Hi, I’m Chad Waller, developer of the upcoming game The Regret of Vitrerran. If my name sounds familiar, it’s because I’m a writer for this site. That said, I wanted to give a small developer’s blog about my upcoming title which is currently being Kickstarted. Vitrerran is a real-time card game with bits and pieces of influence from the likes of Megaman, Super Smash Bros., Baten Kaitos, Final Fantasy, and Magic the Gathering while still being something very different.
However, the game didn’t start off that way. Large projects have this way of getting lives of their own, of growing and growing. What started out as something manageable and small turned into something large and, well, in need of Kickstarting.
A day prior to the conversation that would start The Regret of Vitrerran, I had listened to an episode of Podtoid, where, in between crude jokes, Jim Sterling and Jonathan Holmes discussed the controls behind tablet games. Most tablet games, they lamented, weren’t built with a touch interface at heart. It’s why so many have phantom buttons and thumbsticks that only sort of work.
Having played a handful of poorly-constructed iOS games not built around touch screens, I could only nod my head in agreement and begin to think.
How would an action game be built with the touch screen—and only a touch screen—work?
Well, I suppose taps and slashes. Perhaps there’s a foe in front of you with a 3×3 grid laid over him. You swipe various points to slash and poke specific points to stab. Perhaps you can draw circles on specific areas of the grid to cast spells. Perhaps… perhaps a lot of things.
I brought this up to my brother, who has been making video games ever since he was in high school, and we began to talk.
“I don’t know how well taps would work. What if they were cards? It’s easier to make different cards than it is to somehow make different taps and slashes. There’d be more variety, and we could do a lot more with the combat.”
What started as a thought experiment turned into the preplanning of the next year of our lives.
The Regret of Vitrerran, before it had a name, was intended to be an iOS game, one that packed a large amount of variety into a small package. Since we were making a fantasy game, the best way to do that was through a magic system. I looked back at Megaman and thought having eight campaigns—one for each of our chosen magical elements—would make for a nice title screen. Open the game up, tap the story you want to play through, and then save the day.
Campaigns would be short, but having a multitude of them would offset their runtime. iOS games are normally played in bursts, so it would be better to have a fun, replayable game than some sprawling adventure.
But Vitrerran didn’t want to become a short game. We figured this out when Joe started making the level editor. We figured this out when I started crafting characters and writing dialogue.
The level editor Joe built wasn’t something that wanted to be confined to a small screen. Back when we only had white and blue blocks to play with, we were already building very expansive cities and mountainous regions. These were supposed to be small dungeons that acted more as metaphors for the journey you would go on, yet they kept turning into places that felt more real and livable.
Likewise, I sat down and planned a page of dialogue for each level, which seemed manageable and just enough to give a small story while not getting in the way. However, the characters I created thought differently. As it turned out, their predicaments weren’t some trite thing to be found in a small fantasy game. Their stories were complicated, and we needed a game big enough to tell them.
It was at this point that we looked towards making a full-fledged PC game. All of our combat ideas would transfer over just fine with the mouse, and since we were making such headway on a big project, we might as well treat it like a big project.
At some point not too long ago, our combat evolved from one grid to two, adding even more complexities. The Regret of Vitrerran wanted nothing more than to expand and grow, and for the most part, we let it. Now it’s what we have right now, and I believe it’s done growing.
When it comes to making art, I’ve found that outlines really only serve as vague guidelines. All of the planning in the world won’t stop a story or a game or a script from taking off in random, unforeseen directions. This is what happened here. We had an outline, but all that did was serve as a prison for something much bigger and much better.
We are now making that thing. It’s much bigger; it’s much better, and I’m all the happier for it.