Developer Deck13 Interactive, makers of the tough Lords of the Fallen release from October last year, have stipulated a postmortem for the game. It goes over several points, both good and bad, detailing such things as working with new technology, adjusting scope and struggling to launch on time. It’s a classic story, really, but it has some interesting details in it.
Of course, like everyone already knew, the game’s inspiration stemmed from Demon’s Souls, bearing in mind that development started before the Souls series fully took off. Focus would center itself on combat and precision. Moreover, the team felt they were able to market their game as challenging, thanks to the success of the Souls franchise:
After Demon’s Souls, you were able advertise your game as hard and challenging again, a thing almost all people at Deck13 had grown up with and missed in many games that had recently been released.
Then again, there is some resentment that Lords of the Fallen has been compared to the Dark Souls games so. Still, the roleplaying game (RPG) could fill a gap in new line of consoles, where the former series hadn’t appeared yet.
Lords of the Fallen originally started with 40 people working on it. Later on, that expanded to 65 through a rigorous drafting process. Where the developer failed to hire quickly in their previous project, Venetica, they had learned from that experience, which had much better results this time.
There are also a lot of details surrounding the problems in communication and leadership during the projects. A lot of members on the team were talking and working through each other, instead of having a solid planning. This eventually was solved with some key hires, but only well into development, which led to lots of waste in art assets, frustration in the team and work getting doubled.
Some feedback did go well. In particular, the theme for Lords of the Fallen was radically changed. In the postmortem, Deck13 Interactive reveals that the game had a more human look at first:
The game was initially set on some sort of Scottish island and the villains looked a lot like ancient Romans. However, even though the graphical quality of the assets was really good, it soon became clear that this approach did not really hit the nail on the head. After a number of reviews, a lot of this was turned around, and the Rhogar, a demonic race, entered the scene. The environment on the other hand became somewhat more snowy, spiky, and… castle-y.
Only the core combat gameplay was kept, because it was basically the one thing that was working right away.
It’s a bit of a rock and a hard place for Lords of the Fallen to choose between those two styles anyway. While the game is now linked more to the creepiness of Souls games, the Roman setting would’ve put them closer to Xbox One game, Ryse: Son of Rome.
Also like most games, Lords of the Fallen had issues with being pressured towards release. This led to nasty bugs that were noted in many of the game’s reviews. In particular, the developer feels the PC development suffered because of this. Without the crunching period, however, the team feels that the RPG would’ve lost its window of opportunity:
At some point, the release date was set. This was mainly due to the fact that we had a new and unknown IP that would need to compete on the big platforms. For our game to be noticed at all, it had to be out there before the big wave of great new titles would hit the market by Christmas 2014.
Lords of the Fallen eventually released to an average Metacritic score of 70, which many feel is a clear indication that it doesn’t live up to their compared peers. I, however, wrote a little thing about how the game is better than Dark Souls, if you feel like getting mad today. Some people really like getting mad. Just remember: Both games are fine. Maybe everything should just stop being such a goddamn competition all the time.