Games spring into being for many reasons, but rarely as a joke. For Drazglb. (the full stop’s intentional), an indie developer from Normandy, France, this is exactly how Decline’s Drops got started. “I wanted to create a little game for my brother’s birthday,” he says, “but it was just a joke and never intended to go further after that. Then Decline’s Drops appeared…”
The game is a light, bouncy platformer in the vein of the Kirby and Yoshi series, but with one key twist: its heroine, an athletic puppet named Globule, has some seriously powerful punching moves at her disposal, much like Drazglb.’s other big inspiration, Super Smash Bros. Playing through the demo, the impact of these moves becomes immediately clear: rather than just jumping on enemies’ heads or hitting them with a blunt implement, you can go for rapid punches, then follow up with a devastating uppercut, making each encounter – against chickens with cybernetic arms, bees, and bullet-spitting, frog-like critters – feel like a miniature battle rather than simple point-scoring.
Given that Decline’s Drops is Drazglb.’s first game, it’s already looking and feeling remarkably polished, with smooth character animation and tight controls. “When you create a platformer focused on combat, your animations have to be instantly clear, visible, and varied enough so the player doesn’t confuse them,” Drazglb. says. “So I took inspiration from fighting games, especially Super Smash Bros. (obviously). As for Globule, the challenge was to create varied attacks, but with her solely using her gloves. I think constraints are a great way to be more inventive.”
Aside from punching enemies out of existence, Globule’s main task is to collect titular drops scattered around each stage, and defeat the evil force – called the Decline – which has destroyed her beloved garden.
Traversing each of the six worlds requires a deft combination of jumping between walls and platforms (which feels almost Ninja Gaiden-like in its smoothness), and even a spot of puzzle-solving: the demo includes a neat little segment where Globule has to punch movable blocks to create routes to out-of-reach areas. Mostly, though, it’s the combat mechanics that separate Decline’s Drops from its platforming peers – and it’s this aspect that’s taken time to perfect, Drazglb. says. “I don’t even want to know how much time I spent on trying to find the right physics, the right gameplay… I think it took me one year and about three or four months. The combat gameplay in a platformer was a risky approach; I was very afraid of people thinking the two genres couldn’t fit together, so I tried many things to keep the whole thing entertaining, and hopefully I did it!”
With this being Drazglb.’s first game, he found himself learning a lot as he went along – including, he says, programming. “At first, it isn’t easy at all,” he tells us. “But I believe when you’re passionate, you can learn anything. I learned almost everything from videos I found on YouTube, especially HeartBeast, who is a formidable pedagogue – and (former Ubisoft designer and YouTuber) Shaun Spalding, of course!”
Drazglb.’s project got a major boost when he decided to turn to Kickstarter; although original game ideas sometimes struggle on crowdfunding sites, Decline’s Drops has surpassed its £10,681 minimum goal at the time of writing. Launching a Kickstarter takes effort, Drazglb. says, but it’s ultimately proved worthwhile. “I started to think about a crowdfunding campaign the moment I realised I wouldn’t be able to create the soundtrack and the sound design myself, so basically it was planned six or seven months ago. I also wanted to make sure people were interested in the project itself, so I released a little demo months before the Kickstarter launch and received some positive feedback… It was a lot of work, but in the end, I’m very glad to see it was worth it. I think anyone who’d like to (start) a crowdfunding campaign should really look at what they have to offer at launch: a strong concept, a solid community, a playable demo.”
Drazglb. still has lots to do on his platform-brawler: the first world and parts of the second and third are complete, but the rest are, he says, “in my head, waiting to be drawn and coded.” Those worlds – and the story – will also grow increasingly dark and melancholy as the player progresses. “The title gives a hint about that,” he explains. “I always love how Kirby games can become suddenly dark and creepy, and while I don’t want Decline’s Drops to be ‘creepy’, the game sure gets darker and darker. Every world becomes more and more consumed by the Decline as you progress, so I think it’s not really that… carefree.”
A self-described house husband, Drazglb. has largely worked on Decline’s Drops at night, while his family sleeps (“I’m very thankful to my wife for her support and confidence in me,” he tells us). For music and sound, though, he’s tracked down some valuable collaborators: ”I work with an excellent composer I found maybe seven or eight months ago, ModalModule, who’s already worked on various games. I found him while watching a trailer for the latest game he’d worked on, Super Gear Quest. I fell in love with the trailer music and contacted him. He’s very talented, and my English vocabulary isn’t good enough to explain how much I love his work. I’ll be working with Pixel Audio for the sound design. They’re very nice people, too, and I discovered their amazing work while playing Spiritfarer.”