Our interview with Moby Pixel the developer of Bumpin’ Dungeon

Do you remember our review of Bumpin’ Dungeon? For anyone who hasn’t played this incredible compilation of game design genius and pixel art, you are missing out on one of the coolest little puzzle games we’ve featured recently.

If you have yet to check out our review of Bumpin’ Dungeon, you can do so here!

Today we would like to share our interview with the amazing guys behind Bumpin’ Dungeon, but before we do we’d like to thank the Moby Pixel Team for participating in our interview and for answering all of our geeky questions! Thanks!

…and without further ado, our interview begins…

The Interview

/// Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about Bumpin’ Dungeon! Could you kick-start this interview by telling us a little about your studio, yourself, and what drew you into the gaming industry?

Hello! I’m Nick Culbertson, lead developer on Bumpin’ Dungeon and child of the 80s. I’m hooked on making retro-inspired music games. Before I got into software development, I was a musician in Nashville, TN playing guitar for a bunch of aspiring country artists. I started dabbling with iOS development after my wife gifted me the first iPad and spent the next several years between gigs building and shipping apps.

Over 100 app releases later, I was having coffee with a friend when he mentioned I should combine my passions of retro games and music. That is exactly what I did. I started Moby Pixel as a home for these games, and we’re now releasing our 3rd title Bumpin’ Dungeon.

/// Ok, let’s start talking about Bumpin’ Dungeon. What are the highlights of your latest release?

Bumpin’ Dungeon is a swipe-based mini puzzle game with a retro-inspired chiptune soundtrack & aesthetic. You play as Hanny, a fearless hero who bashes baddies and navigates tiny mazes while making it to the exit in the fewest steps possible. There are 120 retro dungeon puzzle stages that build off of the mechanics you encounter along the way. You are probably going to die… a lot.

/// What was the core idea or inspiration behind Bumpin’ Dungeon? And perhaps more importantly, where do you find inspiration for your games in general?

I was having a Pico 8 themed art jam with my friend Bobby Frye, now a pixel artist at BonusXP, and he made the cutest little crab and goblin. We were actually jamming for another game, but those characters would later become the first two enemies you encounter in Bumpin’ Dungeon. I made the artwork for the dungeon and Hanny and I put it all together into a mockup screenshot. Returning to that screenshot much later I thought “oh, this could make a really fun game!”

I like mobile games that are easy to pick up and play and are designed from the mindset of “mobile first.” Moby Pixel’s first game release, Epic Orchestra, used swipe controls in a rhythm game and I wanted to explore that mechanic in a retro dungeon crawler.

I’m a member of a Dallas-based game developer meetup group called Dallas Society of Play and members of that group helped me in understanding how to build better puzzles. Special shout-out to Jonathon Holme’s Circuit Dude and Daniel Fairley’s Dark Way Down, two puzzle games definitely worth checking out!

In general, I still find inspiration from the games I loved while growing up. Like many kids of the 80s, I got my first intro to gaming with the NES. While I’m working, I usually have a Twitch retro speedrunning stream on in the background.

/// How long was Bumpin’ Dungeon in development for? And are there any interesting and/or exciting moments or experiences you would like to share with us from that time?

The game was in development for around 5 months. This was a faster development cycle than I am used to because I had a clear idea of what I wanted to make from the start. One of the best parts was receiving tester and friend feedback as they were playing through the game. They’d send me screenshots of the level they were stuck on, followed by their “ah-ha” moment. It was awesome to share that part of the experience!

I based the protagonist character, Hanny, on my 2-year-old daughter, Hannah. Hanny is the name she calls herself i.e. Mommy, Daddy, Hanny. In crafting the story for the game, I wanted the player to feel like they were guiding this character along until she reaches a point where she heads off into the world on her own adventure. For me, one of the challenges of parenting is realizing you can’t shape the world for your child, you have to teach them the skills they need and they have to figure out the rest.

Easter egg: If you beat the first loop of the game, there is a challenge mode where you must meet or beat the developer’s lowest number of moves on each level to progress. If you beat my lowest move count you’ll hear Hanny chime “Alright!” That little voice is Hannah’s. 😉

/// What software, developer-tools, or black-magic(?) did you use when making Bumpin’ Dungeon? Is there anything you would like to share with the developers who read Edamame Reviews?

Like many indie developers, I have the tendency to drop everything if some shiny new dev tool comes along. That is what I did when I first saw screenshots of Pico 8, a “fantasy console” desktop application that is a one-stop solution for building tiny games.

I fell in love with the Pico 8 aesthetic (If you’ve not heard of Pico 8, just Google it quickly then come back… Awesome right?). My previous game, Synthwave Escape, was made using Unity so that was my engine of choice when it came time to start development.

The other new tool I used for this project is a bodacious chiptune creating website called Beepbox. This site lets you create chiptunes using a clickable, intuitive interface which is a welcome alternative to traditional text-based chiptune trackers.

/// Is there any secret “developer-advice” you can give our lucky players who read this interview?

If you get stuck on a level, just keep cracking at it. The solution is right there, somewhere. If you get really, really stuck, there is an option to skip the stage. That level will be marked for you to come back to later. Ain’t no shame in skipping if you get stuck! 😃

/// What can we expect to see in Bumpin’ Dungeon or from Moby Pixel in the not so distant future? What do we have to look forward to next?

If people seem to be liking Bumpin’ Dungeon, and they want more levels, that will be my next likely addition. Perhaps there could be some new mechanics to interact with the old ones for some more challenging puzzles. We’ll have to wait and see!

I’m always bouncing between new ideas for projects. I’ve recently gotten into a new pixel art program called Aseprite and a development engine called Dragon Ruby. I’d like to team with another developer to make a retro-inspired mobile RPG with big, gnarly looking beasties. I reeeeeally hope this becomes my next project.

/// Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to our awesome team of Writers, Developers, and Supporters who keep Edamame Reviews up and running?

Thank you for all of the support to the indie game community! With so many big brand releases coming out each week, it is difficult to have an indie title cut through the noise. It is wonderful to have a community that focuses on supporting the little guys and gals and not just AAA articles that get the most number of clicks. Many thanks!

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