Preview: Right To Rule (PC)

Right To Rule is an upcoming multiplayer game with a twist. In it, players compete to become ruler of the Kingdom of Drakenheim. However, rather than have prospective monarchs command armies or just straight up murder each other, Right To Rule is effectively a race based on elements usually associated with single-player RPGs.

Players will need to accumulate points by completing various quests across the island nation. While doing so, they’ll find loot, level-up skills, fight monsters and interact with NPCs. The game promises to accommodate various playstyles and character classes too.

Right To Rule is being developed by Frostbox Studios, a US-European team of three friends. As this is their first project, I was curious about how they’re finding the realities of indie development, as well as wanting to learn more details about their plans for the game, so I asked them a few questions over e-mail.

Firstly, what roles do you all play in the team? What are your backgrounds and previous experience?

Mikey Sahota: I am the Level Designer for this project, I create the towns, villages and the various scenes around the map and try to stick to the style we have set for the game as best as I can to keep the look consistent. My other duties include making the game as graphically optimised as possible so that it will run on a range of different computer setups. I studied Video Game Development in college and after I met Ian and Tanguy, we started learning a game engine together and started practicing making video games. Each of us chose a specialisation and this is where I chose 3D modelling for level design.

Ian Stypulkoski: I mostly do programming for Right To Rule alongside Tanguy, but also make 3D models for the game, usually just small props or sometimes bigger ones if I’m designing a larger area. I have followed the Unreal Engine 4 the longest out of us three so I usually help with whatever engine specific problems the others may face. I studied Computer Science in high school and college, so I learned programming that way, and I also have been learning UE4 as well as 3D modelling on my own for a while now.

Tanguy Deleu: I am the Lead Programmer for Right To Rule. I primarily decide on the architecture of the code and I’ve programmed several features for the game such as the inventory system, interaction system and conversation system amongst others. I also do code review and management and provide technical support regarding programming when requested. I’ve studied Applied Computer Science at the Erasmus University College in Brussels with a specialisation in Software Engineering.

How did you all meet? What are the practicalities of working together given the geographical distances involved?

MS: We all met online over multiple gaming communities. Tanguy and I met in our first gaming community when we were 12 and 13, respectively, and four years later we started our own gaming community on Garry’s Mod. This is where we met Ian, he accidentally joined our server after mistaking our name for another. We had no players and Ian re-joined the server later that day out of sympathy to check on the progress of our community, since then we have all been very close friends.

We have always discussed starting a video game company together, brainstorming all types of different game ideas (mostly overly ambitious ones) and after a few years of learning everything, we finally found a game idea we are passionate about and have committed to completely.

IS: The fact that we are so far away has never really affected us much. We made some mistakes early on when trying to share the project, but since Tanguy got us using Git we have not ran into any problems. We all jump onto Discord almost every day to discuss the game and work on it together.

How do you balance developing Right To Rule with your other work commitments?

MS: Since registering our business and committing to Right To Rule, I have been working on the game as soon as I finish my day job and dedicating my weekends to the project. During the weekday, as Ian has finished college, he has been working on the game full time while we have been unable to, due to our work commitments.

TD: Personally, I cannot work on Right To Rule every day but do try to work on it as much as I can. I also do not see working on the game as some kind of job – we treat it as a hobby, it’s our free time, this is what we love doing.

As I understand it, Right To Rule is a kind of multiplayer competitive RPG. That’s quite an original concept; what were your inspirations for the game? Is the title a nod to Mount & Blade: Warband?!

MS: We took inspiration from a range of our favourite RPG games such as The Elder Scrolls franchise, RuneScape, and The Guild II – we discussed what we liked most about some of the mechanics in these games and based our own design off of these, combining and changing them to fit the gameplay we were trying to establish.

We didn’t have Mount & Blade in mind when coming up with the title of “Right To Rule”, it came naturally as we were explaining all the ways to literally gain the right to rule and become the king of the land – we liked the phrasing so much that we thought it was a good fit for the title of our game.

Can you talk in a bit more detail about how Right To Rule will play?

TD: We intend to have at least 12 players in a match competing with each other – however, we are looking to increase it if the game in general will be able to support it.

In the beginning of the game you would take quests to get XP and items to gain advantages over your opponents. The more efficient and experienced you are, the bigger your edge over other players will be. We want to make players succeed based on their skill, and as little as possible on random factors.

For quests, we are aiming to make them fun and challenging. By this we mean we are trying to stray away from generic quests such as “Kill X of this”, “Gather X of that” and have some sort of story build up. The rewards of these quests can range from special items to exclusive access to a previously restricted area, which might be advantageous to the player.

We are also planning to randomise the quests that are available each match; we hope to increase replayability with this.

There are several ways to end a match:

  • The time limit runs out.
  • A player completes a Royal Quest (a lengthy, difficult match-ending quest).
  • The King is assassinated.

When any of these things happen, the player with the most Right To Rule points becomes the King’s successor and wins the match.

The progress of your character, such as items and levelling, do not persist between each game. The only thing that does are cosmetic items such as skins for weapons, your character, and your own personal lobby area known as your castle. At the end of the match, you have a chance to get a random cosmetic item which you will keep between matches. Depending on what you did during the match you can get rewards to decorate your castle (trophies, window paintings, room types, rugs). Outside of the normal game mode, you can walk around in your castle and other players will be able to visit your castle too; that is the somewhat social aspect of Right To Rule.

I know you’ll be showing Right To Rule at PAX East next year. Where are you currently sitting on the nervous/excited spectrum?! What parts of the game are you planning on showing off?

MS: We are eager to attend PAX East, not only will it be the first time we will be together in person as a group, but it is also the first time we get to show off our video game to a public audience. The only thing we are really nervous about is ensuring we have a playable demo which is up to the standards of how we are envisioning it. We are all working extra hard to achieve this goal. Our booth has been confirmed too: Booth #24102.

IS: We plan to show off a small demo of our game showing off three main combat playstyles: Warrior, Archer and Sorcerer. You will get to choose your path and spend skill points into skills that cater to your playstyle. There is not a right or wrong way to attribute skill points. The demo will also feature a small portion of the map that will be featured at the game’s release, only including the city, farmland, and the church along with a crypt found beneath.

After the PAX East event, we will be releasing a larger scale map with more areas and more play styles which we are excited about, such as a Bard who will use instruments as his weapon, along with other non-combat playstyles.

Multiplayer games are obviously very dependent on a healthy player-base. How do you plan to build, engage and maintain that?

IS: We hope to spread the word of our game by attending events such as PAX as well as sharing progress of development on social media, giving out keys for an alpha or beta build, and overall by making a fun and enjoyable experience that we would be proud to show off to everyone. We want to keep players interested in it by continuously adding new content such as quests, weapons, areas to the map, and even skill trees and playstyles. With the implementation of these we could also do special seasonal events throughout the year.

I suppose the other biggest challenge with running an online game is the ongoing costs e.g. maintaining servers, player moderation, updates. Is that a concern given you’re a small team? Did it ever put you off RTR as a concept, or is it just one more hurdle to overcome?!

IS: We have not ever felt concerned regarding the size of our team with those issues as we have been very dedicated towards the game and we work very hard to get it to the point where we want it and we plan on working on it throughout its lifetime. Multiplayer has often made the development of the game much more difficult as opposed to a single player game, but we see all of these problems as you said, mere hurdles we work to overcome to make the game we want to make.

What kind of business model are you planning to implement? Do you have a price point in mind? What platforms will you be releasing on?

MS: The game is planned to be retailed at $20-$25 on Steam, considering the distribution price incurred by Steam to have the game on their Market. The estimated release date is Summer of 2019.

The intended release is aimed at PC and Linux, however we are open to the idea of supporting other available platforms, if there is enough demand for it.

***

As first projects go, Right To Rule is certainly ambitious. Indie development is notoriously tricky even for experienced teams, more so for multiplayer games. However, this strikes me as a genuinely original and intriguing concept. An online RPG which is social, but without the Warcraftian demands on your free time. A competitive multiplayer game which doesn’t require great twitch reflexes. What’s more, I love that this whole project was borne out of three friends’ passion for games. I’m sure most people reading this have chucked ideas around for potentially great games, but not many of us actually go out and learn how to build one. Also, the fact that this has been the catalyst for them planning to meet face-to-face for the first time is just lovely.

As mentioned above, Right To Rule will be at booth #24102 at PAX East in Boston, MA from March 28th to March 31st next year. If that’s a bit out of your way, you can get further info and updates from Frostbox Studios’ website or their Facebook page.


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1 Comment

  1. This interview is so inspiring. It is so amazing how people with similar interests get connected via the internet. The game itself looks charming. The concept is awesome. I hope that this game gains a massive player-base.

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