How Hollywood influenced Seraph developer Dreadbit

Alex Calvin
How Hollywood influenced Seraph developer Dreadbit

When MCV sat down to chat to Dreadbit's founder and designer Daniel Leaver, he's a very happy man.

He had just managed to get his current game Seraph to run at 60 frames per second on PlayStation 4. This matters because the title is a fast-paced action game in the vein of Devil May Cry and Bayonetta.

Now the tagline is ‘skill-based acrobatic shooter without aiming',” Leaver says.

When I pitched it to the team, I'm fairly sure I said: ‘I want to make a [2002 dystopian action film] Equilibrium-esque 2D shooter'. They liked that. I want to have that feeling where you look cool at all times doing it. The coolness of Equilibrium was how fast it was. It was like: ‘We've done bullet time, we've done slo-mo [with The Matrix]. That looks awesome... but you know what's really cool? Incredibly fast choreographed gunplay', and I love that.”

Leaver is a veteran of Media Molecule, working both in and out of house on the LittleBigPlanet series as well as the Tearaway games. He left that developer because he 'wanted to go make games that featured things that blew up, not cute things'. So he set up Dreadbit, a developer with an interesting way of doing things.

I founded Dreadbit on the business model of something more Hollywood-like,” Leaver says.

You see this in film development where basically I would be the director or the producer of a game, and I pitch the idea to a bunch of developer friends that I know, I trust and have loved working with in the past.

If I can get them excited about the idea, then they agree to sign up for the duration of the project and they bring their own expertise and experience to the project. We work together closely for six to twelve months depending on project size, and then we ship and go our separate ways at the end.”

This approach is also a good way of gauging the quality of a game pitch.

"Early Access has brought in a couple of thousand really
awesone bits of feedback. Now I feel that we are much better
prepared for when we launch properly."

Daniel Leaver, Dreadbit


I've had plenty turn me down,” Leaver says. I've pitched ideas to people and they've gone: ‘Nope, not sure I like this one'. You can then take that feedback and think: ‘Three out of the five people I showed that concept to didn't like it, so it's clearly not got legs'.

That is a great barometer for a game idea. If you can convince someone to spend twelve months of their life making something, it's probably worth pursuing.”

Seraph launched into Early Access in April 2016 with a full release on PC and PS4 coming later this year. For Leaver, this wasn't an attempt to get money to finish the game; it was a chance to get vital feedback on the title.

We didn't need the money, we had secured funding to the end of development,” he says.

What Early Access has done is bring in a couple of thousand really awesome bits of feedback. We have created whole new game modes based upon the feedback and added new enemy types because of what players have said. It's just stuff I wouldn't have seen coming until we launched.

Now I feel that we are much better prepared for when we launch properly. We've gone through that initial teething period you get after a game launch. That's gone and we now know what the general consensus is for those thousands of people.”

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