Exclusive Interview: Ryan Huggins Of Sundae Month Talks Dad Quest

There have been a lot of games about dads lately, but most of these have been comedy-based. There really haven’t been too many heartfelt titles about fatherhood. Looking to deliver a game that explores the “sacred bond between Dad and Child” is Sundae Month’s Dad Quest, which is currently being crowdfunded on Kickstarter.

To find out more about the intriguing platformer, we talked to Sundae Month’s Ryan Huggins. It was an interesting discussion about dads in gaming, the collective’s interesting origins and much more.

Check it out below, and enjoy!

We Got This Covered: How did Sundae Month come up with the concept behind Dad Quest?

Ryan Huggins: Interestingly enough, Dad Quest was in development for almost a year before the whole “dad game” craze started. Because we are students and this was a side project at the time, work was very slow. As far as the concept itself is concerned, a couple of the members of Sundae Month help run the game development clubs at Champlain College and for whatever reason the concept of “dads” in general ended up becoming a running joke. It was honestly quite dumb, but at some point Eric Winebrenner, now the project lead/programmer of Dad Quest, came up to me and said, “Ryan, we should make a game with dads in it and call it ‘Dad Quest’.” We were pretty excited about the name, so I made a prototype for a class and we moved on from there.

WGTC: I absolutely love that you define a Dad as “a title taken by many who love their children.” Running with this theme, there will even be a playable female Dad in the game. What made you decide to go in this direction?

RH: Dad being a title wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision. Sundae Month is just a reasonably diverse and progressive group of people and we thought it would be really funny and effective if Dads could be any gender. Really though, the question we asked was “What is a Dad?” and to us they were just an important figure in a child’s life that doesn’t explicitly give birth to them. From there we figured out a narrative concept with this in mind and well, it just ended up the way that it is now! Unfortunately, that is all I can say on the topic for now.

WGTC: One of the game’s core mechanics is throwing your child at enemies. Are there other ways that players will be able to use their child as a weapon?

RH: Explicitly, the only way the player can currently use their child is by throwing them. We have had discussions about a slightly older (and taller) child class that the player could use like a sword, but we haven’t prototyped it yet. Other than that idea though, we’ve implemented a variety of Child classes with very different abilities.

The Cultist for example, is very loyal and a charged throw allows it to aggro and attack any enemies it wants to independently of the Dad. Orphans, which are by definition (in Dad Quest lore) closer to nature, have animal familiars that aid them in battle. We even have a child that is a literal brick. We’re trying to accommodate for several different play styles without ever going out of scope and exhausting Eric as the programmer.

WGTC: Dad Quest began development as a rogue-like. Can you explain how the game has changed over time, and how difficult it will be?

RH: That’s a very complex question because the iterative process that Matt, Eric and I go through is unconventional (and the game is still partially in the iterative stages). As far as the rogue-lite nature of the game though, we were very interested in a looping cycle where a Dad and a Child go on an adventure and when the Dad dies, the Child becomes the next Dad in the cycle.

We iterated on this for awhile and went through a number of systems where the Dad influenced the Children at the stat level and vice versa, but we ended up deciding that that was much too complicated. We found that it was more appealing for people to make direct decisions about what sort of children they could get in the next cycle versus it being “random” or “procedural.” Thus, we ended up designing a less procedurally generated game and a more of a procedurally varied one.

The difficulty level hasn’t been set in stone yet, but we are leaning towards a very difficult game, as our Heirloom system allows for a player to actually improve their Dad family over time versus having to start 100% from scratch on each run.

WGTC: You’ve currently raised over $5,000 of Dad Quest’s $8,000 goal with 9 days to go. How has the fan reaction been so far, and how happy are you with the progress so far?

RH: People love Dad Quest as a concept and the support has been great! We’re honestly getting a little anxious about our goal being reached, but we haven’t actually contacted very many people, so it’s pretty much our own fault. The reaction, though, has been incredible and we’re just happy to say that we created a Kickstarter that people genuinely found enjoyable. With that said, we are completely determined to hit our goal and for the next ten days we will literally be sending press packages out to every person that I can find. I’ll probably die, but it will be worth it if we have a successful Kickstarter!