At PAX Aus 2019, we were fortunate enough to be able to speak with David Lloyd from Powerhoof about their upcoming point and click adventure game – The Drifter.
Alex: Hello everyone, it’s Alex from Switchaboo and I’m joined by Dave from Powerhoof Studios. How are you today?
Dave: I’m good!
A: So please tell us about The Drifter and the game’s general synopsis.
D: The Drifter is a fast-paced Pulp thriller adventure game. The main character is thrust into different situations, gets into a lot of crises and has lots of stuff stacking on top of him as you’re playing through. The game has a tech-thriller vibe with a science fiction element that’s set in a fictional modern city in Victoria, Australia.
A: And the main character is a drifter?
D: Yes. He is an ex-physics teacher turned drifter who has run into a bit of trouble earlier in his life. In the game, he is revisiting the town he grew up in that he’s been away from for a long time and facing his past.
A: Being an Australian-based indie dev team, you wanted to make this game very Aussie?
D: Yeah, it was something I avoided doing for quite a long time but we did a Game Jam set in Antarctica. We tried using an Aussie accent in order to make the character a bit more grounded as it was our first attempt at a more serious game and it worked really well. So we thought that we really liked that and decided to do more with that style of character. In that game, he was a research scientist but the gravelly voice also seems to work for a down-and-out drifter guy [laughs].
A: Yeah I noticed that the voice acting was phenomenal so if you don’t mind me asking, who is the voice actor?
D: Adrian Vaughan. We’ve worked with him a lot and he’s done some Game Jams and trailers with us. He’s actually a 3D artist and we originally worked with him about a decade ago in a studio in Melbourne. The voice acting is like a thing he does on the side that he’s doing a lot more of now which is really cool.
A: That’s Awesome! In regards to the game’s point and click mechanic, can you touch upon that a little bit?
D: Yes, well I’m demoing the game here at PAX on the Switch, which is a weird thing to demo a point and click adventure on as it’s usually done on PC with a keyboard and mouse. I’ve been experimenting and trying to get something working with the analogue sticks where you have a bit more direct control. This means that we can have it working on consoles and feeling a lot more natural. The way that it works is that the left analogue stick moves your character around and if you hold a button, it lets you look around; so you’ll use the analogue stick to point in the directions as it shows you the points of interest around your character.
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A: That’s great for docked mode but does The Drifter also utilise the touchscreen in handheld mode?
D: Yeah, the Switch is nice that is has the touchscreen. Sometimes when you’re playing in handheld mode and depending on how you’re holding it, you might want to use one finger on the touchscreen and the other on the analogue stick. So it’s nice to have that flexibility. I think I’ll aim to have it working for both play styles on Switch but then for other consoles, playing on the TV with a standard controller will still work well.
A: How is the game’s development going in late 2019?
D: My strategy is to block on the entire game with placeholder art and dialogue. I have all of the puzzles and the plot all worked out and now I just need to go back and make it all nice. That’s the strategy that we’ve generally used in our shorter Game Jams where they’re done in two weeks where all of the art and audio comes into it in the last few days and somehow it all comes together and feels atmospheric [laughs]. For PAX, I’ve put together the first chapter and made sure I’ve finalised the art and audio. So it’s been quite a journey, I’ve mainly had the game running with simple placeholder art where there’s no atmosphere yet. It’s really hard to be able to trust myself that it’s all going to come together in the end but it’s been good to get the atmosphere into the first chapter for PAX and it’s been received quite well.
A: Fantastic! And who else has been working on The Drifter with you?
D: Barney Cumming is the other member of Powerhood and he’s been helping me do all of the art. So basically, I mock it up really simply and Barney comes in and makes it look really nice. He’s also an amazing animator, so we’re going to get a lot of juicy animations in there, too. Another friend, Louis Meyer, has been doing the music. We’re going for a John Carpenter-esque vibe there – a lot of dark synths and stuff like that which we’re really happy with. I mentioned Adrian Vaughan who is going to be the main voice actor; he’s also been helping with voice casting. That’s the team and myself who’s putting the rest of it all together [laughs].
A: Sounds good! And I know it’s a bit early at this stage but when can fans expect to play The Drifter on Nintendo Switch?
D: I’m intending to set a deadline for this time next year and then miss it by a mile…
A: Good strategy! Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
D: Well you can check out all of our other games and our free point and click adventures which are kind of in the same style at powerhoof.com.
A: And aside from your website, where can readers go to follow you and the game’s development?
A: Thank you very much for your time, Dave.
D: No worries, thank you.
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