Monday, July 23, 2012

SuperPhillip Interviews: The Team at n-Space

Last week, Heroes of Ruin finally released in North America. The game supports up to four players exploring the various dungeons locales, doing away with unsettling monsters, and collecting that all-important loot. Four classes, online play with voice chat, and drop in and out co-op make for an enticing package for prospective players of the game. I recently had the chance to ask the fine folks at n-Space, the developer of Heroes of Ruin, such topics as their inspiration for the game, the possible inclusion of patches and downloadable content, and their thoughts on the future of the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U. If you're unfamiliar with the developer, the team has created such games as Geist on the GameCube, various Call of Duty ports on the Nintendo DS, and is currently working on the Nintendo 3DS version of Skylanders: Giants.

SuperPhillip (SP): What inspired you to create Heroes of Ruin for the 3DS? 

n-Space (NS): Heroes of Ruin is our contribution to a genre that we love and respect: action adventure games that are heavy on leveling and looting. Titles like Diablo, Dungeon Siege and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance were among our key sources of inspiration. Our base concept, though, was to bring to the Nintendo 3DS the most robustly featured game in this genre that’s ever been developed for a portable system. That concept not only excited the development team — it excited Nintendo 3DS owners across the globe.

SP: The Heroes of Ruin demo was impressive. I can only imagine how the full game will be. Were there any problems in development with fitting the whole game (graphics, content, amount of loot, characters, dungeons, online functionality) onto a 3DS game card, much more pushing the 3DS system itself to run the game?

NS: Your readers might not know that Nintendo 3DS game cards come in different sizes to accommodate games of varying scope. The game card for Kingdom Hearts 3D, for example, is much heftier than the game card for Bust-A-Move Universe.
We worked diligently to keep Heroes of Ruin as lean as possible so that it could fit onto the smallest 3DS game card. In some ways, it was a struggle to meet those limitations, but this process helped us learn quite a bit about maximizing our resources. And it was good for us to challenge ourselves in this regard because that ultimately meant we had all the more reason to be proud of the game!

SP: Did having the stereoscopic 3D of the Nintendo 3DS necessitate a change in approach to development similar to how, with the shift to 3D, filmmakers had to change their approach to how they shot scenes? Did the 3D effect make some things possible to do which would have been impossible otherwise?

NS: Our experience might not have been as radical a shift as what 3D filmmakers faced, but the new capabilities allowed us to enhance Heroes of Ruin in ways more subtle and sublime. For example, you might see an environmental object momentarily come between you and your character. This kind of overlap is possible with any system that accommodates layered displays, but it yields an enhanced sense of depth when done correctly on the Nintendo 3DS. That’s why we regard stereoscopic 3D as the next step along the path of fully captivating and involving players.

SP: Is it possible for Heroes of Ruin to get patch support for things like glitches, bugs, exploits, higher-level caps, oversights, etc? And if so, are there any plans to do so?

NS: Glitches? What are you talking about? Heroes of Ruin is flawless — just like every other video game that’s ever been released! In all seriousness, though, Nintendo has greatly empowered developers and publishers with the Nintendo 3DS eShop. It was encouraging to see Nintendo release the Mario Kart 7 update eliminating the Maka Wuhu shortcut, partly because we’re huge Mario Kart 7 fans and partly because that demonstrated how such updates could be delivered. So the possibility is there. As far as what updates might be done for Heroes of Ruin, if any, that’s an ongoing discussion.

SP: I know at the latest Nintendo Direct for Europe that it was revealed that Heroes of Ruin would have free daily challenges for a year. Could you go into more detail on what kinds of challenges will be available and how deep/complex they are?

NS: There are actually two types of challenges offered in Heroes of Ruin. Daily challenges, which are delivered by Square Enix, are unique to any given calendar day to ensure players can constantly enjoy fresh experiences. In addition to these offerings, Square Enix will coordinate weekly challenges. These will afford players a bit more time to earn the Valor that can be exchanged for more powerful weapons and armor. So how exactly do you earn Valor? One challenge has you hunting down five wolves in the Elder Forest. Another challenge tasks you with killing four enemies in four seconds. There’s a wide variety that will keep players of all skill levels engaged.

SP: Do you currently have any plans to add DLC in the form of new dungeons, character classes, etc?

NS: That’s a tricky question to answer. If you look on the Heroes of Ruin box, you’ll notice an absence of the orange Nintendo Network logo. This means the game in stores doesn’t offer the option to purchase paid DLC. But that’s not necessarily the final word on the subject. We don’t have anything to announce at this time, but if your readers would like to see paid DLC, they can make their voices heard at the HeroesOfRuin.com message boards. Square Enix keeps a pretty close eye on that dialogue.

SP: Is it true that Nintendo assisted in development of Heroes of Ruin by unlocking more of the 3DS system's power? If so, how did that help development?

NS: Nintendo did help us, but not exactly in the way that’s been reported. There’s been a bit of confusion on this point, so thank you for allowing us this opportunity to set the record straight.
At one point last year, Nintendo released an updated software development kit for the Nintendo 3DS. This new kit granted us and other developers new access to the system’s second processor, essentially unlocking for us some power that Nintendo had previously held in reserve. In our case, we applied these new resources toward some of multiplayer aspects within Heroes of Ruin, such as Wi-Fi communications. 

So while Heroes of Ruin benefited from the updated software development kit that Nintendo released in 2011, that kit was not released specifically for Heroes of Ruin or given exclusively to us. It’s easy to see where the confusion could occur, but it’s a distinction worth making.

SP: Speaking of Nintendo, what potential do you see in the 3DS's future and the company’s next console, the Wii U?

NS: Consider how much the Nintendo 3DS has accomplished in its first 18 months. It’s hosted games in the Resident Evil, Metal Gear and Dead or Alive franchises; it’s delivered incredible experiences from smaller studios, such as Mutant Mudds from Renegade Kid; and it’s helped redefine what we can expect from a portable system with unique features like StreetPass. And again, this is just the first 18 months. Can you imagine the incredible games and experiences we’ll be discussing two years hence? The Nintendo 3DS offers an amazing amount of potential and we’re very eager to see what we and other developers can achieve.

Similarly, the Wii U also has us very excited. We saw at this year’s E3 some very innovative and exciting uses of the GamePad controller. Of course, that tech defines how many people perceive the Wii U, but there’s much more Nintendo will achieve with the system. Miiverse could revolutionize how we think about and experience online interactions with other players. And because we’re developing the Nintendo 3DS release of Skylanders Giants, the Wii U’s Near Field Communication capabilities have us very excited. Would you collect a line of Super Smash Bros. figures to scan and unlock trophies in the upcoming Wii U game? We sure would!

In short, whether you’re a portable game player, a console game player or a little of both, it’s a great time to be a Nintendo fan. And we’re very happy to add to the fun with games like Heroes of Ruin!

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It was my pleasure to interview the minds behind Heroes of Ruin. In the process of receiving this interview, I was assisted by n-Space president and co-founder, Dan O'Leary, as well as n-Space's Joshua Lynsen who organized the team's answers into what you see before you. Heroes of Ruin is available now exclusively for Nintendo 3DS. As for this site, SuperPhillip Central will have even more interviews with industry insiders and developers in the near future. Stick around and stay tuned!

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