Inside Battle Slots: Game Designer Nate Sherrets
February 28, 2011
Howdy doody, folks! My name is Nate and I’m the Story and Quest designer on Battle Slots. That means I built the world, wrote all of the lore, wrote all of the quests, and wrote the dialogue. I’m new with Phantom EFX and this is the first game I’ve worked on, and it was a blast to have Battle Slots as my first game.
I’m a Dungeons and Dragons player and game master, so being the Story and Quest designer for Battle Slots was a perfect fit for me. World building and quest building is second nature to me because of my D&D background. Every day was awesome. They say that once you do something you love, you’ll never work another day in your life. It’s definitely true in this sense!
I really think people will be surprised by Battle Slots. We’re attempting to do several things with this game, all of them relatively evident as soon as you see the game. It’s a roleplaying game, it has a slot machine mechanic that Phantom EFX is famous for, it has a fantasy story, it has adventure, tells an epic tale, and it’s also a casual game. All of us at the office are addicted to it; even people who aren’t on the project can be seen playing the game all the time. Whenever someone is doing a play-through and they come across a boss for the first time, or get a really epic technique, everyone in the office gathers around to watch everything unfold. It’s an extremely fun game.
One of the things I had the most fun doing while writing the quests and dialogue was slipping fan service tidbits in. I’ve tried to put in stuff for everyone to recognize. You’ll see quotes from movies, cartoons, television, video games, and books. I hope people let us know when they find things I’ve hidden in the game, go ahead and share with us your findings via Facebook or Twitter. It’ll be exciting to see when everyone finally finds everything.
I put a lot of myself into Battle Slots. As a kid I always thought authors decided what they wanted to write about and wrote about it. Like… I wanna write about a soldier coming home from the war. And you could probably write successfully about that, but it would feel like a truer experience if you were actually a soldier who came home from the war, or a psychiatrist dealing with PTSD cases.
In my case, I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. So I used a lot of my sci-fi/fantasy ideas, I took inspiration from past and current game sessions of D&D; I even used the name of one of my dogs in the game. Above and beyond that, I really just let myself create stuff that I always wanted to experience in a game – within the constraints of Battle Slots of course.
One thing I did have problems with initially is the limited scope of actions the player can take in the game since there isn’t a 3D environment or any avatar control that allows the player to jump/swing/cast/whatever. In a game like ours, you can only have so many functions and features before it gets to be a different experience than what you started out to create. What I did was sit with the programmers and we developed the quest system in a way that it gave me a lot of options. I could do one part quests, two part quests or even three or more part quests, multiple battle quests, quests that felt like an escort mission, quests that felt like a delivery mission, multiple location quests, I could even hide locations for quests. I was able to deliver lore in the form of intros to quests, outros, cutscenes, and even alerts that pop up after battles or reaching certain locations while exploring.
I really have to hand it to our awesome programmers; they built a quest system that allowed me to insert a lot of variety into our game. There were even a few times where I said, “Can we do this…”, and five minutes later the head programmer would already have it in a new build for me to work with. It was a very organic experience.
Without their constant support our quests would have been boring. And that is one thing we didn’t want to do. We wanted players to have fun spinning the slot machine, have fun casting techniques and collecting runes and symbols, and have fun killing monsters and advancing the story and exploring. The game we’ve built has a lot to offer, and each step you take peels back another layer of awesome for the player to experience.
I really think players will like Battle Slots. One thing we discovered during our beta testing was that it only took players a few minutes of playing to be hooked. We even had a few people say they didn’t like slots or roleplaying games, but they spent ten minutes and did a couple of battles and quests and were instant fans.
One last thing for everyone reading this. This game is not what you expect. Slots, you say? Yes, slots! And you’ll be surprised at how awesome it integrates into the game. In games like Diablo or other roleplaying games, you either take potions to get health and mana or you have to regenerate over time. Not in our game! In our game the slot machine pays out attack points, magic points, money, and experience. The slot machine fuels the entire game experience and makes succeeding or failing a vital and changeable experience. Instead of rolling a dice and being separated from the results other than the fact that you succeeded or failed, we make it an interactive experience. Not only does the player rely on payouts from the slot machine to succeed, they can interact with the slot machine through techniques, and control what symbols are on it and what runes affect it.
I could go on and on. But for the sake of the reader’s sanity and my own productivity, I’ll cut it short here.
I can’t wait to see what people think of Battle Slots. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work on this, and I hope you all love it as much as we do.