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Al, the primary developer on Scape-IT's old-school RPG SKALD: Against the Black Priory, recently had an opportunity to chat with the folks over at Rock Paper Shotgun, and as a result, we can now check out this interview that goes over some of Al's design principles, the importance of planning and project management for a game like SKALD, and more. A couple of sample paragraphs:
It certainly reminded me of a particular generation of roleplaying games that I missed out on, their UIs accursedly clunky and their conventions maddeningly arcane. Al describes retro gaming as a “rose-tinted” subculture, and we forget inventory screens that were dreadful lists of text, or inane individual keyboard commands to (q)uaff a potion or (o)pen a door. Al’s created a mouse-driven, icon-based inventory, alongside context-sensitive controls that allow you to OPEN a chest or PET a cat (it hissed at me). He wants you to be able to save your game whenever you want. It’s important to keep that 80s feel, but revisiting the era is a reminder of both the limitations of the time and some very naive design decisions.
“One of the most interesting things you can talk about when you make a retro game is this almost archaeological examination of the genre,” Al explains. “Trying to see why things were the way they were, what’s worth bringing with you or what would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And you don’t want [your game] to be just a gimmick. You want it to be something that comments on the original genre. It should add some level of reflection, some improvement. It’s been really interesting for me to play old games and ask ‘Why did they do this?’ Was this a hardware restriction? Was this because they didn’t know better?’”