Bethesda’s current game line-up is currently sporting quite some post-apocalyptic scenarios and big guns, with one exception. Inxile Entertainment’s Hunted: The Demon’s Forge not only sticks out because of its lush fantasy setting, but the fact that it is part of the rare kind of AAA titles that has a development team driven, if not obsessed, with offering a new grade of quality and richness in co-op gameplay.
Long live easy iteration
With Bethesda announcing the new IP in March during the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, Inxile’s President Matt Findley and his team were now at gamescom to offer the first hands-on with Hunted: The Demon’s Forge.
Back at their studio, the development team has spend those months going through multiple iterations. The specific gameplay demo made for gamescom was a rather easy job according to Findley, who praises the Unreal 3 engine for allowing his team the flexibility to quickly concoct the demo with little to no extra resources.
“It’s the licensed tech that gives us the freedom to build things this way,” Findley explains. “The entire demo level is just a repurposing of what is really the tutorial for the game. We went in there and took some of the tutorial objects out and dropped in some more skeletons. It’s so easy and fast to put things together and make stuff up as we go. Stuff that works, we replicate. Stuff that doesn’t work, gets deleted.”
Co-op to the bone
Hunted: The Demon’s Forge‘s co-op mechanics are mainly based on the team’s own experience playing co-op games and the resulting stream of ideas on how to improve the genre step by step. Findley’s personal criticism towards similar titles is that the general definition of co-op has sunk “to allowing two players to player together”.
As a result, Findley sees a lack of interdependency between players, resulting from having no specialized types of characters. “We’re co-op in that all of our special skills and abilities are designed to make you work together,” Findley says. Hunted is also the first co-op game to be allow players to switch characters in-game. “Because it’s the first time it ever mattered,” Findley argues.
“Most co-op games are two guys with the same guns running through the world, so we really like the concept of team work and making players work together. That and the option of distance, being able to do any spell or attack from anywhere in the arena. We’ve built these arenas with different heights and areas for players to really get out. They get to use their skills and still be able to help out their partners. We want you to be able to help each other out while you’re both running all over the place.”
Creating a level of freedom was one of the main pillars for Findley in coming up with the vision and co-op experience behind Hunted. For Findley,Hunted is but a humble step into the right direction for the future of co-op games. “I think co-op is in its infancy, but it’s the future,” he says. “All we’re trying to do is let you have help, have a buddy and have a human drive him instead of a computer.”
Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is currently in development by Inxile Entertainment and has been scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2011.