Death’s Gate can be said to be the biggest surprise of this year. The adventure of Zelda-like soul harvesting crows and monsters fighting to serve the bureaucratic afterlife committee won the hearts of many people and won our 9 points (out of 10 points). Now that the dust has settled, we sat down with the main creators of the game, Acid Nerve’s David Fenn and Mark Foster to reflect on the success of Death’s Gate, discuss the team’s design methods (such as abandoning the map), and their overall view of the future of the game.
Warning: This interview contains minor spoilers about the content of the Death Gate Endgame.
What surprised you most about the reception at the Gate of Death?
David Finn: I think people like it very much [laughs]. Probably that people generally like it. All of our past games are more divided, I just never thought that there will be a game that seems to be liked by 90% of people. So this is definitely very cool.
How do you balance the game’s sense of humor with a harsh subject like death?
Mark Foster: I think the theme of death and its serious elements are closely related to things that are easy and comedy.I don’t know if this may be something British or something, but the idea of underestimating the situation and trying to eliminate it is like a classic thing we all have [have] I’ve been brought up a bit, and the game has been playing. The juxtaposition of light and dark themes is like all enemies want to kill you, but you let these little forest elves spawn and run around in the world, which is a good example of this kind of thing. Things like comedy are just the personalities we show in the game. We always like to make jokes and things like that. This is the main content we want to include in any type of obvious negative theme, because the entire game revolves around death, and you can imagine that it will enter that dark route. But when you do hit those sharper moments in the game, having this offset will make it more palatable.
DF: Yes, I think if there is a lighthearted and pleasant feeling to lead them through this adventure, it will also help players and maintain participation and enthusiasm in the world, which does touch on a darker theme.
Is there a time when the game is too dark and needs to be lighted up?
MF: I think it will always be a bit silly, there are slapstick comedies and things in it. I think this is how we really like to do things.
DF: I think dark things always exist because we want some twists and strange ideas in the world to make it unique in this way. I think this may be what we emphasized in the initial speech from the beginning.But yes, I think if there is, it may be more that as the game progresses, we kind of accidentally discovered the poignant elements of the game, rather than [going] It was really heavy at first and had to be involved. I think that relaxed and pleasant style is more natural to us, and then as we progress, darker things are more like an exploration.
Many players like “Death’s Gate” is a tightly concentrated experience. How do you plan for content?
DF: I think about the first year or so, we just wrote down every idea we had, and then we started making a lot of things. Then one thing is that we sat down and had a long discussion about how the world should actually be structured and how the game should be structured in behavior and content. Since then, I feel that our plan has been completely locked. This really contributes to the simplicity of the game, while still ensuring that all the best ideas we have, the ones we are excited about are stuffed into relatively concise game time.
Which ideas did not succeed?
DF: There are probably a few. I think initially, you will encounter Grey Crows in the first quarter of the game. The top of the mountain will be like a longer journey from the beginning, and it will be surrounded by four forts on each side, like four different levels. Then re-adjust it completely, focusing only on the chapters we want. Then the game follows the structure of introduction, three chapters and ending. I think this gives you a better sense of motivation than entering the game for a few hours before you understand what the structure is. This is an example that I thought of.
Why did you decide to exclude a map, and how do you design a level that makes players feel they don’t need a map?
MF: Personally, I don’t like maps in games. Recently, for the past two weeks, I have been playing Hollow Knight. Many people have compared our game with it, and I have never played it before, so I think I should give it a try. it’s great. But about the map, one of the things I found myself doing when playing map games was to keep looking at the map, and it didn’t really internalize any structure of the world, because I knew I could follow the map at any time. And I think if If you don’t have these, it will force you as a player to understand your surroundings better and keep things like landscapes and monuments in your mind. It’s just a point of interest, where you can know where you come from. Games like “Dark Souls” do that kind of thing, which can be a bit tricky in our game due to the isometric camera angle. But I definitely just prefer this style.
Then there is the map thing. The advantage of it is that players can easily find secrets because they are like, “Oh, I just need to go here, I have new power,” or something, but then that kind of exploration and The kind of discovery you get when you organically discover these things while playing games. And I think our game is very good at not forcing you to backtrack to take advantage of these powers. All these things are optional. So you can pass the level and play the main game without returning too much, unless you gain new power, you defeat the boss, and then you have to find the next one. But all of this needs to go through a central hub. So if you go back to the old area, you can go to find something, and if you play the same part again, you will find it organically. For me, this is more interesting than just looking at the map and checking boxes. You know, just say, “Well, I can go here and check this lantern that I couldn’t open before” or something. So this is how I think David and I might prefer. The game flows more organically.
DF: I like to think that games actually have guidance early on. Then just the general way of working through levels, you can unlock various shortcuts in a certain way, which will help you master these areas. Then all the real in-depth exploration happens later. On the one hand, it is optional, but on the other hand, it’s like you have invested in that story and you have begun to understand the world. So this is a very good time to do it, like exploring in depth, letting yourself explore everywhere, just from your own memory.
How is the content generated after the game?Are you worried that most people will not participate after completing the game
DF: I think the things after the game, and the general secrets, have always been part of making our most exciting game. They are the parts we put into the game for our own enjoyment. In all the games we make, we have made these post-game elements. “Death’s Gate” was actually greatly inspired by Flash games. It is almost the first game I have worked with Mark. Half of the game is played after the production staff. This is a large-scale treasure hunt. The world has turned into a night. Everything is mysterious. We really like to make that part of the game. game. I think part of the fun is that if only 5% of the players, like your biggest fan, are the only ones who have experienced this situation, it will only make them feel more special.
Although I think using the gate of death, we guide you more than in the past, because we did show a small cutscene to show you the key on the ground and the foyer after the credits. So this is just a small reminder, just to tell you, “Hey, there are more things in this world.” Then there is also the fact that after earning points, it will respawn to you in the crow camp, so you You can see that this is more than just letting you restore to the save before the final boss. In fact, the whole world has been in a post-finished state since then, which is also something I like very much. When it fits perfectly, it always makes it more exciting for me after the game.
MF: Another thing is that I think it is okay for most people to not see the content. We put a lot of interesting things we like to make in it, like David said, but I think it’s good to let people play the main game, and if they like it, it’s cool. Then, if they want to enter something extra, then they have that choice. Even if they don’t, it will make the world feel deeper and bigger, just as there is always something to discover and more to do.
DF: Yes, you are happy when you finish the game, you decide to move on a little bit, It’s nice to feel this way If you decide to go back to that world, you can do more things in that world.
What is the biggest gain or lesson you will apply to your next project?
MF: Now that everything is done, just think about what we want to do next and try to like it. I think maybe I will do some post-mortem analysis in the actual game and try to collect all my thoughts correctly. Because I’m not sure to get it completely from What is it taking away from him. This is really a very good and very positive experience for us. This is a strange thing. No one knows about it for three or four years. Then suddenly it flourishes. It is there and people can play with it. After that, it is very beneficial for us to like it. When all the comments appear at the same time, the game comes out. In fact, Marcus, your comment was the first one I read because it just appeared suddenly, so I thought, “Oh, thank God, 9 out of 10” [laughs].
DF: Yes, it was too nervous at that moment. I am sure that we have learned a lot from development, and we will introduce them into future projects in terms of things we want to improve and so on. But in terms of our journey as a company, it has achieved such a huge, overwhelmingly positive success. This is definitely the most successful game we have ever made. So I think at this point, we are just exhausted from all the support and things like that after release and release.But I think my mentality is that we can definitely be proud that we have made games that many people like, so [I’ll] Maybe just be satisfied with this feeling for a while.
MF: Yes, and I must have learned a lot in the process. I think we will definitely be better prepared for anything we do in the future.
Death’s Gate is now available on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC.