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Old 03-21-2012, 01:15 AM
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medierra medierra is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2009
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Default Old School Design

I though I'd post this excerpt from a previous Rock, Paper, Shotgun interview because I think it helps convey my motivation, vision and aspirations for Grim Dawn.

RPS: The action RPG seems to be becoming more popular of late, which is great news. How will Grim Dawn stand out – what makes it unique?

Bruno: I think we’re probably unique just in the sense that, while most studios are redesigning their games to be more casual-player friendly, we’re busy making Grim Dawn more complex and probably casual-player hostile.

I think older, traditional PC games had a certain magic that has been lost in most modern games. Bethesda comes to mind as one of the few big companies left still making games with the kind of depth and magic that games had when I was a kid. I mean no disrespect in saying this, but their games are sort of complex, clunky, and often rife with imbalance and exploit. The very sort of imbalances and exploits that I delight in discovering and abusing but not the sort that are so bad they ruin the game. They are the sort of complex but loose systems that leave the player wondering how far they can push the limits of what is possible, and where there are no hard caps obviously and arbitrarily restricting what they can do. I sometimes wonder whether this sort of thing is intentional or not. I certainly add some deliberate measure of this in my games where I can get away with it.

I love systems that are asymmetrical and chaotic, where the player can’t easily see the tell-tale structure and patterns of deliberate, organized human design. The real world isn’t always perfectly planned or sensible and I don’t think game worlds should be either, otherwise you see the hand of the developers everywhere you look and it erodes the magic of feeling like you are in a living and unpredictable world. Exploration of game systems is all about the discovery of what is possible. When there is too clear a structure and pattern to the design, not only does it feel artificial but the player is much more quickly able to assess the limits of the system. Unfortunately, most of the industry is moving away from this sort of design.

There has been a growing realization in the industry, propelled in previous years by Wii sales and more recently by the astronomical success of social games like FarmVille and smartphone games like Angry Birds, that the vast scale of the casual market makes it a veritable goldmine. Publishers and developers are increasingly looking to boost their sales by attracting more of the casual market and increase their revenue by getting this larger audience to make a lot of small purchases.

To court the casual audience, developers are simplifying game systems and minimizing the potential for inexperienced players to make bad choices. They’re reducing the amount of time it takes to finish games, adding a constant stream of visible rewards for increasingly simplified achievements, and allowing players to pay for success when the effort of achieving it through the game proves too challenging or time consuming. We’ve come a long way from my childhood, where failure in most games caused you to start completely over from the beginning, to a point where it is impossible to fail in many games and in some you can just pull out your credit card when you decide it is time to win.

The sad reality though, is that this isn’t some evil corporate executives have perpetrated upon humanity, it’s what people want. At least, some people. Well, as it stands, it appears to be quite a lot of people and that is why the industry and gaming is largely trending in this direction. This is all anathema to what I love about games and is much of the reason that I’ve forgone earning an income the past couple years and instead slave away, with a few other dedicated souls, to create a game that we hope will embody some of what we loved about the games of yesteryear.

While the casual market is certainly large, the hardcore gaming audience has also grown tremendously over recent years. As the heavyweights of the industry move to grab a piece of the massive casual market I think this creates an opportunity for a smaller company like us. I believe many in the more traditional, core gaming audience are starting to become frustrated with the changes they’re seeing to their most beloved games. They say you can’t please all of the people all of the time and I think this is certainly true. Our belief is that we can perhaps better please some of the people most of the time by catering Grim Dawn more closely to the desires of that traditional, core audience (and ourselves).

So yeah, what are we doing that is unique? Moving backwards some might say…
 

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difficulty, game design, interview, press

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