Deadlink is a game many of you reading may not have heard of before, which is understandable. It is from a smaller studio in the indie space that goes by Gruby Entertainment.
The best way I could possibly describe this game would be if you took the core gameplay mechanics of Doom and threw them into the rogue-lite setting of Hades. Sprinkle in the cyberpunk setting for the visuals and world, and you have Deadlink.
Deadlink is a game that has been in early access for a little over a year and has finally been released to what seems to be an overall good reception from fans and critics. With the game now officially released, I managed to get the chance to sit down and speak with one of the game’s main developers, Radosław Marszałek, to talk about the game.
Radosław, who also goes by Rodney, talked about things such as “How the team felt once the game was released,” “The biggest challenges the team faced during development for Deadlink,” and many more fascinating and enjoyable things to hear.
So, with all that being said, let’s dive into this great chat I had with one of the developers. Radosław Marszałek.
Time to Strap in for the Interview
Who are you, and what is Deadlink?
Answer: Hi, my name is Rodney, and I’m one of the game designers for Deadlink. I’ve worked at Gruby Entertainment, the team making Deadlink, for almost a year now. When it comes to my role, I’m mainly working on the implants in the game and balancing them.
I also work on balancing the game as a whole here and there regarding things such as enemy HP, their armor, weapon tweaks, and even parts of the game such as the progression system in the game, hub upgrades, and just making sure the overall flow and feel of the game is smooth and enjoyable.
How Does it Feel as a Team to Have Deadlink Fully Released and Out of Early Access Finally?
Answer: Well, after it was released, we took a huge breather, and this was actually related to the game when it was in early access. Basically, as im sure you know, players nowadays tend to avoid early-access titles for various reasons, which is understandable.
But, from the team’s perspective, everyone’s mood was a bit down during early access, as not many people had heard of Deadlink during its early stages.
But when the game was fully released, the game’s player base doubled, and the activity in the community servers we set up, whether on Discord or another community server, dramatically increased, which obviously, from the team’s perspective, was fantastic.
The players we have met in these community servers are incredible, and we are really lucky to have these members in our community. They all help with the game and give feedback about the gameplay, builds, and what have you.
What’s even more crazy is all of these players come from different countries and time zones. It’s just a crazy thing to see, and we are really so lucky to have them enjoy and partake in our game.
How Do You Balance and Implement Specific Mechanics in Deadlink?
Answer: Well, it’s definitely a subjective opinion regarding the design approach when implementing and balancing certain elements in Deadlink. First of all, since it’s a first-person shooter, im not a big fan of spongy enemies and try to avoid them at all costs. There’s a bunch of testing, obviously, when it comes to the game.
So what I would do is go onto our custom testing map we have for Deadlink, and with every single weapon we have, I would, for instance, test the damage output on every single enemy to see what needs to be changed.
So, it’s a lot of testing no matter what, a lot of tables and sheets with damage numbers, health, and armor bars, and just trying to find the best balance of making the enemies in this instance of testing feel good and challenging and figuring out how many shots should this enemy take.
Where Did You Guys Get the Inspiration for Deadlink, from its Gameplay to its Overall Visual Style?
Answer: I have only been working at Gruby Entertainment for about a year now, so when it comes to the preproduction side of Deadlink, I won’t be able to answer this fully in-depth. However, I do know that on the base of things, Doom Eternal was a huge inspiration, obviously from a gameplay perspective.
But, I also know the main art director, when creating the concept for the main visual style of the game, had the idea for the cyberpunk theme as there really, even now, aren’t that many Rogue-lites set in the cyberpunk setting.
Overall, I think it was just about creating something different and unique regarding the visual art style, but the same could be said for the gameplay.
What has been the Most Challenging Aspect for Yourself or the Team while Working on Deadlink?
Answer: The biggest challenge came within the team during the development, which came from simply balancing the game regarding Deadlink’s difficulty. There is quite a big difference in approach to difficulty design within each individual member of the Deadlink team, and this can, of course, come with its problems.
For instance, one of the team’s founders, when it comes to difficulty and challenge in first-person shooters, loves a tough game regarding the genre. So when it came to certain bosses or enemies, he would like the enemies to be way tougher and more challenging than they are now.
This made the game way more difficult for even someone like me, who loves the first-person genre and has been playing challenging FPS games since the early days of Quake II. So we had to make balances with all player types in mind, as most players would have found that difficulty too much.
An interesting way we found to scale difficulty in Within Deadlink actually revolves around the game’s three difficulty options. We have three difficulty levels for the player to pick and choose from.
So, with these difficulties in mind, we found as a team the best way to understand how we could program the difficulty and challenge in the game is if we had a rough idea of how many times we would want players to be able to complete a run out of say ten attempts or so on depending on which difficulty they picked.
This then allowed us to design the game and sort of understand how we could program the difficulty and so on; we had all sorts of testers try out the new challenges and additions we were adding to the game, which was brilliant as having different prospectives allowed for us to see what was and wasn’t working.
For You, what has been the most Rewarding Aspect of Working on Deadlink?
Answer: I would have to say, for me, reworking the hub upgrades and setting up the progression system of meeting NPCS and unlocking shells.
I always love it when I’m looking around and watching Twitch streamers playing Deadlink and thinking they have seen everything, and then boom, here comes all of a sudden a new shell or a new NPC. That’s always great to see, as the player always has a different and funny reaction.
Also, when talking about the Shells, we didn’t want them to be super easy to unlock or super annoying and difficult to unlock to the point where the player can’t even be bothered to get them. So, finding the right level and finding out where and how we should make the shells unlockable was a great thing to achieve.
The Combat Shells are a Massive Part of the Game, and with each Different Shell, they All have Vastly Different Play Styles. How do You Design the Shells in Deadlink from a Mechanical and Gameplay Standpoint?
Answer: Well, firstly, from the very start with designing and developing the combat shells, it’s a team effort as the shells are a team vision from the get-go. Here is some cool backstory for one of the classes in the game: the engineering class in Deadlink was a dream of one of the founders who always wanted to have a class like that in Deadlink.
But, while we were all on board from the team’s perspective to have the engineering class in Deadlink, it did come with some hurdles from a developing standpoint. The engineering class, in many ways, goes against on paper what Deadlink is fundamentally.
The engineering class is played much slower and less mobile than, say, the soldier class, which has the grappling hook, or the hunter class, which can teleport. So we had to compromise as a team during the early development stages for the engineering class by giving him a sentry gun, which is invincible and deals a good amount of damage.
This allowed us to make the engineering class usable and enjoyable, and the class now fits into the game perfectly. And really, from the team’s perspective, we were all much happier with the engineer being like this as it still, after the tweaks we made, fitted how Deadlink was meant to be played.
Is there Anything You Want to Say to the Fans out there for Deadlink now that the Game is Out and it has Received all this Amazing Feedback and Criticism?
Answer: I feel just incredibly lucky to be a part of this whole thing and grateful that Deadlink has done so well and that the Deadlink community has been enjoying the game so much and said so many nice and truly kind things about the game to us.
I wanna thank local keeb nerd, SNWMN, (other names will go here.) All of these guys were just a tremendous help in developing the game and even giving us a shoutout to help the game get out there.
I’m super proud of our team and my colleagues, and im also thankful I got the chance to work with just tremendous and fantastic people. I’ve learned a lot, and it’s truly amazing.
Question: Where Can I Play Deadlink?
Answer: Deadlink is currently available to purchase and play on the Steam Store page
Question: Is Deadlink Still Receiving Updates?
Answer: Yes, Deadlink is still receiving updates, and in fact, the developers have stated they will continue to update and make the game better, which is fantastic!
Question: What Platforms is Deadlink Available on?
Answer: Currently, Deadlink is only playable on PC via the Steam store page, and there have been no announcements or hints that the game will be playable on any other platform for the time being.
Deadlink Interview: Run Over and Completed
That just about wraps up the amazing chat I had with Rodney. If you have not heard of or played Deadlink until discovering this article, please do yourself a favor and go and play the game; it’s truly brilliant, and you won’t be displeased with what you play if you are interested in the Rogue-lite genre.
While I did say the interview is over, if you want to hear the questions in more detail or even some bonus questions I left out, such as “How Rodney landed the role at Gruby Entertainment” or “How the voice acted characters and NPC’S became part of the game” plus some more great questions, then check out the audio clip attached above.
I just want to end this by saying thank you to Rodney for taking the time to have this incredible chat and to the Deadlink team for setting this up. Some great people are working on this title, and I wish them all the best. That wraps up this interview. Thanks for reading Indie Game Culture.
DEADLINK STORE PAGE: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1676130/Deadlink/
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