After a long hiatus and a little detour with the JnG on Steam I’m back with some news about Rampage Knights. Yes, the project is still alive! In fact we plan to start an IndieGoGo and Greenlight campains really soon to get some attention and funds for outsourced stuff (mostly music) and to possibly push the game on Steam. Along with these campaigns we are going to release the first playable demo of the game! So here I am with some behind-the-scenes info for those who are interested.
You might guess the development so far was quite a labor. The initial idea seemed easy enough. After we enjoyed the hell out of The Binding of Isaac, we thought, it will be cool to take this random generating formula (we have some experience with that thanks to our old game Larva Mortus) and mix it with melee combat! Something we like and know well from games like Golden Axe or Castle Crashers. We were sure this is going to be epic. And an epic struggle it was . I don’t remember ever having to rework so many things that looked fine on paper, but didn’t work once we created and tested them. Here are the three main changes that happened to the game:
First thing you may notice, as we start to pump out some new screenshots, is the change of perspective. The old version used these weirdly skewed side walls, which allowed us to make them partially visible. But later on we realized, how much this limits, what we can do with the rooms. They all had very similar trapeziod shape, chasms didn’t work very well, object placing was quite complicated, it was a letdown. We decided to start from scratch and build everything on a simple rectangular grid. A lot of work ended in a dust bin and we lost visible side walls, but now we have tons of rooms with different shapes and obstacles and also positioning of any new features is much easier.
Initially we wanted to follow the lead of The Binding of Isaac and create a fully explorable 2D map with all kinds of side rooms and branching. Sounds great, right? After many months running with this model and testing lots of map layouts we saw, how annoying this “exploring” actually is in our game. The game never felt like proper “dungeon crawling”, the wandering and constant backtracking created a lot of frustration. What works in other games, didn’t work in ours. Rooms in RK are too big (fighting in small rooms is bad, especially in multiplayer) and despite very high run speed of the characters it simply takes too long to cross them. It’s one of those small differences that make a huge impact on the game.
After a much discussion we did a serious cut and dropped the map entirely. In current version players move constantly forward to the end of level via linear path, yet we kept all special side rooms with treasures, traps and various special events along the main route. The progress through the campaign is now much closer to Golden Axe or maybe Left 4 Dead instead of “rogue like” games.
We put a lot of effort into the fighting, as it is the core mechanics of the game. The original system was based on combining of weak and strong attack and surprisingly it fell completely flat. Last summer we tested it on a bunch of experienced gamers and it turned out, that most of them ignored one of the attacks most the time and rarely (if ever) used the combos.
We decided to streamline things with only one attack button and one magic button. Special attacks are now triggered by combination of movement and attack button (for example: pushing up + hitting with an attack does an uppercut strike, which slings the enemy upwards and starts juggling with him in midair). Also magic in our game is mostly very combat oriented so it serves as another form striking, making the action fairly variable.
Ok. This is a selection of the biggest obstacles and changes we faced during the last year in the game. The text is getting too long already, so I’ll stop here. I’ll make another blog with more details about items, combat, multiplayer and new stuff in the game soon.