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The Thing meets Bullet Hell in Demon Spore

There’s no time to chat—a rapidly expanding mass of cells is taking over a laboratory with its reaching, sprawling tentacles and you might be the only person that can stop it.

Intrigued? You should be.

This is the premise of Demon Spore, a roguelite bullet hell inspired by 80s horror and twin-stick shooters. Use the environment around you to slow and destroy the growing creature, including a combination of hastily crafted and combined weapons, attempting to save other scientists as you go.

With each death, can you learn enough about the creature to take out its tentacles and save yourself, others, and maybe even the world? The trailer below suggests that either way, you’ll have the best time trying.

If you’ve been following the different indie games shared on the #PitchYaGame hashtag—a Twitter movement that gives indie developers the spotlight each June and November with a chance at winning recognition and cash prizes—you may have already seen Demon Spore, along with thousands of others, when the tweet captured the public’s attention.

After I recovered from an almost life-threatening desire to play Demon Spore immediately, I managed to calm down and get a quick Q&A in with Ed Kay, the sole indie developer who’s previously worked as a designer on titles such as Counter Spy, Bulletstorm, and Call of Cthulhu Dark Corners, amongst others.

Since then, they’ve been working on this title in what I imagine is a secret lab in Manchester…

5 questions with the developer behind Demon Spore

Ryan Noble: What inspired you to begin developing Demon Spore?

Ed Kay: I was at a game jam where the theme was 'chaos'. It made me think of Chaos Theory and using equations to generate complex graphical patterns like fractals and so on.

I thought it would be interesting to try and make a game that generated cool-looking branching patterns, but since this was a game jam, there was really limited time, so the simplest way I could think to turn something like that into gameplay was by making it a shooter where you could chop off a branch to destroy everything connected to it. This is really the core of the game that everything is built on top of.

Creating the premise and horror theme came much, much later—the game was just patterns of coloured triangles for over a year!

RN: How long have you been developing the game? Are you doing it all solo?

EK: I've now been developing the game for over 2 years. I currently do everything myself except the music. It's a lot of work!

RN: Were you surprised by the reaction to your #PitchYaGame tweet? It captured the attention of a lot of people!

EK: So, when you've been working on something so long you do lose touch a bit as to what it's like to see it with fresh eyes. All you can see is what you still want to improve or what you're still not happy with.

Getting the gameplay video made in time for PitchYaGame was a huge push for me as I didn't want to miss that deadline, and I was really worried the game still wasn't where I wanted it to be and the video didn't show enough of what I have planned.

But, I've been totally blown away by people's reaction, it's been amazing! According to the Twitter stats, it's one of the top most viewed tweets from the competition. It's really given me confidence that the concept is appealing to people and now I'm super motivated to get all of the cool features I have planned into the game!

RN: Do you have a favourite weapon or strategy for fighting back the growing tentacles so far? The trailer alone shows some really interesting tools and tactics.

EK: It's all about reading the play-space and managing priorities. You've got to slice the tentacles at the point that will have maximum impact on cutting back the growth.

Although you'll be able to use a bunch of cobbled improvised weaponry against the creature, my favourite thing to do is to use the environment itself against the creature, e.g. luring the growth to a specific place and smashing explosive chemical canisters to start a fire at its core, or flood part of the room and electrify the water with a generator. There are a lot of cool possibilities for improvisation.

RN: When and where do you think Demon Spore will be released?

EK: Oh no, not this question! Let's just say some time next year - if you subscribe to the newsletter, I'll send an email as soon as I make that announcement.

You heard them! If you want to hear all about the growth (hehehe) of Demon Spore as it happens, subscribe to the newsletter or follow Ed on Twitter.

Otherwise, we’re hoping to get our tentacles on a review copy of Demon Spore in the future and we’ll tell you all about it here on HorrorDNA…

Thanks again to Ed Kay for taking the time to answer my questions. Now, hurry back to your petri dish! Best not to turn your back on Demon Spore for too long.

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