Old School Games is a new game studio launched by Saber Interactive whose focus is to deliver low-cost, high-quality downloadable titles. Using Saber’s technology and development platform, we strive to create digital games that look like retail products. With our first release, God Mode, we wanted to create a lighthearted throwback experience, which focuses on arcade-style action over story. We came up with a classic premise – fighting to get out of Hell – then wrapped it in a third-person shooter with 3D graphics on par with full-price titles. Finally, we added a slew weapons: plasma launchers, rail guns and what we affectionately call the “buzzsaw,” in order to wipe out waves and waves of demonic hordes.
We decided that God Mode should be less about deep narrative and more about action. This approach gave us the ability to really go crazy and build a unique world full of plenty of characters to shoot, blow up, impale and maim. After making this decision early on in the design process, the designers really let their ideas flow. When you tell a game designer to “go nuts without thinking about story,” something unique and original begins to take shape.
Although we cut narrative, we still wanted to deliver the premise in a compelling way, so we added the Spirit Guide. The Spirit Guide character was created to mentor and guide players through the game. He morphed over time from a boring reverb-laden announcer into the disgruntled, metrosexual British jerk that you can hear in-game and in the trailers. This added an extra layer of humor to the game and we had fun expanding his role from generic to sarcastic bordering on sadistic as development has continued.
Even after all of this, we realized the game might not be challenging enough, so we threw in “Tests of Faith.” These are mini-challenges that get randomly selected at the start of each stage. They alter gameplay and range from aesthetic changes (sounds have a drastically increased pitch or all monsters are wearing party hats) to beneficial (infinite ammo, random moments of invulnerability) to diabolical (players are limited to a certain area or they lose health, guns switch at random every two seconds). They drastically change the strategy for each stage and can turn a frustrating level into a cakewalk and vice versa. With all the weapon customization, player costume variety and other factors, God Mode is filled with unique scenarios.
As a studio moving forward we’re striving to create games that look and feel like full-priced titles but do it at a price point that makes purchase decisions easy. Bottom line: there are a ton of elements in God Mode that ultimately define the game – humor, replayability, and quick action. We wanted to give players something they could get into and play for short bursts, but over a long period of time. I believe that the content and quality of God Mode at $9.99 will stand out when God Hand lands on PSN in North America on April 23rd.