Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-04-15 17:27:04
An Interview with DiscordGames (Chasm)
Discord Games is a small independent game studio founded by James Petruzzi in 2011. Their goal is to combine modern game design with classic 2D gameplay. Their debut title Take Arms was released on XBLIG in August 2011, was featured in the Indie Games Summer Uprising, and has sold over 20,000 copies to date. They remastered their formerly unreleased 2009 title 48 Chambers for Windows and XBLIG in 2012, and since late 2012 have been hard at work on Chasm, which currently requires funding through Kickstarter. I spoke to James about what we can expect from Chasm:
Alex Phillimore: Hi James. How would you describe Chasm to an audience of gamers unfamiliar with the game?
James Petruzzi: Chasm is a 2D action-rpg platformer. In it, you explore 2D side scrolling dungeons, find loot, improve your character, and progress through procedurally generated dungeon floors.
AP: What inspired you to make games in a retro style, both from a visual standpoint and a gameplay standpoint?
JP: We grew up with games similar to this style. I started playing games on the NES at age 5, and by 8 was playing SNES games like [The Legend of Zelda:] A Link to the Past. Those games had a big impact on me, and always stuck with me. I didn't play [Castlevania:] Symphony of the Night until I was in college, but it was the game that reminded me that these sorts of games could be so much more.
AP: In what ways did games such as Diablo, Metroid, Castlevania and The Legend of Zelda influence the creative process behind Chasm?
JP: Diablo inspired the town at the top, and the procedurally generated dungeons; Castlevania inspired the action gameplay; and Metroid inspired the room styles. A lot of people think our Zelda inspiration comes from Zelda II, but it was actually much more inspired by the aesthetics and feeling of mystery in the original and A Link to the Past.
AP: In what ways does Chasm set itself apart from these influences? Does the game do anything new?
JP: We are definitely hoping it will become more than the sum of its parts. We have the power now to do awesome visual effects like per-pixel particles, dynamic sprite splitting, lots of layers, etc. plus the procedural generation for replayability. We also have ideas on how to take it to whole other areas that have never been explored in a game like this yet.
AP: How has your previous work on 48 Chambers and Take Arms influenced your creative approach to developing Chasm?
JP: Those games taught us to find the essence of ideas and perfect them. It's easy to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the player, but that doesn't necessarily make it fun. To hit a real quality bar, you have to make sure every single detail is polished and not lacking.
AP: Due to the nature of Chasm in having procedurally-generated dungeons, is there an end to the game, or can players continue playing indefinitely?
JP: Yes, it will still be structured a bit like a normal game with an ending and all. We're thinking about some extra game modes though to take advantage of the procedural generation even more.
AP: You mention the ability to '[equip] weapons, spellbooks, shields, and more to both hands' in Chasm. Does the game therefore feature dual-wielding of weapons, and will players be able to gain new abilities depending on which weapons they choose to play with?
JP: Yes, you can equip whatever you want in either hand. Some weapons will have status effects associated with them as well, so there will be plenty of variation.
AP: Will boss encounters be randomly generated like the dungeons or encountered through scripted scenes?
JP: We're planning on having some more random mini-boss encounters, but the big boss battles will be scripted.
AP: You mention a desire to create six large areas to explore in the game. Could you tell us a bit about what ideas you have at the moment (subject to change) for any of these areas?
JP: The first area is obviously the Mines, but then you will journey into the Catacombs before eventually entering the underground temple. The temple will have a myriad of diverse areas like Overgrown Garden, Sacrificial Chambers, and more.
AP: With its optional hardcore mode and 'permadeath' mechanic, Chasm appears to be a challenging game. Will the normal mode still offer plenty of challenge for players?
JP: Yes, we want it to still have that old school challenge regardless of which game mode you choose to play. Those looking for the ultimate challenge can try and tackle Hardcore mode.
AP: One of the screenshots on the Kickstarter page features a showdown with a kobold. Could you tell us a bit about a few of the enemy types we can expect to see in Chasm?
JP: You'll encounter rats, dire rats, and glow worms to start with in the Mines. As you get a bit deeper you'll run into ice slimes, kobolds, bats, and more. Each area will have its own unique set of enemies to fight, each with their own patterns you will have to master.
AP: With leaderboards planned for the final release, do you hope to see a competitive scene grow out of Chasm with a loyal fanbase of hardcore players?
JP: Yes, we definitely want to build an awesome community for people to partake in and hopefully keep the game going way past your initial playthrough. This type of game is ripe for replayability and competitive game modes.
AP: What would you say are the benefits to having a small team of people working on a game?
JP: We're all perfectionists, so it's cool having a small very dedicated team that pores over every detail of the game together. It's also easy for me to manage whats going on, and keep people in sync as well.
AP: Thanks, James. Finally, what would you say are the benefits to using Kickstarter as a platform for independent game development?
JP: Having full creative control and retaining all IP and distribution rights, as well as having no one to answer to but your fans, is a huge bonus of using Kickstarter. Hopefully it will also get our community started up in a big way as well.
Learn more about Chasm here and play the demo.
Check out the Chasm Kickstarter here.