Diamond Dan: interview with Tim Laning


Getting hold of Tim Laning proved to be more difficult than we anticipated. The Grendel Games offices are a huge tower block, the floors of which are full of traps and prone to rotating without warning…

CG: How did Diamond Dan first come about?

Tim Laning:One of our employees made a 2d version of Diamond Dan years ago in Flash. The concept appealed to everyone at the company and we decided to add some gameplay elements to it. It became a full- fledged 3D game.

CG: Did you plan to make the game as difficult as it turned out to be?

TL:The first game was even harder where the player lasted only for a couple of seconds, perhaps a minute tops. At Grendel we like challenging games, and draw a lot of inspiration from older arcade games that we all played and loved. Nowadays most games are a walk in the park compared to the older games that asked for perseverance, but rewarded the player for that perseverance. With Diamond Dan we wanted to make a challenging and addictive game that doesn’t punish the player really hard, and gives him/her a continued sense of progress. One of the game mechanics that fuels this sense is the appliance of risk. The further you get when making your way down the tower, the more risk you have to take to get score. We really tried to push the balance of getting points versus risk taking in later stages of a level.

CG: We described Diamond Dan as ‘a hardcore game in casual clothing’. Was this the intention?

TL:We tried to bridge the gap between arcade games and casual games. Casual games that are available now are extremely easy and addictive. As stated before, we like the addictive part but are put off by the lack of difficulty. At the same time, a game should be easy to pick-up, but hard to master. Older arcade games mastered that theory. And also had a “casual” –look to them (by today’s standards). Some were really difficult, like for instance New Zealand Story, Rainbow Islands etcetera. Some games nowadays also have that vibe to them, like for instance Super Meatboy. We wanted that casual appeal, but also make a game that caters to the need of a hardcore gamer. We feel that playing Diamond Dan on easy-mode is quite casual.

PhotobucketCG: Were you inspired by any other games during the production process? If so, which games and how

TL:We liked Spelunky, which also featured random generated levels and a similar theme. Old school arcade game Nebulus had a similar tower-structure in its level design, as had Lemmings 3D. In terms of theme we tapped into the old adventure movies-genre, such as the Indiana Jones movies obviously.

CG: Was there anything you wanted to add to the game that you were not able to?

Tim Laning:We wanted co-operative play in the game, but decided against it early in the design process. We first wanted to nail the single player concept. We also wanted more treasures in the game, perhaps more variations on treasures.

CG: Will Diamond Dan be coming to PSN, XBLA or WiiWare?

TL:We are interested in bringing Diamond Dan to other platforms, but it depends on sales. If we can make it work financially, we’d love to bring Dan and Ann to consoles.

Photobucket CG: What has the reaction from the press and gamers been like?

TL:As a company, we’ve very happy with how Diamond Dan has been received so far. Scores are generally positive, ranging from 7’s to 8.4’s. We noticed that some people think the game is too hard, which is something we’ll definitely take under advisement for our next project.

The best thing is reading that people think the game is an original take on the platform-genre, and think that the game is fun to play, and best of all, addictive. That’s what we strive for as a developer. To make games that people enjoy. We’re also glad that they notice that we’ve taken an effort to deliver a game that is polished in terms of presentation.

CG: What next for Grendel Games and Diamond Dan?

TL:We keep supporting Diamond Dan, maybe expand it in the near future with possible updates to the game. Our company is currently in pre-production phase for our next title. We can’t divulge a lot about it, but one thing is for sure: It’s going to be an exciting game for arcade game lovers!

Don’t have Diamond Dan already? Then enter our giveaway where you could win a free code! Hurry, closing date Friday 10th December!

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Written by Patrick G

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