“Make your way across a blood-soaked continent to oppose the forces that have taken your kingdom.”
This is the invitation we receive as we enter the world of Guardians of the Rose, Broc Copeland’s first commercial game.
An open world adventure with multiple endings, players can align themselves with good or evil. In Guardians of the Rose you are the guild master of a secret society, seeking to restore peace at any cost. With customizable stats and a plethora of quests to choose from, you are very much in control. And with”witchcraft known as the source of all evil, using it risks your ability to get along with natives of the land and if caught using witchcraft you can compromise your ability to experience certain endings of the game.”
Guardians of the Rose is currently on Kickstarter and, as of June 11th, has reached $5,485 of its $7,500 goal. “The game will be made available as a DRM-Free Download and on Steam and all of it’s counterparts for PC, Mac, and Ubuntu/Tizen (Linux). The game will also be made available for Xbox One and PS4.”
There’s a lot happening in this game and we were fortunate enough to sit down with Broc for more details:
Bit Cultures (BC): What does Guardians of the Rose offer that’s different?
Broc Copeland: Basically, character customization is the biggest thing that people have been telling me is different about it; that they’re into. You usually don’t have a level system with these type of games. Your skill trees are usually fairly limited. [In my game] every time you level up you get a skill point and a number of stat points so you can customize your character and play [the game] however you want to play it. You[r] [character] can also be good or bad or somewhere in between: that affects what storyline path you go down [and] what quests you can do. So basically the character customization has a lot to do with the main storyline of the game.
BC: Tell me more about this progression system and how it functions in the game.
Broc Copeland: It’s a lot like MMOs where you level up–or any RPG. So say a creature gives you 40 XP when you kill it or a quest gives you 1000 XP when you complete it: that goes into your XP pool. [For example], for level 1 once you get 50 XP you get to level 2 and you get 1 stat/skill point to invest…What makes it different [is in] most games you can’t really customize your stats very well. But in Guardians you have 5 different stats and you can put your stats points into whatever you want. So if you want to dodge more attacks then you want agility…more melee damage, then you want strength, intelligence will increase your magic power [and so on].
BC: Now that we’re talking about the skills tree and the customization that allows, what is the difference–in terms of stats–between good vs evil (magic vs witchcraft)?
Broc Copeland: Well if you get caught using witchcraft then it gives you more evil points [although] with the witchcraft in particular it’s a little bit more lenient as far as how many evil alignment points it gives you (as oppose to if you did an evil quest). But it [can] eventually take you to a path where you can only do evil stuff.
[For] the good path its more likely that’d you’d want to do melee based combat or physical combat with a bow. But its not limited to that at all. There’s a pretty big issue with spoilers as far as why its not limited but basically [the gameplay] is not limited [by your] character customization. Although [initially] its definitely limited in the sense that if you want to use more combat and magic you’re going to go down more of an evil path at first [versus] using more melee based combat going down more of a good path.
BC: So when a player starts your game are we more selecting what moves/play style we want or are we choosing between the narratives of good vs. evil? Are we selecting our path before we realize what skills we’ll be needing or does the gameplay come before the narrative?
Broc Copeland: the gameplay definitely comes before the narrative, like the gameplay that you choose does not limit you to go [completely] down a certain path at all.
BC: So there’s two narratives: there’s the witchcraft route and the magic route, how would you say the gameplay differs between the two?
Broc Copeland: The gameplay itself really is determined by your character customization not your alignment especially once you’re beyond the halfway point there’s pretty much no difference between the gameplay… but your alignment affects what quests you can take and what NPCs you can be allied with. If you go full-blown evil you can ally with some of the main bosses, so you don’t even fight the main bosses you fight different bosses. So basically [the route you choose] doesn’t affect the gameplay but it affects the storyline and quests you can take completely.
BC: At one point on your Kickstarter you mention side quests and how important they are to you. What would you say makes a good side quest?
Broc Copeland: A good side quest is something that makes you feel like you’re making a difference in the world. You have a tangible feeling of “oh I accomplished something.”
BC: How do you go about making side quests meaningful without making them necessary to the main plot? Can you give an example from the game you’re developing now or a game you’ve played before?
Broc Copeland: [Here’s] an example from the game that’s in the engine already: you can choose to save this village. These villagers will tell you, “Hey we’re being raided by this goblin.” If you don’t clear out the goblin dungeon and you complete a certain number of quests before you go back and clear the goblin dungeon then the village is destroyed. So [side quests have] actual weight on what happens.
BC: So it’s more like whether or not you pick up the quest?
Broc Copeland: Yes, like in the last example it has nothing to do with the main story line but it affects the environment around you and what quests you can get later.
BC: Okay, so they kind of play into each other?
Broc Copeland: Oh yeah definitely, that’s a big part of it. I have to map all the quests out and make sure that I’m not logically confusing two different paths. That’s a big part of the development to make tons of the quests come together and fit nicely but not mess up anything–bug wise–in the engine.
BC: You mention the game has multiple endings, do those endings stand alone or do they speak to a holistic narrative of the lore you’re creating?
Broc Copeland: It definitely all goes together but some of them are quite different. I don’t want to spoil anything but some of them are like, “How did that just happen?”–at least I hope people experience that at least. But they all definitely go together and tell the same story.
BC: What does the phrase “epic world lore” mean to you?
Broc Copeland: Basically, I want you to be enveloped in the story. Even if you don’t realize it, I want you to feel like you’re a part of the story and can affect the world lore and in a way that makes sense. To make it believable and also cool at the same time to the point where it immerses you into the gameplay.
BC: What have been your best and worst experience, so far, in the development process?
Broc Copeland: There hasn’t really been any issues… I switched engines a month into development but I only lost a month of work and I learned a lot from it. The best experience was when I showed everyone the game and everyone liked It. There have been a couple criticisms… but the criticisms that I’ve gotten haven’t hurt my feelings and all the good responses have been amazing. I was really nervous about showing people what I made but the reception has been fantastic.
BC: You mention family a lot and how its influenced you, starting with your uncle. Can you tell me more about your collaboration with your son Ender?
Broc Copeland: Most of that was just a joke but he does sit on my lap and tell me, “You should draw this” and he’ll tell say, “No make that one white,” talking about one pixel because it’s very zoomed in. He basically has designed his own creatures and stuff [and a few] are actually in the game because some of them are pretty cool.
BC: You obviously have less free time during this development process but what are some games that are coming out that you’re really looking forward to?
Broc Copeland: No Man’s Sky, that game looks amazing. Pokemon Sun and Moon, I’m a big Pokemon player—I haven’t played in it like a year and a half cause I’ve been busy but man, I really love Pokemon. A couple games I’m really looking forward to playing, that have already came out, are Dark Souls II and III. Hyper Light Drifter. I know Bastion is like 5 years old but I still want to play it—just haven’t gotten a chance.
BC: Is there anything else you want to add that we didn’t get to talk about?
Broc Copeland: There’s something I haven’t been talking about very much because when I poll people on twitter—I’ve got a moderate size twitter following—it doesn’t seem like it’s very interesting to people but you’re basically a guild master of a secret society; that’s what I thought was awesome about the game. But everybody else thinks the character customization is what’s awesome about it; I love the character customization but I just thought [being a guild master] was the obvious answer. So a big part of the game is you getting to recruit NPCs into your guild. You have to plan out the recruitment process and pick the NPCs correctly–according to your alignment–and you can use those NPCs in quest and to get different quests and manipulate the environment/storyline of the game.