Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon Interview

The past week has been filled with Frayed Knights-related news, and tonight is no different as we have a new interview with Rampant Games' Jay Barnson to point you to over at True PC Gaming. In it, Jay talks about his personal development history, lessons he learned while creating Frayed Knights, the challenges involved with implementing a consistent difficulty curve, the current state of the PC gaming industry, and much more:
Some indie devs admitted their games were too hard upon release because they became experts as they developed the game. Talk about setting the difficulty levels for Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon and if you faced a similar challenge.

The trick with RPGs well, the kind I like and like to make, anyway is that there are a whole bunch of little systems that are all interconnected. This makes for fascinating gameplay, but it can be really tricky to get the difficulty and challenge level right. During the beta we had something as simple as a tweak to the enemy AI that suddenly ratcheted the overall difficulty up considerably. The price and availability of spellstones had even more impact on the game.

What I do like about RPGs is that it's possible for the player to regulate their own difficulty level. If a section is getting too hard, the player can potentially back off, do a side-quest, do a little grinding to gain a new level and some money for extra equipment, and then try again stronger and better equipped than they were before.

That's really the approach I tried to take in Frayed Knights. The game doesn't demand that you be max level or have the best equipment to win. If you are trying to rush to the end, it'll be more challenging. If you want to take a little more time, hit all the subquests, and so forth, the end game will be a lot more relaxed. At least that's the theory.


Tell us about the process of submitting Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon to the various digital distribution platforms and if you encountered resistance in doing so.

There's really no unified process. There are a lot of distribution platforms out there it's getting a lot like it was in the days of the casual game portals last decade. A lot of them are going to die out, but right now it's another gold rush as they as new ones pop up almost weekly, with a slightly different approach, different features, and a different niche.

The big ones and we all know who those are they are pretty selective with their games, and reject more games than they accept. There's a common misconception among gamers, who assume these are open platforms and that anybody can just (sell their game on X.) It doesn't work that way. I can't just sell my game on X any more than I can just walk into Wal*Mart with a stack of CD-ROMs under my arm and set up shop there.

While I think these distribution channels are great, I do worry about indies trusting their business to a third-party who has no vested interest in them personally. This is exactly what happened to casual games just a few years ago, and while it was a wonderful gold rush at first, a lot of developers found themselves at the mercy of the portals and their businesses collapsing. Indies in general don't do what they do for dreams of huge fortunes, but they still have to eat like everybody else.