Rogue Wizards is a turn-based dungeon crawler RPG from Spell Bind Studios. Funded through Kickstarter, Rogue Wizards has now released on Mac and PC with iOS and Android on the way this spring. Spell Bind Studios founder, Colin Day joins VGNS to give us a little insight into this seriously fun title.
Q: What games inspired you to make Rogue Wizards?
A: I’ve been a big fan of role playing games since I was a kid. The very first RPG I played was Ultima III on my Commodore 64 and I’ve played every game in the Ultima series which served as the inspiration for me to want to make my own games. In the creation of Rogue Wizards I’ve been heavily influenced by Diablo (I’ve even worked at Blizzard on Diablo 3), Rogue, Sword of Fargoal, Dungeons of Dredmor just to name a few.
Q: How big of a team does a game like this require to make?
A: Games are made by all sorts of people and team sizes so it’s kind of hard to pin this down exactly for all developers. I’ve come across a lot of games that look like they’re made by a large team, and it turns out that they were made with just a handful of people or even just one developer.
In the case of Rogue Wizards I serve as the primary developer and handled almost all aspects of the game design, coding, art direction, business development, marketing and websites myself. In the beginning I created all the artwork myself, but since I’m not really that great of an artist I used the Kickstarter funds to contract artwork from Phil Shenk, Alex Madrigal, and Aden Scott to create all the art and animations for the game. I also got some design help from Clay Retzer, and my friend S.B. Divya wrote the story for the Rogue Wizards which has been amazing. Finally, no game would be complete without music so I commissioned a few pieces from Ben MacDougall to give the game that mysterious and dangerous dungeon crawling vibe.
Q: How did you choose to go with a more lighthearted tone rather than something like Diablo?
A: Well, I’ve been building big, serious, heavy AAA games for nearly 20 years … including significant work on Diablo 3, Nox, Marvel Heroes, Hellgate, Command & Conquer: Generals and a few others. It’s fun making those big serious games, but I really just wanted to pick something different and more casual that players of all ages could jump into and play. I think darker visual styles aren’t necessarily the best choice for young kids, and adult gamers have already played a lot of dark moody RPGs and sometimes like to find new games with an emphasis on the gameplay over the blood and gore; Rogue Wizards brings a new fresh visual style and vibe to the classic dungeon crawler. The art style was also selected to sit well both desktop and mobile devices where the emphasis is on getting into the game quickly and just having a good time.
Q: Did you learn anything surprising from your Kickstarter campaign?
Yeah, tons of stuff .. but I think I was most surprised by the overwhelming support and kindness of the people who donated to the Kickstarter project. I had read on the internet that Kickstarter campaigns should be careful of overly demanding backers and not to do anything that give these people reason to complain about your project. However, in reality I didn’t’ have a single overly demanding backer and all of the backers for Rogue Wizards are incredibly awesome people who really like supporting projects and bringing these games to life…I couldn’t have asked for a better set of backers for the project and it certainly couldn’t have been made without their support.
Gameplay – 5/5
The gameplay in Rogue Wizards is a brilliant balance. It’s fast but not rushed. It’s turn based but not slow. Gameplay is taken on a simple one move, turn by turn basis. You make a move—equip a weapon, move, attack—and then all the enemies make their moves. Then it’s your move again. The result is that gameplay goes quick but you aren’t so rushed that the strategy is reduced to button mashing. It’s a way to preserve the strategy of a turn based RPG without bogging down the game to a slow crawl.
Every dungeon and the enemies within are procedurally generated. The loot is dynamic and fun, allowing for a wide range of playstyles. You’re not boxed into a single class either. In my time with the game I’ve changed my weapon loadouts and strategies many times. The opponents you face are a variety of different enemy mixes which, in combination with the simple turn by turn movement, makes for fascinating chain reactions and unique ways that the different enemy mixes play off each other.
Story – 4/5
The story of Rogue Wizards is appropriately balanced. It’s there, not to overwhelm the gameplay, but to support it. Magic is banned but you are finding people with abilities and drawing them onto a team that you’re assembling to equip you to tackle more and more difficult dungeons.
Visuals – 5/5
The game has a very lighthearted vibe which is unusual for a dungeon crawler. Instead of dark like Diablo, Rogue Wizards has an easy, goofy attitude. But make no mistake, the game is not silly. Behind the fun and comical art work is a seriously thought out game.
The standout piece for the visuals of this game is your line of sight in the dungeon. It is indicated by tiles rising up or falling away to indicate how far you can see rather than just smothering the screen in a fog of war. The result is striking.
Sound – 4/5
The music and sound effects are also lighthearted but fit the setting. I never found myself growing tired of them. They seem to blend into the background but lend atmosphere to the dungeons.
Controls – 5/5
Every control in the game is distilled down to its most basic essence. The gameplay is simple to understand. Controlling what weapons or magic your wielding is intuitive and just a button press or click away. The world is laid out into a grid of tiles so there’s no question of how far any unit can move. Even the menus are incredible fluid. Click on an item in your inventory and a box will pop up, immediately indicating whether the stats are better or worse than the item you already have equipped.
Overall Rating – 4.5/5
Rogue Wizards is a joy to play. The game is all the fun parts of dungeon crawling without anything unnecessary. It is beautiful to look at, and the way that the simplicity of the gameplay allows the strategy and fun to come out is impressive.