Last week I entered a dark and dangerous area, and armed with a whip and Rockape, we battled terrifying hordes who launched themselves at our faces. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about Cardiff’s nightlife, I’m referring to DEATH PIT 3000, available on Steam from Cyberlamb Studios and currently priced at £2.99. DEATHPIT 3000 is a twin stick top down arena based shooter where you fight a variety of monsters whilst avoiding environmental damage and try to survive. Each round rewards cash and a shop with upgrades specific to that match, whilst completing the entire match unlocks upgrades and features for the next qualifier. You progress through the game until you hit the finals, steadily unlocking more goodies as you go.
Originally DEATHPIT 3000 was 4 player local co-op, making it a local party game. After chatting to the developers at Player Nation, Rockape told me that online multiplayer was in the works and once that had launched, we checked it out. See our first impressions in Rockape’s video and read on for an exclusive interview with North Wales developers Gareth Brown and Ned Birkin.
Interview with Cyberlamb Studios, developers of DEATHPIT 3000
Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and Cyberlamb Studios?
We’re two childhood friends who’ve played video games together since as far back as primary school. When we grew up we pursued our own different careers, until deciding that we both wanted to give our mutual dream of becoming game developers a shot. We learned Unity, and with Gareth focusing on artwork and Ned on code we messed around with a few learning projects before deciding to develop a fully releasable title. DEATHPIT 3000 was subsequently born, and so too was Cyberlamb Studios.
What was the inspiration for DEATHPIT 3000?
We decided to kick off our new project with an intensive month of work with our developer friend, Richard Elms, who wanted to help us with the initial prototyping. We travelled to where Richard is based in Germany, and on the train there we brainstormed what our new game design should be. We settled on certain criteria that we knew we wanted: accessible, 2D, co-op multiplayer, sci-fi, fast-paced action, and also something manageable enough for a small team to actually pull off in a few months. Inspired by one of our favourite childhood games – Super Smash TV – we settled on a top-down co-op shooter set in a gritty sci-fi arena as the perfect basis for our new project.
How long have you guys been working on it?
Between that initial train-jam and Steam release, it took us around 18 months. Alongside it we also did some other work as Cyberlamb Studios: we developed a mediation app for a French company, volunteered with a Canadian charity making games for kids with respiratory diseases, and we even became Unity Certified. Gareth also taught in Sheffield and Japan for some months, and Ned finished a screenplay. It was hard at times to juggle all of that with the enormous amount of time and energy needed to make a releasable game, and the enjoyment and excitement we got from adding new features and improvements meant the scope of the game kept growing and growing. In the end a project that was originally intended to last a few months ended up taking almost two years! But it was totally worth it. Since its release we’ve continued to work on Deathpit, implementing gamepad support and online multiplayer over the past few months.
What game development tools are you using?
We built the game in Unity, managed the project/tasks in Trello, and handled the repo with Git (we use the GitKraken GUI). The artwork was done in Photoshop – originally 2D and animated in Spriter, but during development Gareth learnt all about bump mapping so decided to redo all the artwork to include these cool new effects and give it a distinctive style, by which time all the animations were redone in Unity. Ned coded the game in C# using Visual Studio, and the multiplayer networking was done in UNET.
Rockape and I recently played and made a video of DEATHPIT 3000 and one of the things we noticed was that you can play 4 player local, but only 2 player online. Are there any more plans to expand the online to 4 players?
Yes! We were held back by a number of technical networking constraints to do with Unity’s matchmaker, but we are working to resolve them and are going to be upgrading the online co-op to to 4 player very soon.
We’re excited about that as we definitely think this would be a very fun game to play with friends. Do you have any plans for any other new content or updates for DEATHPIT 3000?
We continue to update, improve and balance Deathpit, tweaking it with some of the great community feedback we’ve had. We’ve also got a lot of cool ideas for where we could take the franchise next, including a bunch of new game modes, new arenas, enemies, equipment, explosions and of course blood! However, Deathpit as it stands has already far outgrown what it was originally meant to be, and so for a number of technical reasons it would only really be practical to implement these new ideas in a sequel.
Are the player characters in DEATHPIT 3000 based on real people, or what was your inspiration there?
We always knew we wanted to have a full and humorous sci-fi background story (all of which can be read in the ‘Database’ in the main menu), and that we wanted voiced characters to bring some personality to the player. The characters themselves were born specifically from our friends who were kind enough to lend us their voices. We ourselves recorded the characters of Rhys and Monty, Ned’s girlfriend voiced Heather, our American friend (who created the awesome soundtrack) gave us the voice of Skeeter, and the final unlockable character came from a evening of intoxicated recording with an old Scottish friend! None of the pictures are based on any of us though, thankfully! But they were inspired by the voices.
That’s awesome and makes the characters a lot of fun. We felt there might be a personal connection going on there. So we know you guys are from North Wales – how do you feel about the Welsh game development industry at the moment?
We think it’s great! Up until Deathpit’s release we had our heads buried in development, but now we’re getting actively involved in the community and loving it. We’ve met some really cool people at Wrexham’s Global Game Jam, we showed Deathpit at Player Nation in Cardiff where we met Rockape, and we’re super excited to be showing at Level Up at the end of the month. It’s a community we’re really keen to see grow, and we are thrilled to be part of it!
We’re currently working on some exciting things to do with eSports in Wales. Do you plan to add leaderboards or anything competitive to DEATHPIT 3000, since it is a score based system?
It’s something we have definitely considered, and if there is enough community interest, it is a feature we will look to try and implement. We particularly like the idea of a Deathpit tournament…!
We’d definitely be interested in a DEATHPIT tournament. There’s a big eSports scene for big games, but sometimes the smaller games can be fun – and unique so that’s something to look forward to for the future! Are you playing any games yourselves at the moment? Or are there any games in development that you’re excited about?
Gareth: Multiplayer games are where it’s at for me, so I love Left 4 Dead, Hidden in Plain Sight, Gang Beasts (Deathpit! Ha ha), that kind of stuff. But otherwise I really love story-driven games, so I play all the Tell Tale games, the Mass Effect series, Zelda… I’m currently playing Batman which is really cool. but I’ve actually also been playing Warhammer II which is just fantastic!
Ned: I’m particularly partial to strategy games, and I’m currently playing Total War: Thrones of Britannia and They Are Billions. I love online multiplayer games and have been totally addicted to PUBG since its release, as well as Ark: Survival Evolved and World of Warships. Like Gareth I’m also a big fan of indie games, and have recently been enjoying Sir You Are Being Hunted and Project Zomboid.
DEATHPIT 3000 is your first Steam game as Cyberlamb Studios, do you have any plans for the next one, any teasers you can give us about what it might be about?
We’re currently working on a new space sim concept that we’re calling Belt Runner. You’re a smuggler who has to speed-run through asteroid belts, micromanaging your ship’s systems, while trying to keep ahead of police and rival pirate gangs. We’re also working on a shared-screen multiplayer game, which we are aiming to be a fast-paced scream-at-your-friends-and-
That sounds fun. I’m quite a big fan of strategy / management elements in a game, so I’m looking forward to the progression of that one. We’ll be seeing you at Level Up Wales at Wrexham University in May, but are you heading to any other expos or events that our readers could catch up with you at?
It was so cool to attend EGX Rezzed this year, and it got us really excited about EGX this September, so we’ve started the application process. Fingers crossed!
Fantastic, I’ll be at EGX in September offering press coverage on behalf of the Welsh Gaming Network. I hope to catch up with all the Welsh development teams there and showcase some awesome new stuff, so I really hope to see you there then!
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