If you like roguelike, Metroidvania-style shooters, one upcoming game on the horizon that falls very much into that category is the indie title A Robot Named Fight. The upcoming game is due in September on Steam, and it was completely developed solely by designer Matt Bitner. PopGeeks recently had the chance to speak with Bitner about his upcoming game, that puts players into the role of an anonymous robot who is looking to defend a city under siege from lugubrious monsters called meat beats. Bitner is very much a fan of classic games of the SNES and SEGA Genesis era, and here’s what he had to say about his new game, A Robot Named Fight.
PopGeeks: What was your main inspiration for A Robot Named Fight?
Matt Bitner: It’s hard to nail down one thing. I’ve had this idea kicking around in some form or another for close to ten years now. Some big influences were rom hacks for Super Metroid: total conversions or item randomizers or that one that turns the whole game sideways. I wanted to make a Metroidvania that retained that element of discovery and surprise you get on your first playthrough. I wanted to make something you could play over and over again in single sittings that still felt like a Metroidvania.
PopGeeks: What can you tell me about your main character in the game? Is his name actually Fight? Was he always a robot? Did he used to be a human?
Matt Bitner: Every time you start a run you play a robot, but not necessarily the same robot. You’re from a world where the dominant intelligent life is robots, and you’re just one of the kind that happen to have a blaster arm. The main character is intended to be very much a cypher for the player to project their own ideas on, like the Doom marine from the original Doom. The name Fight is more of an idea, or something you earn rather than a literal name.The intro scrawl brings up “becoming fight enough” and there are other places in the game where I adjective that verb. It sounds sort of ridiculous, but for me it means having a kind of stubborn, absurd determination in the face of a hopeless situation.
PopGeeks: What is the feeling you want gamers to have when they take on A Robot Named Fight? Is there a feeling you wanted to evoke with your game that maybe current popular games aren’t providing? Is there a certain type of skill or thrill?
Matt Bitner: There are a lot of feelings and ideas I hope the game evokes, but I’ll be satisfied if people simply have fun with it. I tried to design the game around a very minimal plot that only provides the breadcrumbs players need to fill in the blanks with their imagination. I miss that about older games, where the most you had in the way of plot is maybe an intro scrawl or a blurb in an instruction manual. When I played games as a kid I always had my own ideas about who Mega Man was or what Samus was doing on some planet shooting all the wildlife. Most modern games hire writers now and they try to immerse a player by providing tons of verbal detail. I’m curious if players can still become immersed in a game thanks to a lack of specific details.
PopGeeks: Right now, the game is only scheduled for a PC and Mac release in September. Do you think if the initial launch is successful the game could receive some console ports, especially with how indie games do translate over to PlayStation Network and Xbox Live?
Matt Bitner: If the game is even relatively successful I absolutely intend to pursue some dev kits so I can get it on some consoles.
PopGeeks: If there was a console port, do you think you would handle the development of those or oversee them? Or, in that case would you have to hand off the development of the ports to other companies or partners to help you out with that?
Matt Bitner: The game is developed in Unity3d, so porting it to other platforms should be relatively easy considering cross-platform development is Unity’s whole deal. I think it’s something I could handle myself, the main challenge being just getting through certification and making all of the UX changes I’m sure each platform would want. I wouldn’t reject offers to help out of hand though.
PopGeeks: In that case, has there been any interest yet from some publishers that cater to indie game releases? This looks right up the alley of something like an Adult Swim games.
Matt Bitner: At this point, no publishers have reached out. It would be cool to work with someone like Adult Swim or Nicalis… so if you happen to be reading…
PopGeeks: Do you have a favorite era of gaming? Was it more the 8-bit era when games like Castlevania and Metroid first emerged, or that transition period from 16-bit to 32-bit when we saw titles like Symphony of the Night come out? Or maybe something completely different?
Matt Bitner: I was a Genesis/SNES kid growing up and I feel like that was an era where designers had really begun to master the creation of 2D games. They were able to take lessons learned from early 8-bit games and really create masterpieces. Early PS1 games like Symphony of the Night definitely benefited from this as well. By the time consoles made the move to 3D and had to start learning all over again, I’d moved on to PC games: FPS and RTS. Some of my favorite games came at the tail end of the SNES’s shelf life.
PopGeeks: You mentioned David Cronenberg as another influence for the game. How might players see that come out in the overall game design?
Matt Bitner: Almost every enemy in the game is some twisted, fleshy thing that over exaggerates some human feature. A lot of them have sexually suggestive features and are just sort of repellant looking. So body horror, Videodrome / Shivers David Cronenberg was definitely an influence on the creature design and meat focus. Ponderous, human-condition analyzing, History of Violence / Cosmopolis David Cronenberg not so much.
PopGeeks: Lastly, what do you want players to think about or take away from playing A Robot Named Fight after it launches in September?
Matt Bitner: I’ll be happy if players have fun exploding a bunch of meat beasts with their blaster arm. If the game makes them think about why they’re exploding a bunch of meat beasts with their blaster arm, that’s a bonus. I hope players take away a lot of different, conflicting things.
Thank you to Matt Bitnet for taking the time to speak with us and answer our questions. A Robot Named Fight is due to arrive on Steam on September 7 for Mac and Windows PC.