Interview with Rene Hellwig from Hucast about Publishing For the Dreamcast

Back in August I reviewed Dux, the latest game for the Sega Dreamcast. As we’re celebrating the Dreamcast’s 10th anniversary all this month, we thought it would be great to sitdown with the head of Hucast, the developers of Dux and see why, ten years after the release of the Dreamcast, small independent dev teams are still making games for Sega’s last system. Rene Hellwig was happy to oblige and let us know what it’s like working on a Dreamcast game in 2009.

DHGF: Obviously the big question on my mind is, “What makes you develop games like Dux and Last Hope for the Dreamcast?” Especially as it is, in the eyes of most gamers, a commercially dead system? Doesn’t that limit your audience as the system is no longer produced?

RH: I develop games because it’s fun, and I chose the platform that I feel the game can do well on. Of course accessibility is an important factor too. It’s pretty easy to develop for the Dreamcast by utilizing KallistiOS and the many development tools floating around for it. For me, a console is alive as long people playing games on it. In most cases people buy a console because they like the games, so making a game for the Dreamcast still makes sense. However, I’m not sure how or if this limits my audience, because of a lack of experience. I can already tell I have interest on broadening my audience by brining games to WiiWare and the like anyway.

DHGF: How hard is it to get retail positioning or media coverage for your newly created Dreamcast games? I know I reviewed the game and that I’ve seen Wind and Water Puzzle Battles on Amazon, but for the most part, it seems like knowledge of recently released Dreamcast games is an underground grass roots word of mouth movement.

RH: Most shops that carry Dreamcast games like Play-Asia, VideoGamesNewYork and VideogamesImports are keen to stock independent games. With VideoGamesNewYork, my game also receives attention at Video Game and Anime convention around the United States. Along with many other articles, there’s a great special in GamesTM‘s (Alex’s note: This is a UK games publication) issue #81 about DUX and Yuan Work’s Wind & Water Puzzle Battles, so theres definitively interest on this subect by the mass media. Looks the Dreamcast even has some fans in the mainstream media!

DHGF: Have you ever talked to Sega about getting them to mention your games on their websites? You would think Sega would be happy to see fans and developers still making games for their last system when other more recent consoles like the original Xbox or Game Cube had support dry up a long time ago.

RH: Nope. I’m sure Sega is happy the Dreamcast still gets some games, but they wouldn’t put it on their site anyhow. I mean they didn’t even officially celebrate the Dreamcast’s 10th birthday, so as a company the Dreamcast obviously has low priority for them.

DHGF: Is there a particular country or region where you find your games sell better?

RH: Yes. The games sell best in the USA, UK, France, and of course, Germany. I’m fine with the sales figures, as the game already sold about 1,500 copies. The Limited Edition, of which only 500 copies were made, is completely sold out after just a few months. To this date Last Hope even sold about 2,500pcs. on a longer term. Last Hope: Pink Bullets does pretty well too.

DHGF: What’s next for Hucast? It seems like you have something new for us every two years.

RH: There’s going to a revision disc of DUX this year, and I’m also aiming to bring a vertical bullet sprayer type shooter next year. With the revision disc, there’s a scoring bug that was found with the game, so with this disc, the bug is solved. There are going to be more improvements on scoring aspects as well. Purchasers of Dux can request that disc for free at a point, and will only have to cover shipping cost.

Well, as a person with a retail copy of Dux, you can imagine I was happy to hear that. I’ll definitely be in line for that, even though I never really cared about the score; it was all about the shooting and dodging for me. You can order a copy of Dux from the official Hucast website or Play-Asia.com. It’s definitely one of the better shoot ’em ups released this year, so check it out (or my review) if you get the chance!

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