Heroes of Ruin, the exclusive 3DS action-RPG from n-Space, is one of the biggest games released for the Nintendo handheld this year.
Following its Australian release last month, we got a chance to have a chat with Joshua Lynsen and the n-Space development team in the US.
MMGN: Heroes of Ruin is a new IP for n-Space. How did the transition go from working on established series, such as Marvel Ultimate Alliance, to something brand new?
n-Space: We’ve really enjoyed working with established properties in the past and we’ve been privileged to work with amazing franchises like Star Wars, Tron and others over the years. Marvel Ultimate Alliance is another instance where we had a lot of fun playing with “someone else’s toys.” But sometimes you just want to start fresh. That’s one of the reasons we were so excited to develop Heroes of Ruin. It was an easy and welcome transition for the team because we experienced the joy of letting our imagination truly run free, which was fantastic.
Besides Ultimate Alliance, RPG is a relatively new genre for n-Space. Did that present any challenges when working on a new IP, or was it even beneficial to have such an open mind?
Being able to start Heroes of Ruin with fresh eyes was very empowering. And in the same way that working with a new IP can energise a team, working in new genres can be just as or even more energising. (Especially when it’s a genre that has rabid fans at n-Space.) As with every project, there were challenges along the way, but facing and overcoming them helps us grow as a developer. And in some ways it’s easier to surmount the challenges you face when you’re working on an entirely new property, because your synapses are already firing in new and different directions.
What were the biggest influences for creating a game like Heroes of Ruin?
Heroes of Ruin is our love letter to one of our favourite genres: action adventure games that are heavy on levelling and looting.
Heroes of Ruin is our love letter to one of our favourite genres: action adventure games that are heavy on levelling and looting. As such, games like Diablo, Dungeon Siege, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance were among some of our biggest points of inspiration. These influences were seen across several areas and sometimes materialised in surprising ways. Diablo, for example, was very inspirational to us when we considered how to best develop the StreetPass features in Heroes of Ruin. This healthy mix of classic notions and new ideas yielded a game that is simultaneously familiar yet fresh.
Multiplayer is a big aspect of Heroes of Ruin. How hard was it to implement the perfect system on a handheld?
To implement some of the game’s trademark features — such as the ability to drop in and out of levels at any time, scaling difficulty based on who’s playing, and the ability to voice chat with your fellow team members — was a tall order since these were mechanics we hadn’t created on the 3DS before. But we believe the best games are the ones that push barriers. You see that in Heroes of Ruin, and that’s part of why we’re so proud of this game.
We spent a lot of time in local play, but as Nintendo expands its service, do you think more developers will take advantage of the 3DS’s online capabilities?
If we’ve learned anything from this generation of gaming, it’s that people love to play together. There’s a growing expectation that games well suited to multiplayer experiences, such as Heroes of Ruin, offer an online component. That’s why we made certain such strong connectivity was at the very core of this game. Heroes of Ruin and other Nintendo 3DS games with strong online components, such as Mario Kart 7 and Kid Icarus Uprising, have raised the bar for what we can expect from portable systems. We’re looking forward to seeing what developers do next — and watching gamers support these efforts.
How was developing the game in 3D? Did it change how you approached the visual style at all?
Absolutely. From the very first demo level we created on the early Nintendo 3DS development kits, we focused on creating environments and situations where depth was always a factor. But we didn’t want to overwhelm the player or get gimmicky in the process, constantly throwing things at the screen. Our approach was to use the capabilities subtly to better immerse the player in the world. This carried across all aspects of our visual style — from levels that had winding pathways to show areas in the deep distance to the way some enemies would appear, like our spiders that drop in from the foreground plane. We wanted to create a game that didn’t need 3D to look good but showed off the effect in the best ways possible.
By Ben Salter