Dust: An Elysian Tail

Published on November 2nd, 2012 | by Derek Strickland, Contributor

Humble Hearts Dev Publishes Postmortem on Dust an Elysian Tail

Humble Hearts, the one-man independent gaming studio, has recently published an engaging and impressive postmortem on their critically acclaimed Xbox LIVE Arcade hit Dust: An Elysian Tail. Dean Dodrill personally delivers an intimate look at the game which was three years in the making, showing the obstacles that indie devs face in not only developing but marketing their game.

Dust has become an indie sensation and has been hailed throughout the gaming sphere on many major websites including IGN and Destructoid as one of the most artistically beautiful games on the Xbox LIVE Arcade Marketplace, combining vibrant and color environments with engaging and supremely enjoyable hack-n-slash sidescrolling gameplay.

Here’s a brief snippet from Dean’s official postmortem.

“Late in 2008 I read an article in OXM detailing what was possible with a new programming language, cryptically called XNA. I had never programmed before, and besides a short contract doing cutscenes for Jazz Jackrabbit 2, had never worked on a video game (I’m actually an animator/illustrator by trade).

For years I had been feeling the call to make my own game — something small, like an 8-bit NES title. The OXM article convinced me to download the free tools and just try it. Four years later, I released Dust: An Elysian Tail as the headliner of XBLA’s Summer of Arcade 2012. Yeah, I can’t believe it either.” 

“Each frame would be downsampled from film res to a 300×300 block, and arranged neatly on a sprite sheet. In the end Dust himself comprised over 500 unique frames of animation, across four massive 4k sprite sheets. Dust alone used up most of the RAM available on the Xbox 360.

The character editor was created in tandem with the artwork. The editor was also customized to handle segmented characters, which ended up comprising the rest of the cast.

Dust (the early working title, later changed to Dust: An Elysian Tail to make it searchable, and to tie it into my existing IP) would be an open-world mix of genres, where the player could gain new abilities and take on side quests from non-playable characters, and feature a simple leveling-up and loot system. My largest inspirations were Blaster Master, Monster World, Cadash, Strider, and Castlevania.”–Dean Dodrill, Official Dust Postmortem, Gamasutra.com

Find the entire article on Gamasutra and discover how a one-man indie dev made it big with Dust: An Elysian Tail and how it became one of the most renown XBLA’s of all time. Dust is available on the Xbox LIVE Arcade Marketplace for 1200 MSP ($14.99).

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About the Author

I'm an aspiring games journalist who writes articles focused on everything from Indie Games to next-gen titles. [Twitter] @Mr_Deeke [E-Mail] derek.s(at)gamingtruth(dot)com

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