Netherguild – Developer Interview

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  • April 30, 2023
Netherguild – Developer Interview

We managed to catch up with Netherguild developer David Vinokurov after its release on Steam. Netherguild has since received many positive reviews on the platform since going Early Adopter in its release.

Tell us about your solo dev journey?

I learned Unity on my own (using programming knowledge from back in high school) and mostly tried making big projects, which would always fail a few months in. This was because I’d look at the sheer amount of work that a massive project would take to complete.  A mountain of tasks stretching so far ahead into the future and I would just shudder and give up on it.  I tried joining revenue sharing projects too, and working in a small team. I did meet a few great people but other than that it never really went anywhere. After a while, I got into game dev freelancing.  I did both 3D low-poly models and Unity C# programming. There was one project which lasted for about 7 months. During this time I learnt a lot and saw how just putting the work in slowly shapes up into something playable, a real game. That on top of a few game-jam projects gave me a lot of confidence, in retrospect. When that project ended – I was between freelance gigs and I decided I wanted to work on something big again – just to fill up time while job-searching. That was about 5 years ago. I continued working on the game until it became a full time project.  A big reason why I went solo is because I’m used to being interdisciplinary and I’m fascinated by all aspects of game dev. I love learning this stuff on my own. I also don’t believe in teams that don’t have something holding them together such as being former co-workers, friends, or a pay check!

I did use a handful of external assets with the game, for example: some of the music is from a premium music pack; additionally the system I use to animate my voxel characters; and the font and the system for light & dark. I also worked with a composer, the talented Daniele ‘Elrehon’ Coppola, for the new music in early access and in the trailer. Also an amazing Brazilian cover artist, Victor Estivador and graphic designer Alina Gottbrecht for the title design. Other than that, the animations, the code, the 2D and 3D art in the game and the sound effects, are all my own work. At the same time, I could not have got this game to this point without the help of the incredible community and kind players.

Tell us a little bit about the story behind your game?

Netherguild is a turn-based tactical roguelite dungeon-crawler, where you descend underground time and time again to venture deeper, desperately searching to find a cure for a plague that’s ravaging the world above. Players explore, encountering random events, they fight various enemies on a tactical grid, and rest up next to bonfires, eating to heal and receive various buffs and debuffs.

Netherguild was originally inspired by Darkest Dungeon 1 – if you play it today, you’d notice the general structure between the two is the same even if everything else is different – buying provisions, descending into expeditions, four characters at a time and returning to an overworld with upgradable buildings. Another inspiration for Netherguild was the anime “Made in Abyss”. This is an anime about children venturing into a deadly underground area. It wasn’t one of the original inspirations behind the game, but rather a friend insisted I had to watch it early on in development…and, well, I’m thankful he did! In “Made in Abyss” moving up / down has a big effect – beyond a certain depth. It becomes dangerous or even impossible to return back. That focus on verticality ultimately inspired me to add tile-height to my then flat dungeons. The result was two-fold. Firstly, a more interesting look and secondly it made me add height mechanics later on in development.

I think the first year or two years of solo dev are the toughest. After the first period of fun and excitement about a new project are over, the doubts begin to settle in – “Why are you working on this?” “What if you’re just wasting your time?” That’s when you have to toughen up. After that time period, development becomes more of a habit, the game becomes good enough / enjoyed enough by playtesters that you as a developer can feel confident you’re making something worthwhile and sought after. Also, after so much time you learn to cope with the doubts and handle them better. So while you can still worry later on (and anything can still happen)you become a stronger person who can bounce back.

Is your game free, a one off cost, monthly payment or micro or crypto transactions?

Netherguild is going to be $10 on early access release! I think it’s a great price because it’s cheap enough to encourage people to try out something new and unknown while still not being too cheap. I also plan to increase the price over time as more content is added to the game – because I think it makes more sense and feels fairer that way.

What would you do differently if you could go back and do it again?

I think that for many games, it’s a lot easier to do things with hindsight. Over the course of the game you learn which features need to be enhanced or cut; how to speak about the game in marketing; or how to explain certain gameplay concepts to players. So while there isn’t ‘one thing’ I’d change, I do think I’ve learned a lot over the course of these last 5 years of developing Netherguild. But man, there’s a lot of bugs I’ve fixed since which I wouldn’t want to tackle again, so I’ll say no to time travel for now haha

Tell us a little about what you have planned next for your game update?

I plan on continuing to update the game during early access until the 1.0 version a few years down the line and possibly for a bit afterwards, too! After releasing Netherguild in early access and recovering while bugfixing the week afterwards, I plan on continuing to deliver regular content updates. My first few updates will likely add more content to the game & new areas as well as polish. Later on during the year I plan on adding new zones and new systems to the game!

What are the minimum software/hardware requirements to play your game?

Minimum settings:
Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 10
Processor: Dual Core CPU
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 740 1GB
Storage: 300 MB available space

These settings are based on the old laptop I used to develop the game on, before it broke, and I had to pay a fortune for data recovery! However, I’ve seen people make the game work on even lower settings like Nvidia Quadro GPUs and such.

When do you plan on launching your game?

I plan on launching Netherguild in early access on the 27th of March 2023!! From there on it’ll take a number of years until the game is fully released.

I’m going to focus on Steam for early access, there’s multiple reasons for this:
1. Steam has a multiplicative effect. The more people buy my game there, the more it’s shown to other Steam customers
2. Early access might be filled with hotfixes; it’s tough and time consuming to hotfix on multiple platforms as opposed to one.
3. It’s a good idea to focus the community in “one place” – it means that updates during early access only need to be posted on Steam (and Discord possibly) to be seen by all Netherguild players.

However, once Netherguild is fully released, I don’t rule out putting it in every storefront that would accept it!

Do you have a demo?

Yes, Netherguild has a demo on Steam

Not Reviewed
Netherguild is a turn-based tactical, roguelite dungeon-crawler; where you command expeditions below the earth in a desperate attempt to cure a strange plague. Explore, camp, and fight as far as you can before heading back to resupply. What will you discover underground?
Release Date: 27 Mar 2023
Platform: Linux , PC
Game Mode: Single-Player
Developed by: David Vinokurov
Published by: David Vinokurov
Genre: RPG , Strategy
Game Engine: Unity
Stores: Steam
Game Website: Visit Game Website/Page