What’s in a Bowl of Guacamelee? [Interview]

Words and wisdom from DrinkBox Studios' Graham Smith.


When DrinkBox Studios announced Guacamelee on October 18th, we did an excitable post here at MTB. Not too soon after producer/programmer, Graham Smith, made contact via email and I had the courage to ask for an interview. Graham Smith obliged. Enjoy the fiesta of information.

How did Guacamelee come to be, and where did the name come from? We know it was inspired by Mexican culture, but there’s a lot of different elements of it being combined.

We somehow got a Mexican working on our team during the development of About a Blob. Augusto was the one responsible for animating all of the characters and cut-scenes in the game, including the caricatures of the Drinkbox team members. When development on About a Blob was wrapping up, the team was brainstorming ideas for our next project, and Augusto brought the high-level concept of Guacamelee to us. The other team members ran with the idea and it evolved into something a bit different (e.g. the concept of multiple dimensions was introduced), but the title of the game and the core story line have remained unchanged.

How much of the game is unreserved insanity?

100%! Well maybe not that much, but definitely as much as we think can get away with. There are some very interesting and bizarre legends/myths in Mexican culture, and we are trying to incorporate many of these in to the game, as well as many of our own insane ideas.

How was Guacamelee received at Digifest’s First Person Show?

The reception was super positive. Strangers were jumping in to the game together, learning the controls pretty quickly, and seemed to be having a lot of fun. From observing people, we also identified a couple of small rough spots in the demo that we have now been able to improve.

There’s a scene with two roosters running around during the announcement trailer. Are we actually going to get to be roosters in co-op mode?

Most definitely! In the current demo there is a giant chicken in the town. If you manage to find him, he gives you the “Power of Chicken” and sends you off on a quest to find his 12 brothers to tell them that they suck. People seem to really like being a chicken for some reason that I don’t entirely understand.


How is the game structured, is there a separate story for single-player and co-op or are they combined?

The whole game will be designed to work with one or 2 players. The second player can drop in or out at any time.

How long do you expect the game to be?

I can’t really give an answer on this yet. We want to get as much into the game as we can, but also keep it streamlined so that players never feel lost or bored. I think the final length of the game will be figured out closer to the end of development. I expect it will also take significantly longer for someone who is trying to find all the secrets than it will for someone who is just following the main story straight to the end.

Are there any plans for DLC?

We have been talking about ideas we could do for DLC, but nothing definite yet.

Is the style of the game more Metroidvania exploration or Shank battle royale?

The combat might feel a bit closer to Shank (close quarter melee), but the overall game feel is definitely more Metroid-vania.

What’s different in your game that will draw people to it?

Initially, people seem to be really drawn to the general theme of the game. Grim Fandango still holds a place in many people’s hearts (mine included) and to my knowledge that is the last time a game with a similar theme (Day of the Dead) was done.
Once the game is fired up though, it’s the unusual combination of game elements which seems to be the people really enjoy. Imagine co-op Metroid where you play as a Luchador, “Street Fighter like” controls, and the ability to swap instantly between parallel worlds (like in Link to the Past). These elements work surprisingly well together. Then when you wrap it all up in a bizarre world filled with crazy characters, you get Guacamelee!

When can we expect to see more Guacamelee?

We’ll probably have a lot more to show early next year.

 How is your relationship with Sony?

Sony is awesome. They have been great to work with, both through the development of About a Blob and Mutant Blobs Attack. We really enjoy working with them.
Given that About a Blob is on PSN and Mutant Blobs Attack will be on Vita, is it safe to assume that Guacamelee will also find its way onto a Sony platform? …. Are other platforms being considered?
We can’t say for sure what platforms we will be releasing on yet. We’re still trying to figure that out.
Do you plan to release a demo?
Yes, I’m pretty certain there will be a demo for the game.
Should players be on the lookout for Drinkbox in-game cameos?
I think this is something we’ll decide later on, but we could definitely end up putting in some Mexican-themed DrinkBox cameos :D
In a Behind the Scenes post on Mutant Blobs Attack, it seemed like there was party crasher during the design meeting, have there been any other break-ins at Drinkbox?
Ah you are referring to David’s recent post in the Mutant Blobs Attack Blog :) Despite the humourous self-deprecating post, David has been a great addition to the team, and really does have good design ideas. (Yes that is how Canadians spell “humourous”)

Who at Drinkbox makes the best guacamole? What makes for the best guacamole, in their opinion?

I think this might be a good competition for the studio to have. I make a decent guacamole, but it is a bit heavy on the onions for most people’s tastes. I think Augusto would likely make a better one because he has the Mexican advantage. I just asked him over Google Talk what he thinks makes the best guacamole. Here is an unedited transcript of the conversation:
Graham: What makes for “the best” guacamole? Is there a secret?
Augusto: lol
Augusto: good guacamole, obviously good avocados
Augusto: but that’s easy
Augusto: make sure you put in lime juice
Augusto: i usually just add a bit of salt, lime juice and tomato, diced small
Augusto: bec i’m lazy
Augusto: but if you have cilantro you can add that too
Augusto: cilantro is strong but blends well with lime
Augusto: so they balance each other out
Augusto: avocado goes brown super quick, so make sure you use the transparent plastic wrap on the container. the moms and grandma’s have a trick where they say to keep the seeds inside the guac, bc that keeps it green
Augusto: but scientifically that’s bc the seeds are big and block the air
Graham: Ok, this is good stuff. The world needs to know this!
Graham: It’s for an interview I am doing by the way
Augusto: hahaha awesome
Awesome, indeed. A big thanks to the devs over at DrinkBox and Graham Smith. We’ll keep you posted as more information on DrinkBox Studios’ Guacamelee (and guacamole) come in.

Katie Horstman
Katie Horstman
Katie Horstman

Staff Writer

Katie has always had a connection to games and was able to make Super Mario Bros. a motion game before Nintendo even thought of the Wii. She has a serious addiction; an illness if you may, of loving ridiculous games. She has been through an extensive digital rehabilitation, but we fear her addiction is surfacing again.

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