OUYA DevLog: Kim Swift

(reposted from http://www.ouya.tv/ouya-devlog-kimswift/)

Hey y’all—

I’m Kim Swift, Creative Director on Soul Fjord here at Airtight Games based out of Redmond, WA.

I know we’ve been promising Soul Fjord for a while, but it’s FINALLY time to debut this sucker.

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We’ve been working hard on the game over the past several months, and we’re really excited that we’ll be able to have people play exclusively on OUYA the 28th of this month!

For those of you who haven’t heard of Soul Fjord, it is an extreme mash-up of rhythm game meets dungeon crawler with a roguelike twist. It’s set in a world where Norse mythology has somehow melded together with 70s Funk. In Soul Fjord, you play as Magnus Jones, the baddest Viking around. In his afterlife, Magnus discovers that he’s taken off the list of the hottest club at the top of Yggdrasil, Club Valhalla.

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After some punk Giant working the door denies him entrance and unceremoniously dumps him back down to the base of Yggdrasil, Magnus vows to work his way back up to Club Valhalla…

…and Odin help whoever stands in his way.

It’s up to you to guide Magnus through treacherous traps, vicious (yet delightfully 70s-themed) Lounge Dragons and Smooth Trolls, and onward to victory to reach the coveted VIP Room at Club Valhalla.

Yeah…seriously.

Why did we decide to make a game like this? Well, we’re a bit weird like that. See, it all started when we got together to figure out an idea for a game to make after Quantum Conundrum. One of our teammates had the idea to combine a rhythm game with a roguelike, and we all thought that sounded like a lot of fun to create.

Then we got to brainstorming an idea for a good theme, and we couldn’t settle between Norse mythology and 70′s Funk. So we decided to just do both because, well, why not? We thought that Soul Fjord would be a good fit for the OUYA console because of their indie-friendly vibe, and let’s face it; the game is a little bit different.

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It’s been really interesting making Soul Fjord, and our team’s definitely learned a lot making the game. One of the things we had to tackle — making a mash-up game — was figuring out where on a sliding scale between rhythm game and dungeon crawler/roguelike we wanted Soul Fjord to be.

Our rhythm-based combat, in particular, is something that went through lots of different iterations before we ultimately decided on a direction. We decided to use a free-movement system for traversal to take full advantage of the OUYA game controller, and we needed to figure out a way to have a fast-paced combat system that would still have a rhythm aspect. We eventually set the game to a beat and allowed the player to hit enemies either on or off beat. We went back and forth on this for awhile, and we decided the player would do way more damage if they hit on the beat.

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We also decided that we really wanted to add a light combo system, which also took us some time to figure out. Basically, we ended up with a combo/beat track that’s on the screen at all times and allows the player to initiate a combo by pressing either the [O] or the [U] buttons to get them started. Each weapon in the game has two different combos, the better the weapon, the trickier the combos and the more damage that they do. They also offer special hits like stuns and knockbacks on your enemies so landing those combos is key in a tense battle.

In addition to the sliding scale between rhythm game and dungeon crawler/roguelike, there’s also a sliding scale between Norse Mythology and 70′s Funk when designing Soul Fjord’s characters and environment. With the characters specifically, we came up with a system where we made a list of pop-culture references from the 70s and iconic figures from Norse Mythology, and put them together. For example, we have Lounge Dragons — taking the term Lounge Lizard from the 70s, and combining it with dragons from Norse Mythology.

A lot of our problem solving for our art was to pick something predominately either Norse or 70s, and add flourishes and details from the other. For example, we added a classic 70′s puffer vest to a very Norse raven. Overall, creating Soul Fjord has been a really fun exercise in creativity. One thing was always certain though, Magnus is the embodiment of funk from his randomly-dropped weapons and gear to his shouts and victory pose, he brings the funk like nobody’s business.

Well, that’s it for now! Stay tuned for updates in the next couple weeks, and we really hope that you’ll enjoy the game. We can’t wait for y’all to play it.

Cheers!

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Kim Swift

Airtight Games