Professional animators who still animate by hand in 2D are hard to find, says Maja Moldenhauer of StudioMDHR. And that’s understandable given that the animation style has given way to digital animation and how physically demanding good animation can be.
That’s why, she says, StudioMDHR had to deal with the handful of people it found to work on Cuphead and its DLC: Delicious Last Course — about 18 developers in total, and only about six animators at most. strong from the development of the DLC. Even if that meant both took a very, very long time to make – over a decade, in fact.
“It’s hard to find people,” she says. “The number one thing, especially through COVID, was to keep everyone happy. These are video games. Take your time. Mental health had to be front and center, taking the space and time you needed, especially in the last two years. We say to ourselves: ‘If it takes longer for the game to come out, it takes longer. We do not care?’
Moldenhauer goes further, explaining that much of this attitude stemmed from other industries that she and fellow chefs Chad and Jared Moldenhauer had been in before Cuphead, where they didn’t necessarily have that time and space.
“If we want to risk it all, this will be a company we are proud of. It will be a company that is everything, an amalgamation of everything we have ever wanted. Respect for each other, love and support. Things we didn’t get in our previous jobs. Well, we did, but ultimately there was a bottom line.
That’s why with Cuphead, Moldenhauer says she’s not worried about Delicious Last Course’s possible financial success. She and StudioMDHR have already created the art they’re proud of, and it’s just enough to be able to release it to the world. The day our interview took place, she told me Delicious Last Course had just gone gold, describing the feeling as “euphoric.”
Screenshots of Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course
“Seeing this all come together over the last few months, working on the little enemies or this and that, you can’t imagine it,” she says. “To see it come to life, take shape and take shape and it’s beautiful. This is exactly what we wanted…[it’s] art for art’s sake in the sense that you can’t explain that to people who are driven by numbers or things like that. You really can’t.
For more Cuphead before his Delicious Last Course DLC on June 30, 2022, with new bosses, a new playable character and more, check out our reviews of the original game and the Netflix show, aptly titled The Cuphead Show!.
Rebekah Valentine is a reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.