This interview has been edited and condensed.
The massively successful Kickstarter campaign for Re:Legend, developed by indie studio Magnus Games, is a testament to the gaming community’s excitement over Magnus’s product: a co-op-capable mix of the most addictive elements from farming, monster raising, and dungeon crawling games. Rich, bright visuals alongside promises of a dynamic environment and mod support paint a bright future for the experience Magnus Games aims to deliver. Not even a destructive break-in at their offices and working with near-constant interruptions in the middle of police forensic hullabaloo can dampen this intrepid team’s spirits, and they remain eager to share their vision.
All Aboard the Manta Ray
>> What is your vision for Re:Legend? How would you describe it, and what kind of experience do you want your players to have with it?
The vision for Re:Legend is a shared vision of the team: to create a game that gives you emotional impact, with memorable experiences, by making an excellent quality game. That’s the “3E” we practice within our team. All the features won’t be complete unless you’re playing with your friends or family, and that is why we are focusing on the multiplayer feature so much. The only way we will remember special occasions in life is by sharing it with people around us — like we do with birthday parties, graduation ceremonies, and so on. That’s why we want players to gather a small group and share small things like how they tame their first Draconewt, or the excitement when someone in the team finds a hidden area. We want players to share what they’ve done in the game with other players to create a healthy social community. But, players can still enjoy the game to the fullest in single-player mode.
>> What's working really well in Re:Legend at this stage of development? What are the features or systems of which you are the proudest?
Basically we have most of the basic features running: taming, farming, fishing, swimming, interaction with NPCs, and much more! That’s why we are planning to start the beta test in the first quarter of 2018. We think that the taming part is really one of the most exciting features we have now. You’re trying to feed the Magnus food and trying to interact with them, and mounting them around different maps. It’s really like watching our baby developing bit by bit everyday, and we can’t wait to share more with everyone who supported Re:Legend. We put a lot of effort into every single features we implement. Some might be ready by launch date, but some might be implemented through different patches, which all depends on the complication of development. But, we really want people to start enjoying our game as soon as possible. We, ourselves, as developers, are playing it amongst the team almost everyday, full of laughter and enjoyment.
>> What's the biggest challenge in development right now?
As many of our fans might know, there was a break-in a few weeks ago, and we are really sad and stressed about this. We think that it is a courtesy to inform our fans about what’s going on in the studio, that’s why we decided to update them about it at our social media platform, but many people thought that we are a Kickstarter scam, which is very heartbreaking. During that time, we hadn’t even got our funding yet. The everyday routine is basically visiting the police station to submit documents for further investigations, looking at our once “happy studio” turned into a crime scene with all the police officers looking for fingerprints — yes, just like what we see in the movies. Also, we know that Tokyo Game Show is around the corner too, and that is why the whole team was really stressed out on this. But, luckily, during these hard times, we still receive little gifts from fans all around the world and some defending us, which is really warm. Not only that, but many local game companies are offering us help in different ways. Our country's government organization, called MDEC, helped us out on this too, by providing a potential shelter to our team. Although there are many unexpected incidents that don’t go according to our favor, we are blessed to have many helping hands during our hard times. We are still able to attend Tokyo Game Show like we promised, and we’ve overcome another obstacle in our game development journey.
>> Re:Legend's Kickstarter campaign vastly surpassed its goal. What was it like to get that kind of warm reception from the gaming community?
To be honest, we did not expect this at all. We are just a group of gamers who think that we should make a game with the features that we want to see in “one single game”. It was like having a dream when we saw our game all over the internet from different major medias. We would really like to take this opportunity to thank each of you guys who supported us, not only by pledging, but also by supporting us through sharing the game around. We won’t be able to do it alone, and now we know that so many people are supporting us, we will try our best not to let any of you guys down. We will be getting feedback from time to time, to make sure we are improving the game. Finally, thank you all who believe in us, and believe in Re:Legend.
>> How will you allocate your new funds and make them last to fulfill your awesome promises?
We have a milestone, cost-breakdown chart to make sure we are following the timeline well to make sure we do not mismanage the funds. These are the trust that backers are putting in, we will make sure we are able to deliver the game without any issues. Actually, even before the Kickstarter, we already planned out our financial sheet for years, because we want to make more games. This is just the beginning; there are more to come in the future. The journey of a game dev is never an easy task. We need to make sure the game is fun to play, at the same time we need to make sure the cashflow is able to sustain the whole team throughout the development phase. Put aside the merchandising part, mostly, the funds will be allocated to get more team members so as to improve the quality of Re:Legend. We don’t want our backers to wait three or four years for a game to launch, so we are pushing our limits to make sure we are strictly following the timeline.
>> Since Re:Legend promises bachelors, bachelorettes, and courtship, some backers have inquired about same-sex romance options. Could you summarize your studio's location/legal situation? Has your playerbase been receptive to your suggestion of modding as a solution?
We are a little game studio based in Malaysia, a multicultural country in Asia, that’s why we play many titles from Japan which inspired us a lot when we are developing Re:Legend. Because of the location we are at, we are exposed to different cultures and we are basically multilingual, which doesn’t stop us from playing games from different countries or languages (such as English, Mandarin, Malay, or Korean). We are open about the same-sex romance options, but due to some legal situations, we have to tackle this issue carefully and modding is actually part of our plan.
>> I've never seen modding proposed before as a workaround to legal or political limitations on developers. Players might go for it, certainly — but they typically do so despite the developing studio's wishes, rather than with the studio's blessing. Is modding a realistic solution for other developers who are based in countries where content they want to produce is prohibited?
I think this is really one of the best solutions for us developers, because the mods are “non-profitable” add-ons created by people around the world, and not from the content creators. Modding is just like spices added to the core game and it is always beyond our imagining, while sometimes adding value to the core game itself.
>> What tools will your team provide to modders?
At the moment we are still focusing on finishing the core game. We are still having discussion about this with the team, and we will definitely reveal it in the near future when we have an absolute answer.
>> How do Magnus creatures behave in the wild, and how would a player tame them? Are some Magnus more difficult to tame and raise than others? What happens if I accidentally hit them with farming tools?
Please be gentle to the Magnus and don’t hit them with your tools :D
Some of our favorite Magnus are hidden, so you need to put in effort to look for them. Or, some might be always around you, but the evolution might not be easy due to some specific requirements. Players will also need to find out what kind of food the Magnus likes, because different Magnus will have different kinds of favorite food. Who could resist tasty food, right? At least, I can’t resist Nutella. :)
>> When will a playable client be available to alpha and beta testers? Is it too late to sign up for early access? When can we expect a final release?
For beta, we are expecting it to be first quarter of 2018, and we are planning to release the game in the second half of 2018. So far, the beta is only for backers.
>> I see Magnus breeding was a stretch goal for Re:Legend's Kickstarter rather than a core feature from the start of development. How do you plan to implement this system?
The breeding in Re:Legend is, when you breed two Magnus of the same species, there's a chance that you will get a rarer version of them through their offspring. Rarer offspring will have a different look but their stats will remain unchanged. This will make your Magnus stand out from the crowd. The reason why we don’t want to alter the stats is because it might potentially break the balance of the game. We are looking into co-op breeding too. :)
>> What does multiplayer mode look like in Re:Legend? Can I play mostly single player and switch to co-op when my friends are online? Will there be a matchmaking system? Dedicated servers for multiplayer adventures?
The multiplayer is similar to Monster Hunter, but the difference is you'll join via IP or Steam friends list once it has been integrated. We're aiming to allow players to progress through the story together without having to jump back into their own world. Our current plan is to have one person dedicated as the host and all the story and village progression will be saved within that particular person's save file. Three other players who join the host's game will still retain their house, inventory, items, monsters, and any personal belongings in their own saves.
>> What's a typical day like at Magnus Games?
We try to appreciate small things everyday, because games are meant to be fun. We don’t want to make a game that’s built on-top of our stress, so we try to laugh on the bugs we find everyday. We take a deep breath when we face challenges. “There must be something, when it seems to be nothing. ” We keep moving forward, even when we are helpless or feeling down; we believe by retaining the passion and believe we have, we will eventually reach our destination. So yep, a typical day in Magnus Games is quite peaceful and happy.
>> Is the Draconewt plushie as fluffy and lovable as it looks? Very important. Possibly the most important question in this interview. If it came to life, what would it eat? I want to be prepared.
The “plushie-fied” Draconewt will definitely be very, very, very lovable and huggable. The manufacturer is a reputable company that produces plushies for some of the largest brands in the world. We will make sure it is as adorable as possible! If he ever comes to life, you will need to buy some magical seeds from us to cultivate your own farm in your backyard. Also a reminder, before evolving it, make sure you have enough space at home. :)