INTERVIEW: Alfonso del Cerro – Lead Developer of Megaton Rainfall

Megaton Rainfall is shaping up to be one of the most awesome and epic superhero games of all time. In the following interview, the game’s lead developer Alfonso del Cerro offers an insight into what we can expect.

AP2HYC: Firstly, what exactly is Megaton Rainfall?

Alfonso: Megaton Rainfall is a First Person Superhero Game. You are an
indestructible superbeing, and you must save the Earth from an alien invasion. The point is that you are so powerful, that every time you miss your target you can destroy entire buildings and skyscrapers!

AP2HYC: How did the game come about?

Alfonso: I started the development of the game 3 years ago in my spare time. By that time I was working for a Spanish games company, but I felt I had more creativity that I was allowed to use there, so I started MR as a “pet game”… 1 year ago I was so happy with how the game looked that I decided to go full time and to finish it.

AP2HYC: Is developing the game by yourself a huge challenge? Does it also give you a sense of freedom and creativity that you may also not have when working with a larger team?

Alfonso: It’s a very big challenge, but no so big as people think. People see the game, see the size of the cities and the amount of action on screen and say wow, it’s amazing that one only person has made this. But in the game everything is procedural. The amount of work is not proportional to the size of the cities. And yes, I have worked in games for 10 years before and I have never felt the freedom of making everything exactly the way I think it must be done.

AP2HYC: Were you a fan of superheroes growing up?

Alfonso: Yeah, I always have been a fan of them. Movies like Superman and Superman 2. When I was a child my brother and I watched those movies a lot of
times in our VHS. Later also I loved Tim Burton’s Batman. I loved his
suit, his car, everything… I wanted to be Batman!

AP2HYC: Are there any particular superhero comics or movies or TV shows that the game takes inspiration from?

Alfonso: Mmm… I’d choose Superman 1 & 2. I think that I have always waited for a game to convey the Superman feelings, being able to fly from New York to Paris, then save a bunch of citizens and then go back to New York. But no game has ever tried to do so. I have had to turn into a game developer and make my dream game by myself! Apart from Superman, some people compare the superhero in Megaton Rainfall to Doctor Manhattan (Watchmen) because of how he looks.

AP2HYC: Can you tell us about the main character of Megaton Rainfall and what kinds of powers he has at his disposal?

Alfonso: Well, when the game starts, the player doesn’t know what he is and where does he come from. You can fly at supersonic speeds and shoot energy blasts, and you know your mission. But you really don’t know why are the aliens attacking the Earth, and why you, an interdimensional indestructible superhero, should save them. Later in the game, you will discover what you are really doing and what’s going on. Also you will be unblocking a lot more powers.

AP2HYC: And from the previews that we’ve seen so far it seems that Megaton
Rainfall will really let us feel like we are in control of extraordinary powers. Was it a challenge to make controlling such a powerful character feel authentic?

Alfonso: The most difficult power to implement is the ability to fly freely through a setting of astronomical proportions. I wanted to keep the basics controls of a FPS, and not adding complex speed controls, and still being able to move precisely short distances, fly at supersonic speeds to travel to another city, fly at absurd speeds out of the stratosphere…, so the flight speed is adjusted automatically depending on a number of factors. There is a lot of work dedicated to the flight controls, more than people think.

AP2HYC: Can you tell us about the combat system?

Alfonso: Basically it’s a shooter. The biggest difference is that you are immortal, but the city you are trying to save is not. The city has a health bar, and you must take care of it. So you are “punished” with the bar depletion (and fun destruction effects) every time you miss your target. You must study the patterns of movements of the aliens and attack them when there is no chance of collateral damage. This “never miss” feeling is what sets the game apart from other shooters from a gameplay perspective. And later you will have to combine the shooting with a lot of more mechanics/powers.

AP2HYC: And what kinds of enemies will the game have on display?

Alfonso: The enemies are different kinds of alien ships and robots. Their size vary from 15 meters to several kilometers and even more. And the way they destroy the city can get really crazy later in the game.

AP2HYC: Will the game have that epic cinematic feel that so many games strive for today?

Alfonso: Yes and no. No because the game has absolutely no cutscenes. Everything you see, all the destruction effects are generated procedurally and occur during gameplay. In fact you can miss a lot of “epicness” if you look at the wrong direction or perform excellently (but the average tester will see immense amount of destruction on his/her first playthrough). And yes, because the scale of the destruction goes way beyond what have been seen in any game. It’s a bit like Man of Steel: dozens of buildings collapse every mission… and after the “victory” of the superhero half of the city is reduced to rubble. And that is very epic 🙂

AP2HYC: There have been reports that the game will have an open world the size of an entire planet. Would you care to elaborate?

Alfonso: Yes, at the beginning of the game, your playground is the entire Earth. It’s real size, and it’s populated with procedurally generated cities. You can fly at supersonic speeds from the ground to the stratosphere, all seamlessly, with no load times. Later in the game you will acquire the power to leave the Earth and fly to outer space, where there will be several optional sidequests.

AP2HYC: Can you tell us a bit about how the player will interact with the environment? Will there be some quests and mini games? Will there be NPCs to interact with?

Alfonso: Well, in this game the only interaction with the humans and the environment is the (hopefully selective) destruction. Yes, there will be some kind of NPC in the tutorial-like sections, and also optional sidequests apart from the main gameplay. But I can’t tell more right now.

AP2HYC: How will the Megaton Rainfall use the Oculus Rift?

Alfonso: I’m still experimenting with several approaches. In the current version you’re able to control the direction of flying with the movement of your head. I love the sensation of flying with this scheme, more than using the gamepad or WASD keys, specially taking into account the great speed of the main character. Also you aim with your head, looking to your enemies before shooting. This make you feel a bit like Cyclops, from the X-Men.

Alfonso: What other unique features does the Megaton Rainfall have that will set it apart?

Alfonso: The freedom of movement and the scale of destruction are the two key features that sets the game apart. Months of work have been needed to create from scratch the rendering techniques necessary to display the procedural destruction of buildings, and all the testers love it. Also, I’d like to mention the music in the game, it’s highly adaptive. In most games there is just tension music when there are no enemies, generic action music when there are enemies. In Megaton Rainfall there are a lot of levels of intensity, and the music varies with every attack of the aliens, with the big explosions, etc. and I have received a lot of positive feedback about the music.

AP2HYC: Any idea of a release date? Is a console release also a possibility? Do you have a publisher in place?

Alfonso: I’d like to release at this fall, or early next year. A console release is almost certain but I can’t confirm it right now. I have spoken with several publishers but I bet I’m self publishing Megaton Rainfall.

AP2HYC: Lastly, any chance of a sequel? Do you expect Megaton Rainfall to become a big franchise?

Alfonso: I don’t think so. I have more ideas that I’d like to turn into games… I want to explore other genres and themes… I am an indie! 🙂

Have you played Megaton Rainfall yet? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments section or send us a tweet!

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Davidde Gelmini