Stories: The Path of Destinies Interview – Which Hero Will You Be?
Indie games have made up an increasingly significant segment of the gaming market in recent years, mostly thanks to developer tools such as Unreal Engine 4 or Unity 5 and of course to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter.
The folks at Spearhed Games, a Montreal based developer, are perhaps even more commendable than the usual indie team as they have been funding Stories: The Path of Destinies themselves, without any publisher or Kickstarter campaign. Revealed during last year’s PAX Prime, this quirky fantasy Action RPG didn’t escape our watch and with the release drawing ever closer, we approached Spearhead’s Co-Founder Malik Boukhira (credited as Level Designer on Assassin’s Creed & Prince of Persia, Game Designer on Assassin’s Creed II and Dead Space 3) to bring you more exclusive details. Enjoy!
- How did you come up with a character like Reynardo? What was your inspiration for him both from the narrative and visual standpoints?
- Stories: The Path of Destinies is in part inspired by Charles Perrault-style fairy tales about cats in boots. It’s also a tongue-in-cheek take on classic movie heroes. We wanted our players to experience a colorful and epic tale of adventure that combines both these elements, so having a roguish fox as the main character made a lot of sense.
- The signature feature of Stories: The Path of Destinies seems to be the ability to influence the story via choices, or the titular paths. Can you explain in detail how this is going to work? Will there be multiple endings?
- Stories is based on the idea of an enchanted book that tells a different tale each time you open it. A narrator reads the stories in this interactive book as they are written by the player’s choices and actions. And unlike other games with narrative choices, each choice doesn’t just lead to a different ending, it leads to an entirely different story (no single choice will fold back to the outcome of any other choice). Overall there are over two dozen unique stories to discover, with very varied themes and tones, ranging from romance to dark Lovecraftian horror. All these stories are true in their own way. The characters remain the same, though their fates may differ wildly from one tale to the next. Similarly, events can unfold in completely new and unexpected ways, and based on the choices the player makes. However, Reynardo remains aware of all these outcomes (think Edge of Tomorrow), as he tries―and often fails spectacularly―to defeat the evil empire he’s fighting. Just like the player, he grows and learns truths from each story. As you gather the clues each story contains, you’ll eventually be able to figure out a way to win, destroy the Empire, and make it out alive―thus finally making Reynardo the hero he set out to be.
- Can you tell us how the rewind mechanics will work in combat?
- They are not quite rewind mechanics, but rather a more unusual player-driven slow motion mechanic. Reynardo has a set of time mastery abilities that allow the player so see the action as a master martial artist would. If the player chooses this path in the skill tree, he or she will be able to slow down time after each attack and wait for the right moment to move again. This not only gives the combat a cinematic feel, it makes the fight almost turn-based on demand!
- Other than combat, will there be any exploration and/or puzzles in Stories: The Path of Destinies?
- We wanted to convey a strong sense of adventure in the game, and exploring is definitely an important part of that experience. Yes, you may encounter puzzles here and there to spice up that exploration.
- How long will it take to complete Stories: The Path of Destinies in one playthrough? Are there side quests?
- As mentioned previously, Reynardo has many Destinies, but only one path in which he lives. Figuring out what that path is requires that the player complete a few stories, which we estimate takes at least five hours. But to explore every narrative possibility and play through all the stories can easily take up to 25 hours. There are no side quests in Stories, as we had our hands full building such an elaborate narrative structure. However, there are some metroidvania elements in the game in that you can unlock new areas, secrets, and paths depending on which magical swords you craft. Your swords double up as keys to these hidden areas.
- Which engine are you using to create Stories?
- We use Unreal Engine 4.
- Can you confirm that the game is going to release first on PlayStation 4 and only afterwards on PC? How much of a delay should gamers expect for this latter version?
- Right now the plan is to release on PC and PS4 simultaneously.
- Will the PS4 version launch in Q1 or Q2 2016?
- Q1 2016.
- What resolution/frame rate target did you set for the PS4 version?
- Our target is 30 fps on PS4.
- Why did you choose Sony’s console over Microsoft’s? Is there any chance to see the game on Xbox One in the future?
- Our first game, Tiny Brains, was a launch title for the PS4. Since then we developed a great relationship with Sony, as well as a good experience working on the platform, so it was a natural choice for us to aim for PS4 first. Regarding Xbox One, it’s a possibility we are investigating, but nothing is confirmed at the moment.
- Thank you for your time.