Dead End Job is one of this year’s most promising games. It is a procedurally generated twin-stick shooter that puts you in the shoes of a Ghostbuster. A greatly unappreciated Ghostbuster. He’s not a supernatural crusader, just a pest controller doing his menial low-paid job. Using an array of power-ups, you make your way through ghost-filled buildings, trying to save the soul of your mentor. The game features a unique approach to co-op and streaming integration that should make it a party favourite. We spoke to one of the developers of Dead End Job, Tony Gowland, about the project.
Cliqist: Why a man working a dead end job hunting ghosts?
Tony Gowland: The title was just a kind of joke. It came to us when the themes of the game came together! It originally started out as, how can you make a twin stick shooter that has no shooting? Some earlier ideas were different. You’re a fire fighter, or going round tidying things up, or hovering things up. That brought to mind things like Luigi’s Mansion, which was a massive influence on us. Although Luigi’s Mansion was a lot more exploration based.
We originally implemented the tug of war based combat from that game, but it doesn’t work so well in something that was faster paced or the arena based game that we wanted to make. Which is why we kind of tweaked it a little bit and put guns into it. Then we mixed things up, so you’re shooting the enemies first then you’re using a vacuum.
Dead End Job’s Art Style and Humour.
The animation style is unique, where did that come from?
A lot of competing games are in pixel art, so we always wanted to go with this cartoony look. This kind of squishy-squashy cartoony style is what the lead artist and animator wanted. He has an animation background. He’s previously worked at Ardman. That squishy-squashy style is the kind of the stuff he likes doing. We feel it really fits the tone of the game.
With job titles of intern and zero-hour employee, is there an element of satire to it?
We’ve really gone to town on allowing our sense of humour to shine through. With the titles of individual enemies, or the job titles, or even the appearance of the enemies. For example, one enemy is a dog poo bin that fires bags of dog poo at you. We always wanted that sense of humour in there. The player’s boss doesn’t really appreciate them very much. You’re given job titles but they’re just meaningless. You go from being a Minor Intern, to a Chief Executive Intern. It’s just the sort of thing that makes us laugh.
Positivity and Release
It’s coming too consoles at the same time as PC, will the Switch version have the usual delay?
We are aiming to release in April. If anything the Switch version will be ahead of the other two! Nintendo are quite keen on the idea, so we’ve had access to Switch development hardware since this time last year. The graphics look fantastic on that small screen. It’s pin sharp on there.
You were on a ‘positivity spree’ on social media, why all the happiness?
That came about from a thing that my kid’s school did. They would choose a child and then every other child in the classroom has to say nice things about them. I don’t know, I feel like social media at the moment everyone’s on a bit of a downer. With the political situation in the world, a lot of stuff is changing. I felt like it was a nice kind of thing, just to cheer people up a little bit.
We’d like to thank Tony Gowland for taking the time to answer our questions.