Exclusive interview with Ghostrunner developer

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with a developer that’s working on an upcoming indie-title, Ghostrunner. Ghostunner mixes its Cyberpunk-style world with fast-paced action and exciting gameplay. It’s set to release later this year with no confirmed date for now. Until then, I was able to find out more information about the upcoming title thanks to the developers of Ghostrunner.

Our protagonist in this game seems mysterious. Can you tell us anything briefly about the character in regards to his story?

Ghostrunners (yes, plural) are super-advanced combat cyborgs, usually used as bodyguards and special forces in Dharma Tower, where the game takes place. This particular Ghostrunner will face challenges far beyond anything programming or mental conditioning might have prepared him for, but we don’t want to say too much just yet.

Would you consider adding a PVP mode? Perhaps a player doing certain levels and seeing who finishes first? Could even lead to a leaderboard?

At the moment we don’t have such plans, we’re focused on creating the best possible experience for a single player. However, we cannot exclude the possibility that a PVP mode will appear in the future. We always pay attention to the feedback from the community.

What movies/games inspired the environments, as well the animation designs? Titanfall seems to have inspired the gameplay, is that the same for the environments/animations?

Yes, Titanfall is the right direction, but it’s also Mirror’s Edge and its huge flexibility of movement.  We can’t forget about Hotline Miami and its mainly one hit, one kill mechanics, which is the essence of our game. 
As for the movies, it’s definitely Dredd but also Blade Runner and the legendary Matrix. Generally, the games mentioned above inspire us in terms of gameplay solutions, and the movies help us to build atmosphere and environment. 

Are there a variety of weapons that players can use? If not, can we upgrade skills/abilities that our character can obtain throughout the game? 

Ghostrunner is a swordmaster and a sword is the only weapon he uses. This is not only the most effective way but also the most spectacular. Our goal is to give the player (at almost every step) a feeling that he is playing the role of the perfect killer. A bit like the Doom of 2016, where we literally split the bodies of demons. 

Adding firearms would take our game away from the ultra-dynamic, aggressive gameplay that is so important – it wouldn’t be the same anymore. Of course, our hero will have special skills which will allow him to overcome the levels in an even better and more spectacular way.

While in development, did you ever feel any doubt in the work you’re putting in for this game? If so, what pushed you to keep going?

Doubt is a part of the creator’s work almost at every stage, so yes, it got to us too. I think it was the hardest for the team before Gamescom 2019. We knew we had an idea for something extraordinary but we were not sure how the media, and most of all the players, would react to it. In addition, time was short and we felt that the game was still not as good as it should be, but then there was Gamescom and a huge, positive response to our gameplay trailer. Since then, we’ve been feeling incredible motivation and it’s been pushing us forward. 

It seems the world of Ghostrunner is quite distraught and everyone wants to kill you. What can you tell us about the setting? 

That’s right, the feeling that everyone wants to kill you is intentional. The essence of being a Ghostrunner is movement and precision. You stop. You die. The constant threat is a constant part of our game world. After all, we’re in an extremely overcrowded monstrous building—the last city on Earth. That’s why our setting is a cyberpunk world inspired by Blade Runner, the Matrix, with a post-apo dash of Dredd. The whole thing is connected by dynamic, sometimes wild but also very unique music by Daniel Deluxe. This is Ghostrunner!

What would you say the development process has been like for Ghostrunner?

The most important thing is that we know what kind of game we want to make and we are well aware of the pillars on which we want to develop it further. More importantly, we also know what kind of game we don’t want to make. Hence my earlier answer to the question about PVP. The great thing is having a small team (about 30 people) makes people feel confident, they know what they are doing and why. Everyone in One More Level feels that they are adding something from themselves to this production and witnessing its development.  Of course, things don’t always work out as they should, but then we refer to the assumptions we have developed beforehand and what we all strive for together. That is why we do what we do.

The level-design in the Gamescom demo looks incredible and very in-depth. How long did it take to create the level we saw and how did you know that’s the direction you wanted to go with? 

First we figured out what we want to show to the player and what he should learn in order to play any level in the game—which works as a standalone tutorial. We also kept in mind the right pacing and guiding the player throughout the level. When those pieces were working, we kept on tweaking and adding more and more cool little details. You have to remember that while we were developing this level, we kept on improving our level creation pipeline. It’s hard to pinpoint a fixed number of weeks for development of this particular level because video game development is a process of constant iteration so this level is being updated regularly after getting feedback from shows and playtests—it’s improving all the time.

We know Ghostrunner is set to release this year, but are you able to provide a full release date? 

It’s too early for that information. We don’t want to make promises we can’t keep. However, I can tell you that we are preparing a big surprise before the launch, so I strongly encourage you to add Ghostrunner to your Steam Wishlist, I promise it will be worth it!

Who is The Keymaster? Will he/she be playing the role of our antagonist?

I don’t want to reveal much, because it’s a very important character in our story. The only thing I can say is that even though Ghostrunner is primarily an action game, the characters of this story are not black and white but clearly ambiguous and well-motivated. They are an interesting reflection of a dystopian cyberpunk world.


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