Interview: DROS Developers Would Love to See The Game Release On Xbox & PlayStation

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If you are seeking an aesthetic x dark fantasy indie video game, you must try out DROS. Filled with adventurous gameplay up to the brim, DROS features uniquely hand-drawn characters and a world. Even better, the gameplay of DROS blends intricate visuals and unique level design to provide a one-of-a-kind indie experience. The game demands players to progress with creative problem-solving, by body swapping and utilizing different elements around the world. 

With over 40 unique levels with puzzles, DROS stands out for being a highly engaging game in the market. If dozens of levels were not enough, you can also try out speedrunning the game to get a greater sense of achievement. To explore more details on the development of the game, we reached out to Ben Ward, Creative Director of DROS, over an email interview. 

DROS - via emergeWorlds
DROS – via emergeWorlds

Introduce yourself and tell us about your role on DROS.

Ben: Hi, I’m Ben Ward. I was the Creative Director of Dros. Since our team was so small my role included quite several responsibilities, foremost of which were concept and character design, narrative, game flow, and stage design and creation.

What sets DROS apart from other adventure puzzle platformers like Toad's Treasure Tracker?

Ben: Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker was certainly an inspiration for Dros however we wanted to push further into the adventure side of things to include more narrative and world-building. Moreover, puzzles in Dros are solved by using 2 characters rather than one.

DROS - via emergeWorlds
DROS – via emergeWorlds

The handcrafted visuals of the Tower are a standout feature. Can you talk about the artistic process behind designing these diorama-like levels?

Ben: Similar to Captain Toad, we really wanted each stage to feel like its own unique little diorama for the player to explore. That meant that each stage had to go through a considerable amount of design and dressing.

Early on, we made the somewhat unconventional decision to make use of Unity’s Pro-builder to take care of base mesh whilst we were then free to dress the stage with a plethora of handcrafted 3D props. We also made liberal use of hand-drawn 2D decals such as graffiti or bespoke signage to give the Tower a feeling it was being lived in.

What was it like working with electronic pioneer Arovane on the game's soundtrack, and how does the music enhance the player experience?

Ben: Working with Arovane was a joy because, like us, he is an artist at heart. Early on, we provided Arovane with concept art and illustrations of Dros so that he could understand the kind of game and world we were creating.

To our delight, his music aligned perfectly. It had the same hand-crafted, oddball flavor of our art style and our story. His music really brought our stages to life.

DROS - via emergeWorlds
DROS – via emergeWorlds

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during the development of DROS?

Ben: Honestly, it was an epic undertaking for such a small team. I could probably spend all day reminiscing about the challenges we encountered but as Creative lead, I’ll pick one. That is: Story and WorldBuilding. More specifically, how to tell a great story and craft a unique game world with only very minimal resources.

Obviously, everyone would love to see their game worlds and characters brought to life by a team of 20 or 30 devs and artists. Since we were a small indie operation (of only 3-4) we had to make alternative creative choices early on that would enable us to flesh out the world of Dros but not blow our budget. One example of this was the use of hand-drawn comics to expand upon story and lore.

This ended up being a good choice because it cut down on the need for heavy amounts of 3D animation whilst adding to the overall hand-crafted feel.

What was the thought process behind designing DROS in such a way that each of the 40 levels felt unique and engaging for players?

Ben: Thematically we really tried to give each level something unique. Some stages had a more unique puzzle, while others had a particular character interaction or story moment. We tried hard to make each stage memorable in at least one way. Underneath everything though, the core mechanics of Dros tied everything together.

Dialogue Screen
DROS – via emergeWorlds

Are there any plans to bring DROS to other gaming platforms in the future?

Ben: For now, we’re going to see how Dros does on Switch. Eventually, though, we would love to see it on Playstation and Xbox as well. I think it’s a game that would easily find an audience on these platforms too.

How did you balance the hack-and-slash elements of Captain's gameplay with the puzzle-solving aspects of Little DROS? 

Ben: Admittedly, this was always a challenge. I think the more stages we designed (and the more we threw away), the better we got at finding this balance. In retrospect, I feel we could’ve had more focus on Little Dros’ stealth and puzzle-solving if we’d had more time

DROS - via emergeWorlds
DROS – via emergeWorlds

How long the game had been under development and how many developers actively worked on the project?

Ben: From the very first pieces of concept art to the final days of bug testing I believe it was probably around 3 and a half years. From day one there was always a core team of three devs however this did fluctuate over the years.

At any one time, it was either a team of 3 or 4. We were lucky enough to meet a few talented people along the way who contributed their craft. This included 3D art, stage design, and QA testing

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about DROS, its development, or what they can look forward to in their adventure

Ben: I hope players can lose themselves in the world of DROS. I hope they can look up at the clock and wonder where the time went.

DROS is a fantasy indie game, developed and published by emergeWorlds. The game was released on July 20, 2023 for PC. The game is planned for release on Nintendo Switch soon. 

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