Two Star Games on Choo-Choo Charles’ development, future DLC plans, cut content, and major inspirations

Not long to wait now before spooky train arrives on Steam.

Indie developer Gavin Eisenbeisz, also known as Two Star or Two Star Games, has been working on a small indie horror project for some time now that has stirred up quite the commotion online.

While horror games often focus on zombies, creatures of the night, or some other form of demon or deity, Two Star Games instead ventured outside of the box completely by creating a sentient spider train that players will need to flee from—and eventually hunt—with their lives depending on it.

Since its announcement in October 2021, Choo-Choo Charles has rapidly gained momentum and currently sits in the top 40 wishlisted games on Steam. The Two Star YouTube account has also skyrocketed from a humble 10,000 subscribers to nearly 300,000 after the reveal trailer nine months ago.

It’s fair to say there’s a lot of hype surrounding this game and the creator. The hype for Choo-Choo Charles continues to grow by the day as a passionate fanbase awaits to find out when they’ll be able to get their hands on the title.

In the midst of developing the title to meet the standards fans are expecting, Eisenbeisz spoke to Dot about the game, its origins and future, and working as a sole developer.

How did Choo Choo Charles come about? How does one look at a spider train and go “Yep. I’ll devote my time to this”?

Gavin Eisenbeisz: When it came time to start working on a new game and come up with a fresh idea, I wanted something that had really strong gameplay, and a really strong/ironic enemy character. I spent many months trying to come up with something and eventually thought of the show Thomas the Tank Engine. I figured if I made a new character that reminded people of that show, but put it in a horror setting, that concept could go a really long way, and be super intriguing.

Is there anything from the start to where you are currently at with the game that has been more challenging than you originally considered?

Most of the things that I thought would be really hard have actually been pretty simple, and the things I thought would be easy have been much harder. Creating AI for Charles and the human enemies have been quite an ordeal, as well as writing the story for the game. Building the open world environment also turned out to be far more time-consuming than I expected, but ultimately I’m pleased with how all of these things have been turning out.

Image via Two Star Games

Is there anything currently in development that you liked the idea of but sadly had to cut?

One thing that I was originally planning on adding was for Charles to mount himself to the railroad and chase you as a train when you yourself were in the train, and only chase you as a spider, when you went out into the island on foot. Making the on-foot AI was already difficult enough though, and as I tried to figure out a reasonable way for Charles to mount to the tracks, I couldn’t. It would have made his AI 10X more complicated and left way too much room for bugs, so I cut it.

Do you have any plans to do more with the game currently once it has gone gold with DLC or free updates, or is that not something you are thinking about at the moment?

I don’t have any plans for DLC, or other content expansions for the game. If I have an idea that would be really cool to add though, I might consider adding it as post-launch content in some way.

Did you expect the massive reception the game has received? And how have you come to cope with the big fanfare this game has now to meet demand from your fans?

I knew that the game had a lot of potential, but I had no idea it would get this big so fast. Having a larger fanbase hasn’t really changed the development process at all. Obviously, I want to meet and exceed everyone’s expectations, but I would want that with any game I make.

Image via Two Star Games

What do you believe are some of the biggest issues and successes you have had from being a solo developer on this project?

Being solo means I can make decisions quickly, but develop them slowly.

What would you say are some of your inspirations for the game, or some devs that influence how you go about your projects?

There have been many things that have inspired aspects of the game over its development. Obviously Thomas the Tank Engine was the big one, and Tom Coben’s animations inspired aspects of Charles’ character design. I’ve also been inspired by games like Bigfoot, and other “creature hunting” games. As well as the more game-related inspirations, YouTubers like Dani got me into making the devlogs for the game on my own YouTube channel, which has been one of the biggest traffic sources for the game.