Nominee | Excellence in Design

Tim Keenan is the founder of Misfits Attic.

Each year at GDC, MFA students from the NYU Game Center interview the Independent Games Festival nominees, asking them three questions about their development process. In addition to this interview, you can read all the insightful interviews from 2017 here. These conversations, and much more, will happen when the Game Center returns to GDC in 2018. Learn more about the Game Center at GDC 2017.

Mary Kenney: What main concept, image or question began this project?

Tim Keenan: Originally, I wanted to make a game in which two people entered a derelict spaceship. One person would control the ship and open different rooms, and the other would explore. Then I realized that was a 3D co-op, and I wanted to make it single-player. So, what if they were drones?

We listened to the game and what it needed, which led us to the weird-ass place it is.

Kenney: Describe a specific experience with another game or media that influenced you as you worked on Duskers.

Keenan: The Game Capsule was an inspiration, because they were tenacious with the scope of the game. The movie Alien, and the feelings it created: the low tension, slow boil, and then when shit all goes wrong. We also explored depressing isolation, like in Moon and The Road. You pilot multiple drones, but you’re alone.

Kenney: Is there a specific tool or methodology that you feel was important in shaping a unique characteristic of your game?

Keenan: The command-line interface, which used to be unique. There’s no soundtrack, on purpose, because we wanted it to feel like real life, instead of a movie. We created a real-time strategy game that defies all RTS rules.

We also went after weird emotions, ones you don’t often find in video games. Instead of fear, we explored isolation. And it worked. We saw multiple reviews saying that they feel that isolation. It blows their mind. Multiple people said they had to window the game, and click over to Facebook or their e-mail to break the isolation. That’s a great sign, for us.


Mary Kenney used to be a journalist, but decided she was better at writing games. Ask her about gamedev, tabletop and owning a dog in New York.