All around me is so dark that I can barely see the narrow dungeon walls corroded by moisture. I can hear the sound of my heart beating like a hammer against a coffin.
They are here now, somewhere in the labyrinthine corridors of this damned place and they are looking for blood, and death, my death. I don’t know what compels them to roam relentlessly through the tentacles of this cave, but I know what is my duty.
Even if I’m weaker, even if I’m terrorized, I have to fight them till the end…
Finally over there I can see a glimmer, the faint semblance of a light. Not far from me, someone is coming. Even if his appearance nearly paralyze me, I must sneak towards him trying to overcome my fears. As I approach, I can distinguish better his figure, he is tall and muscular, with his arms gripped around a huge lethal weapon. His eyes are bloodthirsty and full of primordial anger, barely visible through cascades of yellow “threads”!
The only way for me to keep my mental sanity is remembering that HE is the attacker and that I’m just defending myself. With that thought in mind, I raise my sword and shout:
“You won’t win fuck**ng bastard! You will die, damned… HERO!”
What follows is the result of a funny little chat I had with the talented guys of Goblinz Studio about their upcoming Legend of Keepers. Thanks to them for their availability, kindness and courtesy.
1st Turn) In LofK we play, for once, not as the good old Chosen One, but as the chief of a bunch of monsters. In other words, this time we are the “Dungeon Lord” (more or less) and we must protect the treasure from attacks by heroes and warriors willing to steal it at all costs. So the first question for you is: do you really think players will like to be the bad guys, for once?
Who doesn’t? That’s an old classic, it’s not that new. Playing as a bad guy is what you do in most Rockstar games, half of the time in moral-based choice games, a lot of RPGs, and of course Dungeon Keepers. And in a lot of games, the so-called hero would only be a fanatic war criminal, anyway. The main aspect of LoK is that we don’t pretend to play the good guys while slaughtering people. That’s what heroes do. Also, they probably shouldn’t try to attack our dungeon in the first place? Who’s the bad guy, now?
2nd Turn) Thinking about possible inspirations for LofK, comes to my mind games like Dungeon Keeper or Dungeons 3, so, what are the differences and the similarities between LofK and these games?
I’d say Dungeon 3 is inspired by Dungeon Keeper, which is indeed our main inspiration. Lionhead was one of the rare studios using parody and humor in videogames in general and in fantasy specifically. While our tone has its very French origins with Naheulbeuk, Reflets d’Acide (2000’s audio shows, we were teenagers you know), Lanfeust, Astérix (comics) or Kaamelott (TV show), all of them being works of humoristical fantasy, Lionhead definitely is the video game reference for its unapologising british silliness.
I’d say the main differences revolve around the means of production that led us to this game design, as well as the profound love of funders of the studio for roguelites and hard strategy games. Also DK is an old game, players today demand a whole different level of polish, especially for roguelites which are meant to be highly replayable.
3rd Turn) During the introduction of the game, some bureaucrats give us the chance to become some sort of “dungeon manager”. Can you explain to us what will be our main duties?
You’re the boss! Like, a videogame boss. You’re the last barrier between treasures and heroes. When all the employees are dead, you will have to defend it yourself. However, heroes are not always raiding your dungeon. The rest of the time, you will have to manage stuff, like, a regular company boss. Buy traps, train your employees, manage your ressources, deal with strikes and a whole pack of events that will help you prepare for the next attack. Or unhelp. That’s the law of the market, colleague.
4th Turn) At the beginning of the game we can choose between three avatars (none of them seems very kind, actually). What can you tell us about them?
Maug, the centaur slaveholder, is a very sweet sadistic daddy – I mean warrior. His talents are mostly psychological : to terrorize heroes. He is specialized in monster mangement, and can recruit a miniboss to tenderize heroes before they reach him.
Sarel is a dryad, an ecoterrorist fanatic who only wants to stop deforestation. Specialized in magic, elementals, and she can turn people into trees, because most trees are better than people.
Lira is a genetically enhanced monkey, deadly intelligent, and she is specialized in traps and mecas. Her mecas have a magnetic force field to protect themselves.
They *may* be not the only three masters you will have. I don’t know. Maybe.
5th Turn) The game uses a cycle of 52 weeks. During this period of time we have, not only to fight heroes and warriors, but also to manage resources, make decisions and face some events. What I ask you now, in this regard, is: aren’t you worried that this cyclic structure may become, after some time, too repetitive or boring?
Funny that you ask that because we have been working on a whole new cycle since end 2020. Yes of course it was too repetitive, but everything is different now. Shorter, punchier, more narrative. We now have maps of different regions of the world, with missions, each one with different starter decks, difficulties, and some unique stories associated with each master.
6th Turn) What can you tell us about the roguelite features of the game?
There are monsters, traps and artefacts players can unlock when completing runs and in game achievements. They can also level their masters up to get talent points for gameplay bonuses.
7th Turn) Ok, now let’s talk about the art style. Let me first say that I’m a big fan of pixel-art and I really love the graphic style of LotK with its 16-bit vibe, but I have to ask you anyway: why did you opt for this art style instead of a super-duper 3D graphic?
Obviously 3D implies a whole different production process, different talents, etc. We already had a pixel artist expert in our team. The choice was quite easy. Then we recruited more pixel artists. They weren’t 3D artists either.
8th Turn) At the time of writing there is already the possibility for the players to create new monsters for the game, but do you plan to extend the possibility to mod it? I mean, for example, giving the players the chance to create new events, new missions and so on?
Oh, it’s in the Trello. I didn’t know, I never go there. But I just checked and it’s there. Yep.
9th Turn) Reading the forum, I found that some players complain about a lack of strategy during the fights. I know that your intention, in this regard, is to grant always fast fights, but – I’m wondering – aren’t you afraid that this choice can make the game really too repetitive?
Again, we’re heading for a whole different direction now, as shorter runs will force players to understand the strenght and weakness they will have in starter deck. We also leave a certain level of unpredictability so the game doesn’t just revolve around long term planification, but also adaptation. We also added several difficulty bars, and we try to make every event more impacting and dramatic, and many more game changer artefacts, even some bad ones you will want to get rid of as soon as possible. Paradoxically, the player will be more resilient to harder failures because the runs will be shorter, and surviving to the end of the run is the only condition to win.
10th Turn) What can you tell us about the length of the game? In this regard, do you plan to add some more content after the “full release”?
It really depends on the player. Right now, the average playtime is around 10h40. And yeah, we have plans. 😀
BONUS TURN) Before leaving you, just a bonus question. Which is the latest turn-based game you’ve played or still playing?
Curious Expedition 2, of course. You definitely have to test it though. The devs. They are like. “Let’s make a game like that and that” and anybody would say “But it’s impos-” welp too late, they’ve made it.
Thank you very much for your time. We will continue to follow your project.