I had a blast when I played Yupitergrad a couple of months back so I'm happy to say that I recently got the opportunity to interview Jakub Matuszczak, game producer and COO at Gamedust and here's what he had to say.
[A.J.] Hello, Jakub. When I played through Yupitergrad, I was reminded of Capcom's classic arcade game Bionic Commando. Would you ever be interested in working on a VR iteration of that game if you were given the opportunity?
[Jakub] I am, personally, a very big fan of Bionic Commando, especially the first NES game. The idea that Bionic Commando might have some crossover with Yupitergrad is really thrilling and I even started imagining right now (with cell shaded graphics imitating the NES look); where could we sign the agreement? Also, do you remember that first Duke Nukem (the 2D platformer from Apogee) also used the grappling hooks as traversal mechanics? This would also be fun to have the game with grappling hooks and dad jokes one liners.
[A.J.] Haha, I do remember the old DOS Duke Nukem game and actually played that a lot as a kid. Anyway, there are a lot of ways to get a game over in Yupitergrad. Are there any you'd like to share that you're particularly proud of?
[Jakub] Contrary to popular belief, our goal wasn't to kill the player with each trap. We just wanted that the player feels immediate satisfaction after avoiding a hazardous one! However, we are very proud about some of the traps design but I can't choose one and there will be new inventive means to kill the players with the upcoming update so the choice would be even more difficult after the update!
[A.J.] I'm looking forward to that! Many players seem to have a lot of fun with Time Attack mode. Was it surprising to you that some players enjoyed it more than the main campaign?
[Jakub] Not at all! During the campaign development, we thought that for some of the players, funny narrative and puzzles are not enough and they just want to have arcade fun swinging among various hazards and replaying the segments just for improving their skills. What we thought was true because we have some speedrunners (hello, Awesomecar!) who work really hard to remain number one in the world on each particular level. And, as I mentioned, we will have some additional levels for them really soon!
[A.J.] The story within Yupitergrad is quite silly and I was curious if you drew inspiration for it from any other sources.
[Jakub] We had multiple inspirations for the story and dialogues. First of all, Soviet Space Program is often omitted in video games and pop culture (apart from great Red Matter) and we believed that this is something which we can relate to. After all, it is also part of Polish history. Also, we are huge fans of gopnik and hardbass culture with influencers and musicians like Boris, DJ Blyatman, and DLB. In terms of voice overs and dialogues, we wanted to achieve comic vibe with stereotypic depiction about Eastern Europe with strange English-Russian accent which is often used by mob and villains in various American movies and James Bond. So, basically, the final result is a mixture of multiple pop cultural influences.
[A.J.] Very cool. Are there any Easter eggs in Yupitergrad that players might have overlooked?
[Jakub] We put Easter eggs mostly in dialogues. There is a lot of trivia about the station hidden in the computer terminals. Also, there are some details hidden in the environmental art but isn't it funnier to leave the players with some secrets than give spoilers to them? There is one Easter egg we might share but we hope no one will find it. If the player somehow manages to leave the level area there is a special text after his death which is not present in the normal game. What isn't there is any political statement but we've read that we've hidden our political agenda along the lines of the story.
[A.J.] Haha, it seems like many people nowadays are programmed to see political messages everywhere whether they exist or not. Well, my last question is: would you ever consider making a sequel or prequel to Yupitergrad?
[Jakub] It's too early to decide as we are still updating Yupitergrad with new content but it would be great to revisit the game and include the ideas that weren't present in the first game. We had a lot of fun during its development!
Thanks to Jakub Matuszczak for providing such insightful answers. If you'd like to read more about Yupitergrad, head over to my Visceral Indie Games round-up which has my review and check out our Indie Game of the Month Awards March 2021 where Yupitergrad won our VR Game of the Month. Have you played Yupitergrad? What do you think of the game? Let's chat below!