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Had the pleasure in speaking with the talented folks over at Extend Mode . Let’s learn more about the studio and their game, Eight Dragons. You can add the game to your wishlist on Steam right now.

Thank you guys for taking the time to speak with me today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?

Thanks for interviewing us! Who are Extend Mode? We’re a small group, primarily from the UK, who love videogames, and can’t help but make them. It all started with Nathan and Chris, but when we started to seriously consider commercial releases of games, we realised we needed more people, leading to the team we have now.

Extend Mode

Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Extend Mode, how was it formed.

Extend Mode was formed in 2016 to launch our first game, Crazy Otto. (Crazy Otto is basically an eight player take on Ms Pacman.) But that isn’t really where it started… Nathan and Chris have known each other for over twenty years, and have spent a lot of that time making games and prototypes and giving them away on the internet. Some of them are still around if you look in the right places – In Country, Advanced Lawnmower Simulator 2000, Quadros, Tenth Crusade, Target; 2006, Relic Raider, Team Pacman – but we figured we could make more and better games if we did it full-time. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re on track – Eight Dragons is our biggest and best game so far!

The name, incidentally, comes from a feature tied to the special nature of the computer we started out on, the ZX Spectrum…

Extend Mode

There was a short time when ‘True Video’ was on the cards, but then we sobered up.

This question is addressed to Chris, Nathan & Rich. Can you explain your roles and responsibilities?

Nathan: Mostly I write the code. This also gives me a slight lead on game design, as it’s easier for me to just put stuff in, but with this game we’ve all had a lot of input and it’s changed quite a lot from how I originally saw things working! When Chris isn’t looking I get to sneak in teeny tiny graphical things, like the stars that float around knocked-out characters, but anything bigger than five pixels is beyond me. I try to stick to procedural things on the graphics side, like dynamic shadows and things like that.

We’re all supposed to be ‘doing’ PR, but I’m easily the worst at it. In my defence, it’s hard to talk about what I do without boring everyone to tears!

Chris: It was originally the plan that I’d be responsible for the character sprites and be the artistic lead in general, however working with some artists internationally proved that it was difficult to communicate the vision, so I became responsible for all of the artwork besides some stunning box-artwork from Rizkynugraha. We outsourced the music originally too, but player feedback meant that we decided to replace that, which got added to my workload. I’ve not written all of the music though, we’ve got some great tracks contributed by Zuryel Davenport.

Rich: I started out as a play tester for Crazy Otto and then for Eight Dragons. Chris and Nathan later asked me to help out at some gaming events. We discovered that I was quite good at getting people talking about the game and drumming up more interest for it. This led to me becoming effectively Head of Marketing, which means I’ve taken on the responsibility of guiding Eight Dragons through today’s social media driven world.

Can you explain to our audience what the game Eight Dragons is to those that are not familiar with it.

Eight Dragons

Eight Dragons is a side-scrolling fighting game for up to eight players. Yes, eight players at once! There are eight playable characters to choose from, each with their own story, levels to get through and bosses to fight. And the story can take different paths, with different levels and bosses depending on which characters are playing.

Eight Dragons - Cera

The whole style of the game is an evolution of the classic beat-’em-ups, like Double Dragon and Streets of Rage, both in gameplay and graphics. As well as the story mode, there’s a straightforward Arcade mode that gives you a fixed route through the city to fight through, a Score Attack mode, so you can go for high scores, and an Endurance mode, so you can see just how long you can keep fighting against endless waves of enemies.

Eight Dragons - Aston

Eight Dragons - Danny

Do you believe that Eight Dragons is the spiritual successor to a game like Final fight or Double Dragon?

Absolutely. There was a line of side-scrolling beat-’em-ups that sort of ran through the Eighties and Nineties and then died when 3D took over, and Eight Dragons is closely tied to it. Its origins come from a remake of the ZX Spectrum version of Target; Renegade (called Target; 2006), which itself was a take on Double Dragon. As we’ve worked on Eight Dragons, we’ve tried to evolve along that line of fighting games to get something that feels familiar to the people who played those games, and still fun and satisfying to everybody else. We’ve done pretty well; when we’ve shown the game off at conventions like Insomnia and Revival, we’ve had that recognition from people of our generation, but surprisingly it’s been kids that seemed to enjoy it the most.

Eight Dragons - Becca

If we had to list the most important games in that line, they’d have to be Double Dragon, Target; Renegade, Golden Axe and Streets of Rage!

Who came up with the graphic style of Eight Dragons. Is there room in the game for future DLC? Maybe include a TechWizX boss?

Chris: The style kind of evolved. Nathan gave me copies of the graphical assets from Target 2006, which had been crafted by Dean Swain of Retro Asylum and said “we need all of this but newer, and we need new characters and levels”. Initially we decided we’d outsource the level design, at this point we still imagined an 8 bit feel to the whole thing. When we got those graphics back from the artist, it was obvious that the style just wasn’t going to cut it, so I set about drawing a whole new set of levels. The level of detail and colour richness of the level design then forced the character design to change. Of course there’s the possibility of even more new characters and a TechWizX boss is not outside of the realms of possibility. Be careful what you wish for though – if I put you in, you may have to watch countless content creators beat your face in over and over again 😉

Nathan: We’ve designed to accommodate DLC, but we don’t have any concrete plans yet. We’ve got some ideas for expansion packs, but we’ll have to see if the demand’s there first!

How many people were involved in making Eight Dragons. What are there various roles.

Let’s see, well there’s Nathan, Chris, and Rich, we have John and Josh who are our testers and we have Rizkynugraha who did the box art and Zuryel who has contributed some of the in-game music. So 7.

Eight Dragons - Zonda

Currently the game will only be available for Pc ( Steam ). I’m sure console players would love this great old school system beat-em up. Any chance that Eight Dragons will be ported and to what systems?

Eight Dragons - Randt

It really depends on how Eight Dragons does on PC, we’re aiming for early access on PC at the end of April, the full release however will be PC, Linux, Mac and we hope Xbox One. If that does well enough to fund the development kits from Nintendo and Sony then we can add Switch and Playstation 4 to the supported platforms.

Nathan: I’d really like to do a port to the PS1 and Sega Saturn, but I doubt I’ll ever find the time!

Rich: Eight Dragons is crying out to be played on Switch! I think it has become the ultimate portable / couch co-op console, which Eight Dragons lends itself so easily to.

What does the future hold for Extend Mode after Eight Dragons is released in August.

This also depends on how Eight Dragons does. This’ll be two arcade games in a row for us, and we’re on the fence as to whether the next game should be an arcade game or something else. We’ve got a couple of partially-complete arcade games that could be finished fairly quickly, but we’ve also got a few other games we’d really like to work on that’ll take a lot longer to produce, and a bunch of ideas we’ve been kicking around for about ten years. There’s one game that we’ve written and re-written for the last two decades that we’re going to have to commit to at some point, but it’s huge! Ideas evolve and the market moves so keeping up when your core team is two people has proved difficult, but we now believe we have the team and support network to deliver our collective visions.

Eight Dragons - Chard

Do you have any advice for developers who are also hoping to create a high quality game.

When the taxman calls, get an accountant! *whole team laughs*

Joking aside, we can’t give advice on getting rich or famous through making games. What’s consistently made us happiest about making games is getting them in front of people. Not just selling them, but getting out to events and getting complete strangers playing our games has been the most enjoyable part of the whole thing.

Eight Dragons - Locke

It’s a great chance to get some real feedback, too. Don’t be afraid to chat to players, and don’t be precious about your game. People won’t want to be mean about it, but encourage them to be. You’ll get the best feedback about your game’s flaws from people who feel comfortable telling you what they don’t like. And honestly, without the feedback we had at last year’s Revival: Generation X  and Insomnia 63 Eight Dragons would have quite a different feel. For instance, we found a lot of young kids really enjoyed the game, so we toned down some of the mildly naughty background graphics to make it more the kind of game that a family can play together. We’re really looking forward to going to this year’s Revival and Insomnia 64; it’ll be nice to see the work we’ve put in since the last event pay off.

Some of you might think this stuff is obvious, but we’ve seen at least one guy at an event who sat watching videos on his phone, headphones on, while people were playing his game. Not taking advantage of that opportunity is such a waste.

Before we end this interview is there anything else you’d like to share?

We’re going to be showing Eight Dragons off at Insomnia 64 on the 19th to 22nd of April, and at Revival: Gaming Legends 2019 on the 15th and 16th of June. Anybody who’s in the UK and likes games should come to these; Insomnia has got something for everyone, and Revival is always packed with the best arcade games set to free play. And on top of that you can visit us and beat us at our own game!

We’re also going to be launching Eight Dragons on Early Access on April 19th, while we’re at Insomnia. Our bugs list is very short now, and it’s going to be good for most people, but we know some people are going to hit obscure bugs, and we hope they’ll be good enough to let us know what they are so we can fix them!

These are the Eight Dragons!
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About Tech Wiz X - Contributor

Steven (TechWizX) has been into video games since Pong. When he's not playing video games or collecting Vintage 80s Toys he's running his YouTube channel.

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