Dap is a horror-action-adventure about gathering and protecting a pack of fragile creatures called Daps. Lead your Daps to safety through an eerily beautiful world, fighting off threats, solving puzzles, and avoiding the infection that twists your companions into something alien and terrifying…Official website: https://meltingparrot.com/
It has been several months since the indie game “Dap” produced by Iris Anstey and Paul Anstey of Melting Parrot Games studio, successfully hit my sensitive spots. I was able to get a glimpse of a whole broth of artistic references echoing back to my childhood in the latter as well as an atmosphere at the crossroads of worlds that could only tease the adult I had become. So when the free demo of the game released on steam, I couldn’t resist the urge to reach out to its developers in order ask them some questions, and to offer you this interview so that you too can dive into this strange and familiar “space” called “Dap”.
1 – Welcome and thank you for accepting being interviewed. So you guys posted a bunch of free indie titles onto the platform Itch.io before dedicating yourselves to the making of Dap. One may distinguish a pattern among the formers (available at https://meltingparrot.itch.io/), your duo, the short length of time between each publication and the emphasis on the world atmosphere to name a few. What defines the identity of the studio?
Thank you for conducting the interview, it’s nice to get a chance to talk more about Dap. Well, the free indie titles you can see on our itch.io page all were developed while Dap was already in progress. They all were made for Iris’ university course and are all made in a few weeks, while Dap has been in development roughly since 2018. But the emphasis on the world atmosphere is something that certainly carries over to Dap and has always been something we like to focus on.
2 – What was the game’s core idea ? How has it evolved from here ?
The core idea developed throughout the development. We started making a game to learn game development initially, with many different ideas that turned out much more complex than what we could have done at that point. A lot of ideas involved bee hives and collective minds of insect colonies… This shaped early gameplay with multiplying and growing creatures, but we merged this eventually with a more scifi aesthetic and top-down shooter gameplay. From there we kept changing everything step by step until it became what it is now.
3 – When and how did you end up shaping Dap’s identity ?
Dap’s identity evolved through this endless process of changing a small game into something we thought interesting. It’s hard to say when the core identity was shaped but certainly the moment Paul copy and pasted those creatures all around the world and gave them their sounds was a big moment. A big part of what we always worked toward was the atmosphere of the game. Paul’s music with Iris’ art was always going to be a big part of the game. We like to create a dark atmosphere, creepy and dreadful at times but beautiful and light at other times. These strong opposites shaped a core idea that feeds into the game in many ways. Daps are cute but creepy, atmosphere dark and light at times, combat difficult at times and easy and satisfying at other times.
4 – What prompted you to start such an undertaking ?
We were always creative people and worked on small projects together previously. We made a little short film together, and Paul’s music was accompanied with Iris’ album covers, although these projects were nowhere near this much together by the two of us than Dap is now. Learning game development was something that gave us this project as something to keep working towards and it was not something we planned from the beginning, but the longer it went, the project became the most important thing for us.
5 – In the games that appear on your itchio page, we find a certain pleasure in the idea of depicting a microscopic world which is a mixture between strangeness and innocence (thanks to the sound design of Paul Anstey), apart from the video game which are your artistic inspirations for Dap ?
We are influenced by a wide range of media. Paul loves horror movies while Iris likes to draw inspiration from nature itself in creating plants and landscapes. We both love Studio Ghibli movies, scifi novels from authors like Philip K. Dick and many other movies and books. Our favorite thing to do is to combine elements from very different genres to create something unique.
6 – Kind of a silly question but where did the whole “Dap” thing come from ? As in both the name of the game and the noise that each character make.
Dap says Dapdap. It must be called Dap! The beings evolved while Iris tried to create a playable character and Paul thought it a nice idea to have these characters all over the place. Creating suitable sounds for them made Dap seem only fitting.
7 – I learned from a tweet posted on the 14th of April 2019 that Dap’s gameplay was based on Abe Odyssey which happens to be quite a difficult game. Dap however remained a handy one. Did you want to stray from the path of die and retry ? What kind of experience are you aiming to convey ?
Dap is only influenced by Abe’s Oddyssey a little in the way the talking to them works. You say “hello” first and then “follow me” to make them follow you. We had this captioned originally and replaced it with only symbols now. Dap also used to have a “wait” function which we also removed. Although this function came more to us naturally and we realised the similarities afterwards. The rest of the gameplay is more influenced by Legend of Zelda mixed with a top-down shooter, packed into a horror atmosphere. We wish to create immersive gameplay that is immediate lets the player experience snappy but unusual mechanics in an atmospheric environment.
8- According to a previous interview (https://explosionnetwork.com/articles/dap-is-a-psychedelic-horror-game-with-studio-ghibli-the-legend-of-zelda-inspirations ), Dap is supposed to be a particularly compact experience while lasting only three hours. Did you plan that out from the get go ?
Dap has grown quite a bit since then. We are currently estimating a 6 hour playtime. We didn’t plan this at all, Dap was originally only supposed to be a little game which we use to learn game development. After a couple of years working on the project we just kept refining it more and more, instead of making a new game. For a while we thought it best to be very short, but it grew to a more sizable project and we’re quite happy with its current length.
9- What challenges did you guys take on while making this game compared to your previous (and less ambitious) works ?
Since it is still our first game, there was a lot that we didn’t know while making the game. The most challenging part was probably defining the core mechanics of the game. It has gone through a lot of iteration which made it hard for us to define its identity. In a more technical aspect, it has been challenging to create something complete and smooth with the little experience in programming we have. Iris is sole programmer on the game and everything is made with small knowledge that is constantly growing.
I sincerely wish to thank Iris Anstey and Paul Anstey for agreeing to being interviewed, since it is a game that managed to struck my heart chords. So even if you have just barely taken an interest in Dap, then I can only give you the link towards its free introduction on Steam right down below:
It was an undertaking that I will follow closely until its official release and I genuinely hope that you will fall under its spell the same way that I did !
Useful links to follow Melting Parrot Games and the progression of the making of Dap :
Twitter account : https://twitter.com/MeltingParrot
Steam page : https://store.steampowered.com/app/1372210/Dap/
Official website : https://meltingparrot.com/