Of DLC and quests an interview with Going Loud Studios' Ben Kane

Earlier today we posted a trailer for DLC Quest, an Xbox Live Indie game that lampoons downloadable content. Since then, many of you have checked out the short, sweet game and loved it.

Now, we've purchased the "Interview with the Developer" DLC pack, which we're hoping gives some insight into the creative process of this inventive (and cheap!) indie game.

Above: Without the double jump pack most of the game is locked away

GamesRadar: So, what gave you the idea for DLC quest?

Ben Kane: I was in the middle of "crunch time" for my last project, Lair of the Evildoer, when the publisher for a big upcoming game announced an exclusive pre-order DLC pack that was going to add content that was "essential" to multiplayer. Fans were not pleased. I thought it would be funny, or at least catchy, to release a similar "DLC pack" for my game as a light-hearted joke. The project was already running long though, so I just wrote down the idea and moved on.

I ended up adding more and more notes about other DLC packs that have rubbed the community the wrong way and it wasn't long before I realized that they could be a game on their own, if I could find a way to string them together. Even better, a game revolving entirely around DLC would be likely strike a chord with gamers. And with that, DLC Quest was born.

GR: Did it ever take any other forms besides side-scrolling platformer?

BK: DLC Quest actually had a relatively short development cycle, so the core game didn't shift much over time. It did start out as a physics-based platformer but I quickly found that it felt too loose and really didn't add anything meaningful to the gameplay, so I scrapped it in favor of the more traditional controls it has today.

Above: It's going to take a lot of DLC to rescue her

GR: Are there any plans to bring it to iOS or other platforms?

BK: The technology behind Xbox Indie games makes creating PC versions an almost trivial matter. Given the number of requests I've had, I think it's a safe bet to say there will be a PC release in the near future. Bringing it to iOS would certainly increase the potential market, but there are some technical hurdles I would need to overcome first. It's definitely a possibility if I get enough nudges in the right direction.

GR: Was there any DLC that had to be cut?

BK: The great, or terrible, thing about mocking DLC is that there is a lot of material to work with. The "season pass" concept has been getting mixed reactions from players lately, so I had that idea floating around for quite a while before I decided it would be better to leave it out rather than shoehorn it in for a quick gag.

Above: The trailer that stole our hearts (and charged to give it back)

GR: Are you a fan of DLC in general?

BK: I'm a big fan of DLC when it's handled properly. The idea of supporting a game post-launch by making new content available should be a win-win for players and publishers. Players want to enjoy their favorite game longer and publishers want to find a way to earn money from the players who are more than willing to give it to them. The tough part about the traditional $60 game model is that it requires the customer to pay the full amount up front, regardless of what they think of the game, and then that's it. They could be your biggest fan but you've capped the amount of money they can spend at $60.

Publishers are recognizing this and see DLC as a way to allow their super-fans to pay more. I think this is a totally valid and reasonable approach, given the usual provisions like the publisher doesn't withhold necessary gameplay features, doesn't cut content to make it premium DLC instead, doesn't give players who buy DLC an advantage over others and so on. There are a lot of ways DLC can and does go wrong, but I believe there's a way to do DLC such that everybody is happy.

GR: What’s the best DLC you’ve ever bought?

BK: The best DLC I've ever purchased is probably the Undead Nightmare add-on for Red Dead Redemption. It was great re-imagining of the original game, it was well-produced, provided excellent value and was - above all - fun to play. Fantastic idea for re-using the existing engine, assets and characters in a way that felt fresh.

Above: The Sexy Outfits Pack gives all NPCs, male and female, hot bikinis

GR: What’s the worst/most useless DLC you’ve ever bought?

BK: I've been pretty good at avoiding the worst DLC packs - thankfully they are usually easy to spot. I have, however, spent quite a lot on Rock Band songs that have likely only ever been played once. No real regrets there though; merely a consequence of a great integrated store and the irresistible desire to play "My Sharona".

GR: How has the reaction been so far to DLC Quest? Anyone not “get it”?

BK: The reaction has absolutely blown me away. It's strange working on a game that's meant to be funny, because the humor really loses its edge after you've playtested a section a hundred times over and you lose all sense of how well it will be received. When it launched, I was hoping some people would get a chuckle and catch the real-world DLC references. It turns out that almost everyone understands that it's satirical and most people find it quite funny indeed. There have been a few that I would still say "get it", but simply don't find it that funny or appealing. Overall the feedback has been overwhelming positive though.

Above: The zombies literally add nothing to the game but zombies

GR: Any chance of a sequel (or…DLC)?

BK: I feel DLC Quest walks a pretty careful line between getting the jokes across and not overstaying its welcome. Certainly I think that producing more of the same would diminish the effect, so I'll have to be a bit more clever than that.

GR: Are there any other areas of the current generation you’re interested in lampooning?

BK: Thankfully the industry is always up to something that could use a good mocking, though I haven't set my sights on any one thing in particular. I kid only because I love, industry.