Developer Interview – Soul Searching in Death’s Door

Acid Nerve Designer/Programmer Mark Foster was kind enough to answer a few questions about their upcoming Action-Adventure game Death’s Door, in which you play a little crow tasked with collecting some big souls. You can read about our first impressions of the game here, and check out the full conversation below!

EIP: The game is pretty darn funny. Is the writing done by a team, or just one person?

MF: The story and script was written mostly by me, and edited by Graham Goring to make sure things make sense and sound correct, as well as to fix any inconsistencies with the story and characters. In the beginning of the project, Graham also helped with building a story foundation which set us up for the rest of the game.

EIP: Regarding the protagonist”¦ I personally love corvids, but I was curious: why a Crow?

MF: Crows are a perfect representation of this game; they are cute, but with a bit of a dark side, and often associated with death.

EIP: What was the goal in terms of difficulty when creating Death’s Door? Do you expect most players to die at least a few times (or many times) to each boss, for example?

MF: We wanted to have it be an enjoyable challenge; the same kind of toughness you’d expect from older games, but with some allowances for more modern design reducing some of the friction you might find in older or masochistic games. I’d say it’s certainly not as difficult or as punishing as Titan Souls was, but will still provide a challenge for most players (and will certainly have a few deaths along the journey)!

deaths door screenshot frog door 1

EIP: In that same vein, was there a particular game flow or style that you were going for — a focus on exploration over combat, for example — when creating the game? In the preview I played, there were big stretches with little or no combat.

MF: Game design is about controlling the flow of a player’s experience. We wanted to have those quiet moments in the game, as a breather from constant action and combat. If you have too much action constantly it becomes fatiguing and overwhelming, but breaking it up helps it feel more fun – like a song, you have verses and choruses, but it usually can’t be all chorus or it would probably be a bit boring!

EIP: How did your work on Titan Souls influence/prepare you for creating Death’s Door?

MF: Titan Souls was a very stripped back experience tied down by a lot of self-imposed limitations. This forced us to be creative with our approach to game design, but it also taught us a lot in general. Death’s Door aims to take what we learnt and apply it to a bigger and deeper game with less limitations.

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EIP: Any influences or sources of inspiration that you’d like to share?

MF: The obvious ones are Zelda and Hyper Light Drifter, then additionally I would say Ghibli-esque world-building, and British humour.

EIP: I haven’t even finished the game yet, but I can already tell I’ll want more time with our little Reaper once it’s all over! Are there any plans for DLC, expansions, or possibly a sequel?

MF: We don’t have any plans for anything like this for now – we will see how things go in the future though! Our approach to DLC/sequels will be to wait and see how people respond to the game and what people might want from us next, but what I can say for now is that we’ve put a lot of work into making sure this game feels like a very complete experience between its main story and optional content.

EIP: What was the biggest challenge the team faced with this project?

MF: Moving to 3D was quite a challenge because our workflow and team size needed to change. On this game we worked with several talented artists and took things from concept to 3D modelling, then animated and implemented, which is certainly different to the pixel art style of Titan Souls which was just one person drawing everything!

deaths door screenshot forest settlement copy

EIP: What are you most proud of in Death’s Door?

MF: There’s a lot in this game we are proud of. It’s the biggest and most ambitious thing we’ve ever made for sure and presented a lot of challenges along the way. I’m probably most proud of how the writing and story came together, since it was the first time we’d ever really tried to do a game with a proper script, and characters talking to you.

Also along the same lines, the world we’ve created with this game feels quite unique. It’s cute and cartoony but has some edge to it; it feels light-hearted and easy to get into, but it touches on darker themes. I also think it doesn’t lean too heavily into any common established fantasy tropes for its setting, which will hopefully set it apart from other games and make it feel like a unique experience!

EIP: Can you give us any hints as to what Acid Nerve’s next project might be?

MF: For now, we have no idea!

A big thank you to Mark Foster for taking the time to answer our questions, and for bringing us such an awesome game! Death’s Door releases July 20th on Steam and Xbox consoles, and I for one can’t freakin’ wait.

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Unabashed FromSoftware fanboy still learning to take his time with games (and everything else, really). The time he doesn't spend on games is spent on music, books, or occasionally going outside.

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