The modern platformer is a difficult beast to wrangle one’s head around. We live in a post-Super Meat Boy world where platformers have to be hard as nails to satisfy all those damn speedrunners. On the other hand, Mario is still jumping away after 30+ years, and you’d think his pelvis would have shattered after a year or two of ground pounds. Working Class Weyland seems to be poking fun at both worlds, so I decided to crack open Kinsley’s satirical mind and find out what exactly a parody platformer is.
What is Working Class Weyland?
A parody platformer with a dark twist, drawing influence from the greats of the genre, it challenges the player right out the gate and will hopefully make them laugh too.
Where did the name come from?
It was a combination of a few factors really. As I was drawing the art for the main character, I ended up putting him in a pair of overalls, because, like Mario on the NES, it was the easiest way to give him distinct features. At the same time, I was doing a lot of reading about how blue collar work places could soon become fully automated putting people out of work, and I felt like basing a character around that could be interesting. And lastly, because it’s my personal belief that titles should always alliterate.
Why did you want to make Working Class Weyland?
I had made a couple of platformers in game jams this year, and I thought that the prototypes I was making could be turned into something really solid. So I started making art for the player character and everything just cascaded from there.
Have you worked on any games before this one?
Mostly just small projects that I’ve shown my friends and family. Also, from the start of this year, I have been actively participating in game jams trying to throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks.
What inspirations have you drawn from?
The three big ones are definitely Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island and Donkey Kong Country 2, but I would be doing the game a disservice if I didn’t look at modern games too. Super Meat Boy, Cuphead and Shovel Knight also play little parts here and there in making the game what it is.
You described the game as a parody platformer. What exactly does that entail?
My intention for the parody aspect is to subvert common tropes of platformer stories as well as make nods and take laughs at some of the best moments in the genre. I’m also a big fan of meta-humour and that kind of bleeds through into every game I make.
As someone making a parody of the genre, what’s your opinion of platformers?
They’re pretty much my favourite genre of games. The first game I can remember playing is Super Mario World, and pretty much every game I played on the SNES and N64 was a platformer. It’s one of the most diverse and interesting genres out there really.
How do you make a unique platformer given how much has been done before?
It can be a pretty daunting task, but there are advantages which come from the genre having such a long history.
The first and probably most important point is that there are a lot of resources out there about platformer design, what makes a game feel great, how games have made big mistakes, and how to make your levels fun. There’s a wealth of information out there for anyone looking to start a platformer game. For anyone interested, Game Maker’s Toolkit and snomaN Gaming on YouTube are great places to start learning about what makes a great platformer.
A second point, which I also think is pretty important, is that with such an epic back catalogue, you can expect a high amount of genre literacy from your players, literacy being how a well a player knows the conventions of a genre, i.e jumping on enemies heads to defeat them. I was able to make challenging levels right off the bat for Working Class Weyland that people were able to finish because they had an idea of what has come before, but at the same time they were still engaged with the game because of the challenge the levels presented.
What have been the biggest challenges in developing the game?
Designing the levels and walking the fine line between “challenging fun” and “unplayable frustration.” There are so many variables when it comes to designing a good level and trying to get them all finished and feeling great in the crunch period before PGF was one the most challenging things I’ve done in game development.
How is it being the sole developer of the game?
It really feeds into my megolomania, or should I say megolovania, hah hah. Undertale references are still funny, right? Is it 2015 still? Guys, is it 2015!?
But seriously, it’s afforded me a lot of creative freedom, and I have been able to just go off the rails a bit when designing the game. For instance, I’ve been able to give monsters and characters goofy personalities and just have really weird level names like “The Inevitable Sewer.” As a big plus, I’m also learning about how the different aspects of game development work and being able to better understand the requirements of the different sides of game development (i.e art, level, sound, mechanic design), so I can be prepared to work in a team environment in the future.
How was the feedback from PGF this year?
It was pretty amazing. I started panicking a bit at the start as people where checking out other booths and walking past mine without much interest, but then one kid came up and played it, and then I had a pretty consistent stream of players after that. People really loved how the character controlled, and they loved the variety of movement they had. I got some notes from people about problems with the level design, which has been super helpful. One thing that really surprised me was a way one of the players found a glitch that would let them get a really high jump. I saw them figure out how to do it, and they were using it to take shortcuts through the level. After figuring out how the glitch occurred, I decided to leave it in as it has increased the depth of the gameplay. Also getting to see what other local devs have been working on has been a great inspiration for getting to me to work harder.
Had you had much interaction with the perth scene before PGF?
I’m actually a recent addition to the Perth community. I first got involved at the Global Game Jam at the start of the year. The whole experience was amazing, and since then I’ve been participating in the screenshot Saturdays that Let’s Make Games does and I’ve also been working with the Games Art & Design students at Murdoch – helping them out with coding and participating in game jams with them. Perth has a great community who are all looking to help make this city the go to place for game development.
For anyone interested in following the development of Working Class Weyland, you can follow Kinsley on Twitter here.