Revita – Developer Interview

After spending some time in Revita’s clocktower, I got a chance to ask developer BenStar a few questions about his pixel-art roguelite. Here’s what he had to say:

The ambiance in the game’s non-combat levels is fantastic. Were you going for a particular vibe or feeling?

Melancholy, I think that is probably the best way to summarize the vibe we are going for and it is found represented in a lot of our visual design for the game, down to the primary color being blue. It’s kind of funny – I’ve brought up the word melancholy so frequently now, while describing things to the rest of the team, that it has kind of become an inside joke when it comes to describing the project to others.

Right now, runs take about 15-30 minutes once you get the hang of the game. The roadmap shows there’s going to be a branching path and a new area, but is the current run length about what it will be on release?

The current plan is to aim somewhere between 45 minutes to roughly an hour for a full run. The goal is to keep the action short and sweet, not making the runs too long, so you don’t feel like playing the game turns into a commitment in regards to putting the necessary time aside.

Any hints you can give as to what the new area themes might be?

I don’t want to give too much away, but I feel like so far, all the areas have very much been “What would I not expect to logically find in a clocktower,” so I’ll say you can expect more along those lines.

revita developer interview blacksmith

In an ideal world, would you like to have a bigger team to help you with development, or do you plan on keeping your team the same size for the foreseeable future?

The way things currently are, I feel like we have pretty much the perfect core team size. Around 5-6 people, each with their own area of expertise (composing music, sound design, art, writing, etc). I feel like if we were to increase the team size too much, it would start to bloat and be more of a detriment instead of a timesaving benefit.

What came first, the gameplay or the art?

I think that went kind of hand in hand. Originally I very much started art out of necessity, because I was a student who didn’t have the money to hire people on and I couldn’t just release a game where every object was a gray rectangle, haha. Nowadays though, I would very much describe myself as an artist first, programmer second, but the gameplay and the art will always have equal importance to me.

I noticed after a few runs that the first boss’ level had a new trap in the middle, but it wasn’t there on my following run. Usually boss-rooms aren’t procedural in roguelites, so can you give away a secret and explain what happened there? I love the idea of keeping the first few stages interesting by adding new challenges the more you play. Can we expect to see more of that in Revita?

One of the goals is definitely to keep the game mechanically interesting as you put in hour after hour. From new unlockable mechanics earned from one of the new NPCs, to even alternative areas you can stumble upon if you make it far enough. So for example with the bosses, the game keeps track of how many times you have bested them and how far into the game you are in general, and based on that, Revita might throw in a slightly more difficult room layout every once in a while. So yeah, you can definitely expect more along those lines!

revita early access first impressions boss

I found the primary weapon to be unique — I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that has a ranged weapon with such short range. Can you talk at all about the design decision(s) behind the primary weapon?

I think one of the bigger design problems we had was preventing the player from staying around the entrance of a room and shooting enemies from a safe distance. In Revita, rooms for the most part are relatively small and compact, so you don’t need to do a ton of walking around to reach the next obstacle. However, that comes with the unexpected side effect, that if you have infinite range, the player could just shoot every enemy in the room from the entrance, removing all the difficulty from the encounters, as they would die before they could even get to you. Shortening the soul guns range was basically our solution to that. Now the player actually has to go out of their way, in most situations, and actually get close to enemies.

Some of the “upgrades” you can get seem like they might hurt you more than help you. Personally, I love items in games that are questionable in utility, but add variety/challenge/laughs. Can you talk at all about the game’s pickups?

I have always been a big proponent of how the game “The Binding of Isaac” handles its item system, where most of your items are either modifiers or change up the gameplay in some way or another – or can create entirely new situations when combined with other items. I love that kind of design, because it allows for a lot of discoverability and makes different attempts more unique and interesting. For example, in Revita, we have a relic called “Moldy Cheese” which basically keeps bullets alive for a little longer after they reach their destination, kind of turning them into mines. Another relic is the “Lava Lamp,” which makes more bullets shoot from the sides of your already flying bullets. On their own, they are already fun to play around with, but if you combine them, they turn your bullets into small turrets that are still in the air and shoot a bunch of bullets to the side, and all the while you can still shoot bullets yourself, making for a really fun and unique combination.

revita developer interview 2

The monster you bring keys to seems familiar, as does the way you heal in Revita… is it safe to assume you’re a fan of Hollow Knight? Any other games (or other media) you drew inspiration for in creating Revita?

Haha, I’d be lying if I said no. Hollow Knight has definitely been a big inspiration, not just for this project, but for my game development process in general. While there are some coincidences (like the imprisoned who takes your keys and was actually not inspired by Hollow Knight, even if I can see the resemblance), there is definitely some inspiration being taken. I’d say the biggest probably being the overall atmosphere. I love how Hollow Knight creates this very somber, melancholic atmosphere, while still having a very cute art style, so I wanted to capture a similar essence while still mixing in my own style to create a world and character that people can really fall in love with.

Is there anything you want people to know about the game, or anything else you want to share?

I just want to thank everyone who has stuck with us so far, the team, as well as the community. This project wouldn’t be possible without them and I am very excited to see where it goes as we continue going through Early Access, adding more content and just trying to make this the best game we can make!

Revita is now available in early access on Steam, and you can read about our first impressions of the game here!

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Unabashed FromSoftware fanboy still learning to take his time with games (and everything else, really). The time he doesn't spend on games is spent on music, books, or occasionally going outside.

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