One of the biggest highlights of E3 was the re-emergence of Cuphead, a hand-drawn 2D platformer with a look like the cartoons of the 1920’s and 1930’s. But what you don’t see in the trailers is the very, very real cost of game development.
In a fantastic interview with GamesRadar, Cuphead creators Chad and Jared Moldenhauer revealed that they had to remortgage their houses following E3 2015 to get the funds necessary to expand the game into what they wanted it to be.
My brother and I quit our jobs, remortgaged our houses and began expanding the team. This was our chance to actually deliver the game we wanted to make all along, rather than the cut-scope game we originally planned with a three person team.
The game had to be expanded due to feedback. Cuphead was only playable for the first time at E3 2015, which was when everyone discovered the game was basically built around a series of tough boss battles. Back then – and also at that year’s EB Expo, where Cuphead was playable – the reception was universally negative, and so the Moldenhauer brothers made the tough decision to put their houses on the line.
StudioMDHR, which is the name of the studio working on Cuphead, has 20 people on staff in total. That includes a hand-lettering artist and digital painters, roles necessary to help recreate Cuphead‘s iconic look.
E3 isn’t typically the kind of convention where you get a good deal of raw honesty from developers and publishers about the human cost of game development. It’s always worth remembering just how much blood, sweat and tears goes into games, and if you’ve got a moment you should read Alex Gilyadov’s interview in full. It’s good stuff, and hopefully Cuphead will be too when it launches on September 28 on PC and Xbox One.