A title coming out this week that you may have missed is the explosive indie game Death By Game Show; a twitch-action and tower defense hybrid from developer Oointah.
The game takes place 500 years into the future, where droids now rule the world due to humans becoming irreversibly idiotic — and the earth’s new mechanical masters intend to keep it that way, sentencing any person with even just a tiny glimmer of intelligence to ‘Death By Game Show.’ Such is the fate of U.H. Wutt, a heavy-set hero who is by no means smart, but compared to the rest of his fellow men, he is practically Albert Einstein.
If the premise sounds familiar, it’s because the developers were heavily inspired by the 2006 comedy film, Idiocracy, which was written and directed by famed satirist Mike Judge. Judge is perhaps best known as the creator of such animated sitcoms as Beavis and Butthead, King of The Hill, and The Goode Family, as well as the live-action workplace comedies Office Space and Extract.
Idiocracy stars Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph and, like Death By Game Show, takes place in the 26th century, where humanity has fallen victim to a severe, worldwide case of stupidity. While it hasn’t gained quite the dedicated cult following of Office Space, the film still has its fans. Two of those fans are Oointah’s founder, Malcolm Michaels, and the game’s director, Duane Beckett.
Last week, We Got This Covered got to speak to these two about the inspirations behind their pop-culture-fuelled universe, and it made for a rather interesting talk. Check out the full interview below, and enjoy!
WGTC: Was Death By Game Show always intended to be an homage to Idiocracy, or did it start off as something else?
Malcolm Michaels: It evolved from the change in gameplay and a change in the game world. Pop culture was always part of the concept, with Idiocracy playing a small part, yet once we made the change to a game show environment, it was a no-brainer. At that point we discovered that most everyone on the team had a love for Idiocracy, so it made sense to go all-in.
You see that in the art, with everything popping up and flashing. Yet all that just looks normal at first glance. When you look closer you’ll notice things are made from old items, held together with chains or totally hobbled into something abstract―like a rocket on a unicycle for example.
Mike Judge is predominantly known as a satirist, with his work often taking aim at suburban life and corporate institutions. Is Death By Game Show intended as a satire? Is there any message you wish to convey through the game’s humour?
Duane Beckett: On the surface it’s meant to be satire and I think we do achieve the cartoon aesthetic with lots of in-your-face comments, loud voices, and explosions. Just like most of social media, television, and YouTube these days.
We know the game looks like a big meme, but it doesn’t play like one. It’s hard. We deliberately make the UI unorthodox in places and limit movement to create this sense of unfamiliarity. A lot of players are taken aback by the lack of direct attack or jump.
We also keep a lot of information back to just tooltips, background signs, and additional pop-ups so that the player has to cut through the in-your-face satire to improve their chance of victory. The player is meant to feel… Not Sure (yes, that is the name of the character in Idiocracy) when playing, kind of like a first-time contestant on a new show―you see the prize, you understand the objective, but actually winning it is a different proposition. You begin all over the place, but the more you try the better you get.