Inside the Forge - Episode 1

January 09, 2019 by Chet Lucas

The year is 2015, my business partner and brother (Gage Lucas, Lead Programmer) and I were in the midst of honing our skills in pen and code, eager with the dream of creating our own title.

We were seasoned vets of the gaming scene, having played in the upper echelon of the competitive circuit for several years with countless late night gaming sessions. It was during this time we conceived the idea of a world of our own, unbound by the tether of pay-to-win content or hidden fees, our world would be boundless and unyielding, this world would later be know to us as Rhim.

It took nearly two years of mechanics planning, story development and lore creation before we truly knew the undertaking we were soon to set out upon, but what we did know was what we wanted from this endeavor. We knew we wanted Rhim to be enriched with culture and lore and a land vast enough the player could explore for hours and never know its edge. Here I bring you to our first topic of discussion, world building.

The creation process has always been an interesting subject to me. Instead of reading comics like many of my peers of the time, I found myself nose deep in history books, recounting dramas of events past or even the odd biblical battle from time to time. So naturally when it came time for me to put pen to paper in the creation of Rhim I drew from what I knew, history instructs.

I had also always been confused when playing some of my favorite RPGs (role-playing games). I had noticed disparities between character locale and the culture of the surrounding areas within the game world. It had dawned on me that from a lore perspective the game world itself was highly illogical and simply didn't make sense, which completely took me out of the experience of what a RPG is suppose to do. For instance how could an NPC (non-playable character) live a remote, unforgiving landscape and yet still wear or have access to resources that its counterpart also had. How could I travel to one end of the world to be greeted by the same architectural buildings as where I just come from? It completely broke the immersion and often left me flabbergasted at the amount AAA companies were allowed to get away with unbeknownst to the player. So when creating the world of Rhim, I made it a point that everything within would have a rhyme and reason to it.

Understanding the world you've created and your teams design process is probably one of the most important tips I can convey to any aspiring developer. Plato once said “the greatest deceit of all is self deceit”. I found this useful in my process as I spent most of time writing and then leaving the words to rest for a few days before actually implementing it into the narrative. I didn't want to make the mistake Plato was talking about, simply because I had an idea for the project didn't necessarily mean it was a good one, always check with peers. Now that I had a story it was time to visualize it and take things to the next level. 

In part two of the series I'll explain the revelation that was Dolby Atmos and how our team found a niche way to develop resources at a fraction of the cost utilizing a very intuitive plugin for our engine!



Chet Lucas is the Co-founder and Creative Director at IRONARM Games. Creating stories, lore and engaging characters has always been a passion of Chet's but his roots started in professional gaming, streaming and managing teams at local LAN centers in Southern California. Currently he leads the team at IRONARM in generating interesting and intuitive gameplay as well as creating genuine and authentic art concepts and game design.