Hello! I'm Alex Sala, founder of Armchair Games. In these DevLogs I hope to give you some exciting insight into the development of our dungeon adventure game, Shard Infinite! This is a project which has its conceptual roots back in 2015, and has been in development since late 2017. As we near our first beta phases at the end of 2018, I wanted to start a series giving our community some behind-the-curtain views on the design and tech that is shaping this new adventure.
From Brass Tacks...
So let us start at the very beginning of any game, the concept. Shard Infinite began its life as a top-down RPG concept in late 2015. Having grown up on many top-down Nintendo classics, I have always had a desire as a designer to explore the genre and try an original take on it. For me, this always felt like it involved investigating the unknown, and dungeon crawler games were always an influence that I felt strongly as I worked on this concept. However, I could never seem to find the right mix of novel adventure and established precedents, and the concept went through several revisions as I tried to find a place for it to settle. I tend to keep all my design ideas in notebooks, and between 2015 and early 2017 I filled several with possible threads for Shard Infinite, looking for the right mix.
There were some things that came together quickly: Shard Infinite would be set in a fantasy world still reeling from a near miss with disaster in its past. It would be a world where players could define themselves as adventurers, with their own goals, styles and stories. Armed with an assortment of enchanted weaponry, players could explore and test themselves against a strange, ancient labyrinth, built to identify the strongest and bravest among humanity. This mysterious structure was long ago given a name: Shard Infinite. However, even with this and more as basis for the concept, I still felt that it lacked a sharp focus, a core element.
In early 2017 as I worked on other concepts, I began to resolve that the element I wanted to focus on in Shard Infinite was to create a sense for the player of truly being in the middle of an unexplored unknown. From my original Top-Down RPG concept I found this more and more challenging to achieve. While there are many merits to this style, my initial tests felt more like you as the player were watching someone else go on this explorative adventure, rather than being on it yourself. The solution, I found, came from a change of perspective.
Adventure Close Up...
After several test versions in late 2017 and early 2018, I decided to try shifting the game to a close over-the-shoulder third person view, away from the top down model. This change totally shifted the dynamic of the game, and after much adjustment, the camera model that persists in Shard Infinite was set. A closer camera created much more of a sense that the player was actually the one on the adventure, while staying 3rd person kept some of that classic RPG perspective. Additionally, the close camera model adds to the sense of space for players. In Shard Infinite, when you find yourself in a constricted hallway, with obstacles and enemies surrounding you, that close camera makes the danger feel immediate, and in your face. When you're lost in the winding halls, the lack of top down emphasizes that you are but a mouse in the maze, and when you emerge into a massive hall or shard room at the end of a floor, the close camera gives you that sense of grand scale. It is this perspective shift which has come to define the visual style of Shard Infinite as a game. When the doors open and we welcome all our new adventurers inside, it is also this perspective through which you too can experience our world!
This is the first in a series of development posts which explore the world and workings of Shard Infinite. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to sign up and subscribe, as I will be adding many more as the game nears testing, and release!
~ Alex Sala, Founder