After a year of creating awesome, 12fps, primary color, sky-shaded glory days Thundercats, Masters of the Universe, Silverhawks, and the like in a video game, Beamdog CEO Trent Oster admits he thought about how fun it would be to make the studio’s action RPG. MythForce in a real cartoon at some point.
But it will have to wait. The rogueite adventure, which hit the Epic Games Store in April 2022 (with a magical theme song, to boot) is now available with a launch announced at Steam Next Fest, with full releases planned for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, PC and Xbox later this fall.
Oster still smiles at that idea MythForce, the homage to syndicated, latchkey-kid afternoon cartoons, might actually become one. “We’ve seen people who are literally going, hey, this has to be real; it needs to happen,” Oster told Polygon.
“We have had discussions with companies out there about MythForce to become a full-fledged cartoon,” said Oster. “It’s something I’d love to see happen, because I think there’s a lot of fun here.”
MythForce, the first original work from Beamdog (now known mostly as an RPG port) was launched with an assumption that the studio wasn’t entirely sure would work. Luckily, they discovered that dressing a first-person, procedural dungeon crawler as an 80s cartoon works very well in terms of streaming and viewership. MythForce not only developed a cult-worthy following on console, it also has a merch store.
The latest version of the game, available today, will lean more towards character and player progression, says Oster (and thus position MythForce entirely in the “rogueite” category, rather than “roguelike”). “A lot of the feedback was, ‘Hey, we love the game, but we wish there was more progression or ways to develop your character, and in some cases, customize your character to the style you want.’ to play,” he said.
The latest demo will lean more towards character and player progression, says Oster (and thus location MythForce entirely in the “rogueite” category, rather than “roguelike”). “A lot of the feedback was, ‘Hey, we love the game, but we wish there was more progression or ways to develop your character, and in some cases, customize your character to the style you want.’ to play,” he said.
That means setting “outer loop” to MythForceThe gameplay includes a “constellation system” that allows players to place their earned perks into a tree that suits their playstyle for each of the four characters: Rico (the Rogue), Victoria (the Knight), Maggie (the Wizard), and Hawkins (the hunter). Players earn a gem through continued play, that gem grants a perk somewhere within the constellation for that particular character. “Based on where you place the gems and what kind of gems you place, you can increase your attack damage, you can increase your energy, you can increase your mobility,” Oster explained.
Oster himself main as Rico. “My rico is all attack speed, power and punch, and the moment I’ve blasted everything, I have to run and hide in the corner,” Oster said with a laugh. “I really optimize around the reload speed of my ultimate ability, Rico’s knockback. For me it’s a gift from God.”
Maggie the Mage, one of the four playable characters in the MythForceputs a powerful spell on some bad guys.
Image: Beamdog/Aspyr Media
Players may respect their character’s star sign at any time. “The point is that you have that agency to figure out what kind of character you want to play,” Oster said. “And if you mess up, you can just turn it back and try something else.”
The star system and hub world (“The Citadel”) that further supports player customization with things like weapon upgrades and emotes (with other customizations coming later) are the newest features for now. MythForce still only has one “chapter,” Bastion of the Beast Lord – a stage-generated process for players to run, whether single-player or multiplayer. A roadmap drawn up last year called for two more chapters (Crypt of the Necromancer and Cauldron of Bats) for this spring; Beamdog pushed back on those and other ambitions, because “early on we underestimated the cost of making stuff,” Oster said.
“Unreal [Engine 5] is it expensive to make art; making art, especially,” Oster said, meaning the time cost of such assets. “When you’re building a lot of art, and you’re literally hammering away at looking like a 1980s cartoon, we totally underestimated what it would cost.” It’s hard to make this environment interesting and in the amount that we can entertain players with.”
Thus, MythForce won’t have much in-game narrative for now. “There was a point in the project where we’re like, look, we’ve got 40 pounds of ideas to fit in a 10-pound bag,” he said. “So which ideas live and which ideas wait? One of the ideas that couldn’t wait much longer, however, was console support, absolutely necessary for any console release, which came with an update last fall.
“Let’s just say the estimated budget and the actual budget have deviated quite significantly,” Oster said. He is one of the founders of BioWare, and as such he has to think things through, no matter how cool or creative something seems at first. “Aspyr has been incredibly supportive,” Oster said of Beamdog’s parent company. “They get it and they get what we’re trying to do here.” They are very excited about its potential, and I think so […] they understand the potential of the product.”
MythForce is available now on Steam as a playable demo that’s “essentially the same version we have on Epic Games,” Oster said, “now that we’ve fixed it up.” This is probably the closest the 1.0 version will be later this year.”
The presentation of consoles on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X will follow this fall. The 1.0 version will include two additional chapters. Two additional unlockable difficulty modes (in addition to the current version’s easy-normal-hard) will also be included, as well as online co-op play.
MythForce which currently has four playable heroes. A fifth is planned, but that and a few other features have taken a backseat to polishing the base game in early access.
But it’s clear that this possibility, which is essentially a cartoon, annoys Oster and his colleagues at Beamdog. This spring, the fourth episode of the streaming series I Wake Up A Vampire (Amazon Prime, but only in Canada) shown MythForce like the game his characters were playing in an episode set at a gaming convention. “They just loved the look of the game,” Oster said. Edmonton-based Beamdog sent them the game’s build and demo material, which was used to complete the scene and make MythForce seem even more like a pop culture phenomenon, not just a video game.
“One of the downsides of creating something new is that you have no idea if it’s just your own inner craziness saying, ‘This is great,’ or whether your inner craziness maps onto enough other people to that this is a viable product. ” Oster said. “So that was some confirmation. It’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re chasing something that could be successful here.'”
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