Last week we got to experience Remnant: From the Ashes preview event live from San Francisco with developers Gunfire Games on the upcoming souls-inspired co-op shooter. In a sit down interview we got to ask some significant questions.
Remnant From the Ashes Developer Interview with Gunfire Games
Sitting down with the Principal Designer Ben Cureton, we asked important questions we’d been eager to get answers to about Remnant From the Ashes, which included the differences in terms of difficulty for number of players in co-op, their inspirations behind the deadly bosses and why three players are better than four. We also got a chance to ask about how procedurally generated content plays its role in terms of replayability, and how all this comes under a pretty decent $40 price tag.
GG Cureton: The archetypes are literally just you’re starting loadout, the moment the game starts, archetype means nothing beyond that’s just the starting gear that we gave you. We gave you a shared pistol, a unique long gun, a unique mod and you have your unique armor. But it isn’t unique to that archetype, it’s only unique to the first however many minutes, how many hours of the game. Every one of those things are attainable by any other, there’s nothing you cannot get.
GG Cureton: The benefit is how you want your initial gameplay experience to play out. Are you someone who likes to go into melee because your more into souls-based [builds]? But yes we also have more ranged characters. Are you someone who likes mid-range or support role, or with the cultist you have the heal. Or are you someone who likes to stay far away, go for head shots, buff damage, kind of like a pseudo glass cannon and we give you those three options.
We didn’t want to go full on souls, with 8-10 starting classes and deprive. We’re going to give you a base loadout, to have fun. It’s like you picking pyro and getting the hand, or picking sorcerer and getting the wand. You can get the wand with anybody, that doesn’t change, but yes the starting points are different.
In souls, there is a more efficient way to build your characters, for example if I want to build this Dex build, I should pick this starting class, in order to not waste any points. In our game you can respec, so it doesn’t matter.
GG Cureton: The main reason is that with four players, we found that the game turned into one of two things. One it turned into a run and game, because it would turn into four times the DPS. If we didn’t have super super tanking mobs, it would not exactly turn into Gears of War, but everyone would rushed forward, wouldn’t need to use mods, they wouldn’t have to play deliberate, wouldn’t have to use cover, you would just run through.
Or it would turn into the super bullet tanky sponge of all time, in order to kill this guy, you would need four times the DPS, and if you’re now alone, you’d need a guy that require three or fours the total damage. It would take four clips just to kill the guy.
We still wanted that co-op experience and we felt with three blended that the best. We definitely wanted more than two, and four was the goal which we had for a while, but it was just so crazy and so frantic. We wanted team damage, and when there is four people and we’re forcing you to stay close, you ended up shooting your team mates in the face. We wanted to space out people a bit more.
GG Cureton: As you know with Souls, when you add another player, the game gets exponentially easier. Adding another player and it gets easier most of the time. We didn’t want that, so we have is a super secret formula to kind of determine with three players the damage needed or the DPS needed to kill these enemies, is probably going to be about this [much]. While not feeling super tanky for one person. For one person, you may feel that you’re in this rough area, by yourself, I got cut off from my friends because of whatever reason, I can still take this guy out but it’s still going to be an obvious challenge. But not like the bullet sponge you would in such games as Destiny 2 will turn into, or something like that.
But also at the same time, if you have three players, you’re not full on mowing them down. You still need to be play strategically, I’m going to hit this guy in the knees, so then the guy’s knocked down. Then someone else can shoot him in the head, so his mask is knocked off, so another guy can snipe him for 5 million damage and get the weak spot. We wanted that kind of interplay, like we said we found three players was the best for that and the way we scale it up, our numbers just happen to work really well with that. Just feels a lot better than trying to do it with four players.
We wanted that kind of interplay, like we said we found three players was the best for that and the way we scale it up, our numbers just happen to work really well with that.
Long story short, it is definitely not overall easier, it’s not harder but we didn’t want that drastic jump where I add one player and the game is super easy, [or] if I add two additional players the game is a joke. It does scale up and specifically to the highest level player within the formula, to make sure it’s still a challenge for those three players. We want those experiences to be very very similar, the main difference is that if you die you can be resurrected.
The next main difference is that you have three times the DPS, Mods that can benefit each other, you have different builds that are now possible because of the interplay between the three characters (team members). It’s definitely not meant to get a lot easier. There are places in the game where it is easier, because there is an extra player. But it’s not made to be a single-player game, where the addition of a player kills it.
GG Cureton: The story, the campaign obviously is procedurally generated, there is a set of guide lines that it follows. My weird analogy for it is, imagine you’re taking a trip from California to Texas, and I tell you from California to Texas and along the way you’re going to Arizona, New Mexico and then you’re going to hit Texas. Along that path you’re going to go to four gas stations and you’re going to hit two diners. You can go to any four gas stations, or any four gas stations can spawn, or any two diners can spawn. So along the way we’re going to have a very similar, directional path to Texas in my analogy, but there’s still that set of rails that will keep me on track.
GG Cureton: Yes, exactly. When the game starts you expected to explore the hideout, everyone is either going to explore the hideout or they don’t. Then you go forward and you’ll be asked to head to the subway, I don’t know where the subway is, it might mean North West for me and South West for you. Along the way there might be a dungeon that won’t even spawn for you. Or that might be brutal for you, it could be a little bit higher than what you were expecting, whether or not you should do this because you want to be prepared for the next area. But the dungeon may spawn after that area, but you’re still going along that path, you’re still going to the subway, you will then move toward the church. But the path is different everytime, the side dungeons are different everytime.
GG Cureton: Yes that’s fair to stay. There is one ending but infinite journeys. One of the things I want to point out is, I want you to stream, for me to stream, and somebody to watch both our streams and go “are they playing this same game? Is this guy further?” You could answer no they have been both been playing for 30 minutes. I want people ask “did you see that weird talking tree?” and for others to say ” I have clue what that is”.
It is mathematically impossible I believe to see more than 50% of the game in one playthrough. It’s just impossible. The way the game works, there is more content than those guidelines I mentioned that generate the world, there is more content than to fit in those areas. Even if there are only two mini bosses in an area, even if there are only two world bosses in an area, you’re only going to see one of each, probably right? Ok say you might see 50% of the game, your next playthrough you’re not guaranteed to see the opposite. You play for the second time you’re like “I remember this guy. What is that affix? What is Hardy, last time he had Skull crack, I don’t know what that is”. You might see a different world boss.
GG Cureton: The way it works is that there is a minimum level for every area you go into the game, if you are below it you need to level up. If you’re above it, the game is also your level. So the idea is, if you go to an area that is say a Level 4, you beat the mini boss and he has Hardy, then you reroll the campaign, and come back at Level 13, he is now 13, if he also has Hardy it’s percentage based. He may also have Skull Cracker. We are talking about increasing that as we go forward, potentially having two buffs or three buffs, so then it gets crazy strong, I can’t say if that 100% going in right now, but it is something we’re talking about.
GG Cureton: The broad answer is yes to everything, but the long term plan is that we want to support this game. That could be through new biomes, it could be increasing what you can get from the current biomes, adding new weapons, adding mods, it could be adding anything. The interesting thing I think for our game, unlike almost every other game that have existed, is that we can easily inject stuff into things you’ve already played. We can create a new tile, a new POI (Point of Interest) in the city. You could have played the city 20 or 30 times, then come back to update where there is a new tile, there’s a new POI, there are new quests, there’s a new boss, there’s new boss affixes, or there’s a new world boss. You will think “wait a minute, this is the city but it’s not exactly how I remember, I’ve never seen this before”.
Of course we can make new biomes, there is nothing stopping us from doing that. That is something we’ve obviously talked about. Then there’s adding more trinkets to make new builds, adding new ways to improve yourself like adding new traits.
GG Cureton: The two most obvious inspirations are soulsborne, we wear this on our sleeve with pride because we love those games and Diablo. It’s not Diablo in the sense of I’m getting pair of pants, they’re now +2 and named the same thing or have this or that. Dave Adams the founder (Gunfire Games) said “every element is legendary”, what he means by that is every weapon is unique. If you get a pistol, you will never get that pistol again, there is no reason. You can make the pistol yourself. Getting a gun with a slight recoil difference, that isn’t that exciting to us.
The two most obvious inspirations are souls-borne, we wear this on our sleeve with pride because we love those games and Diablo.
Those are two core inspirations. Diablo you can play that game a million times, and you will feel it’s a little bit different every time. There’s different affixes, there are different bosses, different combinations of creatures and it’s about the challenge. Eventually you beat Diablo and you start playing rifts, in my opinion when Diablo 3 got good is when things like rifts were added. You were like I’m only strong enough to do level 34 I’m going to grind a bit, get my traits up, my paragon points, I got a loadout that I really like or playing with a friend that has a complimentary loadout. Oh we’re stuck at level 37, should we would put our heads together? Should we wait for the new content drops or let’s put our heads together figure out how to get to the next level.
GG Cureton: Loot sharing is really simply, if we’re in a game it doesn’t matter what level I am, or what level you are, if you pick up something say a piece of an equipment or something important that is not a quest item (as quest items are tied to the host’s world), everything is shared. Ammo, gear, guns, everything so you pick up a hunting pistol I’ll get it.
Now the coolest thing in my opinion is, if I already have hunting pistol, my hunting pistol is now +1, or +2 or +3. There is a cap and it doesn’t go all the way to max level. The point being is I don’t want to go in the game with you and say “I don’t want to do Hunter’s Hideout to get this pistol, I already have the pistol, it’s not worth for me to help you, we want people to help each other and have reasons to do so. So you will still get a reward.
If I pick up a ring, since Rings can’t be +1…yet. We’ll give you a monetary value for it. It’s cool because I get 250 scraps because I already have it, you can convert into something else.
Boss weapons, you kill boss, you get a crafting material and you can craft a boss weapon. However, there are bosses in the game where you can defeat in different ways and thus get a different material making a different weapon. Or something that you did during the fight, or something you did before the fight, you get something.
It’s different in Souls because if I cut the tail off so I get the Moonlight Greatsword and I get the soul for defeating the boss. So there’s that, it’s not every boss, and you may not know that [the boss gives that item] unless you go to website like Fextralife wiki. So you could defeat a boss and gain a gun Spitfire, it’s actually a gun that spits fire, makes sense, but [someone else could be say] “I beat the dragon and got smoulder”…you could beat the boss and gain two different things. You can only kill the boss once, and then reroll the world. But interestingly you could reroll the world and not get that boss.
So we want it so it’s worth playing this game not only once but more than twice, it’s not just New Game+. I don’t call it New Game+ I call it New Game Also. The isn’t crazy hard, there isn’t more red eye guys, but you won’t know what the quest is, never seen it before. Or because I have this item, I can do this quest slightly differently…Maybe I shot this guy in the face before and this time I’m going to try talking to him instead.
Long story short, the boss weapons are very interesting and they are all based off our core 10. There are 13 base weapons, and 10 foundational weapons which are similar not in effectiveness, but in functionality. So for example you might get the SMG, you might find that in the game, then you might find a Spitfire which is also an SMG but it’s a root based SMG. It has similar reticle style, function like an SMG but might have a wildly different fire rate…or reload rate and then it’s boss mod which cannot be removed, does some crazy thing that no other mod in the game does. The Spitfire for example, you shoot it, it builds up mod fire, you switch the the Spitfire and just throw flames out.
GG Cureton: I know on console the goal is at least 30 fps all of the time. On PC I think the goal is and strong as your PC is, we’d love for it to be 60. That’s what we want ideally minimum we want to at least run at 30.
GG Cureton: Greater or less than 15 hours. On average probably 15 hours for one playthrough and again you won’t see 50% of that content. There is almost 0% probably or 1% you’ll magical hit every single side note, you’re going to have to replay and we want you do that. Then the second time you playthrough you’re not guranteed the other 50%, 10% or whatever, it’s random.
We look a stuff like the City is going to take you, probably 2 and half hours. The we run a play test, and people don’t make it to the boss in 2 and half hours. There’s 3 hours to a play test and we cut them off and they haven’t got to the last boss yet, it’s hard to gauge. I don’t want to say the game so random, but it is so random that this dungeon might crush you in 45 minutes. Then someone else might say, we had were fps pros and they just bodied stuff, they had no problem doing it in 2 hours. Everyone that I have watched, I haven’t seen them get to the boss in 3 hours. That’s why we say 15 hours plus or minus.
GG Cureton: I wasn’t actually involved in that decision, I am just a hardcode designer. But, first of we want people to give this game a chance, gaming is competitive, we don’t have the world’s biggest marketing budget, so all we can do is make an awesome game in our minds and do the best job at making this game. We put and say “hey we think people appreciate this value proposition.” It says value game, but I want see any game for $40 where is has almost 140 or even 130 enemy types, 20 bosses, near infinite replayability and part of it is about giving a chance.
You could look at contemporaries, I don’t want to say it plays like Left 4 Dead, but look at games like that were never $60, they were cool.
If there are already fans of Remnant, all I want for them to have an awesome of a time as we had when we played the game…This is a game I wanted to work on because this is a game I can play after it’s done. It’s not like Darksiders when we finished, we completed the game and I knew everything this game had to offer. But because of procedurally generation, because the way people their builds, because of the co-op I will never have to experience everything has to offer by the time it comes out. Even 100 hours in the game after that I won’t.
I hope players will experience the same thing we do which is I’ve never played a game quite like this…
I hope players will experience the same thing we do which is I’ve never played a game quite like this, and that scratches that itch for easy access in terms of attack to melee, aim to shoot, dodge to avoid, and random, as in I don’t know what is going to be around that corner.
That’s what I hope they experience, which is seems like that’s what people are doing and obviously, thanks for supporting us and we’re going to keep supporting this game. I know everyone says that but that is our goal. The game doesn’t stop even when it comes out, we know there are going to be some rough times, there are going to be some issues, so factors we may have to round out some corners, add some quality of life fixes, but we are going to keep supporting this game as we have a long term plan which will be rolled out over time. We talked about Adventure Mode, that’s coming out for free, it’s going to be for players to reroll biomes, but that’s just the start. We already have stuff out beyond that.
We don’t care if you mod the game, you buy the game you do what you want, just don’t ruin it for anyone else.
Remnant: From the Ashes is releasing on August 20th on Steam, Xbox One, Playstation and Arc for $39.99. If you want to get your hands on it early you can gain VIP access on August 16th by pre-ordering.
For more news be sure to read next Remnant: From The Ashes Dark Souls Inspired Shooter Gets New Trailer At PC Gaming Show and Remnant: From The Ashes Cyclops Trailer Released. If you want to know what we thought of Remnant From the Ashes be sure to check out preview.