At PAX Prime 2012, I played a short demo of Delver’s Drop. At that time, the demo was a few rooms of a dungeon, but I was impressed with the fluid movement and physics-based interactions between the character and the environment. When the character hit an enemy with a sword, both were knocked in opposite directions based on their physical properties. The top-down 2D action RPG is the first game from Pixelscopic, and the company has a Kickstarter to help them finish the game.
Pixelscopic was formed in 2012 by Ryan Baker and Coby Utter. In 2011, Ryan Burrell joined the company, which is based in Missouri. I recently spoke with Ryan Baker, the creative leader who is responsible for the art, animation, and design of the game, and he told me that the team has been taking contract work in order to fund the game. Their Kickstarter goal is $75,000, the amount they are certain will “break that cycle” and allow them to focus on Delver’s Drop.
The details of Delver’s Drop are still under construction, but the basics are practically set. The game is set in a world with a ruler who imprisons individuals for reasons that will be discovered as players advance in the game. There are different classes, each with their own perks and story, and the game features a form of permadeath. At the beginning of the game, the character is dropped into a complex filled with randomly generating dungeons. The goal is to get to the bottom of the complex, a feat that is not likely to happen with one character. If the character dies, the player picks a new one and continues the journey after the dungeon resets. Player lose items, but not XP, so not all is lost if your character dies.
While at PAX, Ryan and I discussed character creation and gender, and we continued this conversation during our latest interview. “It’s been something I’ve been thinking about more recently,” he said. “We’re about to announce the classes that the Kickstarter backers [of the Elite Acolyte and Guildmaster tiers] will get to vote on, and so whenever that happens, basically I’m going to make sure we have a pretty even balance between male and female characters.” Currently three classes are set; the sorcerer and the gladiator both have beards while the rogue appears more androgynous. Ideally, if they had more money, Ryan “would like to make male and female versions of all the characters.” However, “art changes really add up,” so unless Pixelscopic’s Kickstarter goals are met, the team won’t be able to offer players male and female versions of each class.
As a fan of RPGs, one of the things I sometimes don’t look forward is mindless grinding. One promise Pixelscopic has made is the elimination of grinding. When a character levels up, they won’t get the typical stat gains to health or attack power. The point to leveling up is to add points in the perk tree to increase minor attributes like the special ability each class has. In combination with loot, players will have the flexibility to customize their game. “In Legend of Zelda you never increased your attack power in the sense of doing +2 damage to goblins. You have different weapons that work better. What we really want to focus on [is the player] knowing which weapon will get the job done and not getting in a cycle of what we’ve been calling an arms race.” Items in the game will have unique physics properties, improving qualities such as speed, traction, and knockback power.
Players will encounter a variety of rooms to keep players moving at a balanced, even pace. Some rooms will have just combat or a puzzle while others will be a mix of combat and puzzle; to give players moments of rest, some rooms will just have loot or be empty. The randomization of the dungeons increases the game’s replay value. Also, the game will have other modes like the Endless Drop; the player is dropped into a room filled with enemies, and once the room is cleared, a hole in the floor opens, and the player drops into another room filled with enemies. This survival mode will be playable at PAX East. With a vibrant art style and fast-paced physics action, Delver’s Drop is a game I hope comes to fruition (yes, I’m a backer). If fully funded, Pixelscopic plans to release the game in October on PC and Mac with plans to release the game for iOS, Android, OUYA, and Linux at a later date. Currently, Pixelscopic’s Kickstarter is over 65% funded and ends at midnight on March 12th. The game is also going through the Steam Greenlight process.