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Moonstone: A Hard Day's Knight is a game that's considered to be one of the forefathers of the action RPG genre, and its original creator, Rob Anderson, is apparently remaking the title in Unity. The first details are available in an exclusive interview on Greek website GameWorld, which reveals that we can expect retro-style visuals, improved sound quality, and expanded gameplay. The original interview is in Greek, but you can find the fully translated version below, courtesy of GameWorld:
GameWorld: When did you initially started developing Moonstone remake and how did you take that decision?
Rob Anderson: Developing Moonstone has been on the back of my mind for several years, however timing, personal things and conflicts of interest has prevented me from really getting it off the ground. I have started it up a couple of times over the years, but in the end it was put on the backburner for other projects.
GW: Who do you feel that as the original creator you’ll be able to revive such a legendary game?
RA: The game was actually developed in Toronto, Canada with my team (shout out to Todd, Kevin, and Dennis) and not at Mindscape. Mindscape was the publisher of the game, and a couple of the Mindscape people contributed to development (another shout out to Steve, Richard, and David) back when it was getting wrapped up. Primarily it was myself and a couple of others that put it together in Toronto.
I look at this as an opportunity to put a couple of things into the game which I had originally envisioned but was unable to due to schedules, budget, and simply the technology wasn’t quite there. As well, putting a fresh new grungy, dirty, Gilliam‘esque onto the game sounds like fun to me.
GW: Why all these years publishers didn’t care about reviving Moonstone? Did the Community play a big part for their decision?
RA: I can only speculate, but I think publishers avoided it mainly because it wasn’t released in North America and honestly it wasn’t a financial success in the scheme of things. When I had written a design for a sequel afterwards, it was ultimately canceled due to low sales of the original and a transition of hardware was in play within the marketplace. I am primarily doing this mainly because of the community feedback and desire to see the game reborn again.
I think if sales exceeded a certain number, there would have been another version of the game. Instead it had a small, but great following and kindof achieved a cult status among those who played it. I still receive fan mail from lots of people that played the game back in the day and have been encouraged to revitalize the game for a new/old audience, so I think it is time!!
GW: You are developing a remake as far as we know. Are you going to implement a retro style in both art and gameplay (ex. Pixel art graphics) or planning to deliver a modern game to your fans?
RA: I am going retro, rather than a reinvention of the game. Most of the feedback I receive is to see the game done in a retro feel, rather than a 3D version of the game. Perhaps if the retro version is well received, I may move forward on a modern twist of the game but we shall have to wait and see.
GW: What new things are we going to see in Moonstone in terms of gameplay?
RA: I am planning on introducing some elements that I wanted in the original game that time wouldn’t allow for it. Some new monsters, and encounters is all I want to mention with at this point.
GW: Original Moonstone’s duration was about an hour (for the skilled players). Do you plan creating a bigger world scale with various diversity in the ground terrain in order to vastly increase the gameplay hours or you are going for a more budget production with a lower price?
RA: The game will be scaled up a bit in areas that I think deserve it, such as the map and some of the encounter areas. However I want to keep the game completion where it is at, but offering up options to play longer and perhaps some unique qualities regarding each of the different knights.
GW: How is the character development system and crafting sections going to work within the game?
RA: The development of the knights will be similar to the original, with a few twists depending on which knight you play. I don’t want to give too much out at this point as it is still pretty loose on those design aspects.
GW: Moonstone had unique Horror elements in combat, especially for the year that it was released. Do you plan to implement those Horror elements in the new version as well? (after question 4 about art style, please also define how those Horror elements will blend with the art style, sound etc.).
RA: Absolutely, that was one of my favorite aspects of the game and I want to plan that out more using the latest graphics and sound abilities on the platform.
GW: Are you planning to support Co-op both in the same format and online?
RA: The design is still being worked out, and I haven’t ruled that out at this point. It really depends on resources, time, and budget as to whether that can happen.
GW: Which game engine are you currently using and why did you take that decision?
RA: I am currently using the Unity3D engine to build out the game. I chose Unity simply because I like the product and it seemed to have all of the pieces I needed to put the game together.
GW: Do you plan adding voice acting in cutscenes, heroes, NPCs, monsters etc.?
RA: I tend to stay away from cut scene acting etc. It is often expensive and time-consuming and you need to bring on an experienced team to pull that off really well. I originally come from an animation background and the core concept of animation is to be able to tell a story without any sound. Given that, I will pursue that philosophy regarding any cut scenes. That said, I do plan on upping the audio for the different characters in the game.
GW: Are there any thoughts about a Kickstarter campaign and maybe collectible items (boxed game, figures etc. ) through backers’ goals? I must say that the original Moonstone is the most expensive right now on Ebay and I’m proud that I have it in my collection!
RA: That is all being worked out at this point, so I don’t have a real answer at this point. If a fundraiser is setup, Yes, there will be some collectable things for some contributors.
GW: By having a partnership with Sony as a Senior Software Engineer, are we going to see them supporting the game? Shadow of the Beast and Superfrog HD we also PS exclusives. Are there any Amiga fans in Sony headquarters, who want to attract the Amiga gamers or it’s just a coincidence?
RA: Sony isn’t involved with the project, however I wouldn’t object if they wanted to jump in on it. There are lots of Amiga gamers at Sony, but those games and my involvement with Sony was just a coincidence.
GW: Finally, what are your current goals about platforms and release year?
RA: I am developing for the PC market right now and the release date is being worked out at this point, so I don’t have and final answer. Hopefully it won’t take as long as the original ;)