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Don't be fooled by  Spelunky XBLA 's quiet launch

Don't be fooled by Spelunky XBLA's quiet launch Exclusive

June 29, 2012 | By Mike Rose




It seems like every other week, another indie developer cites Derek Yu's indie hit Spelunky as a huge inspiration on their work.

The tomb-robbing semi-roguelike was first released in 2009 for Windows PC, and sees players journeying deeper and deeper into the ground, as enemies and traps threaten to permanently kill the hero.

2009 was also the year that Yu revealed Spelunky for Xbox Live Arcade was in the works. Now, two and half years later, the veteran indie developer is on the cusp of releasing this beefed up XBLA version to the public.

Despite the hype in the indie community, however, Yu is far from nervous about the public's expectations surrounding the long-awaited release. "Not too worried about that!" he tells us. "If anything, I think the game is a bit under-hyped compared to other indie XBLA titles. But maybe that's just as well -- the original game was released pretty quietly, too!"

With this new version, Yu aimed to expand in two main areas -- adding a multiplayer mode, and adding as many secrets in single player as possible. When it came to pandering to more casual Xbox players, however, Yu says this simply didn't happen.

"If anything, it's deeper," he quips. "However, we took great pains to improve the controls and flow of the game, and give players a little more insight into Spelunky's nature through the tutorial and journal."

spelunky1.jpgThe multiplayer mode is where Yu hopes veteran Spelunky players will join up with newer players and be able to enjoy the game together.

"In my opinion, it's always been the hardcore players that have moved gaming forward and it's their enthusiasm that paves the way for a larger audience," he adds. "My hope is that casual players will see how much fun a tough game can be if it's designed well."

While Derek Yu has been lauded by many as a key player in the indie game world, there's one area in which he probably needs a bit of work -- marketing. Spelunky XBLA was casually announced as launching on July 4 on Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb's blog, with barely any press in recent months.

Says Yu, the team has simply not had a moment to really market the game. "Basically, we've just been working really hard this whole time and haven't had much room to build up the game. Trust me, if I knew how to blow up the mainstream press while working on a game, I'd do it! It's not really in my nature, I guess."

He adds, "Honestly, it may hurt us in the short-term that we didn't hype up Spelunky for months beforehand. But I never expected it would shatter first-week sales records, anyway -- my goal was to create something that people could enjoy years after its release. I feel like we accomplished that, so I'm happy!"


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