DungeonForge is a new RPG and map making tool hitting the indie game scene, and Ocean and I sat down with the creator Mason Stanford for an interview.
My Geek Review: So to help when we post this interview up, and so you know who’s talking/asking questions we will designate our names with our first initial. O for Ocean, K for Knash. =)
Mason Stanford: Sounds good.
My Geek Review – K: So first questions is actually gonna be one of Ocean’s.
Mason Stanford: Shoot.
My Geek Review – O: What was your first D&D experience?
Mason Stanford: My first ever experience with the game was with my cousins in their basement. I would have been around 6 and wasn’t allowed to touch anything, but the whole game and the seriousness and almost reverence with which they approached it made an instant impression on me. And these were guys who, when they weren’t playing D&D were playing football and chasing girls – not your typical nerds.
My Geek Review – K/O: Wow! What a surreal experience!
My Geek Review – K: What was your inspiration for creating dungeon forge?
Mason Stanford: Yeah, and it’s even more crazy thinking back to it. My cousin Tony is like this huge partier even as an adult, but when I started posting on Facebook about Dungeonforge he was like “Dude! This looks kick-ass!”
My Geek Review – K: That sounds awesome and hilarious in the best way!
Mason Stanford: My inspiration was actually sort of a regretful experience with Neverwinter Nights. I was teenager when it came out and had spent most of my young life dreaming of making video games and here was my chance! But I opened up the editor, fumbled around with it a little, and never really devoted the time or effort into it that it required to realize what I had in my mind. Basically, the idea was to save that young kid, like myself, who may be just a little too ADHD to sit with an editor and really take the time to dig into it. I wanted to make something that was as complex as you wanted it to be, or as simple as you needed it to be and allow that scaling, so there wouldn’t be any obstacles on your creativity whether you were an experienced developer or someone who had never touched development tools.
My Geek Review – O: Very interesting, I know too well the rigors of trying to create your own maps and worlds with certain world editors. Most of the commercial ones are far too complex and needlessly obscure in detail for most people to actually understand.
Which actually leads me to my next question:
My Geek Review – O: Have you ever heard of GURPS?
Mason Stanford: Certainly. Haven’t delved, but it’s a system that is discussed at least some with in the circles I’m in.
My Geek Review – O: Ah I see, wonderful. I only ask, because out of all the systems I find that one to be the most user friendly and immersive. Since you seem to want give both new and old players as much freedom as you are able, I thought that GURPS may have played some inspiration.
Mason Stanford: Only in the most generic sense. I’ve been big into tabletop games of all types and so my influences are broad. GURPS, as an idea is a big inspiration in that we hope to provide, in some small part, a digital equivilant.
My Geek Review – K: Brilliant! That leads us in to my next question: How do you envision people using dungeon forge? Obviously there is no right or wrong way, we just want to see through the creators eyes.
Mason Stanford: In the broadest sense, the ideal is just to give an outlet to their expression. Also as a first exposure to creating game content, we hope Dungeoforge helps inspire some of the new generation of game developers the way Neverwinter Nights and games like it inspired this genaration.
Mason Stanford: In more specific terms, we see a world of lore developing out of the collective mind of the community.
My Geek Review – K/O: Oh wow, that sounds amazing…A community built world of lore! That will be a great place for new players to learn about RP’ing as a whole.
Mason Stanford: Yeah. We really hope to foster that spirit. So many of today’s digital RPG’s are more about grinding and number crunching and the RP factor is really small. We want players to be involved in truly creating their own, highly compelling micro-stories in each play session.
My Geek Review – K/O: As gamers and Nerds who miss the old days we love to hear that someone is bringing gaming back to the days of old, while ushering those same days into the modern age.
Mason Stanford: In the end, we’re really just creating the game we want to play. So that works out.
My Geek Review – K: Awesome! So my next couple of questions are more about the campaign rather then DugeonForge itself.
My Geek Review – K: How much of a community and interest did you have before starting your Kickstarter?
Mason Stanford: Very little to speak of. Our biggest exposure came from our Greenlight campaign that concluded successfully just before we launched our Kickstarter. That was so wildly successful it kind of blew our minds. We were only on the Greenlight a little under two weeks before we were put through. Over 11,000 people said “Yes” to Dungeonforge of over that time and we had hundreds of positive comments. It was really at that point that we knew what we had. Now it’s just a matter of increasing that exposure.
My Geek Review – O: How very interesting. So, how do you plan to help awareness of your project spread? Other than Kickstarter and Greenlight of course.
Mason Stanford: Well, hopefully this interview is part of that! We’ve been in contact with media outlets large and small to give updates on what we’re doing. We’ve been covered by the likes of Rock Paper Shotgun so far. But by far the biggest factor has been the reddit community. After one redditor posted our kickstarter to a bunch of D&D subs it really started to take off. Reddit has produced about three times as many pledges as any other single source. So we hope to continue and increase that success among that community as well.
Mason Stanford: Further, we have more trailers we’re cutting up right now to get on our campaign page and distribute to the media.
Mason Stanford: We figure the more info and the better we are at distributing it, the better.
My Geek Review – K: That’s actually how I found DungeonForge! Through /r/kickstarter
Mason Stanford: See! The power of that community is incredible.
My Geek Review – K: It really is an extremely powerful community. It can be a great place to get exposure if you know where to post your project.
Mason Stanford: Yeah, and the great thing about it for us was we didn’t even have to post it ourselves! A redditor found us and took it upon themselves to post it. It really just caught on from there.
My Geek Review – K: That happens a lot actually =)
My Geek Review – K: So our next question jumps back to the campaign itself, what happens if you don’t reach your funding goal on Kickstarter? Will you try again? Continue to develop without those funds? Seek capital elsewhere?
Mason Stanford: I think it’s a strategic combination of all of that. If we do not reach our funding goal then we would likely move to taking pledges on our website via PayPal with the same pledge rewards, while allowing folks to up their rewards by pledging more as time goes on. We’ll be hitting Steam Early Access in May if all goes well. At some point, we will be back on Kickstarter seeking the funds to expand the team and get the game polished to the point where we want it.
My Geek Review – K: Aren’t you worried about people not transferring their pledge over because via PayPal the funds are deducted immediately?
Mason Stanford: There’s always the possibility some may not be willing to do that and we understand. Other developers have had success with that model, so we feel it’s viable. It will take some communication and coordination with our backers to make sure it works. Alternatively, we’ve considered the very bold move of just posting our campaign back to Kickstarter, or Indiegogo, as soon as it ends if it’s not funded successfully. We’re really just concentrated on getting it the exposure it needs to succeed now though. We’re not into that defeat mode where we’re solidifying plan B scenarios yet.
My Geek Review – O: I see, so it sounds like come hell or high water this project is going to get done. We really admire your enthusiasm and dedication to your work. Which, actually ties into our next question:
My Geek Review – O: What has been the biggest challenge in creating DungeonForge for you and your team?
Mason Stanford: By far it’s been the time, in man-hours, to get it done. This is a combination of the fact that up until just recently we’ve been having to work around full-time jobs, and the fact that we really want to be able to expand our team to bring more hands to bear. Getting funding solves both of those issues and helps us knock out the biggest challenge so we can really concentrate on great execution.
My Geek Review – O: Ok, how big is your team currently?
Mason Stanford: We’ve had four people working for most of the time. Our only real constants though are myself and our technical lead, Emilio Urriola.
My Geek Review – O: I read on your Kickstarter page that one of your members works from Chile. Is he the one you were referring to?
Mason Stanford: That’s him. Also our concept artist works from Chile. Emilio recently returned to Chile after an going to school here. Funding will allow him to stay here and work from our studios, reducing the latency we currently have in our workflow.
My Geek Review – K: You say it would reduce latency, if you don’t mind us asking how much latency is there currently and how much would it get reduced by?
Mason Stanford: Well, if he’s here we can look right at eachother’s computer screens. If I have a technical issue with something I’m designing, he’s right there. And if he’s coding something and needs to know how it’s going to fit in the big picture, we can just stop and chat about it. With him out of the country, those things can still occur, but we use tools like voice chat to get it done instead.
My Geek Review – K: Absolutely, that definitely would make things a bit easier.
Mason Stanford: We make it work. But it’s definitely the best when everyone’s in the same room.
My Geek Review – O: Alright then Mason, one final question from me and that will wrap up this interview.
Mason Stanford: Great.
My Geek Review – O: This goes back to the actual game itself. What specific inspiration did you draw upon for the creation of the DungeonForge skill system?
Mason Stanford: Well the skill system is largely from scratch to be honest. It’s entirely built to support our particular gameplay style of really flowy, frenetic combat that emphasizes player skill. Again, systems-wise we have a lot of broad influences to draw on. The biggest one’s for me personally are probably Dark Souls and The Witcher 2, since they are the closest to what we’re accomplishing combat-wise and do a great job of allowing you to mold your character to your playstyle, but not have min-maxing outweight the player’s real-time input when it comes to success in battle.
My Geek Review – K: That sounds really interesting and we here at My Geek Review can’t wait to see it.
My Geek Review – K: Thank you very much for your time Mason, and best of of luck with the future of DungeonForge.
Mason Stanford: Thank you guys for having me! It’s been a lot of fun to chat with you about the game.
My Geek Review – K/O: We both had a lot of fun as well. Take care.
My Geek Review – K: I really hope the campaign succeeds, I actually pledged a little on my personal account. =)
Mason Stanford: Thanks so much for your support! I hope you guys enjoy the rest of your day.
My Geek Review – You too!