight and dislike large bullet sponges. We don’t intend to add any. 

Will there be vehicle sections?

Nope. 

How big will the levels be?

They change from zone to zone. Out of the two announced zones Icarus is more of a corridor shooter and the Canyon opens up a lot more with expansive exteriors. 

And what’s this I hear about the levels being auto-generating?

The levels are made out of authored rooms with a variety of connection points. The engine connects these rooms causing geometry to disappear or spawn depending on what parts of the level touch. With this approach we can create fun rooms that players will enjoy while keeping every play through fresh. Within the levels enemies, power-ups, barrels, and well everything will randomize. 

How about multiplayer?

We have nothing to announce at this time but we aren’t making an arena style deathmatch.Quakelive is free and available via Steam. People should play that, it’s great. 

And the game uses the Oculus Rift right?

The game is Oculus Rift compatible. You can wear it for an immersive experience and we are putting a lot of effort into making it a great experience but it’s not required. The game plays great in 2d as well. 

When can we expect to play Strafe? Is a console release possible?

We are aiming for summer 2016. After completing a great PC / Mac (and maybe Linux) experience we will then look into porting to console. We don’t want that process to detract from the game since we are a small team. We also don’t want to make design decisions for a console since we are paying homage to PC games. 

Lastly, do you see any potential for a franchise?

We have no plans on STRAFE® 2 at the moment. We just want to make STRAFE® as good as it can be. 

If you want to keep up with development you can follow us @STRAFEgame on twitter and Facebook or check out www.STRAFE1996.com /www.STRAFEdevblog.com 

Thanks!

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Written by
Ash Hamilton is not only the owner of Horror-Fix.com, but also one of its major contributors. A long time horror movie enthusiast, Ash has lent his personality to radio and television and continues to support his favorite genre through his writing and art. He also loves beef jerky and puppies... and low-grade street-quality hallucinogens.

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