Picking up the controller, I was greeted by Ankur Sharma, part of the Pixelscopic team. As I grew used to the controls of Delver's Drop, he gave me a brief rundown of the game so far. Pixelscopic, based in Missouri, aren't newcomers to development at all. Recently, they've made two Moshi Monsters licensed games for DS and 3DS - and it's their contract work that affords them the resources to make more personal games like this.
I played through a few rooms as he spoke, taking my ambiguously gendered hooded warrior through a few more rooms, smacking at the slimes that flocked to attack me. The HD art and visuals were looking fantastic, with the dungeon's unique and atmospheric lighting design really clicking with me. I asked about the way the game rendered its scrolling in the wider rooms of the dungeon, which looked different than any other game I had ever seen. You can see it in the above video: the tops of the walls scroll differently from the floor, making the room appear to have depth. Instead of creating the room geometry out of 3D polygons, the "3D" room effects were rendered through clever use of 2D parallax.
His next statement took me by surprise: The build I was currently playing had been prototyped in under a month.
I found this hard to believe. As early as the game I was currently playing seemed (and it was obviously very early; the dungeon didn't seem to have a real ending and dying simply caused you to restart), it didn't seem like something that could have been thrown together in such a short amount of time with a small team. The team had crunched until the wee hours of the morning before PAX opened just to have this build ready to go – a true indication of the talent and dedication that's going into Delver's Drop
I expressed my amazement to Sharma as I swatted at a few erratically moving bats and shifted around some bits of the room to try and open an exit I hadn't yet explored. I was sure this wasn't the first (or last) statement of disbelief he'd heard at the show, but I knew that every single time someone mentioned how impressed they were, it resonated with the team.
Meanwhile, I found myself struggling a bit with the controls, which had a bit of a "slippery" feel to them, like my character was constantly on ice. I expressed my concern about this, and Sharma explained that it was something they were working on adjusting. They wanted a more substantial physics engine, he elaborated, for things like recoil from damage. The standard character I had now was likely to have its controls adjusted, but other planned character types, like a powerful magician, might retain these sort of loose movement controls to compensate for their wider range and variety of attacks.
I played for another ten minutes or so, conversing with Sharma and others on the Pixelscopic team all the while. Delver's Drop
is being prepped for release on iOS, Android, PC, and Mac sometime next year, and phenomenal progress can already be seen toward creating a roguelike/classic action-RPG fusion with a distinct and memorable visual style.
[Image: Ecco Dark Sea
Heidi Kemps is an intrepid freelancer living in the lap of luxury in Daly City. Her work has been seen on G4, GamesRadar, GamePro, @Gamer, GameSpot, and a wealth of international publications, some of which do not start with the letter G. You can follow her ongoing freelance adventures at @zerochan.