Feb 17, 2011

10 minute space strategy... What the heck?

10 minutes. Space strategy. Hmm... These two do not make sense together because everyone knows that turn-based space strategy sessions - especially those of the 4x genre - take hours (Master of Orion series) or even days (Space Empires* series) to finish! Right? Yeah, that was exactly what I was thinking too. So let's talk a bit about what made us think that such a game is possible and why did we choose to do it.

First - the idea. I really like the recent activity in the so called "indie", "amateur" game development. There are many websites about it, tales of success, refreshingly new ideas, all the freedom and charm of gamemaking without AAA expectations and suits waving the release date. While browsing indie games I found a real treasure... it was QCF design's Desktop Dungeons.

Now let's talk a bit about Desktop Dungeons. If you hear the expression "computer rpg", what pops into your mind first? A huge world, quests, spells, dozens of monsters, an epic story, an intimidating 40h+ gameplay. World of Warcraft, Morrowind, Witcher. Statistics: how much endurance should I have, shoud I specialize to fireballs, is dualwield better than a two-handed sword. Cutting this short, when someone hears the term CRPG, he thinks something BIG and DIFFICULT. So big and difficult that it is almost overwhelming. You can't really play Witcher or Gothic when you only have 20 minutes. Games like these require a whole evening and total dedication.

Desktop Dungeons is SMALL. It has 2d graphics, minimal sounds. A one screen world. Works with a really easy to understand ruleset. You can hit monsters. You have HP and mana. You can find spells, gold and potions. Your sole purpose is to kill the boss of the lair. It is so barebone that it is sometimes referred to as a puzzle/rpg instead of a crpg. And the most interesting thing is that it WORKS. It still feels like a hack'n'slash rpg. You have a race. A class. Equipment. Spells. Advantages and disadvantages. All - while keeping it really, really simple.

And this was the last bit of inspiration I needed. If they made a game this simple, while keeping all the iconic CRPG elements, that must surely work with other genres. And my other favourite genre is, yeah you guessed it, strategy, especially turn-based strategy. Thats how the story of our game began.

*: i remember a Space Empires game that lasted for almost half a year, and it was played in email. Heh, good old times.

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