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Lords of Xulima Interview

by Kevin "Couchpotato" Loveless, 2015-03-31

Welcome back for another interview on RPGWatch. This time we got in contact with Jesús Arribas of Numantian Games. Let's call it a 'retrospective interview' for Lords of Xulima.

Couchpotato: Welcome back to RPGWatch! It's been half a year since our last interview. A lot has happened since then; your game was funded, you finished Early Access, and Lords of Xulima was released a few months back. So how do you guys feel?

Jesús: After two years of development we can say that we are very happy that finally our first game has been released. This is the most important milestone for any video game studio. We have learned a lot in every aspect of this business. Lords of Xulima was a bet, our bet - the game that we would love to play and that no one has done it before except for the old classics. Has it been worth all the effort?  Definitively, yes.


Couchpotato: After all that's happened, do you have any lessons you have learned about game development you can share?

Jesús: We have learned so much. The biggest thing we learned is that selling a game requires as much effort as developing it. This is not something new. We continuously read about this from other developers, but until you live it you don't realize how true it is.

Couchpotato: Would it be possible to get any feedback on how much Lords of Xulima has sold? If you can't give us an estimate I understand.

We cannot reveal exact figures but we can say that some tens of thousands of people have already played Lords of Xulima, and we expect to reach the 6 digits in the future.

Our launch was not as strong as we would have wanted, as the large video game portals and YouTubers ignored our press releases. We did all we could, but it still was not enough. Our launch process is definitely something we have to improve on, as marketing is everything.

However, the response of the players has been very good. Thanks to player recommendations and the new discoverability system on Steam, the sales continue fairly well after more than two months from the launch. Lords of Xulima has a long life ahead and we expect that it can finance our next projects.


Couchpotato: Seems most professional reviews have mostly been positive, but most talk about Lords of Xulima being too hard. Some of our members have even started threads on our forums saying the same thing. Do you agree with them, and how would you respond to them?

Jesús: We sell Lords of Xulima as a "challenging RPG inspired by the classics". So yes, it is challenging and we love that, otherwise it would be a different game.

With that said, LoX has four difficulty modes which change the level of challenge dramatically. That way, players can choose the one that best fits their play style.

In contrast with the old-school classics, Lords of Xulima is not a difficult game to manage. The interface is really intuitive to use and the gameplay mechanics are very easy to learn.

The difficulty comes from [the fact that] the game does not hold your hand. You have the freedom to do what you want and go everywhere from the beginning. Because of that, you can easily find yourself in trouble. Modern players are more used to thinking that they can do everything without consequences because the game is designed and balanced to prevent any wrong decision they can make.

With Lords of Xulma, we did not try to please millions of players. Instead we made it for those that enjoy this different philosophy of gameplay.

I remember the first time I played one of the those modern RPGs with auto-level monsters and treasures, a quest compass, and thousands of repetitive quests / tasks. I thought, "What? Is the RPG genre ruined forever?" Fortunately now, we have many options thanks to the indie studios. Now we have games for all tastes, and that's awesome.

About the press, we are actually very happy with their reviews. We really thought that they would be much [harsher] with us. Really our main concern is the players' response and comparing the data on Metacritic:

- Lords of Xulima, press score 72, users score 87.

- Dragon Age Inquistion, press score 85, users score 58.

How can the opinion of the press be so different than the players?


Couchpotato: On the topic of reviews, something that baffles me is the negative reviews on Steam. Do they bother you at all, and how would you respond to the poster of said reviews?

Jesús: We have about 90% positive reviews on Steam, so LoX is actually doing quite well.

Most of the negative reviews come from players who are not familiar with the classics, and are frustrated with the level of challenge that the game presents. They may find the game a bit overwhelming in the beginning when playing in the "Old-School Veterans" mode which most players think that it is the normal mode (instead of the mode with the title "Normal"). Overall, most are glad for that level of challenge and feel very rewarded when they get to advance through the game.

Another complaint we receive is, "It is a grindy game!" We designed LoX so a seasoned player can finished it on "Veteran difficulty" without grinding at all. A player can get by with only fighting half the mobs they encounter. Nevertheless, you can grind if you want to level up more, or chose a more difficult path. That is all part of a player's personal strategy.

One thing that surprised us that we did not foresee is that many players are always going to grind if the game offers you the possibility.

A good example of this: In the first village, Velegarn, you can harvest a field of cereal to obtain food or money if you sell them. That mechanic only was intended to help a player in the beginning in case they are stuck without resources. So they have the option to work a bit in the field instead of restarting the game.

Everything makes sense, doesn't it? Wrong. Players users that field as the main source of food. Even when they have reached level 30 with 30,000 gold coins in their pockets they prefer to grind food rather than pay 200 coins to the food seller in the villages...

Another source of grinding was clearing the zones from encounters that are finite. If you clear one zone you obtain a reward (experience points). This again was meant to help players that have difficulties to advance in the game. But players take that as a must, so they try to clear every zone which is crazy, as the game is so big...

We implemented those mechanics to give the player more options and freedom and not punish them for choosing to go down a more difficult path. But we have learned that offering these options encourage the player to grind, so we have to rethink that part of the gameplay in future games.


Couchpotato: Do you still have plans to add more content and release more patches for Lords of Xulima?

Jesús: Sadly we don't have plans to extend the current game. More content for such a long game is not a good idea. We thought about creating new DLC, "The Secret Garden of Nameria". Right now, that story is only summarized in a phrase at the end of the game, so that addition would only be at the end. Adding that to a game with 100 hours of content would be just too much.

Anyway, of course we will continue giving support and releasing patches with improvements, new languages and tools for modding the game.


Couchpotato: Can you give an update on the addition of modding tools, and Steam Workshop? I'm excited to see what modders can create.

Jesús: We plan to allow the users to modify the ruleset of the game which includes the classes, monsters, skills, encounters, missions, and thousands of more parameters. Also the dialog and scripts can be changed, and adding new languages. Let's see what the players can do!


Couchpotato:  Your latest kickstarter update talks about the Physical Box delays, and you having to find a new company to handle the orders. I noticed this is a problem for most developers with Kickstarter games in the last few years, so can you share your opinion on topic? Also, should Kickstarters offer physical editions?

Jesús: It depends. Physical editions for collectors, especially if we are talking about old-school RPGs is something really cool to offer. All of us would love to have them in our hands. But, yes, before offering those kind of rewards you have to be very sure that they are worth the time and money that they require to manufacture and ship them. Big companies don't have that problem, but for a small team it can become a big challenge. In our case, we even lost money on some of the rewards, but that's okay. We take it as a cool way to celebrate our success with those backers who trusted us from the beginning.


Couchpotato: So now that you have released Lords of Xulima do you any plans for another RPG game, and will you use crowd-funding again to fund the game?

Jesús: Right now, we can only confirm that Numantian Games will develop a new video game, it is a freemium match 3 mobile game! Just kidding, could you imagine?

We are now exploring different new ideas, concepts and technologies. We have been working full time on Lords of Xulima during the last two years and it has been a huge challenge. We have put all our effort and passion on it and now we need to work on something different. So surely, we will work on a new game. Perhaps after that we will come to continue with the Lords of Xulima saga with renovated energies.

But don't worry, Lords of Xulima fans! We have great plans for the sequel. Imagine what we could do with a much bigger budget.

For us, Kickstarter has been a great experience, so we cannot discard it, especially for a sequel of Lords of Xulima. The nice people from the Wasteland team have launched a KS for their new DLC and it has been a success.


Couchpotato: Another topic of discussion in the last few months is that a few failed kickstarters have ruined crowd-funding. Do you agree, and do you think backers have become jaded?

Jesús: Those failed projects only show what the true nature of what crowdfunding is. You are giving money to fund a project to which success is not guaranteed. Kickstarter is not a pre-order shop. It is about helping a team build their project. I think most people are aware of that. It is almost impossible to fund a project in which you only have a rough concept unless you are a very notorious person in that business. Fortunately, most projects are successful because they launch their campaigns when the game is in a very advanced state, so the risk for the backers is very low.

We launched our campaign when Lords of Xulima was 75% done. Actually, our Kickstarter was for funding some specific improvements to the game (soundtrack, new content...). We are surprised when people says:"Wow! Look at what Numantian Games has done with only $35K...". While the real budget of this game, counting all the expenses and salaries, was more than 10 times bigger.


Couchpotato: Do you have anything you wish you could change or do over for Lords of Xulima?

Jesús: Our main concern was the length of the game. When we added all the new content and played the game from the beginning to the end, we realized it was too long at almost 100 hours of gameplay! It would have been better to make the duration shorter and add more gameplay features instead, like the Alchemist class or some other nice ideas we had. Anyway, developing a 100 hour game when most of the RPGs today barely contain 20 hour of gameplay, makes us very proud.


Couchpotato: Thank you once again for taking the time to answer a few of my questions, Jesús. Do you have anything you wold like to add before we finish the interview?

Jesús: Only to give thanks for all the support we have received from RPGWatch. Thank you very much to you and your great community!

Thats all for now, everyone!  I hope you enjoyed reading the interview.Smile

You can buy Lords of Xulima on the following websites:

Box Art

Information about

Lords of Xulima

Developer: Numantian Games

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Combat: Turn-based
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced

More information

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