Hunted: The Demon’s Forge Interview

InXile Entertainment execs on the future of the RPG, the nature of fantasy, changing up co-op gaming and giving Blizzard their first contract.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, March 17, 2010


By now you’ll know everything there currently is to know about Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, having read our wonderful preview. You’ll know that it’s a third-person medieval fantasy action game with a Gears-ish feel, some impressive boobies character assets and a co-op focus. But you’ll probably have a few questions for the developer, InXile Entertainment, questions of the most terrible urgency. Is co-op the future of dungeon crawling? Do Caddick’s tattoos go all the way down? How can you blindfire with a bow and arrow? The people need to know, damn it.

Here’s Matthew Findley, InXile President, with some additional insights. Not just “some”, in fact – best take a toilet break now, because this is one long (and interesting) read. Creative Director Michael “Maxx” Kaufmann and InXile founder and COO Brian Fargo were also briefly available for comment.

VideoGamesDaily: Matthew, Michael, Brian – thanks for the demo today. We like the idea of bringing back the classic dungeon RPG, and we thought the game looked very good in motion. On the other hand, we were a little taken aback by the similarities with Gears of War and Army of Two. Can you talk to us about that?

Matthew Findley: There are two parts to it. One, bringing back the dungeon crawl, for sure – we love it, we grew up with it, for the same reason that I think you’re gravitating towards it. But we have to recognise that today’s gameplay is different than it was 10 years ago, and so their metaphors for what their style of gameplay is are different. It’s more console, it’s action-oriented, et cetera.

We purposefully want to give you something so when you pick up the controller, right away you’re comfortable – you get it, you know how it works, basically, and then we start to take you in another direction. So you say ‘yeah, boom, a cover system, it’s medieval Gears of War’ like you said, but then all of a sudden you get into exploration, puzzles, melee is a very big part, the fact that the characters are not clones of each other, debuffing each other. It really takes it to a much deeper experience.

Because in a lot of those products, you’re just running, running, running – this isn’t that kind of pacing, we have areas like that but there are other areas that are not like that. So we recognised that there’s a different game role today, and we’d like to take you where you’re comfortable.

On a kind of tangent, I use Age of Empires as an example – at first, when you play, you say ‘this is just like Warcraft, it’s exactly the same’. But then you start putting up walls and castles, the game comes into itself. I loved Age of Empires, and by the time I was into it, it was not Warcraft. But in the beginning it felt just like it.

Michael Kaufmann: There are two main things that differentiate us from a co-op point of view. One is we’re the first ones to have this concept of being able to switch which character you’re playing at checkpoints. The reason we’re the first ones to do that, is we’re the first ones to have characters that are actually different from each other.

Each character has specific strengths and weaknesses, and how you play as Caddick is very different to how you play as Ilara. What comes from that is needing to use strategy, because the enemies each have their own strengths and weaknesses that play against your strengths and weaknesses – you end up with this rock-paper-scissors thing, trying to figure out with an enemy what is the right way to roshambo them.

Findley: It’s a very Zelda kind of thing.

Kaufmann: Right. And adding in ‘co-op at a distance’ makes a huge difference: we really disliked the feeling of claustrophobic feeling of the modern co-op game. Most co-op things I have to be standing right next to you to do them. They were cool, but it was just it made us feel we always had to be right there.

All the environments in our game have been designed – and all the skills in our game have been designed – to allow the player to do co-op at a distance, and encourage, reward the player for doing co-op at a distance. You saw the ice spell, being able to regenerate from across the room, and all the environments having multiple levels where you can go upstairs and get cover…

Findley: Using the environment is a true piece of your strategy and tactics, taking the high ground, things like that.

Brian Fargo: I just want to say, we welcome the comparison [with Gears and Army of Two]. We’re not shying away from it at all. A big part of it is the genre. You don’t realise how powerful that is. You could take science fiction and World War II, they’re completely different. A first person shooter in science fiction versus one in World War II is a different experience.

We want to bring that fantasy to this action genre. We want to combine those, and we think that’s going to be really fresh and really strong. So we’re excited about that, and then we have all the unique aspects of the game plus a very robust melee system, which is very different to both those games.

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