radio viscera developer interview featured image
Content Type: Gaming News
Date: May 8, 2021

Radio Viscera is a fast-paced, top-down action game where you toss enemies into spikes and blast holes through walls while taking down a satanic Y2K cult. If that’s all you need to know, here’s the Steam page. Otherwise, creator Owen Deery answered a few of our most burning questions about the game:

There appears to be a health system in the game, but most of the satanic Y2K cult members don’t seem to get any attacks off before getting shredded. Will enemies be dangerous at any point in the game, or would you say most of the challenge comes from trying to rack up a high score?

Yes, there is a three bar health system and plenty of enemy attacks. The early encounters aren’t too threatening but as the game progresses you really need to start juggling and prioritizing the different enemy types based on their timing and attack types.

There are a few short moments in the announcement trailer where the enemies do manage to land an attack on the player, I just wanted to make sure the actions of the player were as evident and readable as possible. A lot of my previous trailers have had an audience response of “Looks cool, but no idea what’s happening”, so I picked as many clips as I could that clearly shows “You are the player, here are the things you can do”.

In that vein: can you talk at all about the scoring system in the game, or about how the leaderboards will work?

The scoring system mainly revolves around filling your combo meter. As it fills, your multiplier increases which amplifies the points you get from actions like taking out an enemy, smashing a pane of glass, knocking a door off its hinges…

On top of that there’s the “action stack”. This keeps track of all the actions in your current streak, which can be broken either by taking damage from an enemy, or letting your combo meter drop a level. The size of this stack is used as another multiplier for the points acquired.

Keeping a combo going for long periods is the goal, and so this is where the destruction comes into play. Smashing a hole in a wall will give your combo meter a little bump to keep it from dropping, so you can string combos together even between combat encounters. I sort of think of it like doing a manual in Tony Hawk to link lines of tricks together.

The leaderboards themselves are used for tracking high scores and allow you to view global scores, friend scores, or see where you fit in the global ranking.

radioviscera path of destruction

There seems to have been a mean looking fella who ran through a wall at the end of the announcement trailer; will there be bosses/end-of-level challenges of some kind?

There are a few mini-boss encounters in the game as well as a “full” boss at the end of the game. You’ll have to destroy a giant tractor, avoid a robotic tentacle arm and demolish a rooftop Mecha-Goatman. 

The guy breaking through the wall is actually a common enemy that appears later on in the game. He’s got the ability to break through any wall and send you flying into the air, which can be pretty dangerous considering some of the hazards around… especially when there’s a few of those guys coming after you at once.

Can you go into any detail at all about how the automatic gif-maker will work? Will it post the gifs somewhere easily accessible/shared?

The gif maker was designed to be as effortless as possible for the player to use. Throughout a play session it constantly monitors the game world and waits for the player to make a kill. Once it detects a kill it saves a recording of that moment, along with a score indicating how “interesting” that particular moment is based on things like number of enemies present, is the player jumping, etc. It stores a maximum of 3 gifs, constantly discarding the “least interesting” one if a more exciting gif was captured. At the end of the level the player is presented with a gallery where they can view the 3 most interesting moments from their playthrough and choose to save one or all of them.

The gifs are saved locally to a destination folder chosen by the player and can then be posted to the platform of their choice. I’ve added high-quality and low-quality modes so the player can choose to generate smoother (but larger) gifs to post on platforms with higher file size limits (Twitter, Giphy) or generate lower framerate gifs which fit within the limits of platforms like Discord.

radio viscera action 2

What will the mutators you can collect do?

The mutators that you can unlock vary in how much they affect the gameplay. Some of them (like Instagib, a direct inspiration from Unreal Tournament) will give the player a massive power boost in combat. Others will change the world around the player, like making all enemies move at half-speed or spawning 10x as many skull pickups as usual. A few of them are just silly things that fulfill the role of old school cheat codes, like making the player move as-if they were on roller skates or making all the gory bits weightless so they float around. I wanted them to have a range of effects so they could be combined for unique results.

While the aesthetic is somewhat similar, gameplay-wise Radio Viscera is very different from your last title, Small Radios Big Televisions. Can you talk at all about how you went from puzzle game to frenetic action game?

Much of it just comes down to having the confidence and experience to move forward with a bigger and more complicated project.

Small Radios Big Televisions began as a short prototype project and was my first time working in 3D since I was in school. So when I ended up signing with a publisher I was in a situation where it was my first 3D game, first game with a publisher, first game on consoles, first game on Steam, first multi-year development timeline, first simultaneous launch on two platforms… and on top of that I was writing all my own engine code, creating the art, writing the music. This meant that I had to keep the scope as simple as I could when it came to the actual content and gameplay. Making an ambient-exploration-puzzly-clicking game that had limited interaction allowed me to actually finish and release the project.

The result of having to deal with all this new stuff on my own was that by the time Small Radios Big Televisions was finished I knew 1000% more about making games than when I started. I was acutely aware of all the issues I had faced along the way and immediately started working on a new engine custom built for my needs that would allow me to create much more dynamic and interactive projects. Radio Viscera is the result of playing and experimenting with those new tools, as well as having the confidence to push myself even farther than before.

radioviscera pretty spot

Is it just me, or is it the same engine in both games?

The two games actually use entirely different engines. Small Radios Big Televisions didn’t even really have an “engine” per se, but was built from the ground up as a self-contained game+engine combo. The engine used for Radio Viscera began development as soon as SRBT shipped, because I had a long list of issues from developing that game as well as a wishlist of everything my ideal engine would have.

I think it’s understandable that the two could be mistaken for one another. When the same person is writing the renderer, creating the textures, designing the camera system, there’s naturally going to be a lot of style similarities.

What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far while creating Radio Viscera?

I feel pretty lucky this time around that the biggest issue was probably my own mental uncertainty. Making a living with indie games these days is almost the equivalent of buying a guitar and saying you’re going to support yourself by writing hit songs. I have confidence in my work and myself, but it’s tough to spend three years working on a game while staring at the roiling indie game marketplace beneath your feet knowing that at some point you’ll have to jump in and hope for the best. Luckily I had the support of my producer Nathan and Alliance as a publisher the whole way through, which is invaluable when you’re building something like this solo.

radioviscera outfits

What are you most proud of?

Looking back I’m really proud of how much of myself and my creative energy I was able to put into this project. There are almost no careers where you get to pitch your original ideas, play drums for the soundtrack, and program a game engine from the ground-up. Working as a solo developer and doing all those things is a huge amount of work but it’s unbelievably fulfilling when it comes together in the end.

Anything you’d like to add about the game, or any shout outs?

Obviously a big shout out to my producer Nathan and my publisher Alliance for making this game possible and giving so much freedom to build what I wanted. I also need to thank Chris Dwyer for taking a random cold-call meeting with me and getting my pitch in front of the right people.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty excited to fling my foes into deadly machinery. Check out the game’s official site for more info!

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