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The Joystiq Indie Pitch: EvilQuest


Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We at Joystiq believe no one deserves to starve, and many indie developers are entitled to a fridge full of tasty, fulfilling media coverage, right here. This week, the founders of Chaosoft Games, Forrest McCorkle and Josh Ferguson, discuss the goodness in going evil with their classically inspired title, EvilQuest.

What's your game called and what's it about?

Forrest McCorkle: Our game is called EvilQuest and it's about an extremely sadistic evil knight named Galvis that is trying to destroy the world. At the start, the character is merely trying to conquer the world, but fails to do so when he is defeated and captured by the dominant kingdom in the game world. In prison, he switches his goal from conquering the world to annihilating it, and also learns a possible means of accomplishing this goal. Of course, he eventually finds a way to escape and from there it's up to the player to see this quest to fruition.

How important was it to have original artwork, animation and music in EvilQuest?

Josh Ferguson: It was of critical importance -- it was never an option to consider using someone else's material. Quality graphics draw people into a game, while quality gameplay keeps them there. We tried using our individual talents to create both. We wanted an original look and feel while staying true to the sprite-based JRPG style of the early Squaresoft games. As for music, that was a part of the project that we just had some fun with.

What inspired you to make EvilQuest?

FM: Well, I grew on the classic 8-bit and 16-bit systems and those types of graphics are what we were really shooting for on this project. JRPGs have always been my favorite genre and I am most influenced by them as far as story and character goes. So, I really tried to capture the feel of a classic console RPG, but with a very big twist: Instead of saving the world, you're trying to destroy it. Gameplay wise, it's an action RPG very much like the old NES game Crystalis or Zelda.

You're inverting the classic "hero" idea found in many games. How does playing the role of a villain change or enrich gameplay in EvilQuest?

FM: Well, I wouldn't say it changes anything when it comes to the action part of the game, but the story and dialogue are very unique due to the fact that you are playing as a villain. You're going to treat NPCs in ways that would be unthinkable if you were playing as a "hero."

What's the coolest aspect of EvilQuest?

FM: The coolest thing is probably the dialogue. You haven't seen this type of dialogue before in an RPG that looks like this and I think it's very refreshing. The game, like all of the members of this team, has a very dark sense of humor. I think if people appreciate that type of humor they're going to be very entertained by the things that Galvis says and does to the various NPCs he interacts with.

JF: While I think the dialogue is one of the standout features of EvilQuest, I have to say I've really been enjoying the gameplay. I've been playtesting the crap out of this game for the last couple of weeks and you'd think after working on it and playing it for the past year I'd be over it by now -- but no. I have found so many different ways to approach combat with enemies, so many different ways to play the game. Investing points at level-up and using accessory items to modify your stats really allows you to create your own experience with the gameplay. Also, as a die-hard Crystalis fan from way back, EvilQuest really captures the feel of that game and builds on some of the best aspects of one of the most underrated games of the 8-bit era.

Anything you'd do differently?

FM: Well, on the development side, I think there are some things we could have done more efficiently. I should have done a better job creating design documents for example. But I'm extremely happy with how the finished product turned out and I don't think I would change anything major about the game itself.

JF: I agree, feature creep was something of a problem during development, due to the initial outline of the game needing a little more fleshing out. However, I feel like all of the additional ideas we implemented during development were for the better.

Are you afraid of being sued by Sony for playing off the EverQuest name (If Bethesda can sue Mojang, anything is possible)?

JF: The meanings of the names are completely different as are the styles of graphics and gameplay. Short of being within the broad genre of "fantasy," the two games are nothing alike. Besides, last I checked, Bethesda was on the losing side of the ruling in their suit. A lawsuit would probably only help us by raising awareness of our game.

Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?

FM: As an indie, you don't have to really answer to anyone other than your peers and that appeals to me. We also obviously get more creative freedom and aren't subject to the whim of someone who is more concerned with sales than the game itself.

Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?

FM: Yes! The indie movement is growing like wildfire and the major console makers better recognize this. Otherwise, they're going to be missing out on some of the best games being produced today and the PC/Tablet/Mobile platform is where the developers will go.

Sell your game in one sentence:

Kill heroes, murder villagers and destroy the world in this exciting action RPG!

What's next?

FM: I'll be porting the game to other platforms, but we have a lot of ideas for future games. The most likely next project would be a sequel for EvilQuest.

JF: I'm pretty excited about starting on a sequel to EvilQuest despite this game dominating our lives for the past year. We already have a lot of ideas for both story and gameplay aspects, and the only thing really stopping us from going ahead with development is waiting to see what kind of success we have.
[Photo, from left: Josh Ferguson, Forrest McCorkle, Michael Hogan]

EvilQuest is available on XBLIG for $1 (80 MS Points) and will launch via Desura on February 29 for $2. Get your evil on!

If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email jess [at] joystiq [dawt] com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.

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