Co-Optimus: You've likened the game to classic role playing titles such as Baldur's Gate. What kinds of exploration and interaction elements give it that classic RPG feel?
Inglenook: It's a 2D RPG but there's a great deal of depth which you might not expect looking at the screenshots. We've seen a few people make assumptions that the game's an action platformer with RPG elements, but that's really not the case. Our goal has always been to translate the classics we grew up with - Baldur's Gate and Wizardry being two of our touchstones - into a 2D sidescroller. Some cRPG purists might think that's heresy, but we believe we're creating something unique by marrying the two.
When you create a new team you proceed through each character, assigning their attributes, abilities and talents. There's no correct way to build your party, and we're hoping to give the player enough choice to feel like their combination of characters is unique to them. Take the Moose for example, he's a large brawler type so he excels at being the team's fighter. But he can also be played as a spellcaster if you sacrifice a few points in Might for Craft. Give him some Might, Craft and your choice of Fire, Light, Shadow, Earth or Water and he can be a pretty effective hybrid. There's also a perk which turns him into a wizened sailor type, unlocking water-based rituals and spells he's picked up on his travels. With so many different ways to build the game's 13 characters, we're giving the players a lot of choice right out of the gate.
We've put a lot of love into the character creation system, from the extended musical score to the subtle animations and gestures which play. It's our goal to make character creation a worthwhile and enjoyable part of the game, not just a series of menus.
As for the game itself, it has a fairly open structure with bottlenecks in the investigation. We're working extensively on branching dialogue with meaningful outcomes, and some of the levels are designed with multiple paths suited to different playstyles. We're looking into more diplomatic choices along the way, such as rewarding players for negotiating, sneaking or thinking their way out of bad situation.
There's also the secrets system, which we explain in greater detail in this post. Hidden items can be found by testing your characters attributes against invisible caches or treasure, and different attribute combinations will result in different finds. There's also a number of Clues and Leads which can take you in different directions, allowing the game to be less linear in structure. Although the plot follows an ultimately linear path, hopefully we'll provide enough detours, branches and red herrings to allow the player to get there in their own way.
Co-Optimus: Your Kickstarter landed double your initial goal. Did you expect this kind of support when you first pitched the title?
Inglenook: We always knew we were onto something but felt it was best not to get our hopes up. If the Kickstarter had flopped we'd have carried on development in our spare time, which wasn't really ideal. The support we received prior to launch was the key to it doing so well, the indie and gamedev communities were really behind us and we owe them a huge debt. We'd also like to thank Matt (Leth) and Tyuri at Chucklefish for being wonderfully positive and enthusiastic about the project.
Co-Optimus: The art we've seen so far is incredibly unique. What made you all decide on a highly-detailed, yet pixelated art style?
Inglenook: Prior to the Kickstarter's success we worked in 3D, so we originally envisioned the game being that way. We couldn't settle on a style which both looked good and was quick to produce, and eventually Joe did a test in pixel art. The speed of production was much quicker, especially since the sprites are so tiny; we dropped the 3D and went 2D as that meant we could fit in lots more content. Joe prefers working in 2D, and myself and Emelie have always secretly been writers and designers at heart; so it feels like we've all ended up where we belong.
Co-Optimus: What were your initial goals in making the game Co-Op? Did it always start out as a 2-4 player Co-Op game?
Inglenook: When we made the change to 2D we decided to add in a co-op multiplayer, which was a very risky move thinking back. None of the team have experience with network code, so it was a cause for celebration when Matt (Risk of Rain) joined the team.
Co-Optimus: Do you have a release window?
Inglenook: The release date is set tentatively as December 2015, with two testing phases for backers along the way.
Co-Optimus: Any plans once the game is released? Will you be moving onto a new product, or are you going to continue to provide additional content to Witchmarsh?
Inglenook: It really depends on how well Witchmarsh does. 16 months isn't a huge amount of time to produce an RPG, so I've got a feeling there will be lots of ideas for campaigns and content floating about post-release. We're also really keen to release the stretch goal material we didn't reach as downloadable content, but it's really too early to say.