Kabam has released their newest action RPG,Spirit Lords. It is a massive four-person multiplayer game with a battle system that has you summoning Spirit allies to come to your aid. You get a lot of options for customization of your character as well as enjoying hundreds of combat abilities, thousands of pieces of gear, and tons of spirits to collect and upgrade.
I had the chance to chat with Daniel Erickson, Senior Director of Design and Michael Dashow, Art Director, about this exciting new game.
148Apps: Hi Daniel! Thanks for taking some time to chat with 148Apps about your game. Spirit Lords looks absolutely huge! What first drew your to the idea of making such a massive ARPG?
Daniel Erickson: I've always loved doing massive RPGs and I've always loved action RPGs. Getting to combine the two on a platform that I truly believe is the future of where RPGs are going was too good a chance to pass up. Mobile enables us to do more content without the backbreaking graphic budget concerns of consoles and reach more people than any other platform.
148Apps: What was the most challenging part of bringing Spirit Lords to life?
The mobile platform is a huge opportunity but also has its own set of challenges. Creating action-packed combat that is driven entirely through gesture controls was a massive undertaking but the results made all the investment of time and resources worth it.
148Apps: You worked as Design and Creative lead on Star Wars: The Old Republic and part of the team for Dragon Age: Origins. Are there any things you learned working on those games that you have integrated into Spirit Lords?
Daniel Erickson: Working on expansive RPGs taught me the joys of creating an epic story for players to uncover and leading design on an MMO taught me how important it is to have a direct channel to your players. There were, however, countless things on both games I would have loved to explore that were impossible due to the complexity of the platforms and the huge budgets involved with every task. On Spirit Lords, we've been able to talk the grand scale and scope of epic console RPGs and MMOs and attempt to recreate that feel on the mobile platform while still having room to experiment.
148Apps: What is your favorite part of Spirit Lords?
Daniel Erickson: The Spirit and combat system. Every Spirit is its own character but also has its own magic ability you can equip and then use in the fantastic gesture-based combat system that Jay Ambrosini, our lead designer, created. So my Spirit sets tend to be a mix of characters I love for their design, ones I love for the ability they provide, and ones that are just great raw power.
148Apps: Michael, thanks for talking with us. I took a look through Kabam's artbook for the game and the design is gorgeous! What originally drew you to the project?
Michael Dashow: Thank you! Spirit Lords's Executive Producer Phil Shenk and I worked together at Blizzard, and we brought the game Diablo II to life together. When Kabam decided that they wanted to create a fantastic action RPG in that style, Phil was the first person they tapped and I joined shortly after. We - and the entire team - were really excited for the opportunity to make an action RPG that played really smoothly on mobile devices, that felt like it was made for that platform and took advantage of the touch-screen controls to be really fun to play.
148Apps:The characters are a great middle ground between realistic and chibi. How did you decide on the design style for Spirit Lords?
Michael Dashow: We set out to make a game that would appeal to a wide variety of players. Easy controls with a lot of gameplay depth were core elements of the game design, and the visual style supported that goal as well. We all agreed from the start that we wanted a look that was a nice balance between casual and core. We knew what the camera angle would be for the gameplay from the start, so I aimed for characters with large, exaggerated proportions that would read really clearly from that perspective. We went through a lot of character iteration to get just the right proportions that looked great both when running around levels and when you viewed them in your Inventory screen and in cut-scenes. In the end, we all really loved the proportions that combined some cartoony exaggeration but still looked tough and able to dish out some punishment to the monsters in the game. And for the monsters themselves, we had a lot more freedom to come up with some really fun, exaggerated designs that all had a lot of personality.
148Apps:Some of the spirits and creatures are adorable like the Grubbins and some are really badass like the fire elemental. Which is your favorite?
Michael Dashow: There are a lot of them that I love - asking me to name a favorite is like asking someone which of their 400 children they love best! But if I had to pick one, it would be Titanic Lord Wampafu Immortal Mountain, a giant warrior Urshin with a big name and an even bigger spiked golden hammer. It's funny you should ask because just a few days ago, I put the same question to the entire Spirit Lords development team and asked them what their favorites were. The long list included Wanpafu, the Grubbins, the Ramm spirit Beneficent SkyShield Marche, the Master of Chains, the Master of the Shield, the Buja, the Prismatic Cephalopop, the Gorgant, and Faragul of the Frozen Heart (the final evolution of Highland Assassin, the first spirit that you get in the game.)
Thanks for the kind notes about the art of Spirit Lords. Glad you like it, and enjoy the game!
Thank you so much to Daniel and Michael. The game looks like a fantastic time. You can pick up your own copy of Spirit Lords on the App Store for free and join the fun.