Ever since I finished the First Hour Playthrough of Minigunner, I was intrigued by the game’s intricacies and level design. It had similarities with games like Enter the Gungeon, yet it feels completely different as well.
Fortunately, we were able to get in touch with the game’s developers from Crystal Fruit Games, namely Rafael Morales and John Hecimovich, and pick their brains on how the game came to be and what the future holds for it.
Cerebro: Hello, roguemates! Cerebro here from roguelites.com, and I’m here with Rafael Morales (aka Rafa) and John Hecimovich (aka J.R.) from Crystal Fruit Games, and they’re here to promote their upcoming game “Minigunner”. Hello guys, how’s it going?
J.R.: We’re doing great! How about you?
Cerebro: I’m doing great, thanks for asking! Before anything else, why don’t you introduce yourselves?
Rafa: Sure, I’m Rafa, and I do the art and design for Minigunner!
J.R.: And I’m JR, I handle the programming for Minigunner!
Cerebro: Awesome! Let’s start with a very common question: how did the game come about?
J.R.: Well Rafa and I met through a mutual friend. We were both looking to partner up and make a game with someone and this friend introduced us. Since we had never met before, Rafa created and sent me some basic art assets and had me make a small prototype shooter game to prove that I knew my way around game programming. We both ended up liking the prototype so much that we just kept building it out and eventually Minigunner was born.
Cerebro: Wow, that’s awesome! Was your mutual friend involved in the game, or in game development in general?
Rafa: No, our mutual friend was majoring in a different field, he simply introduced JR and me to each other and we took it from there.
Cerebro: Ahh I see. Whoever you are, buddy, you’re a godsend because these two have created an awesome game! Anyway, can you guys explain to our roguemates what Minigunner is all about?
Rafa: Minigunner is a top-down roguelike with twin-stick shooter combat and wave defense gameplay. You’re tasked with defending a futuristic mining outpost from hordes of squishy slime-like enemies called gloops. You can visit shop terminals to buy crazy combinations of unique items and recruit automated sentry turrets and flying attack drones to your side.
The game gets progressively harder as you get deeper into a run as not only do more dangerous enemies start appearing but defensive barricades are destroyed, giving them new spawn points to come out from.
The game will have you fighting for your life in intensely fun combat situations as you broadcast an S.O.S. signal for reinforcements to arrive.
Cerebro: It’s good that you mentioned the twin-stick shooter combat as the game could be compared to popular roguelites like Enter the Gungeon, but unlike Gungeon where it has multiple small rooms players go to, Minigunner has one long room that’s probably the size of three Gungeon rooms to maneuver around with. Can you explain the reasoning behind that level design?
J.R.: From the very start we wanted to capture this feeling of being up against impossible odds, where the situation gets progressively more dire, until you are essentially having a “last stand” with your back against the wall as you unleash upon waves of enemies. The map has an asymmetrical layout that has a series of mine entrances leading all the way up to the reactor (the main objective for you to defend). These mine entrances always start off with barricades, leaving enemies to spawn at the far side of the outpost.
As the game progresses, these barricades are periodically destroyed by the enemies, allowing them to start spawning much closer to your reactor. In a given wave, enemies can only choose up to 3 spawn points for themselves, so as more barricades are destroyed, there is more variance in where they’ll be appearing from. Along with this, the outpost also has various features that you can use to your advantage when defending, such as:
- A series of 2 way teleporters that can instantly transport you from point A to point B
- A drawbridge in the center of the map that you can control to impede the movement of the enemies
- Highground platforms that give you an edge over the enemies, letting you open fire on them from above
- A vast network of ventilation shafts that unlock a new level of movement when traversing the map
- Powered sentry tiles, that can support a sentry turret, and give the turret bonus range when used on the high ground platforms
Lastly, the map also employs an automated door system that changes before the start of every wave. These changing doors will affect the path that enemies can take to get to your reactor, so even though you are playing on the same map every run, the map has a lot of depth to it and a lot of variability that makes it a unique experience every time you play! Using a handcrafted map as opposed to multiple smaller procedural rooms helps us create this environment of a “fortress” that you must defend and can get familiar with its nuances and special features without it ever feeling repetitive.
Cerebro: Wow, that’s very detailed and well-thought-out!
Looking back at your responsibilities in the game, Rafa handles the art and design while J.R. handles the programming. One of the things I liked about the game is its music, so I have to ask, who did those?
J.R.: The first few songs for the game were composed by Norah Smith, we found them through a Reddit post we made in r/gamedevclassifieds and really liked their work! We really love what they were able to do with the music so far!
The music is definitely one of my favorite parts of the game and never fails to get me excited to play some more!
Cerebro: I agree! The music hypes you up, then the gameplay takes over afterward!
So as you know, we featured a “First Hour Playthrough” video of Minigunner on our Youtube channel, and for sure, there were some mechanics that we weren’t able to discover throughout that hour. Can you mention some of the mechanics, weapons, or other features that weren’t presented in our video?
J.R.: Well, we have a large collection of items that can really change the way you play as you get deeper into a run. This is especially true for the legendary items we’ve created. They are all very powerful and fun to utilize, but their rarity means you may not see everything in just a few short runs. So that would probably be the most significant thing that may have been missed.
Along with things that may not have been seen in the first hour playthrough, there is also a significant amount of content that we are still developing. The game is still a work in progress, so on top of the variety of items and strategies players can take advantage of, over the next few months we’re going to be adding even more content like boss fights between certain waves, an intense final boss fight to end a run, and our fourth character: The Commando!
Earlier this week we released our permanent progression update, adding achievements and unlockable items/characters!
Cerebro: Awesome, can’t wait to test out the Commando in the future!
Now my next question isn’t about the game’s mechanics or features, but about the title. As you know, the “Minigunner” is a pretty common weapon implemented in a lot of games, mostly shooters, and this could affect the game’s searchability from engines like Google. What are your plans in order for more people to see your game?
J.R.: Well thankfully, though “Minigun” is a super common weapon in tons of different games, “Minigunner” isn’t as common and we don’t see too much overlap. While there are some other products using “Minigunner”, even with our limited resources we are slowly but steadily seeing our Minigunner climb higher in search results!
We’re just getting started with promotion and marketing in the grand scheme of things, and as we keep promoting our game increased traffic will help us rise even higher in those search results!
Cerebro: That’s good. Hopefully, once the game arrives, people will relate “Minigunner” with the game and nothing else.
And that’s about it! Thank you, Rafa and J.R. for obliging us with this interview. Do you guys have anything else you want to advertise like a Kickstarter campaign, or maybe some shoutouts?
J.R.: As a matter of fact, we do! We have a Kickstarter that is set to go live in just a few weeks on August 27th! It’s a big moment for us, we’ve been toying with crowdfunding and releasing the game for a long time now. But finally, after years of work, we are ready to share our game with the world! We’ve been putting our hearts and souls into Minigunner and we hope that players love it as much as we do!