The Weaponographist: PAX East Interview

We spoke to Puuba's Danny Garfield to get the full rundown on The Weaponographist.

If you're a demon hunter, it doesn't pay to be mean.

We caught up with Danny Garfield of Puuba to chat about The Weaponographist during PAX East. This hack-and-slash dungeon crawler is full of action, with a plethora of unique and amusing weapons, a wide variety of enemies and an interesting story.

In The Weaponographist, you play as Doug McGrave, a world-famous demon hunter who is, as Danny succinctly put it, "super-powerful and kind of an unrepentant jerk." When a town needed some saving due to an infestation of demons, he chose to not help and was immediately struck by a curse.

This curse isn't your ordinary run-of-the-mill curse, but instead inflicts Doug such that he cannot carry any power-ups or money. To make things worse, the weapons that he finds in the town's dungeon constantly degrade and fall apart thanks to his curse. Everything that you kill drops a weapon, though, and "you'll need almost all of them!"

The demo being shown off at PAX East only focused on combat and had just six rooms of the dungeon open, but in the full game, the dungeon has five full levels, each one longer than the previous. Every level has a boss at the end of it; a couple examples include a T-Rex and an Ice Lich.

While there's only one dungeon right now, there's room for expansion later. "We have ideas for weapons even more ridiculous!", Danny told us. "Fast-paced action, constant engagement, adapt to whatever comes at you, because none of the weapons last that long. It's almost more than a dungeon crawler... I think of it as a beat 'em up at heart."

The UI has a durability meter for your current weapon, so you'll be able to keep track of its status, but trust me that it will degrade stunningly fast. If you do it right, you'll be trying to fight enemies non-stop in the dungeon and have a constant supply at the ready.

Over 30 types of mobs will be found throughout the dungeon, such as tuba players ("music is dangerous, it can change people's minds and hearts!"), lion tamers, 1920s gangsters and unicorns (the non-friendly type). Each enemy type has different weapons which you can then work on mastering. You'll be kept on your toes adapting to the wild weapons The Weaponographist offers.

Danny: "You'll find swords, spears, pogo sticks, chainsaws, tubas, yo-yos...."
ZAM: "Really? Yo-yos? What do you do with a yo-yo?"
Danny: "You spin it out and it has blades on it!"

You have a combo meter that will increase as you continuously fight; this determines your experience and level. The fuller the meter is, the more powerful your attacks are, which is obviously a great thing for a demon hunter. Lag time between fights makes the meter quickly drop and, as a result, you're weaker and the game will be much harder as you progress. Slowing down not only results in losing your combo, but you'll also fall behind with mob spawns and it will quickly overwhelm you.

In the full version of the game, you wake up in the town whenever you die in the dungeon. While there, you can exchange demon goop—the only type of currency that Doug can carry around—in return for the locals' services. The villagers will also try to chat with you while you're around town.

These services are actually upgrades: make your favorite weapon stronger, get a boost to run faster, increase your health and more. Danny commented that there are "all sorts of 30-odd upgrades" for you to work on.

In town you can also bring your demon goop to the mimic farm. Pay the farmer your goops and he'll teach his mimics rune power-ups. While you cannot carry around those power-ups, they can carry them into the dungeon for you! As you unlock the runes, you'll see the mimics pop into the dungeon more often, carrying a wider variety of power-ups.

Every checkpoint that you've ever reached in each level you've been on you can teleport straight to from town. The most recent checkpoint is the most expensive to teleport to and it has a limit. You can only travel to that checkpoint three times before it falls apart. If you hit that limit, your previous checkpoints (which are all limitless use due to hitting a newer checkpoint) are available to teleport to. Hop to one of them and work your way back, then you could "re-trigger the checkpoint again and reset it, presumably with much better positioning due to upgrades."

Checkpoints "remember" what your level and combo were, so depending how overwhelmed you were when you had died, it may prove to be more strategic to resume at a previous checkpoint, because the most recent one may be too powerful. That would give you the opportunity to work your way back while increasing your level.

Progressing through the dungeon will see you fighting as far as you can, gaining levels until you die, then upgrading at town before returning to the dungeon to rinse and repeat. Puuba expects the entire game to take 6-8 hours on the first playthrough.

If you become very powerful in the game, tougher enemies get thrown at you in the dungeon. Danny explained that new enemies, such as berserkers and maniacs, will get modifiers "that makes them tougher in interesting weird ways."

Finishing the game unlocks a hardcore mode; in this, the enemies spawn faster and tougher. Since you keep whatever upgrades and levels you had gained, it will play a bit harder and faster paced. Both the normal and hardcore modes have online high score boards available.

We listened in as Danny gave some tips while we watched others play the demo:

  • During boss fights, focus on the adds first to sustain your combo. "If you farm them, you [may] be able to level before the fight is done. If you ignore them you'll probably lose a level before the fight is over, and it will make it a lot harder."
  • "The key is constant forward motion!"
  • If magic drops, you can pick it up like you would a weapon and cast it
  • With the tuba you breathe in and back out to use its blast effect
  • There's a gauntlet with a power punch, you can use it to knock one enemy into another, causing splash damage

The Weaponographist is currently being designed for PC and Mac; you can use a keyboard or a USB controller to play (the demo had an Xbox controller in use). Danny commented that he "would love to do console – I'm a big console gamer – but right now we have a programming team of just me." Upon my exclamation of surprise, he gave the full rundown on the Weaponographist team: Danny (Programmer/Designer), Dave (QC/Sound Effects)—Danny and Dave co-wrote the dialogue, as well—and several LA-area freelance artists (Ashley, David, Drew, Ian, Joseph, Mike and Shanks).

A full game launch is currently slated for the end of April. Puuba is looking at a price of $9.99 for the game, and while Danny feels confident about it, he did caution that the cost is not completely set in stone.

My thanks to Danny for taking the time out to chat with us during PAX East. Make sure you add The Weaponographist to your wishlist now on Steam!

Ann "Cyliena" Hosler, Managing Editor


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