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Road to the IGF: Behold Studios' Knights of Pen & Paper

Behold Studios' Ronaldo Nonato discusses the creation of Knights of Pen & Paper, a mix of video game and physical RPG elements that allows for control of both sides of the table: the players and the dungeon master.

John Polson, Blogger

March 18, 2013

3 Min Read

As part of our Road to the IGF series, Gamasutra is speaking to each of the student finalists in the 2013 Independent Games Festival to find out the story behind the games. Today, Instituto de Ensino Superior de Brasilia (Brazil, South America) student Ronaldo Nonato discusses the creation of his team's mobile pen and paper-inspired RPG, Knights of Pen & Paper. He also discusses how mutliplayer would ruin the game, despite group participation being fundamental to the traditional pen and paper RPG experience. What tools did you use to make the game? The game was made using Unity 3D, the most important plugin we used was nGui, and all art was made using Adobe Photoshop. How did you come up with the concept? All of us are RPG players and we always had this thought of "What if digital RPGs could be as good as the traditional ones we play with pen and paper?" From there on, it was just jumping into desirable mechanics like the room and the dungeon master. We mixed in much of our own experience playing these traditional RPGs into the game with the jokes in-game. How long was the game in development? Since early May 2012. The game was released in October 2012 for Android and a week later for iOS. Is this a sim manager/management game first and foremost or an RPG? How did that affect how you created the game? I think it is first an RPG. Everything around the creation of the game was about RPG and how RPG works and then we used management tools to round up the idea. Would you say the "pen and paper" RPG elements are rarely used in video games? Why do you think they've worked so well for your game? Yes, I would say "'pen and paper" RPG elements are rarely used in video games, and the reason is really clear to me: they are "'pen and paper" RPG elements. They work so well and so fine because you need the character sheets on paper and to roll the dice in front of your friends for it to work - all this while a friend of yours ruins his own papers by dropping soda, and everyone is discussing advanced strategy besides the "dungeon master" stating that they "aren't even seeing these enemies!" We tried to put these elements in the game and hopefully did a good job in bringing these feelings into it, and maybe this is why it worked so well. What "pen and paper" RPG elements did not make it in the game? One thing many people ask us via mail or social media: multiplayer feature. I mean, traditional a RPG is about uniting with your friends to play. This is the first rule of the game, you can't just be the storyteller and the player at the same time and just pretend you get surprised by that trap in the ground. So, yeah, multiplayer is something that didn't made it into the game. Multiplayer didn't really fit our original game design, either. Many players ask us for it, but it really wouldn't do the game justice since it was not planned like so. A multiplayer feature would slow the game down too much and would require a different setting to work. How does your school prepare students for independent game development (compared to grooming for AAA work)? I guess it's a little of both. We do learn AAA texturizing and animations, but are highly encouraged to model low-poly, for instance. We are kind of taught like a jack of all trades. What made you decide to get into making games? Love, first. I mean, seriously, we had Behold Studios up and running while studying at full dedication without a single penny. It's something you must do because you love. Or fail.

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