Owen Deery on his game Radio Viscera
If you can't get enough top-down shooters and have a special place in your heart for devil worshipping cults, you will want to keep an eye on Radio Viscera, the latest game from the creator of Small Radios Big Televisions. Face off against an angry cult with your trusty air cannon, and knock your foes into dangerous machinery with predictably gory results. But why? To unlock stylish accessories so you can violently deprogram cult members in style, of course!
In short, Radio Viscera is a top-down shooter with destructible environments, ragdoll physics, and loads of grotesque workplace accidents, and it is the brainchild of Owen Deery. The game development one-man-army is notable for doing everything himself, from engines to artwork, and we talked to him about what inspired his latest game and its particular brand of violence.
After completing Small Radios Big Televisions, Owen's first idea was a top-down exploration game similar to the game he just finished – but no-one picked up the pitch. Fortunately, the work wasn't wasted: Owen used it in the Epistle 3 game jam, where game developers created games inspired by the as-yet-unreleased Half-Life 3.
“I had this working top-down game framework already and decided to make a sillier version of Half-life using assets ripped from the original game.” Owen explained. “This allowed me a lot of room to experiment with different action mechanics, cameras, movement. By the time the game jam was finished, I had the framework for what would become Radio Viscera.”
Radio Viscera was also a reaction to the 2016 US elections and the xenophobia that permeated it. “All the ideas I came up with after that point were tinged with this ambient anxiety about the cruelty and ambivalence being shown toward the people of a country less than an hour’s drive away.” Owen said. He found violent games to be cathartic, wanted to make something arcadey and over-the-top and found inspiration in Robocop's use of violence.
"When something happens in a Paul Verhoeven movie, it happens at 110%,” Owen said. “If someone gets shot, they get shot 12 times. If someone is hit by a van, their body explodes. It shows a sort of irreverence toward violence, and pushes it past being “realistic” to the point where it becomes cartoonish again.” Thus the already exaggerated game become positively surreal – and satisfying: “The more you amplify and exaggerate an interaction, the more juicy and satisfying it will feel”
Designing this kind of game has its challenges, though. “Readability is certainly a challenge when working on a real time action game and needs to be highly prioritized when developing the visual style of the game as a whole as well as the design of the individual elements.” Owen said. His initial test level focused on making sure the game was legible, so while the game is chaotic, its presentation is carefully balanced to ensure players always understand what's going on.
Radio Viscera is initially headed for Steam as a single-player game, but Owen is fond of co-op games and is pondering how to make that happen. “It would be tough to add co-op or multiplayer elements to the current campaign,” Owen explained. “But if the game garners enough support I would love to release extra content with co-op possibilities.”
Owen isn’t quite comfortable making promises just yet, but he told us that a demo will be available before the game releases. Radio Viscera is scheduled to be out this summer, so remember: If cults, ultraviolence and gory accidents with heavy machinery sounds like your idea of fun, then get Radio Viscera wishlisted right now!