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Designing new, exciting places to clean up gore in Viscera Cleanup Detail's new DLC

Designing new, exciting places to clean up gore in  Viscera Cleanup Detail 's new DLC
February 18, 2019 | By Jupiter Hadley

February 18, 2019 | By Jupiter Hadley
More: Console/PC, Indie, Design

Viscera Cleanup Detail has been around since 2015 -- tasking individuals with cleaning up the gory messes that follow "various horrific sci-fi horror events." These bloody messes involve burning body parts and mopping up blood or alien goo, making sure the place is nice and clean.

Over the years, developer RuneStorm has continued to update Viscera Cleanup Detail, and has released downloadable content that allows players to explore new, exciting places where they're clean up more viscera.

RuneStorm’s newest DLC, titled The Vulcan Affair, takes you into Dr. Hades' volcano lair on a remote island. After the gory end of Dr. Hades' "Vulcan Project," you must clean up the blood, guts, and alien goo all around the lair.

In an email interview, two of the developers of the DLC, Arn and Logan Richert, told us all about the inspiration and design of The Vulcan Affair.

Using popular references as a starting point

Arn: VCD is an ideal nexus for location or scenario ideas. We have no shortage of possible settings, and like Santa's Rampage and House of Horror, this was one of many ideas spawned over the years. The goal of most VCD environments is to cast popular or common settings into a new light. The more widespread or popular something is, the more ripe it is for a VCD role-reversal.

These kind of things usually fall into two categories: the references that are often integral to the idea in the first place, and the Easter-egg references that don't need to be discovered for the theme of the location to be understood.

The first category (such as the shark-tank, the overall idea of a volcano lair, and so on) are handled early as the map develops, as they are a core of the setting and theme you're trying to portray.

The Easter-egg references (like the hidden objects, or names on notes and that kind of thing), those happen right towards the end of the development stretch, and are often only figured out and finalized late. As I say, those things are typically not key in selling the setting.

The more developed a setting is already, the easier, and often more fun, it is to create. With a large reservoir of ideas and a universe to draw from, we'll often find it easier to think of things to fill the environment with. This has been the case with all our spinoff/DLC projects so far.

Logan: Deciding what variation on the [cleanup] tools we give to players is always one of the most fun elements. We knew right away that we were going to have sharks with laser beams, but the other items were drawn from a much larger list of possible references.

Ultimately we tried to pick the most iconic things.

The Space-Laser and beacon though, that definitely happened more organically. The sharks were a primary goal from the beginning, but it took a long time to get them right. It was difficult to make them behave in a natural way, while still adding the dramatic "circling" typical of pop-culture sharks. Beyond that, it took further work to make them an efficient and viable disposal method. Our early attempts were comical, having sharks endlessly circling a floating hand with no end in sight.

As for the beacon. Well, often the best features come about from the need to solve a problem in a creative way. With the surface area of the level being so vast yet largely inaccessible, we knew we would need to handle objects going outside the laser fences. It would have been far too cheap to simply block off the perimeter, and we had already used the "inter-dimensional portal" approach in House of Horror.

No, we needed something new. So, after some quick brainstorming we thought: "Why not a beam from space?" It didn't take us long to realize that it was so fun to witness, we simply had to add a way to activate it inside the perimeter, so we added the Beacon. After that it became a viable, yet temperamental disposal method for the surface.

More than just cleaning; secrets can be found

Arn: Telling the story of the location as well as a splash of humor are the primary goals with notes and details in the world. We attempt to convey the reasons for the events, the plot of the event and the history of the location through the destruction and environment details.

Logan: I think the story that ties the whole scene together is just as important as the actual mechanics of cleaning. Without the story, one scene is largely the same as another.

The story allows players to experience some of the history of their chosen arena, as well as the sad tale of its demise. It also allows them a window into understanding and knowing the people they are cleaning up.

A bit of pathos is always nice.

Puzzle mechanics balanced for single and multiplayer

Logan: We relish the opportunity to add hidden areas. In Vulcan, we didn't have much time to investigate more puzzles. There is certainly more room for them. Typically we approach puzzles from a single-player perspective to make sure they work before we test them in multiplayer.

Often things will simply become easier to do in multiplayer, and we rely heavily on the dynamics of physics and multiplayer to allow players creative ways to solve problems.

Switches are usually quite straight forward by comparison. With the double-lock doors, we would mostly just run back and forth between the two switches as quickly as possible until we were satisfied that the timing was suitably tight.

After that, it worked perfectly in multiplayer. It made it feel like you were meant to have two players press the buttons at the same time, but if you were playing solo you could just manage it.

The future of Viscera Cleanup Detail (and human fascination with cleaning)

Arn: Right now, nothing is planned. We may have a small update or two with fixes and tweaks and that sort of things, but for the moment major content updates or DLC's are not on the cards.

We'd like to get a couple of other ideas (non-VCD) out and into being before we burnout entirely.

Logan: I'm still trying to figure out why I like it [cleaning up messes within the game].

I think a large part of it has to do with the satisfaction of restoring things to their former glory, but also the exploration of a scene and the uncovering of its story, its memory and its familiarities.

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