Monsters of Mican - Interview @ RPG Codex

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The RPG Codex interviewed Skittzo, the developer of the dungeon crawler Monsters of Mican:

RPG Codex Interview: Monsters of Mican

1. What made you decide to develop Monsters of Mican and what influenced it? The Might & Magic influence is quite obvious, but what else went into it? Elsewhere, you told me that you started out with a bigger project, an open world like the classic M&M games, but then decided to do something smaller for your first game. Can you give us a short summary of the game's development journey?

I've always wanted to make a videogame, ever since I made my parents buy me a videogame development for dummies style book when I was like 10 or so. For the last 15 or so years I've been actively toying with it, from learning Blender to Adventure Game Studio to Unity and now Unreal. As I'm sure is a familiar story, I made plenty of prototypes and concepts but nothing ever actually came close to materializing.

One day I happened upon a site called LPArchive that had a number of great screenshot/text let's plays of some of my favorite older games, among them were the Quest for Glory series and Thuryl's excellent Might and Magic 1-5 series. As a kid I had loved M&M 7-8 specifically, and while I had given 3-5 a try a few times I never really experienced them fully until reading this LP. I started thinking about what went into making these games and realized that JVC managed to develop the first one on his own with only the tools available in the 80s, so surely I could make something like this on my own with the amazing game dev tools we have now, right?

So over the next few years I toyed around with M&M style projects, all with a specific backstory and world building in mind that I thought was both evocative of M&M but also unique and clever in its own right. I never really got the ball rolling until a few years ago when I found a great Unreal asset pack that helped teach me how to do turn based RPG combat, something I struggled with previously.

Obviously M&M was the major influence as you can tell, I wanted to include what I thought were the best aspects from the whole series. Quest for Glory was another big inspiration, specifically in the writing/humor and the way environmental interactions should make sense and provide various options. Dragon Quest is also another influence for this game in particular once it became clear while developing that the main focus would be on the monsters themselves.

As you said, I did plan at first to make this a full open game similar to M&M1-5. I made a whole world map and planned out 5 towns and 30ish dungeons, but found that my ambition way exceeded the scope of my abilities and decided to retain the core gameplay systems but completely start over with a new more condensed game structure. I plan to go back to the big open game in the future with the lessons I've learned developing this.

2. Monsters of Mican is very whimsical. Pretty much every piece of writing contains a joke and the majority of monsters are visual puns. What made you decide to go for this tone? Is it because funny monsters are easier to create with a limited budget? A lot of them feel cobbled together from various asset packs.

My writing style has always leaned heavily on humor and more particularly puns. I blame/cherish the QFG series for instilling that in me. Also as I noted above I was also using Dragon Quest for inspiration, which is also known for excellent monster puns.

Even if I had a larger budget and better modeling skills I think I would've used the same style of monster design. I have modeled a few from scratch before, and they'd all still wind up named Tyrannosaurus Specs (a dinosaur with glasses) or Raybee (a bee that shoots lasers from its stinger). A light, jovial tone is just something I've always appreciated in games that really resonate with me.

As for how these monsters were made, I would actually say that did more to inform the story of this game than it did the tone/sillyness. I started off under the presumption that most of the monsters I made would be placeholders until I could secure funding to contract artists, but I kept having so much fun combining and editing things that it made the story concept of the "amalgam anomaly" just click into place. I had always planned on there being an ancient event that brought all the monsters to the world but the way I designed this game is what really inspired me to write it in the way I did.

[...]
Thanks Couchpotato!



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