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Swords, Pixels & Blood Magic (or: How we worked hard to ignore every trend and make the game we always wanted)

Hey, remember those cool old games? Let's make one...! Wait, what? When three retro-nerds gather round the campfire, a number of things are bound to happen. The real quest begins...

Thomas Finholm, Blogger

November 6, 2017

4 Min Read

Hey, remember those cool old games? Let's make one...! Wait, what?

When three retro-nerds gather round the campfire, a number of things are bound to happen.
Countless memories of late night gaming, nostalgia overflow for good old games and so on.
But the games sometimes had dirty secrets that we spoke quietly about or even tried to
forget. some games just plain sucked in the way of mechanics, execution or technical efficiency.
No way around that fact.

So: when we started reclaiming the ancient dream of developing our own games, we had a lot of baggage. At first we happily grinded away, thinking we were the old and new god's gift to Indie Gaming. Turns out...no. The second level of realization was that we indeed had a lot of old habits and nostalgic filters that most of the time stalled progress rather than helped it. This was not only graphic styles, ways of designing (when we eventually learned some of that) or music preferences, but a general feel of how games should be put together for others to enjoy.

Of course It's fine to make a project just because you really like the process and like to see your ideas manifest on some type of (digital) canvas but to make it enjoyable or even approachable for other human beings some level of design and long lasting vision is needed. The quest for us emerged...how do we make an action heavy platformer that also has lore, weapons, items, bosses and replay value? This would take some serious thinking rituals.

Every now and again we wondered (as we all do) will people enjoy playing this game? Answers can be found but usually by then you're deep into a prototype or a decent version of the game. Is it worth the risk? 

Now let's define risk. If you're developing a game for a marketplace and really want to get a cut,
you have to get some sense of what people are looking for. If you can be among the first batch to do
something popular you're doing good. Maybe even great if you play your (several) other cards right.
Navigating the games business is a monumental task that every indie developer comes face to face with sooner or later. Not to mention the marketing beast that isn't easily tamed.

The other way: If you make a game you really want to play and enjoy every moment of creating it
- what's the risk?

At some point, we woke up from a haze of self-doubt and realized: hey, there are a lot of people our age and with similar preferences like us. The game we want to make has a market already. Nostalgia is a powerful thing but it can't be the only reason to draw a barbarian that hacks goblins to bits.
It also needs some crisp controls, authentic music and modern approach to playing.

There's an old saying among developers: you never really get to try out or play your own game.
By the time you've nailed the mechanics and game loop (plus content) you're inevitably "home-blind"
and just see "the matrix", not the game playing out. Procedural content is a powerful tool here,
but that's another whole topic for another time.

The happy ending: We tried to make a arcade style game that touched every nostalgic note, but includes what today's technology can offer in terms of controls, procedural levels and technical polish.
Turns out, a lot of people are looking for the same thing! (if not, we need to remind them!) The age span of players even surprised us. Younger kids to older retro-nerds like us seem to enjoy Thy Sword,
especially when heads are flying in the local player vs player combat tournament.

Finding a friendly indie developer community where you can present your ideas is worth millions, whatever currency you emply. This is one of the major things that kept us motivated and hungry, and we're really thankful. A world of Swords & Sorcery awaits!

Thank You for reading.

Thy Sword will be released on Steam november 14, 2017. 

Developed by GamePhase, an Indie Game developer from the deep forests of Finland.



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