In a world of countless RPGs, you might be worried that the genre is becoming stale over time. Unfortunately, many developers are too afraid to shake up the formula out of fear their games may not sell well. So while the big names play it safe, we turn to independent developers for innovation. Enter Quincy Pringle, a young developer who is ready to liven up the RPG scene with his new game OTHER: Her Loving Embrace. The game takes traditional turn-based battles and turns each one into an interactive experience. To see it in action, check out the short clip below.
I had a chance to talk to Quincy about his upcoming game, and he had a lot to share, including details about the game's story, characters, additional gameplay mechanics, and much more. Quincy went into detail about his passion for game development, some of his greatest inspirations, and even some hardships he's faced when working on projects in the past.
Here's a little gameplay clip from from OTHER showing off the battle system! Still more polish to go but I'm very happy with it so far. Kickstarter coming soon #OTHERgame #screenshotsaturday href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/gamedev?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#gamedev #pixelart #gamemaker pic.twitter.com/181CtffURV
— Pringle (@qpringle1) August 11, 2018
OTHER: Her Loving Embrace takes the classic turn-based RPG battle system and flips it on its head by turning each fight into an interactive platforming experience. How did you come up with this idea?
Early in 2017, I started making a small rougelike game that was intended to be a prequel of sorts to my other game project, Super Pretentious Underground Dungeon (SPUD), while also being a programming exercise. It was very by-the-books, with tiled movement, turn based combat, the usual for a good Rouge clone. I showed it to some friends, and while they liked it, they felt it was too derivative. So I knew I had to do something different.
Eventually, I had the idea of turning it into a turn-based RPG. I love RPGs; I've always wanted to make one but I also wanted to make something that felt fresh. The battle system evolved over several iterations and brainstorming sessions. It all started out with the question of, "How do I make the battles more interactive?" Some of my favorite games are RPGs with an interesting and interactive battle system, such as Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, or Paper Mario. I thought about making it a real-time action-RPG instead, but I felt like that would be a cop-out from the unique challenges that turn-based combat presents from a design perspective. Besides, I wanted to pay homage to old classics like Dragon Warrior and Mother 1.
I thought about how one would engage an enemy in real-life. There would be a lot of give and take, attack and defense. You wouldn't just stand there and let someone stab you, and the neither would the enemy. I decided to try and toss in some code from SPUD to quickly get a platforming environment up and running during a turn-based battle, and it was like magic. It had all the hallmarks of a traditional turn-based battle scheme with a fun, refreshing way to engage enemies. I showed it to my friends again, and they agreed that it was an idea worth pursuing.
I think a lot of people find your take on the genre refreshing. You recently shared some clips of gameplay and it caught the attention of so many people. How did you feel about the initial response from the gaming community?
It's been incredible. The exposure itself was amazing, but what really moved me were the vocal responses from all over the world. People have been sending me comments nonstop, and while it's a lot to take in, it's very motivating.
The combat system is obviously a huge draw to your game. Are there other mechanics or features you want players to get excited about that they may not have noticed yet?
Something I'm really excited to show later on is how the magic system works. Inspired by games like Superstar Saga and the Legend of Zelda series, any spell or ability you learn has applications both on and off the battlefield. Players obtain most of these in dungeons, which are then used to solve puzzles, unlock new areas in the overworld, and find all sorts of secrets. In the context of a battle, some of these are passive, permanent upgrades, while others must be cast manually within their own unique minigame-like interfaces.
Overall, I am very much inspired by the Devil May Cry series, traditional fighting games, and other favorites like Super Smash Bros. Melee. My design philosophy takes the "low skill floor, high skill ceiling" approach, so players dedicated to learning the ins-and-outs of the combat system will be greatly rewarded. If you've ever craved a turn-based RPG where you can wavedash, you might like OTHER.
I'm also very happy with the story and characters, and I think players will enjoy them very much.
I'm really curious since you mentioned it. Is there anything you're willing to share regarding the story and characters of OTHER?
Supernatural occurrences and manifestations have begun to pop up all over the great kingdom of Golden. While initially viewed as little more than nuisances, these spirits have become increasingly malevolent around the humble village of Chestertown, terrorizing it to a standstill. With Chestertown's way of life utterly dismantled, the townsfolk are desperate for anything, or anyone, that could save them.
Gershom, a child working as a servant for the Duchess of Chestertown, is a quiet, gentle kid with a growing discontent for his way of life. After getting into trouble, he finds himself investigating the mystery of the spirits alongside a mysterious young man, who (despite barely having any magical power) insists on being referred to as a "wizard". Realizing the town will pay any price for a solution to their troubles, he "befriends" Gershom and hatches his own scheme.
Players will investigate Chestertown and the surrounding countryside in an attempt to investigate and solve the supernatural threat. OTHER's story is very character-driven, so expect lots of development and interactions.
I'm intrigued! Can you say how the title of the game ties into the story, or is that cutting too deep into spoiler territory?
The title "OTHER" is connected to the game in several ways. It ties into the spiritual themes, in which otherworldly, foreign beings act towards their own unknowable purposes. But it runs much deeper than that, and players will have to discover the true meaning behind the title on their own.
I've listened to some of the music for the game, and every track is incredible! Are you working on the soundtrack by yourself, or do you have other people helping you?
Thanks a lot Adam, I really appreciate that! It's just me. I've been tinkering with music for the past ten years or so (I'm 22 now). The soundtrack in OTHER is inspired by the sounds of early game consoles and home computers, particularly the NES with extra FM channels (akin to Konami's VRC7 mapper). It's written in FL Studio with mostly free assets (various Genesis/Mega Drive samples for percussion, 3xOsc, Medusa 2, and Genny for those interested). I've always had a fondness for early audio hardware, and the soundtrack for OTHER is a great place to express my passion.
That's incredible! I look forward to hearing more. What kind of theme or tone are you aiming for with the music in OTHER?
Well, my favorite game soundtracks/series tend to have music that's either melody-driven and/or places a lot of emphasis on atmosphere. Shining Force, Castlevania Bloodlines, Cave Story, Mother 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Donkey Kong Country... the list of inspirations is too long. The gist is that I'm trying to get a nice balance of high energy and atmosphere to match the various intensities and emotions the game's events call for. Sometimes the music invokes joy, other times sadness, or even pure rage. But overall, expect rousing tunes that make you want to explore a mysterious world and invoke a thirst for adventure.
So is there anybody else helping you in the creation of OTHER? I noticed you gave a few shoutouts to some people for the game's visual design.
There are essentially four key people working on the project:
A very close and very old of friend of mine, Evan Butler, is my producer/supervisor for this one. Sometimes I don't do stuff, so he screams and throws blunt objects at me until I do said stuff. It's a very rewarding relationship and this project would definitely not be possible without him. We worked together on a documentary about game collecting, localization, and the history of Mother 1 called "Mother to Earth". It's due out this winter, you should check it out. There's a really cool interview we did with Keiichi Suzuki in it that you have to see to believe. And that definitely would not have been possible without Evan. He makes things happen.
My girlfriend Kelly Kirsch is doing a lot of the character and enemy designs for the game. She's in her senior year the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. She's an exceptionally talented illustrator and animator, and she has been knocking it out of the proverbial park for this project. I am not biased at all.
There's Pik, a really swell guy who's doing a lot of the pixel art for this game. Right now, the bulk of what he's done is realize Kelly's artwork into sprites. You guys are going to love how expressive the monster designs and dialog portraits are. He's worked on other great projects in the past, such as Mother 4 and Project M. This guy is an absolute beast and I'm thrilled to have him on board.
Then there's me. I do the programming, design, music, writing, and a bit of the art.
The other artists I mentioned on Twitter are DragonDePlatino and surt. They've uploaded some amazing environmental art and assets onto OpenGameArt which are being used in OTHER. They aren't part of the game's core staff, but I wanted to thank them regardless for their amazing contributions.
It sounds like you have a solid crew helping you out. I can't wait to see the final product of what the four of you create together! You mentioned earlier that OTHER started as a prequel to another game you're working on called SPUD. How strong is the connection between the two games? Will players be able to enjoy them as separate experiences, or should they check out both games to get the full experience?
SPUD takes place approximately twenty years after the events of OTHER, and features many of the same characters and locations. The connection between the two is very strong, and I definitely recommend playing both to get the full story, but they are still enjoyable and perfectly understandable on their own.
Unfortunately, SPUD is essentially on hold until OTHER is completed, since I realized I would need more money and time than I currently have to finish it accordance with my vision. Making games is my dream job, but sometimes you have pay the rent! Seeing as my next goal is to complete SPUD though, you'll definitely be seeing more of it in the future.
SPUD is a game that seems to combine the best features of the Run and Gun genre. How different is it to work on a fast-paced game like SPUD compared to a turn-based RPG like OTHER?
Very different! SPUD is a much harder game to make than OTHER, for a few reasons.
One: an RPG battle system is basically a series of flags and checks, while SPUD's combat is made up of a bunch of moving characters, projectiles, and enemy patterns on complex landscapes dealing with gravity and other factors. The way everything moves and interacts has to be carefully controlled in order for it to feel just right.
Two: SPUD's in-game art direction is significantly more detailed than OTHER's, with bigger sprites, more frames of animation, and more shading/detail on them. When you account for all the characters, enemies, and environments that require that extra attention to detail, the amount of time and costs involved rises exponentially.
Three: SPUD's actual levels require a lot more work that OTHER's overworld. From my experience, it's a lot harder to make a fast-paced, intelligently designed platformer level that takes a large moveset into account than it is to make a Zelda-style dungeon. It also ties back into the art issue: in order for the higher-fidelity art style to not feel empty and bland, you need lots of props and decorations for each level type.
Don't get me wrong, I definitely love working on SPUD. But it's a whole different beast than OTHER that requires more time and effort to get just right, at least for me. One thing that is really great about working on SPUD though is that every time the gameplay starts to feel a bit old, it's not too hard to come up with new concepts to freshen things up. The first time I implemented the game's strafe-lock system, I got so excited that I didn't do anything but work for a week.
It's good to hear you're at least having fun with it! On a similar note, what has been the most challenging thing so far when developing a game, whether it's OTHER, SPUD, or one of your other projects?
It definitely was working on mobile support for Super Coffee 'n Donuts, a game I made recently that was published by Life Teen Inc. I had never made a mobile game prior to this, so I spent a decent chunk of time learning the various eccentricities of Android and iOS. While developing for Android turned out to be pretty easy, getting iOS stuff set up was a nightmare. It probably wouldn't have been so bad had it not been for their deadline, since they wanted it ready for a Catholic youth ministry training convention. While total development time was around two months, I underestimated the amount of time that I would need during the final stretch and ended up working some serious crunch to get it done on time. It was totally my fault though, and taught me a valuable lesson about time management. I'm very happy with how the game came out regardless, and so was Life Teen.
I see you plan to launch a Kickstarter for OTHER at some point. What's the best way to stay updated when that goes live?
I would recommend keeping tabs on the game's account on Twitter (@otherRPG), or my own account (@qpringle1). Both accounts will be posting concept art, gameplay footage, music and more, so if you're interested in the game be sure to check them out!
Is there anything else you would like to say about either of your upcoming games?
I just want to thank everybody for their support and enthusiasm, it really means a lot. If any readers are further interested in what I work on, there's links to my various social media outlets on my main website, https://www.
chimeralabs.io/. I'll do my best to make OTHER a game worthy of your expectations!
I would like to thank Quincy for taking the time to talk to me about his upcoming projects. I'm greatly looking forward to both of these games. If you're interested at all, make sure to keep an eye out for OTHER's Kickstarter when it goes live.