Prey: Mooncrash GDC 2019 Talk Recap

Last summer, Arkane Studios released the roguelite Mooncrash DLC for their immersive sim Prey. It was an unusual pairing to say the least, but going by the DLC's reception, this little experiment ended up being quite successful. So now, during this year's GDC, Arkane's lead level designer Richard Wilson went on stage to talk about Mooncrash, the DLC's development, the ideas that fueled it, and more. This Gamasutra article offers a fairly detailed recap. An excerpt:

“One of the first drafts of Mooncrash was basically just opening up the Talos space station map form the first game and adding escape routes,” said Wilson. “Mooncrash ended up being much more lightweight, but the base concept of an escape game appealed to us.”

There are a number of different escape routes in the game, some of which require multiple characters to “work together” between playthroughs to unlock them.

“The differences add very deliberate choices for the player,” said Wilson. “There are lots of choices the player has to deal with, and not only do you have to decide which escape route is most opportune for the character you’re currently playing, you have to think of the characters down the line.”

Once Arkane had this in place Wilson says the studio decided to add in a reward for players who get all five characters off the base without resetting, in order to further tie together the various roguelike elements into a larger puzzle.

“We wanted to incorporate this because it turns the game into this puzzle box, where you have to consider the strength of the characters, the complexity of the escapes, and the order you want to perform them well as the difficulty ratcheting up as the player spends more time in the simulation.”

“Our big takeaway from this project is that you should be willing to break from tradition, if you're given the opportunity. DLC is a fertile ground for that, and even if you’re not successful, if your studio is still [open], you can bring some of the lessons learned back to your next core project.”