Hotline Miami is a 2D top-down action video game developed by Dennaton Games, a team composed of Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin. The game was published by Devolver Digital and released on October 23, 2012 for Windows PCs. Hotline Miami is the final product of a development process starting back in 2004, when Swedish developer Jonatan Söderström (better known as cactus) began working on one of his many videogame projects called Super Carnage.
Cactus stated, in an interview with PC Gamer UK (Issue 247):
What was the original idea for Hotline, why did you want to make it?
JS: My original idea, when I made the first prototype called Super Carnage, was just to make the goriest game I possibly could, with as many weapons as possible. I was only 18 at the time so it was a pretty silly and incomplete idea.
Cactus was inspired by different games for this prototype, especially by a number of games from Japanese developer Ikiki, another prolific mass-producer of indie games like him. Hakaiman in particular, with its top-down style and gore grapichs, was one of the main influences (even for the enemies’ patterns and AI).
Cactus also stated that he really liked the game Nikujin (also made by Ikiki), featuring a naked ninja, because he gave him the feelings of possessing all the abilities from the beginning of the game, not acquiring them through the game but trying to master them from the start, as he said in the same interview with PC Gamer UK:
I really wanted to capture that feeling of always being outnumbered and having to master the controls and plan your actions to beat a level.
A beta demo of the game was released by cactus on gamermakergames.com forums. At that time (2006) the game looked like this: