PAX East 13: Luftrausers Developer Rami Ismail On Ways to Die, Game Mechanics and Upcoming Projects

During PAX 13, we caught up with half of Vlambeer to talk about their latest game, Luftrausers. Published by Devolver Digital (the same company responsible for bringing Hotline Miami to the market), Luftrausers is an addictive aerial dogfighting game that is easy to learn, but will take hours to master. In our time with developer Rami Ismail, we talk about the game’s objectives, when we can expect to see it and what’s next for the company.

[Hardcore Gamer] What’s the main objective of the game?

[Rami Ismail] You’re flying the Luftrauser, the best airplane ever built only for the best fighter pilot in the world. And you’re trying to survive the increasing amounts of stuff being thrown at you ranging from airplanes to battleships to blimps to laser equipment [to] fighter aces.

[HG] Are there multiple levels or is it one big environment?

[RI] It’s one big level, but it does have milestones to reach. So it feels like you do progress through levels as you finish off the enemies in one part of the game, but you don’t change areas. It’s literally you keep going until you die.

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“It’s one big level, but it does have milestones to reach”

[HG] Can you actually beat the game? Is there an end to it?

[RI] Yes, there is end to the game. After that it continues as a high scoring game that round. If you complete the game in that round it will finish the game at that point, but then after that, you’ll continue for a high score.

[HG] What are the ways to die in the game?

[RI] Oh, there are a lot of ways to die. You can die by bullet impact, you can die by diving underwater or going over the clouds too high, you can die when a homing missile hits you and those are really slow. They’re sort of difficult to dodge, even though they’re really slow, because they’re really big. You can die by flying into something unless you use the [Luftrauser] which is actually equipped with spikes in front of your airplane, so you can fly through stuff. There are a lot of ways to die, but there are also a lot of builds to help you out against certain types of things. You can change your strategy completely just by changing one part of your airplane.

[HG] Once you die you start from the beginning no matter what? 

[RI] Yes, you will start from the beginning.

[HG] So it’s just like a big, long run?

[RI] Exactly, but the progression is dependent on your score. So, there’s a combo mechanic. If you get better at the game,  you’ll get better at scoring high combos. As you get better at scoring long combos, the difficulty ramps up so you’ll never be stuck in a part you don’t like or boring part, it would just ramp up.

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“Nobody has beaten the ending yet. Nobody is going to do that at PAX. Even I can’t constantly beat the game at this point.”

[HG] Are there multiple airplanes in the game?

[RI] You can build your own airplane from an engine part, weapon, and body part. You can build over 125 different combinations, each of them with their own advantages and disadvantages. But all of them really change the feel of the game which we really like. To emphasize that we made sure that the soundtrack for each airplane is different, so there’s actually 125 variations of the soundtrack in the game right now.

[HG] Are there objectives?

[RI] You get missions; in this build people have unlocked all the missions by now because it’s been running for two days. But during the game, normally you get different objectives that you can play. These [ones] are all locked until you unlock the harder mode of the game and you unlock that by beating the ending. Nobody has beaten the ending yet. Nobody is going to do that at PAX. Even I can’t constantly beat the game at this point.

[HG] How long do you think it would take to beat the game if you were decent?

[RI] If you’re really good at the game it could probably beat it in 15 minutes.

[HG] But it may take you 10 hours to get to that point

[RI] It would take you more than 10 hours to get to that point. It’s really a game about skill; it’s about being the best fighter pilot in the world. If you play for the first time, you’re going to feel like you’re doing really well and people watching will think you’re pretty great because it looks pretty spectacular. Stuff falling apart, airplanes crashing. But what we want is after five hours of play, people will think of how they were playing at the start and think, “oh my god that was embarrassing.”

[HG] Those are the most addictive kind of games

[RI] We like that. We like giving players responsability for the progression of the game. Instead of holding them by the hand saying, “you know, you shouldn’t be pressing the shoot button right now.” People are smart enough to find out there’s a shoot button and smart enough to figure out if you don’t shoot, your airplane won’t too.

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“After five hours of play, people will think of how they were playing at the start and think, “oh my god that was embarrassing.”

[HG] This game is based on a browser game?

[RI] Back in 2010 we game jamed on this game, it was called Luft Rauser back then. It was a flash game that was really well received and when we noticed, we went back and looked at it. We were like, “Why are people enjoying this so much?” When we figured out the reasons why people enjoyed this game, we tried to emphasize those as much as possible.

[HG] Were you the main developer of the game?

[RI] Yeah, Vlambeer is the main developer. We’re two guys from the Netherlands. We developed most of the game and we’ve got some work from the outside. We’ve got a programmer helping us out, two artists and obviously Kozilek with the music. We like to work with different people on different projects, sort of like experimenting.

[HG] Who did the soundtrack?

[RI] The soundtrack was done by a Finnish guy named Jukio Kallio, better known under his nickname Kozilek. And Kozilek worked with us on Gun Godz, he probably does the least subtle sort of music. It’s always really in your face but it’s always really, really good. So we’ve always enjoyed working with him.

[HG] Do we have a release date yet?

[RI] We’re aiming for the end of spring, so soon. It’s going to be released on PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. We really haven’t decided on a price point yet, but will probably be around 10 dollars. We’re just going to wrap up the game at our own pace. If that hits at the end of spring, that will be great, if it doesn’t, it’ll be the start of summer.

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“We’re just going to wrap up the game at our own pace. If that hits at the end of spring, that will be great, if it doesn’t, it’ll be the start of summer.”

[HG] Is it going to be day and date with PS3, Vita and PC?

[RI] We’re going to try. But it’s not a yes. It’s also not a no.

[HG] Do you have anything else you’re planning?

[RI] We’re just done with the release of Ridiculous Fishing. So we’re sporting Ridiculous Fishing on iOS? a lot.

[HG] That’s a lot of fun by the way

[RI] Thank you so much; I’m glad you like that. We’re sporting Ridiculous Fishing a lot and we’re working on Luftrausers. We also have a game that we made during Mojam that we’re playing around with called Wasteland Kings. We really like that game, but we don’t know if there’s something in there that is worth journey into. We have a space sim that we really want to make, so we’ve also been playing around with that. It’s fun times just experimenting a lot and having fun.

Luftrausers is just months away from release. Stay glued for our review.