Long life to Embark studio and its fabulous procedural artists dream team !
truly excellent and inspiring to read. Would have loved to read some on the texturing since that is top-notch.
great environment with a lovely serene sense. Thanks for the write-up!
Tanya X Short, Creative Director at Kitfox Games, was very excited to talk a little about their game under development Boyfriend Dungeon that combines both RPG and Dating Simulator. Check it out!
Hello! I’m Tanya, originally from southern California, but moved to Montreal, Canada when joined Kitfox. Boyfriend Dungeon is probably our most famous game now, but we also put a few other games on Steam, including The Shrouded Isle, Moon Hunters, and Shattered Planet. You can see that they all have two things in common: procedural generation and role-playing or RPG elements. Before that, I worked at a larger AAA studio on MMOs and was a designer on Age of Conan and The Secret World.
When we started the project, we were hoping it would be a “big thing” based on how its announcement teaser was received last year, but we weren’t sure if it was a fluke. It’s great to see that people really want to date their weapons. They really, REALLY want to. I’m so glad.
Everything started with me wanting to make a more inclusive dungeon crawler/dating sim. As we were building it, I started really thinking about who the perfect companion is for an adventurer. Who never leaves you? Who is ALWAYS by your side, literally? Your sword! It just makes sense, you know?
Character Art Style
The artist behind the character creation is Xin Ran Liu. He is our artist co-founder who was also the lead artist on Moon Hunters. He is amazing and I believe he should be famous! Xin’s classically trained as a painter, so 2D art is one of our studio’s strengths. In his spare time, he also teaches illustration and does book cover illustrations for fun. The process for our character design is usually the following: I come up with the character idea first, create a description of the personality and important physical features, and find a few examples on Google image search of the types of hair, build, fashion, etc. Then Xin does some sketches and we refine from there. He does all of his illustrations digitally – line art then color.
Oh, we were blown away by those too! The animations are actually done by a Slovakian studio, Particle Beam, and the one of Talwar/Sunder was mostly done by their lead whose name is also Sunder. I give him some ideas for the content of the animation (for Dagger, for example, she’s a painter so I suggested paints and a canvas), he creates a rough line art and then works from there. He’s incredible and available for work if you need someone to make beautiful animations. As for us, we were truly blown away by the results.
Game Mechanics: Dating & RPG
We developed each part of the game (dating and dungeons) separately for a month or two and then spent a couple of months weaving them together with the systems (love level up, experience points, text messages, apartment, city navigation). At the core, the game is a dungeon-crawler. That’s what you’ll spend most of your time doing and this part needs the most mechanical depth, so we spend most of our programmers’ time on it. However, the emotional core is the dating, so that’s where I spend most of my time as a writer! I think the key to understanding whether we’ve managed to balance both parts well is just to play the game enough while we’re developing it and make sure the reality matches our expectation.
Ambitions & Challenges
We thought Boyfriend Dungeon would be a small project at first. Before that we had a project canceled, so we thought: this seems like a quick fun thing, just add some dates to some dungeons, we know how to do that. But the project turned out ambitious because it’s basically making two games in one. The most complicated part for me personally is the dating aspect, because it’s the biggest linear writing project I’ve ever done. I’ve written and published various short stories, but nothing at this scale. When it’s finished it will have 100,000 words or so, and hopefully, you’ll be able to fall in love with various weapons. I’m sure I won’t be able to please everyone because of different tastes though.
Plans for the Future
We’ve been working on the game for over a year now, so we’re pretty deep into production. We’ve shown our first big playable demo at PAX West in Seattle, more shows are coming as well, and this experience is going to be exhausting. Once we recover from that exhaustion, we’ll get back to adding more weapons (depending on how many are unlocked in the Kickstarter stretch goals!), and making sure the dungeons are as fun and exciting as humanly possible. If you want to make sure to hear about it when it comes out, you can also wishlist Boyfriend Dungeon on Steam. Either way, we’ll be working hard until then!
Tanya X Short, Creative Director at Kitfox Games
Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev