Monday Mar 18, 2013
Every game has a story — it doesn’t matter if it’s an involved plot within the game, or just the ideas and forces that shape it. The narrative of games is both the background “story” and the everyday experience of playing the games. Seeing a game — in this case, Godsrule: War of Mortals — go from concept to creation is one of the great things about actually working in the video game industry. This is its own type of story, and to share that with you, we bring you this Developer Diary.
This blog arrives courtesy of Egill Arnarsson, the Director of Game Design at Gogogic. Here, Egill tells us a bit about the origins and story behind a game like Godsrule. Read on to find out more!
Dev Diary: Egill Arnarsson on Godsrule Story and Influences
Did you know that the 1980 top-down shooter Centipede had a backstory? The spaceship players are using to blast those rhythmic pixel aliens is actually an elf armed with a magic wand. He’s even supposed to have a cape on!
Although many might think – especially for a simple 8-bit game like Centipede – a backstory would be irrelevant, unnecessary, and simply overdoing it. No… not necessarily. A backstory is necessary for developers and players alike to experience a game on a deeper level, to make all the elements come together and form a world worth exploring – a world worth spending your time in. During the conception of a game, whether it starts off with just a rough concept for a game’s core mechanic or merely as an awesome title, a designer’s mind quickly begins thinking about the backstory. That’s where the magic comes from. That’s where everything comes from. That’s what explains why a feral grizzly bear is devouring a life-sucking demon. It’s the “excuse”.
Being an Icelandic game developer, Vikings and Norse mythology came naturally to Gogogic. It is in our blood (literally). The company’s first MMO, Vikings of Thule, bore evidence of that. So naturally, that also became the starting point for Godsrule: War of Mortals.
Originally dubbed Legends of the Old North, the story’s first version revolved heavily around Norse Mythology, Yggdrasill, Ragnarok, and even Loki. It was supposed to be set in a post-apocalyptic world, devastated by the events of Ragnarok. The setting for Vikings of Thule – which did a fine job of blurring the lines between realism and mythological fantasy – felt right at the time. During the early production stages of Godsrule however, it became apparent that people didn’t have much understanding of or feelings towards Norse mythology – not like we did.
After a few iterations, it became clear. The direct references to the mythic tales we love started to fade. We started fabricating our own world, weaving together strings of fantasy, the mechanics we had established so far, the artwork, and still, just a few from Norse mythology. We felt like we’d gotten Vikings and Norse mythology out of our system. In a sense, we were free again.
While referencing any mythology helps place a story and scope it up, the original rewrite was supposed to be a spin-off from the first war between the Asir and Vanir. But we wanted even more freedom, more fantasy, a lighter overall mood and fewer constraints. It wasn’t until right before the game’s closed beta that the backstory – with a magic touch from SEGA – finally clicked. It became the heart of the game, pumping out curious creatures and spells, oxygenating all the game’s different mechanics, and made the whole world come to life.
Godsrule: War of Mortals – Follow Updates and Play Now
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