Delver’s Drop Q&A With Vision/Creative Director of Pixelscopic, Ryan Baker

delvers drop logo

A few days back I happened upon an interesting looking indie title call Delver’s Drop. It caught my because of its top down, hack in slash nature which was very reminiscent of the early games of the Zelda series such as Link to The Past and Links Awakening. It also has a beautiful high-definition 2D aesthetic. Unfortunately other than a single video, teaser site, and a few screenshots scattered about the inter-webs there was no information about the game. So being the impatient gamer that I am I contacted Pixelscopic, the team developing Delver’s Drop, and within just a few days they got back to we with more information than I could have hoped to received.

“Over all how would you describe Delver’s Drop to someone who may not have seen or heard about it previously, in terms of story as well as gameplay?”

Delver’s Drop is a 2D Action RPG with fluid physics-based movement, snappy combat, shifting dungeons, and a rogue’s gallery of character classes that can be individually leveled. With an emphasis on mystery and dynamic gameplay experiences, the game features randomization for infinite replay, enigmatic puzzle permutations to unravel, multiple narrative paths, customizable character growth, and layers of secrets to unearth.

You play as one of many adventuring miscreants imprisoned for unknown reasons in a dungeon atop a towering, ever-changing castle complex. Built up over countless years of construction, this labyrinthine structure forms a maze of interlocking rooms which mysteriously shift in a constantly changing layout. The prisoners are released one by one into these depths, and challenged to find their way to freedom. But to do so they must brave the Drop: a pit that tunnels deep into the mountain’s core and connects the castle’s deteriorating layers, each of which contains puzzles that must be solved in order to open the Drop to the descending levels. As they explore deeper, the adventurers begin to unravel the true reasons for their imprisonment, while discovering that other, darker secrets lie in the castle’s deeper vaults. When one prisoner fails, another is cast down into the Drop, taking advantage of their predecessors’ progress. But for every dubious hero that you fail to keep alive, a darker threat will await the next unlucky delver…”

“After doing a bit of research I’ve come to understand that there is a class system. How many classes will there be in the game and how far does one class vary from another?”

“The current plan is to have 5 playable classes at launch. We may add more classes later through expansions depending on its success and fan interest. We think about our classes as a combination of traditional RPG classes with unique levelable abilities or perks crossed with more arcade-style character types with unique action moves, play mechanics, and strategies like the characters in a fighting game. Although we have a form of permadeath, the player is persistent leveling each class as they use it.

The classes vary in several ways:
• Each has unique parameters affecting movement, such as acceleration rate, top speed, mass, and traction to name a few.
• All classes use a specific type of melee or projectile weapon that is unique to them. The player can find additional weapons of each type as they progress.
• Classes will also have a unique special move or ability. These are still being developed, but one class may activate their special move based on achieving a certain speed of movement, allowing them to charge into enemies. Another class may activate their special by racking up a certain number of kills within a time limit, at which time they can unleash more powerful attacks.
• They also have different perks that can be leveled up through experience points – so for instance the rogue will have increased gold finds, while a wizard may be able to increase chip damage from elemental wands as they progress.
• And finally, each class will have its own set of quirky backstory elements that will be revealed to the player the more they use that character type.”

“When going into the development of the game , were there any other titles that may have inspired/influenced any part of the game whether it be art, music, or narrative, and to what extent?”

“The most obvious source of inspiration is of course the 2D Zelda games. The original internal pitch for the game idea was “Zelda meets pinball” – basically a fast, physics-based Action RPG that would rely on speed and impact to knock enemies around the room. Another early inspiration was Geometry Wars, with its fast navigation, changing weapon types, and enemy behavior patterns. As we worked on the game, and developed the world though, it started trending back toward a more straight-forward Action RPG in order to keep the combat tight and enjoyable for the genre. However, we obviously don’t want to just make an HD spinoff of the Zelda play style, so we actually started compiling a list of other action RPGs (or games with action RPG elements) for additional inspiration. Some of those include roguelikes, Ys, Half-Minute Hero, Rolan’s Curse, Diablo, Torchlight, Borderlands, and some other recent games that we feel are spiritually similar like The Binding of Isaac and Spelunky.

As for the more aesthetic inspirations – I think the biggest inspiration has been the simplicity of 8-bit graphics. I have a lot of experience doing pixel art on the DS, and I developed a real appreciation for what can be achieved within the restraints of limited detail and low color numbers. So while our game is not done in pixel art, I want the vibe of the artwork to feel like an HD painting based on the feel of pixels. So there are fewer colors, sharp lines between color areas, chunky details and highlights.”

“What platforms are you looking at for the release of Delver’s Drop? Do you have any plans to develop for console platforms such as PSN and Xbox Live Arcade?”

“The current plan is to release on PC, Mac, iOS and Android. We would consider a Linux version if there is enough interest. As for consoles – we have nothing planned at this time, but since our heritage is in the console and handheld arena, we would definitely love to make a console port if the opportunity presented itself.”

“What would you say are your biggest challenges for Pixelscopic in the development of, not just Delvers Drop, but any project you undertake as an independent developer?”

“In general, the biggest challenge for a small studio like ours is finding a balance of paying contract projects, while also continuing to work on our original games. It’s a struggle both in terms of creating a sustainable financial situation, but also creatively since jumping back and forth between your own project and contract work can be difficult to balance. The other large struggle is working on an original project that you are so passionate about, and having to make cuts either to refine the design or to simply keep the project on schedule and on budget. Sometimes what you leave out is more important than what you put it when trying to create a balanced design, but unfortunately you never stop coming up with ideas. Hopefully some of these ideas see the light in future games, but it’s never easy taking the axe to them or set them on the shelf.”

“When can we expect the game to hit stores?”

“The goal is to have it available for PC and Mac by summer 2013. We have not yet decided if the iOS and Android versions will be a simultaneous launch, or will come shortly thereafter.”

So, what do you think? Personally I can’t wait, plain and simple. If you like to find more information about Delver’s Drop you can go to their main website or the teaser site and sign up for their news letter.

Thank you for reading. I would like to thank Ryan Baker for taking the time to answer my questions, and all the people at Pixelscopic.

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One Response to Delver’s Drop Q&A With Vision/Creative Director of Pixelscopic, Ryan Baker

  1. zacH says:

    I know I’d play it on linux, for sure! Good luck with the game, guys!

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