Published on May 12th, 2011 | by Derek Strickland, Contributor
Q & A Interview With Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games
GAMINGtruth’s Indie Games Editor sits down with Robert Boyd, head of Zeboyd Games. This prestigious development studio is behind such popular Xbox Indie RPG’s as Breath of Death VII: The Beginning and the critically-acclaimed title Cthulhu Saves the World, both of which have been Indie best-sellers on the marketplace.
The interview itself is in a Q & A format with ten questions, some of which are two questions in one. The focus on the questions themselves shift from topic to topic and include the Xbox Live Indie Games created by Zeboyd Games, the XNA Community as a whole, and even lightly touching on the ratings manipulation that recently took place.
Normal: Zeboyd Games
GAMINGtruth Interview With Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games
1. What RPG titles influenced your team while developing and creating Cthulhu Saves the World?
Excluding the obvious answer of Breath of Death VII: The Beginning since it’s our own game, I’d say Okage: Shadow King was probably the biggest influence since it gave me the idea of having a villain as the main hero.
2. Cthulhu Saves the World was featured in 2010’s Indie Game Winter Uprising—could you give us a little background as to how CStW was tied into the event, and maybe what the IGWU meant to the XBLIG Community?
Actually, the Indie Games Winter Uprising started out as a possible promotion between Cthulhu Saves the World and Soulcaster 2. Then I thought, “If a promotion between two games is a good idea, a promotion between a dozen games is an even better idea!” Thus, the Indie Games Winter Uprising was formed.
As for what the IGWU means to the XBLIG community, I think it varies greatly from person to person. However, for the most part, I think the XBLIG community views it in a very positive light – the promotion was covered by a number of prominent websites and I think it really helped to raise people’s awareness and appreciation for the XBLIG service.
3. Cthulhu Saves the World is well-known for its fantastic soundtrack. What are a few of your favorite songs featured in the OST?
That’s a hard call since I think the entire soundtrack is fantastic. However, if I had to limit it to just a few, I’d go with the “Factory Dungeon theme” and “Umi’s theme” as being my two favorite songs, closely followed by the various battle themes.
4. In relation to the dark celestial deity himself—why did your team choose Cthulhu as the main “hero” of your second RPG title?
Although all of my games so far have been comedies, I’m also a big fan of horror games. I had been wanting to do a Lovecraft-themed game for a while so when the idea to force Cthulhu into a hero’s role came to me, I just had to do it.
5. A new update is planned for CStW whose name is quite long, and I understand it’s going to add a bunch of new features to the game itself. Could you give us a few details on the update?
The biggest change to the new version of Cthulhu Saves the World (besides the fact that it will also be available on the PC and not just the Xbox 360) is the new game mode, Cthulhu’s Angels. This is a remix of the main game with new dialogue, new cutscenes, and new playable characters.
We felt this would be a good way to improve replayability, plus it gave me an excuse to stick Molly the Were-zompire in an actual RPG (which was my original plans for her before I made Molly the Were-Zompire’s text-based “Choose Your Own Adventure” style game).
Other improvements include new monster descriptions, more jokes, a special commentary mode, collectable character artwork, a new Soulcaster-themed bonus dungeon, a new difficulty level, various tweaks to gameplay balance and probably a few other things that I’ve forgotten.
6. What are some of your favorite XBLIG titles on the marketplace today that you would recommend to other gamers?
Epic Dungeon is probably my favorite XBLIG that I didn’t make. Great, fast paced arcade style roguelike. Beyond that, I’m also a big fan of the various Radiangames titles, Halfbrick Echoes, Hexothermic (also available on the PSP), and too many other games to mention.
7. There was news a bit ago that CStW might be heading to Steam, has there been any new updates concerning that situation?
Nope. I got an email from Steam in February saying that they were interesting in evaluating Cthulhu Saves the World for distribution on Steam and then nothing. Given the game’s high profile in the XBLIG community and the great reviews we’ve received from respected sites like Eurogamer and Joystiq, I would think Cthulhu Saves the World would be a shoe-in, but I haven’t heard back from them yet.
Hopefully, it’s just a matter of them getting behind on submission due to getting Portal 2 out.
Update: Apparently CStW has received the greenlight from Steam–below is Mr. Boyd’s official tweet on the matter over Twitter:
8. What advice would you give to the aspiring developers and game studios out there in the XNA Community concerning how to make a great RPG title?
Start small. I think too many potential RPG developers are too ambitious with their first game with the result that they get discouraged and never finish anything.
Start small and work your way up.
9. In relation to your first RPG title, Breath of Death VII: The Beginning, what were your favorite moments that occurred while developing BoD VII?
The first time I got the map system working so that the player could walk around an actual map was pretty amazing – made me feel like we could honestly make an actual game. Right after the game got through peer review and hit the #1 top rated slot was pretty amazing as well, even though it eventually solidified in the #2 slot after a day or two.
10. How were your game releases affected by the XBLIG ratings manipulation that took place a bit ago on Xbox’s main website?
They were hit pretty bad. Cthulhu Saves the World dropped from around #6 to around #30 and Breath of Death dropped from around #4 to #7. Daily sales for both titles also dropped noticeably. Hopefully, we’ll see an improvement in rating and sales when we release the new version of Cthulhu Saves the World.
That concludes GAMINGtruth’s official Interview with Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games. I’d like to thank Mr. Boyd for his participation in the Interview and for taking time away from his busy schedule for this opportunity.
For reference, screenshots and trailers of Zeboyd Games’ popular RPG Xbox Indies Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death VII: The Beginning have been included below. Both titles are available on the Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace for 80 MSP (BoD VII) and 240 MSP (CStW) respectively.
The official trailer for Cthulhu Saves the World featuring the song “Hey There Cthulhu”.
Breath of Death VII: The Beginning’s official game trailer.
For more information on these Xbox Indie titles and the studio that created them, Zeboyd Games, please visit their homesite.
Click each game’s box art below to be taken to their official pages on the Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace on Xbox.com.