How to build the video game you wanted when you were 13 – Popular Science

The beginning of Lotia

One of Lockwood’s favorite games was an RPG (role playing game) called Underlight, which he started playing—an average of 35 hours a week, he
estimates—when he was 13. At its peak, Underlight had only about 500 concurrent players, and therein was the appeal. Dedicated and respected players could become Game Masters—or GMs—and create the storylines and develop challenges for other players in the game.

“You had to go out and complete that task. If the GMs were pleased with how you fulfilled a task, they’d teach you a new skill. Acquiring skills or leveling up could be a 7-10-month quest.”

At 23, Lockwood bought the rights to Underlight. During this time, he was also managing an internet cafe and online gaming center, so he soon realized a fatal flaw in the game: he loved the story, but its reliance on volunteer GMs, who needed to be aware of what was going on at all times, was unsustainable.

“I had created—along with a group of friends—an entire mythos based on what was originally just anecdotal information in Underlight,” says Lockwood.

Lockwood decided to shut down Underlight and shift his time to developing a new game. This one would have a similarly compelling story, but a more straightforward RPG experience like the Final Fantasy games he grew up with. Lotia wouldn’t rely on GMs for the game to progress. Instead, it would be accessible to as many gaming personalities as possible. A player can go as deep into the lore of the game as they want, or skip the longer pieces of text.

“People skip the cut-scenes, which are pretty cool. Then they say ‘I don’t know what to do.’ Then you have people like myself, who read everything. For Lotia, we wanted to give both those people a good experience.”

When Lockwood explains what people should expect while playing Lotia, he breaks it down into three elements. “You can explore the world visually. You can explore the universe’s lore. You can play with the gear and combat. Or, if you want, you can dig deep into the exploration, combat, and gear, and not pay any attention to the lore.”


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