Exclusive Interview: RuPaul’s Drag Race Dragopolis 2.0 Game Designer/Producer Jeff Meador

In 1992, RuPaul commanded, “You better work.” But since all work and no play makes RuPaul a dull drag queen, there’s RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0, a game for iOS and Android devices that’s based on the reality competition show RuPaul’s Drag Race. Though in talking to So Much Drama Studios’ Jeff Meador, the game designer and producer for RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0, it turns out that people put a lot of work into this game as well.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Dragopolis 2.0 screen 01

For those who haven’t downloaded it yet, what is RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0 and how is it connected to the TV show, RuPaul’s Drag Race?

Dragopolis 2.0 is a fabulous new game for mobile devices. RuPaul is opening her new Ru-seum, showcasing several knockout looks from seasons past. But the evil drag queen Apocalypstyk is back, and she’s stolen all of the wigs, gowns, beads, and more. It’s up to the player to help get everything back and get the queens dressed and ready.

Dragopolis 2.0 features seven super-star queens from the show. These are some huge fan favorites, and all of the queens interact directly with the player. You’ll also see a lot of the language, props, and scenery from the show incorporated into the game. But most importantly, there’s a certain tongue-in-cheek humor that the show is so well known for, and we wouldn’t dream of leaving that behind.

What other games do you think RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0 is similar to, and what makes it different?

There are a couple of elements here and there that people may find familiar. There’s a certain pinball or pachinko-style feel to the game. There are other games out there that have similar inspiration points, but none of them have the killer sense of fashion that Dragopolis does.

We’ve also created a couple of different play styles, so the game evolves as the player progresses. Some levels have the player snatching rhinestones, while others have the player collecting actual outfits and wigs in the show’s iconic big ping furry box. There are power ups and booby traps and other elements added in as you get into later levels.

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0 is the sequel to RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis. In working on this sequel, what were some of the things you wanted to add, change, or improve, and why did you feel they needed to be to added, changed, or improved?

We wanted to really shake things up with Dragopolis 2.0. We knew we wanted to bring a new game style, and we wanted to feature the queens as much as we could. We were lucky enough to work with seven superstar queens from the show, so we decided to develop a game where queens could have their own levels. This format lets the queens be front and center for their fans.

Did you ever consider making it another kind of game? Because the menu for RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0 has a picture of RuPaul holding what looks like a ray gun and it made me think Halo with RuPaul would be amazing. “You…better…run for it, motherfucker!”

Wouldn’t that be something. We may have to keep that in mind for a Dragopolis 3.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Dragopolis 2.0 menu

One of the things we liked about the puzzle aspect is that allowed the queens to be a lot freer with ow iow they provided sound effects. The first Dragopolis was more of an action-style runner game, and we had to work with the queens to make sure that their voice files were very short and crisp. With a puzzle game, there usually aren’t time constraints. In Dragopolis 2.0, players can take as much time as they like to line up the next shot. With this natural start/stop of gameplay, the queens are a lot freer to interact with the players with some hysterical dialog.

How involved was RuPaul in the making of the game?

We met with him and the producers of the show to go over many of the concepts in the games. We’ve had a lot of discussions on how exactly to include certain elements. Sometimes there’s a show concept that we want to bring into the game, and sometimes there’s a game concept that needs to be supported by an element of the show.

RuPaul and the teams at World Of Wonder [the game’s publisher] and LogoTV [the network that airs the reality show] have been fantastic partners in this. We’ve enjoyed working together, and think it’s been a wonderful collaboration.

Does RuPaul play games like this?

You’ll have to ask him. But I do know that he enjoyed Dragopolis 2.0.

RuPaul has been quoted as saying, “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0 is more fun than Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Plus my big, fat, padded ass has the power to fix the Internet she done already broken.” Is this true? Because I haven’t seen a cat video in weeks. Or been able to check my grammar.

That is a true statement and I stand behind Ru.

As you pointed out, RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0 features seven of the drag queens from the show: Shangela, Alaska, Jinkx Monsoon, Jujubee, Ongina, Sharon Needles, and Raven. How did you decide which would be included and which wouldn’t?

There’s a lot that goes into that. Some queens asked to be included, and some were queens the producers and fans really wanted to see. We listen a lot to the fans of the show as well as the show producers. We always keep a list of queens who are interested, and we get them involved when we can.

Did the drag queens get a chance to see how they’d look in the game before it was released?

Absolutely. Some of them were playing the game from early Beta. The feedback that we got from most queens tended to focus on what they could say during the game rather than any specific game mechanics. Interacting with their fans is a huge deal for them, and they wanted to include a lot.

But one of the fun things we got to do on this game was bring Mimi Imfurst in to voice Apocalypstyk, who has returned as the evil drag queen for Dragopolis 2.0. We worked a lot with Mimi to create just the right tone for her, and Mimi was great with suggestions and ideas on how to bring that character to life. That was a lot of fun.

Who decided what the queens would wear in the game? Because I imagine that was a big point of discussion.

The queens had this decision. They were fantastic and provided lots of reference photos for our art team. They know best when it comes to fashion.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Dragopolis 2.0 screen 03

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0 is currently available for iOS and Android devices. Are there any plans to bring it to other mobile devices?

We’re looking into it. Porting to other devices always comes at a cost, so we want to make sure we’re doing something that makes sense. But we know that RuPaul and the queens have fans all over with all sorts of devices, and we want to reach as many of them as we can.

What about consoles? And do you think RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0 could even work on a game console?

I think it definitely could, but there’s a lot I’d like to add in moving it to a console. Right now we’re focused on making it a great experience for mobile gamers.

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0 is free-to-play, but has some microtransactions and in-game ads. But some games that employ microtransactions have been criticized for being too aggressive in trying to get people to buy stuff. What have you done to make sure RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0 isn’t one of them?

We’ve tried to err on the side of generous when it comes to microtransactions. We’ve also given players some alternatives to microtransactions. For example, if a player runs out of “love,” there’s a purchase available to restore your “love,” but they also may be able to watch a quick video for one more shot.

So what are some of the things people will be able to buy in RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0?

The Dragporium is fully stocked with Big Balls, Fire Balls, Ball Breakers, and more. Those are all power ups that the player can use throughout the game. They can also buy things like “More Tail,” which will extend the shooter guide tail for more accurate shots and “Extra Love” which increases the amount of Love a player can have at one time.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Dragopolis 2.0 screen 04

Finally, if someone really liked RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0, but they already played RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis, which of your games would you suggest they play next and why?

I love the work that we did on Fireflies. It’s such a wonderful, rich experience. I’m always happy when I go back to that game.

I’ll also say that if they really like this game, they should check back with us in early 2015 for something amazing.

 

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