Late last year, we were gathering ideas and prototypes in preparation of creating our next game. There was one idea we really liked: A fast-paced multiplayer sneaking game about a group of safe-breakers that sneak past cameras, laser barriers, and guards to pull off the ultimate heist.
In our earliest prototype, the goal of the four players was to pick locks and break walls in order to reach the vault and grab all the money inside before one of the other players could. There was one element in this early prototype that was really fun: You could set up bear traps that would snare other players, slowing them down and causing the guards to catch them. Around the same time, we were also playing a lot of Bomberman in the office. And its brand of pick-up-and-play fun and multiplayer battles was something we wanted in our game, too.
So we decided to re-think the game from scratch, stripping out complicated concepts like guards and surveillance cameras and focusing on one basic idea: thieves stealing money and attacking other players. Enter Dollar Dash!
We knew we wanted an animated look for Dollar Dash, with inspirations including Franco-Belgium comics like Lucky Luke, Bobo, and Carl Bark’s Beagle Boys from the Scrooge McDuck universe. Once we took the focus away from the sneaking to the player vs. player battles we also looked at Spy vs. Spy, which is a great reference for cartoon enemies that lure each other into funny traps.
When it came time to dig deeper into the gameplay, we realized we wanted a faster-paced game with more intense multiplayer moments. The final version of Dollar Dash is a more fluid game with an assortment of ways to attack, defend, and use special items to gather cash quickly or evade opponents. Like all classic four-player games, Dollar Dash is at its best when sitting on couch and competing with friends. Yes, we have drop-in and drop-out online multi-person play, too, but like Fat Princess, GoldenEye or Bomberman, the thrill of sitting next to someone whose loot you have just stolen is kinetic and immediate.
There are several modes: Dollar Dash, Save the Safe, and Hit’n’Run. The ability to customize weapons and items for each map, and learning each map’s strengths and weaknesses, is a big part of the fun. Before each match, players can specify which weapons they want available. So, it is possible to play with atomic bombs only, Cacti only, a mix of short, medium, and long-range weapons, or even no weapons at all! In between levels, players can spend their hard-earned cash to buy weapon upgrades in the Shop.
As we began honing in on the exact things that made the game work, our team began establishing tactics – like collecting only a half bag of money to keep our speed high – and polishing the game’s various weapons. Special items are temporary, and appear all around the map. One example: picking up sneakers gives players a speed boost for a short time — especially handy when you have a full bag of cash. In the end, we created 20 different weapons to work with, and 30 maps for Dollar Dash’s release this winter.