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Gunfire Games and Perfect World Entertainment released their co-op friendly RPG-adjacent third-person shooter Remnant: From the Ashes back in August. And if you'd like to learn how this game was made and what makes it tick, you might be interested in this recent Gamasutra livestream featuring John Pearl, Remnant's design director. Have a look:
Here's an excerpt from the partial transcript:
Fine-tuning procedurally-generated levels
Gunfire Games has gone out of its way to make sure Remnant stands apart from the Dark Souls games it's often compared to. The biggest distinction is how its levels and "runs" are built. Instead of the game having a fixed set of levels players can master, the game instead generates unique levels with different events and enemies based on an algorithm and pre-set tiles.
Those tiles were a particular point of focus for Pearl and his colleagues, since they were the foundation for making sure every run felt unique, but not confusing. Avoiding player confusion became a watchword while iterating on these tiles, as Pearl said the preset buildings and locations could sometimes loop players back in on themselves with some regularity.
"When we were lying down tiles sometimes they were almost too complicated, where you would come into a building, go downstairs, go up three flights of stairs, come out high above an area and then backtrack around to the bottom of the building again," he said.
"There are actually some buildings like that and they work really well. There’s other ones where it just felt like you were lost in this space cause there wasn’t a good visual indicator. A lot of that was kind of just playing through it and saying ‘this isn’t really feeling right’ or that the visual flow isn’t working."
Player rewards, and how easy or hard it was to find them, became an obvious way to help tailor movement through these spaces. "[We needed to make] sure the system had enough to pull from to make it interesting," he said. "So there’s tons of rings and trinkets you can put on so it really encourages players to do that as well as picking up the scrap which is what they use to craft."
"I think that was the key thing too, finding ways that encourage players to move through the tiles, that they knew where they were going, but also explore all the nooks and crannies."