Dustforce Q & A: An interview with Hitbox Team

Jan 29, 2014 // Chris

Learn how everything from household chores to Super Smash Bros. inspired the upcoming PS Vita/PS3/Xbox 360 game, Hitbox Team’s Dustforce Capcom wish list and more…  

CAPCOM UNITY: So how long did you work on Dustforce?

HITBOX TEAM : Lexie and Woodley made a prototype of Dustforce in the summer of 2010.  They entered and won a contest with it, winning enough money to work on turning it into a full game, after bringing Matt and Terence aboard.  We finished it in early 2012, so the whole process took about a year and a half.

Above: A look at the Dustforce prototype

CU: Where did the idea for Dustforce come from?

HB: We wanted to create a game about mastering movement systems and showing off your skill stylishly.  Woodley was watching his uncle sweep up leaves one day, and was inspired by the fluidity of its movements and the catharsis of cleaning, and realized it was the perfect aesthetic theme for a game.

CU: What games inspired Dustforce? Were there any Capcom games that inspired Dustforce?

HB: Dustforce was heavily inspired by Super Smash Brothers Melee.  Its movement system was intuitive enough for everyone to pick up, but was filled with intricacies that gave players room to discover new techniques and to master the system.  We were also inspired by old hardcore platformers, particularly Mega Man, because we loved that they forced players to get better by improving themselves instead of their characters.

CU: Approximately how much of the game did you leave for the player to discover?

HB: Almost all of the game is left for the player to figure out.  After the tutorial, the player is free to explore any direction, and will have to discover and master the techniques required to find and finish the more difficult levels.  There are also lots of opportunities for the player to go off the beaten path and find secret visuals that we left laying around.

CU: How do you feel about what players have added to the game? User created levels and/or acrobatics you didn’t foresee?

HB: We were really impressed by the speed at which the top players developed their skills.  In only a few weeks, players were surpassing our own abilities and discovering advanced techniques that we didn’t even realize existed.  Later on, we tried to make a new final level that would be impossibly difficult, as a joke dare for masochistic players.  Within 6 hours of its release, a player beat it with a perfect score.  Just recently, that same player managed to beat the entire game completely blindfolded.

See how Unity stacks up to the Dustforce Pros! (HINT: Not well) 

A devoted speedrunning community has developed around shaving off every millisecond on each map, and our mapmaking community consistently adds new maps every week that contain gameplay ideas and visual ideas that we never even thought of.  We’ve seen lava pits, snowy mountains, speed boosters, all things we never intended to exist in the game.  It’s also really fun playing in the weekly races set up by the community on their custom maps, although sometimes it’s demoralizing coming in last place on your own game!

CU: Do you have a favorite level?

HB: My two favorite levels are some of the earliest ones we made.  The first one is Night Temple, which was the first level that we would consider to be very difficult.  It had elements of a map from the prototype of Dustforce, so there’s some nostalgia there.   It took us forever to beat, but now everyone seems to be able to do it consistently.

My other favorite level is one of the easiest in the game: Downhill.  It’s just a simple map perfect for boosting and sliding fast.  When we were making the game, we all competed on trying to get the best time.  We got really excited when one of us finished it in less than 18 seconds.  We tried harder and got it under 17 seconds.  We thought for sure that no one would get it in the 15’s.  But nowadays, the top score is in the 12’s!

As for custom maps, I love the visuals of Meark’s maps , one of our more prolific community map makers, and I love the flow and gameplay of Towelie’s maps , another great map maker.

CU: Who is you favorite character and why?

HB: A lot of people seem to be fan’s of the red Dust Girl, but I personally like the original blue Dustman himself.  He’s just well balanced all around, and a lot of the maps were built around his abilities. 

CU: Is there any Capcom character you’d like think would be suitable addition to the Dustforce crew?

HB: Dust Man from Mega Man 4 would be a great enemy, of course!  Dante from DMC and Vega from Street Fighter seem to have the finesse for cleaning up the Dustforce world. 


However, I think Otis, the janitor from Dead Rising, has the most experience in the business.

CU: How do you feel about the added Achievements/Trophies for Xbox, PS3 and Vita?

HB: I love the gold one that is only awarded on beating the entire game.  Dustforce is probably one of the hardest games out there: there’s only been around 30 players so far who have gotten an SS score on all the official levels.  Getting that gold achievement will truly be an achievement in the original sense of the word!

CU: Are there any secrets players have yet to discover?

HB: I think people have searched every nook and cranny by now, but I think there may be a hidden apple or two that have gone by unnoticed.  No one has shown me the one in Night Temple, so hopefully someone will now!

K eep your eyes on those apples

CU: Can you give players any hints and/or advice on what not to overlook in Dustforce?

HB: It’s important to get comfortable with the movement system!  Try to understand where you are failing and figure out how to improve, and then practice.  For example, most new players don’t realize that they often accidentally step off a ledge right before jumping, which uses up their second jump.  Look for the visual cue that says you are jumping off the ground and not the air, and make sure to give yourself enough room to make a jump.

CU: What are you working on now/next?

HB: We’re working on a first-person shooter roguelike game called Spire.  It’s a mix of Quake and NetHack – you have the ultra fast-paced movement and combat of Quake, which tests your mastery of moving and shooting, and the procedurally generated worlds and intricate item interactions of NetHack, which tests your ability to adapt on the fly and to be creative with what you are given. 

Like Dustforce, it’s a game about exploration and mastery.  It’ll also have quite a competitive aspect to it, the same way Dustforce does.  We want to really give something special to the speedrunning, climbing, and trickjumping communities that exist for many games.

CU: Thanks so much, guys!

Dustforce is headed to Xbox 360, PS3 and PS Vita starting February 4th. Click here to see how you can save a bunch of money on the PS Vita version. Head here for more official Dustforce info and other fun stuff.