The Next Big Project from Co-Creator of Take Arms

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December 12, 2012 by khrisgolder

Take Arms LogoJames Petruzzi, Owner of Discord Games and Co-creator of Take Arms, stopped by GamerCheese to talk about his next awesome game, Chasm, and the likelihood of a Take Arms 2.

Khris Golder: Explain Chasm and all the awesomeness waiting for us within its dungeon walls!

James Petruzzi: Chasm is meant to be a combination of both action-RPG and Metroidvania platformer, and kind of my dream project! The two games I’m continually looking at for inspiration are Diablo and Symphony of the Night.

KG: Chasm should be pretty epic. How’s the story coming along?Chasm Early Screenshot_1 James Petruzzi: Story-wise, it’s a pretty simple setup: you’re on your way home from a long and bloody war, and pass through a small mining town where you become trapped by supernatural forces. With all the town’s miners missing, and rumors that a massive ancient temple was discovered, you’re only option is to head downward and figure out what’s going on so you can escape.

The game is divided into distinct areas, and each area will have a few randomly generated floors where you have to find the stairs down to the next. I’m planning on a major boss battle at the end of each area, and mini-bosses and other crazy things to fight along the way. You’ll also be leveling up and finding equipment to improve your character, and selling your loot to the shop in the town. I’m also planning on lots of secrets and collectibles to be found as well!

KG: Never thought I’d say this, but I can’t wait to jump into Chasm! You’ve said one of the biggest hurtles tackling Take Arms was your inexperience, and understandably so since it was your first real project. How do you think the workload of handling an XBLIG multiplayer will help Discord Games tackle a single-player arcade/Dungeon Explorer like Chasm?Chasm Early Screenshot_2James Petruzzi: Chasm is bound to be exciting in that regard! One of the hardest things about game development is gauging how much work an idea is going to be. Things that seem incredibly simple can turn out to take several times longer than you expect. Take Arms was meant to be a 6-12 month project and ended up taking 2 years. It was never envisioned to be nearly as detailed as it is, but along the way we found the spirit of the game and strove to meet that. In a sense, game development is like gardening: you plant the seed of the idea and it grows, sometimes in ways you could have never anticipated…

I’ve also deliberately chosen to make Chasm more old school than my previous games, with pixel graphics and a low resolution (320×180). One of the major issues with Take Arms was the level of realism we hit with the graphics and skeletal animations. Suddenly, everything else in the game required ten times more work to match, and we became swamped. This time I’m purposely keeping things simpler and focusing more on content.

KG: On the Discord Games site, Chasm says it will be released in (2013?). What’s stopping it from being released next year? We don’t want to wait too long for another DG game.

James Petruzzi: To be honest, I don’t really know how big the game is going to be at this point! I have a bunch of ideas, but I’m not really sure what’s going to fit with the gameplay until things start coming together. We’re going to have a kiosk at GDC 2013, so my primary goal right now is having a demo of the town and first area ready for that. After that, I’m going to solidify the rest of the game and work as long as it takes to make it happen. I’m always flattered to hear that people know about us and are anticipating what’s next!

KG: What’s next is always an important question. There’s been a lot of talk about the future of Indie gaming on the console. Many devs are saying the Wii U might be the way to go, but we won’t truly know until all three systems are out. You were quite adamant about Indie devs building their community before pricing their games. Do you have any comments on which platform [NextBox, PS4, or Wii U] you think will provide the best opportunities for those who haven’t already built that community? What about the ones who have and are ready to compete for higher prices?

James Petruzzi: I’m not really sure what the next gen marketplaces are going to be like, but I’m guessing it’ll become even easier for us indie developers to find a home there. Personally, I’d love for my games to be on every platform that has a controller or keyboard.

On prices, I’m trying to get away from the micro-transaction level pricing common to mobile and XBLIG. Chasm will definitely be more in standard $10-15 range simply because I’ve been doing games full-time since May, and need to be able to make enough money to continue doing it. I love XBLIG for how it brought indie games to consoles and really motivated me to do something, but that community only expects to pay a dollar for games. I read a blog post by Jeff Vogel that basically said it’s easier to make $100k by finding a niche audience and selling 5,000 copies at $20 than selling 100,000 copies at $1. It seems logical enough to me!

KG: More is better. A title called 36 Chambers was initially entered into the Dream.Build.Play contest. I know you mentioned in the past that it wasn’t completely ready for the contest. This is probably one of the funniest stories because this year Discord Games released 48 Chambers, which means the game was only about 75% complete at the time of the competition! How do you feel about 48 Chambers? How many chambers will it take to make you happy?!?

James Petruzzi: I’m proud of 48 Chambers for what it is. It was never meant to be anything earth shattering, just a simple project to prove I could actually finish something!Evolution of Chambers

James Petruzzi (Continued): I spent years developing games that had no focus and fell apart, and that game was a “last resort” response to that. When I submitted it to DBP, I felt like I had accomplished what I set out to do and never really pursued releasing it. I’m sticking with 48 for the foreseeable future.

KG: You stated that you might produce a sequel to Take Arms if it did well. I love how you kept your word when you said that if Take Arms did well, you planned on giving back by offering additional content, and you did so in the form of a number of updates. So… when can we expect a Take Arms sequel? If there won’t be a Take Arms 2, do you think we will see a spiritual successor in the near-future?

Take Arms_1James Petruzzi: We actually started working on a 4th map for Take Arms and some new features right after release, but we were so crushed by the terrible sales that we basically dropped everything. When it actually started selling well in the winter/early spring, I had to make a choice if I was going to dump more money and time back into it, or just move on to something else.  I’d love to do a Take Arms 2 someday, but it’d have to be after we have an established name and a good sized community. Otherwise, I think there’s way too much risk involved for multiplayer-only games.

KG: You have worked with Tim Dodd since 2006. What began as a shared hobby grew into a successful Indie development team. Six years later, and you’re still cranking out titles. Are you guys sick of each other yet or does the bromance continue?

James Petruzzi: We’re still the best of friends, but he’s decided to focus on his career and other interests right now. Without Tim, I simply wouldn’t be where I am today. He continually blew my mind when we worked together on Take Arms, and taught me more than I can possibly state. Simply put, I’m jealous of whoever is lucky enough to be working with him right now! Hopefully someday we’ll get to work together again.

KG: We’re keeping our fingers crossed for you two. Meantime, we’re definitely excited to see what you have in store for us, and GamerCheese will be there when the time comes to preview Chasm. Thanks for chatting with us, James!

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