Discord Games recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for its impressive upcoming ARPG, Chasm. The campaign is off to a good start having raised almost $75,000 already, about half of the team’s goal with 23 days still to go.
Having been inspired by games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Diablo and the Legend of Zelda, Chasm’s stand out features are the impressive and extremely authentic 16-bit pixel art along with its procedurally-generated dungeon style gameplay set across six diverse areas. The team at Discord knew early on that they wanted the experience to be as authentic as possible deciding to create the game’s native resolution quite low (320×180). This is something Discord Founder James Petruzzi was a little concerned about at first, “but after the first art tests came out and we saw it had that classic, chunky SNES look to it, it was just irresistible for us,” he said.
In Chasm, players will have a dual wielding combat system at their disposal allowing them to choose which combination of attacks or defense works best for them. “In this manner, you can build your character how you’d like to play. Some may choose to play with sword and shield or sword and spell, while others will go for 2 handed swords or axes,” Petruzzi tells us. Players will also learn acrobatic abilities throughout the game, like the ability to wall jump and double jump among other things.
“In Chasm, players take up the role of a soldier passing through a remote mining town on their journey home from a long war. The town’s miners have recently disappeared after breaching a long-forgotten temple far below the town, and reawakened an ancient slumbering evil. Now trapped in the town by supernatural forces, you’re left with no option but to explore the mines below, battle enemies and bosses, and increase your abilities in hopes of finally escaping and returning home.”
Petruzzi also tells us that the game’s story elements will be told “through non-traditional elements such as found journals and notes of people who have ventured down before you.” As the game progresses player’s will find ancient artifacts that unveil the “history and purpose of the place.” The story elements of the game remind us slightly of how a Bioshock game’s story is revealed.
Chasm also happens to feature an excellent soundtrack you can check out below in the gameplay footage along with GDC trailer which also has some awesome 16-bit inspired music in it.
In our exclusive interview with Discord Founder James Petruzzi below we dive deeper into the game’s two handed, fully customizable combat system as well more about the hardcore permadeath mode. James also speaks a little bit on what it takes to make an indie, crowd funded game that sets itself apart along with offering some great advice for young aspiring developers.
JHS: What is Chasm and can you briefly tell us what sets it apart?
Chasm is a 2D action-RPG platformer for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It takes inspiration from some of our favorite old school games like Castlevania, Metroid, Diablo, and The Legend of Zelda. The game features procedurally-generated dungeons for replayability, and authentic 16-bit pixel art for gorgeous old-school visuals. The gameplay is a combination of exploration, battling enemies, finding loot, and improving your character.
JHS: Can you tell us a little bit about the plot in Chasm and what direction the team at Discord is going with the game’s story elements?
James Petruzzi: You take up the role of a soldier on his journey home war. On the way, you pass through the remote mining town Karthas, and become trapped there by supernatural forces. You eventually learn that the miners breached an ancient temple under the town, and awoke an ancient slumbering evil. Your only hope of escape is to head into the mines and investigate the cause of disturbance.
The story will mainly be told through non-traditional elements such as found journals and notes of people who have ventured down before you. Later in the game you will also find ancient artifacts that will shed light on the history and purpose of the place.
JHS: Chasm features two handed combat where players can “discover new special abilities and powers…” How does this dual wielding combat system work and what are some of the special abilities and powers?
JP: You can equip weapons, shields, spellbooks and more to both hands. In this manner, you can build your character how you’d like to play. Some may choose to play with sword and shield or sword and spell, while others will go for 2 handed swords or axes.
The ability system will increase the moveset of the player both in combat and platforming. Certain areas will be out of reach until you gain new acrobatic abilities like double jumping, wall jumps, ledge grabbing, etc. We’ll also be adding special moves for weapons as well, so you can learn downward strikes and other useful offensive moves.
JHS: The game is planned to include “Normal and Hardcore (Scored with Permadeath) Modes.” Can you elaborate on this for us a little bit? Are these separate from what could be considered the main story mode?
JP: The main game mode is the “Normal” mode. In this mode, when you die you are returned to the town to respawn. At the moment, there’s no penalty for death other than having to journey back to where you last died.
The Hardcore mode will be for more experienced players looking for a challenge. In this mode, your character has only one life to live (permadeath). We will also score you, so when you do eventually die you can see how your run through ranked against others in the world. We have several ideas in mind for rankings like highest score, fastest playthrough, least damage taken, etc.
JHS: Most great Metroidvania-style experiences feature really interesting and challenging enemy AI and character design on top of the the solid platforming and particular sense of exploration. Can you tell us more about some of the various enemies players will go up against in Chasm?
JP: We worked on a wide range of enemies that are featured in the demo. We’re trying to keep enemies somewhat thematic, so in the first area Mines you will battle with rats, glow worms, bats, kobolds, etc. but in the 2nd area Catacombs, you will go up against the undead, spiders, and other nasty critters. We’re shooting to make sure each area has its own unique feel and challenges in store for you.
JHS: Chasm will feature a number of mini bosses and bosses. Can you tell us about one of your personal favorite boss battles in the game and why?
JP: We haven’t programmed any boss battles yet, but each area will end with a big boss encounter. The first area will feature the Wendigo, a cannibalistic creature from Native American folklore. He’s a large creature with quick movement speed and powerful attacks. You can catch a quick glimpse of him at the very end of the GDC demo.
JHS: In the game players will find random loot drops and rare items as well being able to retrace their footsteps to visit previously unreachable areas. How does the game’s inventory system work and what are some of the incentives for players to fully explore the game world?
JP: The inventory system is pretty straight forward right now. As you pick up equipment, you can compare stats and either equip it, or take it back to town to sell. Your character has a limited carrying capacity based off weight, so you’ll have to make some tough decisions on which gear to keep. In the tavern on the surface, there’s a locker where you can store extra loot you don’t want to carry all the time or sell off.
By exploring more, you can find equipment and items that will greatly help you on your journey. While it may be possible to go through the game on a straight path, the player who explores every nook and cranny will find more useful things to help them reach the deepest depths.
JHS: What do you think it takes to make a retro style game that really stands apart from the pack and do you have any advice for young, aspiring indie developers?
JP: We decided early on that we wanted the game to be authentic with the art style, so it’s native resolution is very low (320×180). I was kind of worried at first if it would pay off, but after the first art tests came out and we saw it had that classic, chunky SNES look to it, it was just irresistible for us. We think people that grew up playing these kind of games in the late 80s to early 90s will really identify with it, both graphically and gameplay-wise.
My advice for aspiring developers is to keep your scope small, and don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Remember that game design and programming are two entirely different disciplines. If you’re just starting out, you need to work on your programming skills foremost, and not worry about the design aspects. For this reason, I highly recommend cloning older games like Pong, Breakout, Space Invaders, Tetris, Mario, etc. If you can make all those games, then you can make almost any game you want. Remember to always play to your strengths, and never give up. You will hit many lulls, but always remember that everyone experiences those moments. A person with a released game pushed through those tough times, and became a stronger person in the end for it.
JHS: Can you tell the Jace Hall readers something interesting about the game that we may not already know from the Kickstarter campaign material?
JP: Chasm originally started as an open-world mining game similar to Terraria. We wanted to focus more on exploration and less on building & crafting, but we could never get the gameplay balance right. After about 4 months of work, I made the hard decision to scrap it, and revisited a prototype I made a year earlier with prefab Metroid-style rooms connected together randomly into new dungeon configurations. I reworked the prototype into the pixel engine I began developing with the mining game, and the current incarnation of Chasm was born!
Be sure to head over to the Kickstarter campaign page here to try Chasm out for yourself and download the GDC demo free. There is now a Mac and Linux version as well as Windows available now.
Chasm GDC 2013 Trailer:
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Craig Hunter is a main contributor for the Jace Hall Show and has been an avid gamer for over 15 years. He also freelances for a number of websites and magazines covering mobile products and emerging technologies.
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The team at id Software reveals Exclusive RAGE footage, direct gameplay that only The Jace Hall Show can bring! Plus, Jace puts Sandeep Parikh, one of the stars of The Guild on the spot about his series, and just what exactly he and Todd Roy are trying to pull behind his back.
The Jace Hall Show debuts more Exclusive RAGE footage with the id Software team, but Jace isn’t satisfied with just “looking”, he wants to play and has decided to pull a runner! Then Jace and Todd decided to pwn the Goodyear blimp, getting a limited access view of Los Angeles from up above.
The Season Finale is so 1337 it just couldn’t fit into a single episode. In part 1, we take a special trip to the home of Gears of War and Cliffy B himself in North Carolina, EPIC GAMES where Jace is looking to cash in on the “favor for a favor” that Cliffy promised him.
The Jace Hall Show closes it’s 4th season with an Epic sized finale (is there any other way?) Showcased is Exclusive footage from the new Mortal Kombat game in all of its gory goodness, as well as perfectly inappropriate Duke Nukem: Forever footage in all of its “Glory”.
The Season 5 debut features Jon Heder a.k.a. Napoleon Dynamite losing a video game battle to Jace, forcing Jace to debut his “Blame It On The Game” music video (starring Fab Morvan and John Davis) that made history. Plus, we sneak into Blizzard headquarters for Diablo 3 EXCLUSIVES.
Geek Goddess Felicia Day stops by to settle an old score and try to steal something back from Todd and Jace – somehow her underwear drawer gets in the way. Plus, the I Play WoW video that grossed over 13 million views is back in the new I Play WoW redux ENTIRELY using machinima.
The fight with Felicia Day continues, as Jace gets the opportunity of a lifetime to record an ACTUAL character in Diablo 3 – it didn’t go as well as everyone had planned. Plus, Jace receives an ATARI automobile that you have to see to believe (something Todd can barely put up with).
Jace continues to struggle in his Diablo 3 voice session, causing lead designer Jay Wilson to ask for more BLOOD. The SOE team behind PlanetSide 2 offers Director Todd Roy the chance of a lifetime. Jace’s Kaboom skills are put to the test against a team of ambitious gamers.
49ers Tight End Vernon Davis visits the office to buy Jace’s T-Rex, offering a huge price! Matt Higby show Jace more from PlanetSide 2, while YTCracker and MC Lars try to get Jace to show some nerdcore skills by rapping live as Jace debuts his latest music video, “My Game Ain’t Done”.
Comic book legend Stan Lee returns and promptly destroys his ACTION COMICS #1. Meanwhile, Vernon Davis offers a HUGE offer for Jace’s T-Rex, only to have everything fall through in the end. Plus, Jace continues putting up ridiculous scores, pwning little kids in Kaboom.
Jace begins building what is undoubtedly the greatest ARCADE Machine in the history of space and time, while the much balleyhooed PlanetSide 2 trailer Todd was hired to direct debuts…to much jaw dropping. Plus, the fight continues as Thousand Pound fighter Amy Johnson kicks ass.
The Ultimate Arcade Machine is finally revealed, with pretty much every video game ever made! Get a look at Jace’s new toy and its insane features! Plus, Todd auditions a film and TV star to take Jace’s place as host of The Jace Hall Show, without Jace even knowing it.
Exclusive gameplay and all access behind the scenes look into Defiance, one of this year’s most anticipated shooters. NBA champion and celebrity actor Rick Fox makes his move to replace Jace as host, while Producer Todd makes moves on Rick’s hot sister.
Actor and NBA champion Rick Fox scores an exclusive look at the top secret Sims City game at EA. Jace then crashes Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski’s celebrity packed wedding – the only problem is that none of Alison Haislip, Isaiah Mustafa or Randy Pitchford will let him in.
Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest are caught committing a MAJOR gamercode violation, while NBA star Rick Fox previews a never before seen SimCity demo. Plus, if you thought the annoying orange was annoying, wait until you see what Apple’s biggest competitor has cooked up.
ATARI founder Nolan Bushnell faces off against INTELLIVISION’s Keith Robinson in the final battle of which gaming platform is better. Then actress Eliza Dushku confronts Jace, proving why he shouldn’t question a girl’s game cred, in one of the most epic rap music videos ever.
The Jace Hall Show gets an exclusive look at the hidden scandal behind why Kevin Pereira left Attack of the Show. Meanwhile, Debbie Gibson and Jace fight over Afterglow Headphones then think about making a music video together. Has Electric Youth been reloaded?