One of the best games on 3DS, discussed.
Heroes of Ruin, recently published for the Nintendo 3DS by RPG powerhouse Square Enix, was something of a rarity: a polished, pocketable, and approachable action role playing game.
We loved it; in our review, in which we gave it a super-high 8.9 (putting it in our top-10 3DS games), we described the game as "the portable loot-em-up you've been waiting for". High praise, as - if you're anything like us - you've probably been waiting a long time.
Inspired by a recent set of articles in which we peeked behind the curtain at what goes on behind the scenes in game development, we thought we'd chase down developers n-Space (who are currently hard at work on Skylanders: Giants and RollerCoaster Tycoon 3D, both also for 3DS) and find out how this fun little game came to be.
Fortunately, despite being very busy, they're an amenable lot, and Joshua Lynsen (a PR chap who works at n-Space) chased the team down on our behalf and peppered them with our questions.
Here's how it went down...
What was your main goal when setting out to create Heroes of Ruin?
Heroes of Ruin is our love letter to one of favourite genres: action adventure games that are heavy on levelling and looting. We love games like Diablo, Dungeon Siege and Marvel Ultimate Alliance — and we were so excited when the Nintendo 3DS was unveiled. Our goal was to wed the two so that Nintendo 3DS owners could carry around a great action adventure like Heroes of Ruin in their pocket and jump in and play with others anytime, anywhere.
Do you think you achieved that goal?
We do. Heroes of Ruin is one of the most robustly featured games in this genre that’s ever been developed for a portable system, with features like the ability to drop in and out of levels at any time, scaling difficulty based on who’s playing, the ability to voice chat with fellow team members, randomized dungeons, tons of loot to collect, StreetPass and SpotPass support and more. Obviously, we could go on. There’s a lot to enjoy in Heroes of Ruin.
What are you most proud of about the game?
We’re really most proud of the connectivity features in the game. From the start, we wanted to create a title that pushed the boundaries of online play farther than any Nintendo title had ever done before.
Heroes of Ruin was designed so that it would be easy for players to connect with each other, use voice chat, compete in daily challenges, access unique website connectivity features, and jump in and out of anyone’s game at any point in the story. We wanted Heroes of Ruin to blaze a new trail for portable gaming — and it succeeds.
Tell us about the lore of the world; how did you come up with it?
When it came to the lore, Square Enix granted us a lot of freedom. Everything in the game has a backstory, including the playable classes and the lands from which they hail. It was important for us to get deep into the fiction of the game because we knew we’d repeatedly reference it throughout development, making it vital to establishing a cohesive presentation. There are even full backstories for each Ruin Lord and the cities they rule.
The game just scratches the surface of the total lore of the world, which puts us in a great spot for any future sequels or expansions that might materialize. (Your readers who have finished the game and watched through to the end of the credits have already gotten a taste of possible things to come.)
What made you choose the Nintendo 3DS?
It was a combination of factors, not the least of which was our excellent working relationship with Nintendo. The capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS were also a perfect fit for all that we wanted to achieve with Heroes of Ruin. And we saw that the market was hungry for this kind of experience on a handheld platform.
What sorts of challenges and advantages did the platform choice present during development?
When we started working on Heroes of Ruin, we had a good amount of experience creating multiplayer gameplay on the original Nintendo DS, having worked on several titles that supported up to six-player matches locally and online. That know-how was a big help in getting the ball rolling on our goals for the multiplayer aspect of Heroes of Ruin.
But at the same time, the Nintendo 3DS was still a new system, and every feature that we needed wasn’t supported yet. It took time and a lot of work on the team’s behalf, but eventually everything came together.
Some people have suggested that respawning bosses and other things to do when you reach the end-game would be a good addition to an otherwise strong set of content; how do you respond to that?
The notion of respawning bosses, specifically, is a very fair observation. We’ve been watching the forums, taking note of other suggestions from our fans and supporters that make a lot of sense, and are really taking all of these ideas to heart. But as far as what updates might be done for Heroes of Ruin, if any, that’s an ongoing discussion.
What sorts of features were planned for the title but were ultimately cut? Did anything seem like a good idea, but then not actually work in practice?
Because we were so ambitious with Heroes of Ruin, we dreamt big. A majority of our ideas were included in the final product, but some of our concepts had to be set aside due to various constraints.
One concept we discussed including was a system to allow for downloadable content. We understand the role that DLC plays in this genre and how DLC would benefit Heroes of Ruin specifically, but the fates conspired against us on that one. At least for now.
Do you keep tabs on the sorts of decisions people make while playing the game? If so, do you have any stats on things like character types chosen, skills preferred, number of times people die, etc?
We love to see how players interact with games we’ve made, so we built mechanics into the infrastructure of Heroes of Ruin that can anonymously track and report that type of information. This data is used to give us a better idea of what portions of the game are best resonating with players.
We know which character class is most popular, which daily challenges see the highest completion rate, what times of day are the busiest times for online play, and so on. It gives us a lot of insight into how fans play the game, which would be particularly valuable if we had an opportunity to craft a sequel.
Do you have any plans to return to Heroes of Ruin in the future, with a sequel or DLC?
As far as any sequel, we’d love to make one, but it’s far too soon to talk with any certainty about whether that might happen. But if your readers would like to see a sequel or DLC, they can make their voices heard at the HeroesOfRuin.com message boards. Square Enix keeps a pretty close eye on that dialogue. Personally, we’d love to see the hard work and passion that went into creating Heroes of Ruin live on in future titles.