At PAX Aus 2019, we were fortunate enough to be able to speak with Reuben from No Moss Studios about their newly released puzzle platformer – Duped.
Alex: Hello everyone, it’s Alex from Switchaboo here and I’m joined here with Reuben from No Moss Studios. How are you today, Reuben?
Reuben: Yeah, good! It’s great to be here.
A: It’s really busy at the moment!
R: Yeah, it’s really picking up. That’s the thing I love, we’ve been at PAX, this is the third year now, and every year the Indie section’s getting bigger and bigger – it’s awesome!
A: It is, we love having a look around and seeing all the different kinds of games, all very different experiences, and you guys have Duped showing.
A: So tell us about that one.
R: It’s our new game; it’s out as of two days ago for Nintendo Switch, very recently released. We actually released it on PC a while ago, but we were looking for a game to bring to Switch and we thought Duped was the perfect fit. It’s a kind of puzzle-platformer game that explores ideas around identity and isolation and cloning ethics. Bit of a weird set of themes, but it all meshes into a fun game, we think.
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A: Yeah, I had a bit of a play with it and I actually noticed that a lot of the text — well, a lot of the narrative was driven by the text, which is actually the platforms–
A: So how did you come up with that idea?
R: Yeah, so in the full game there’s more actual platforms, there’s also some text sections, but for that free demo that you played, we basically found this thought experiment called the Ship of Theseus that basically has the exact same themes about replacing parts of a ship, and does it still keep its identity as this ship of Theseus if you, say, replaced the mast, or replaced the hull, so I thought that’d make a fun kind of backdrop for the level. As you’re playing through this thought experiment that relates to the game, you’re kind of actually, literally climbing over the platforms and playing through it.
A: Yeah, so it’s a really minimalist design, gameplay-wise, but it seemed to have a really deep story.
R: Yeah, definitely, and that was something that was definitely intentional. I mean, we like designing kind of relatively easy-to-understand games, not huge amounts of different mechanics and stuff, it’s all kind of methodical, you understand things piece-by-piece and it all fits together to make quite a compelling game.
A: Yeah, that’s absolutely fantastic! And with the Switch release, obviously people like to see a bit of HD Rumble and touchscreen. Is there any of that in this game?
R: Yes, yes! Actually, HD Rumble was one of the major things we were like, ‘All right, let’s really try and nail this,’ so we put a lot of effort into making it feel like, as you’re jumping around as these characters, you’re really feeling yourself landing and bouncing and hitting walls and all that juicy stuff.
A: It’s good to have haptic feedback as well, especially in a platformer.
R: Yeah, that’s the thought.
A: Can you tell us a little bit more about the development process and the challenges that you faced?
R: Yeah, sure. I think the major challenge was the main character in this game, since we want to keep it quite minimalist, is just a square, right? All these characters are just coloured squares. And so we spent a lot of effort trying to make sure that these squares really felt like they had personality. If you see videos of the game, you’ll see their eyes blink as they’re moving around, and it gives them this cute vibe, even though they’re really just a square with another square for an eye. So that was where a lot of our effort went towards, though we really are happy with how it ended up.
A: Yeah, and obviously, it’s not just yourself, we’d like to acknowledge everyone that been apart of the development of Duped. Can you tell us a bit about your team?
R: Yeah, sure. So, No Moss Studios is the name of the company that I founded about three years ago. We have a bunch of different developers working on this one. The other developer on it was Martin who was responsible for a lot of the work porting it to Switch, so a big shoutout to him. There’s a team of people that we kind of pull in; I remember pulling in my cousin Chris to do a lot of the nice, calm piano music you hear in the game. So yeah, there’s a full credit in there as well, a lot of people go into making a game, it’s not just one or two people behind it.
A: You’re not a musician yourself?
R: No, definitely not.
R: I try, but I don’t try very well, I think, [laughs].
A: So like you said, Duped is out on Switch now, so how much can we expect to pay for it?
R: Australian, it’s $7.50, and roughly the same in other currencies — convert it, I don’t know, [laughs].
R: It’s also available on Steam if you want to check it out there too.
A: Beautiful, that’s fantastic. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
R: Just that I poured a lot of my soul into this game and I hope you enjoy it!
A: And where can people go, apart from the E-shop obviously, to follow you guys?
A: Beautiful, thank you so much Reuben, I appreciate it!
R: No worries.
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