At the recent Eurogamer Expo (EGX) in London I managed to steal some time with one some of the developers showcasing at the event. Phi Dinh is one of those. He’s the creator, project manager and lead programmer at Phigames. His latest game is a PC procedurally rogue like dungeon crawler called TinyKeep. I spoke with him about it, the team, some of the technical aspects of the project, the Kickstarter and his plans for the titles future.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I’ve been playing the game for a couple of days now in the run-up to EGX and I’ve got to say I’m really enjoying it! I’ve found it fantastically addictive and also wickedly evil. For those not familiar with the game, can you give those an overview of what TinyKeep is?
So TinyKeep is a traditional procedurally generated world game but it’s more an action adventure rather than an RPG. Combat and environments are physics based which include traps and obstacles – and it also has interesting AI as well.
Congratulations on your Kickstarter as well. How did that come about?
I started work on this game about 2011 and it was originally a 2D pixelart game. The dungeon generation system is pretty much the same as it is now, but it was all in 2D. My little brother, who was 11 at the time, did all the pixel graphics for it and that was how it started. Then I learnt how to work with 3D graphics and use Unity game engine, I thought “this was cool” and put it on Kickstarter to see what happens. It got funded so was able to quit my job and work on this for a year.
You are working with an eight person team, is that correct?
Yes, I’m pretty much the only full time guy (programmer) and I started the project but have had people helping in different areas. We’ve had guys doing the art and a music/composer, sound design, voice artists and lots of other people.
Speaking of music I’ve started to follow TinyKeep composer Will Bedford and think he’s an amazingly talented guy.
He’s amazing, yeah, he’s still at university and this is his first game. He’s finished TinyKeep obviously and he’s now working on a game called Kyn by Tangrin Games, and also two more after that – but he’s still at University and I think he’s going to be one of the greats when he grows up.
One of the key things I’ve noticed with the game is the AI being fun to play against and how they interact with the world.
The AI individually is not that different from a normal game. They see you, they attack you, and they run away. But the interesting thing about the AI is how the different monsters attack each other and on some of the later levels you have, not wanting to spoil too much, five different types of monsters interacting with each other. They go to war and you’re in the middle of it all. You also have the other prisoners that you can release and they’ll try and help you or attack you. It’s just the little interactions that make the game fun and unique.
The environment as well is its own character, such as the traps. I had great fun luring all the enemies towards a spinning death trap last night.
The traps are the main thing. The combat is good, but the best way to play it is to use the traps to your advantage …and it’s more fun as well.
Going back to your Kickstarter you hit your target, but you had a few interesting stretch goals such as more heroes or multiplayer. Is that something you’d like to include at some point in the release?
I would do but obviously I’ve run out of money so until the game goes on sale we’ll take a look at the project again. The highest priority right now is to add local co-op and I think that would be amazing. It would add another level to the game and that’s where I want to be. We’ve also actually managed to include a lot of the original stretch goals into the game, such as extra environments and a lot more monsters than originally planned.
Multiplayer TinyKeep would be an amazing experience, shouting at friends to get out the way.
It would take a lot of time to implement but I think it would be absolutely worth it.
Last question and one I’ve been asking everyone I’m interviewing, is that other than TinyKeep have you seen or played any other games that you’ve thought looked clever, different or fun?
Obviously Gang Beasts is awesome, but also Monstrum. It’s basically you’re on a procedural generated Titanic type ship and you’ve a fucking scary monster also. It’s a horror game. It’s very different to TinyKeep – but it’s cool.
Thank you very much for your time today.
Follow Phi on Twitter and check out TinyKeep on Steam. For more information on the game also check out our coverage here at Push-Start.co.uk.