The Soulsian Quest

Making a “Soulsian” game is very enjoyable to me.  I was thinking about this a lot the other night at the pub with Terry Cavanagh and another rabid DARK SOULS fan, during a five hour discussion about the game.  Having spent four years fighting to get a narrative-heavy game to work well with its mechanics, and replaying the same bits of narrative again and again until they worked, it’s refreshing to do something more design-focussed.  Of course, the theme is still really important to me (perhaps one of the things I value the most), but as with Lone Survivor I’ve decided not to share any details of the story until the game is released.  The games I make tend to come from the theme, rather than the mechanics, even with NG+, but this time its focus is more a blend of the two aspects.

NG+ Meet The Ranger

So, the nice thing is every game is different when you have this many mechanics and styles of play…  It means I have to devote a lot more time to balancing and playing the game, but that’s turning out to be a lot of fun with four players anyway, and giving me a lot to take home after each event I take the game to (I’ve been starting to ‘hit the road’ with it recently, now I have four quite different characters and the stats and weapon systems fleshed out, as well as the coop and VS game modes implemented.  You can switch modes at any time during the game now via the ‘+ Altars’.)

I’ve begun to build more of the world (which I’m trying not to show too much of because *spoilers*) but I can say that there are now multi-level areas working, like Dungeon Master, one of my all-time favourite RPG’s, you can fall down pits and the enemies can even follow you down there, or be found lurking when you reach the lower level because you lunged at them and sent them flying off a ledge.)  I want to make a lot of use of the grid-based nature of the game, and have Dungeon Master-like traps, pressure pads, all those things that require you to be a little observant when moving forward.  You can throw whatever you’re carrying, in either hand, not only to land in monsters’ faces stunning them temporarily while you make your escape, risking a valuable weapon or shield, but perhaps also to set off these fiendish traps before they find you instead?

As it stands, I’m planning to have no inventory except for the armour and helmet you wear, the two things you carry in your hands, and one support item.  Designs can be subject to change of course!  But I want to try and reduce and RPG to the fewest elements I can while still being able to feel like an RPG.  That’s a key thing in what I’m going for mechanically, I think?  And with up to four players on screen the GUI has to be as simple as possible, so my intended solution is to practically show all of it on the player, one of the reasons the animation takes so long, because the player must be able to use every item, in both hands, with four facing directions, in every suit and helmet!

So the game is still a long way from being finished in terms of content, but the gameplay is definitely getting to where I hoped it would be, and people seem to be having a lot of fun with it when I play with them.  I really look forward to sharing it with you all!  Just don’t expect it this year (unfortunately.)

One two a few more thing(s)…


I’m off today for a couple of weeks to work on a secret project.  So if I’m fairly quiet on email or twitter, that’s why!  I’m basically going to be internet-less for this time while I buckle down and get it done, but suffice to say it’s something exciting that I can hopefully announce soon!

- There’s no comments available at the moment just because I couldn’t hold back the spam any more.  Planning a website overhaul soon, I promise!

- I’ve also been doing some exciting music projects too, at least two new games will feature some of my guest tunes.  Hope to get into this more after NG+, if such a time ever exists.

- I’m finally going to my first IGF / GDC this year!  I’ll be in San Francisco for the whole week and a few days either side.  Hope to catch some of you there…

- Hope you’re all having a wicked 2013!

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