The game's graphical progression from its inception in early 2000s, to its revival in 2009/2010, to its current gloss
Co-Optimus: Speaking of the art, your site includes some great entries from you, Jesse, on how you translated hand-drawn art to a 16-bit world, while still maintaining the overall characteristics of said art. But what about from a development point of view? How did you all decide upon the inclusion of cooperative gameplay? What challenges did that present? Why co-op?
Jesse: For Wyv and Keep the co-op style was the focal point of the gameplay. I mean it’s built into the title! So more than a decision to include, it was the core element from the beginning. Beau designed every puzzle in Wyv and Keep to require teamwork between the two players from the beginning. Originally it was based around playing locally on one keyboard with your friend or lover. It’s great to be able to high-five or hug your teammate when you solve a puzzle, or karate chop them in the neck when they die at a crucial moment. Playing online opens up even more challenges because now you can’t point at the screen to tell someone where to go! We’ll probably need to add some sort of flag-planting system to help with that...
Co-Optimus: What games, if any, influenced your co-op game design?
Beau: The obvious answer would be Lost Vikings. But only in a sense of character interactions. Co-op wise, both Jesse and I have always been a fan of local co-op games. Twisted Metal 2, the Mario games, even oddities like Red Faction entertained us for hours (even if we didn’t always play them as intended). We knew we wanted a strong local co-op game, where 2 players could get in a room and work together, or be at one another’s throats when frustrations ran high.
Co-Optimus: Were there certain mechanics you wanted to implement and couldn’t?
Jesse: Yes and no! Originally Wyv and Keep was to be a much bigger game. If you go far enough back on the blog, you’ll see it first took place in a castle. The story of this castle is already written, but it includes four different bosses, thirteen worlds, alternate paths, and a much more complicated lore with many more characters and full cinematics. Shortly after we began creating the game we realized that, at the level of polish we wanted to achieve and with us all working full-time jobs, this was going to be a lofty goal. So we scaled back a bit and developed a sort of starting quest for Wyv and Keep. We sort of planned a Wyv and Keep 0.5 prequel, with just four worlds and no online play. And ultimately, its current manifestation is much more complete than that! I suppose you could say what we’ve ended up with is something in-between, at the logical size and scope for a first game in what will hopefully become a series of adventures.
Wyv and Keep's original setting was in a castle and the aesthetics were more 8-bit than 16; a lot can change in 10 yeras
Co-Optimus: How difficult has it been to implement online gameplay? Do you regret going down that path? Was it a decision that came internally, or one influenced by feedback?
Beau: It has been very difficult. No one on our team was a skilled net coder, so we really had no idea where to start. We have been lucky enough to garner some community pity, and get an online mode together (and very near playable by now!) We always knew that we would need it. In this day and age, it’s difficult NOT to include it if you want wide-spread appeal. We don’t regret it at all, but that isn’t to say it’s been an easy path!
Co-Optimus: How likely does it seem that we’ll see a Steam and/or XBLA release of Wyv and Keep? Have you had any success on that front?
Jesse: We have yet to approach Valve and Microsoft, but that’s simply because we want to make sure our online modes are working well before we do. Online play was always a priority, but because of programming limitations we’ve only recently begun to implement it. Since we want it to be one of our main sells, we don’t want to approach either distributor before it’s ready. That said, we are absolutely committed to doing whatever it takes to get Wyv and Keep on both platforms, and hope to be sending along good news in the near future!