Back to all blog posts

Q&A: Terri Vellmann & doseone on SLUDGE LIFE 2

By Paul Hartling

After waking up from a great night out with most likely a killer hangover, you take the role of GHOST, manager for musical ‘sell out’ mogul, BIG MUD, where you will explore the luxurious halls and crevices of CIGGY CITY SUITES as you crawl away from your room and beyond in search for him.

Frolicking your way around SLUDGE LIFE 2 comes with some upgrades of course! Traversal abilities that will take you to new heights with double jumping, thanks to some Double J sneakers you’ll be copping. A portable launcher to help you reach even newer-er heights? Yep. Also the glider. C’mon, you know the glider from the first SLUDGE LIFE, that’s back in it.

But hold up, this hasn’t been the first time art vandals Terri and doseone have worked together. Ohhh no, previously, the duo developed underground hits High Hell, Disc Room, Heavy Bullets, plus the original SLUDGE LIFE, which can all be found in your Devolver Digital games library. We just love these two that much.

Terri / Doseone Signature Pattern

I wanted to sit down and dig into the minds of both Terri and doseone to see what it was like working on SLUDGE LIFE 2 and where all this nonsense comes from.

SLUDGE LIFE 2 feels like a world designed to just vibe in. Like, just BEING there is fun as hell. Was that on your mind when you built it? How did you expand upon the already heavy style of the original SLUDGE LIFE?

Terri: Yeah, the vibes are what makes the game, and it's also what we were chasing while making it. The first one had a setting that leaned more towards the gray/industrial, and on SLUDGE LIFE 2 there was a focus on making scenes that had more character, doubling down on how dumb the whole thing is.

doseone: Indeed, I feel like sometimes we are building a world that's “like us”, meaning Terri and I, assets, sounds, attitudes, feels all pulled from our head and organized in Unity. SLUDGE LIFE 2 is really that VIBE/FEEL with XTRA everything, a doubling down upon the amount of areas, creeps, humor, secrets, items, animals and assholes.

What was your favorite addition into SLUDGE LIFE 2 and what gave you the idea and inspiration to add it into the game?

Terri: I really like the bum-a-cig system, it really just adds so much to the realism of being a smoker out in the world. My inspiration was real life and my life-long goal to make my games more realistic.

What would you say is your strongest quality as a producer? What is your biggest weakness? Please don’t say people-pleaser.

doseone: LOL, no outside peoples reception never ever enters my GUMBO :). I guess my strongest quality is my INDIVIDUALITY, when I do my best work, it sounds only like me, and when that's bent and focused to fortify a “WORLD” with music, the end result has a lot of character, quirk, errors and BOP. My biggest weakness is being self taught, which is also a strength that informs the above originality….that said when it WEAKS me, I suck and find my face pressed exactly against the ceiling of all the things I haven't learned yet or “correctly”.

Were there any usable item(s) you thought of bringing into the world of SLUDGE LIFE 2 that just didn’t make the cut?

Terri: Yeah, so SLUDGE LIFE 2 has a keycode system, and I had originally planned to use it on doors and various areas. Players would have to figure out the keys to gain access, OR find an item that was like a hacktool, an interface that would connect to GHOST’s laptop so he could play a hacking minigame to bypass the lock. Problem was, at the end we really just used them on a handful of lockboxes that can be found around the map. At this point that hacktool didn’t seem that needed anymore, and got cut.

Are there any jokes you couldn't add to the game because of our amazing friends at the ratings board? If so, describe it in... uh... as politely as you can.

Terri: Real answer is no, we kept everything. If a joke was cut it was probably because of scope or because it was just TOO unfunny. Our sense of humor is pretty dumb and cartoonish, but not super dark. I’ve seen quite a few people say the game is “surprisingly wholesome”.

doseone: NAH, it all made the game, that said Terri and I are pretty NO NONSENSE when it comes to being frank with one another about if a joke is funny, or a dialog intention is clear. I think stoned folks play and think the whole game, down to every decision is made of WEED, and not being focused….BUT alas this entire bizarre game is made of editing and trying to get the weirdness we are going for “right”.

The lyrics in the tracks from SLUDGE LIFE 2 talk a lot about what's actually happening as you play the game. How do you go about writing the songs? Do you write as you play? Or is it something you discuss with Terri beforehand?

doseone: BIG MUD is the voice of the SLUDGE, he’s a vehicle for the deeper perspective all the MOPES in our game don't have the time to realize or articulate, cause they are too busy working for the MAN. As far as the writing goes, I actually just pretended to be MUD for a week, wrote many many pages of MUDNESS, and then approached it to see what themes arose, and then I aligned all the raps along those themes until they became songs! For DOUBLE BUBBLE I actually did wait till the whole game was done to write specifically about hints, and happenings in the finished game.

What does being a game designer mean to you? How have you seen game designing as both the programmer and artist change over the years if any?

Terri: It has become rather compulsive for me, it can be difficult to keep it out of my mind when I’m not working, but also extremely rewarding. I’ve learned to work in a way where I try to go with the flow, within various limitations, and build the game in a way that is led by my process. I know it's a bit corny, but it's like the Bruce Lee “be water” quote, things work for me when I’m going with where the tools are leading, instead approaching them as a means to get to an idea I already have fully realized in my head.

If you could check in and spend a night at the real life Ciggy City Suites, would you? If so, what strange thing is happening in your room, cause we've seen how weird it gets..

Terri: I mean, you can smoke anywhere AND it has a dedicated smoking area? Hell yeah.

doseone: Oh hells yeah, I like to think I’d get along famously with every NPC and CAT in CIGGY CITY. Def be doing ZOOMS and freestyling with CLICK SICK when I’m not chilling in the room with 24 CATS!

When writing songs for BIG MUD, did you try to get into his head space? Like think of what BIG MUD would do and how he'd write?

doseone: Oh yeah, as I mentioned above, I talk like MUD, smoke a bunch, think slowly and genuinely try not to write anything MUD wouldn’t say. He may get fucked up with the goons, but he's 100% conscience rap, and very aware that being cool and being honest are a delicate balance only your prose can maintain. PLUS we have HALF FACE in SLUDGE LIFE 2, a fast rapping goblin who’s also straight off the pipes. Was fun to deviate from the MUD identity and ADD to CLICK SICK with a second voice and younger more nihilist twist.

If you can describe GHOSTS’ appearance, what would they look like to you?

Terri: Small frame, looks like they’re younger than they are, not big on personal hygiene. Doesn’t talk much. Absolutely fearless.

doseone: LIL’, 100% GENDER FLUID, RBF with a SPARK in the EYE, VERY LARGE HOOD up at all times:)

How has graffiti culture influenced SLUDGE LIFE 2?

Terri: It was great to have something to draw from, not even in the tags themselves, but looking at how it can also be a community with its own dynamics, different points of view and even understandings of what the culture is. Friends that I have from way back were big influences on the taggers too. For the second one I drew a bit more from growing older and seeing these artists move on from graffiti towards other things.

What would you say to other artists/producers who want to take the leap into video game music but are afraid to do so?

doseone: BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAI:D! No, DO IT! Start by finding a community and JAMMING, learn the “HOW” of adding music/sounds to a “world”, and allow the “WHY” to come naturally, aka VIDEO GAME MUSIC is REAL MUSIC you can put your ALL into it. For a long while MUSIC was considered a less that integral aspect of game making, but working with the right people on the right creation puts that BOOMER ass narrative to BED with no SUPPER!

You both must have incredible synergy to keep making such great titles together, what makes working together so great?

Terri: There’s a mutual trust and respect for each other and in each other’s work. We’re both creatively chaotic in many ways but also focused on doing it right and getting things done. Also, maybe most importantly, we both share a side to our sense of humor that is incredibly immature.

doseone: I have never been more grateful for a partner in ART, than I am for Terri. We just ADD to each other implicitly, and we may use our critical selves to finish, but we truly rely on our creative selves from beginning to end.