Creating an Isometric ARPG about a Plague Doctor in a Team of Two

The developers of the upcoming RPG Bloody Doctor talked about the game's fantasy world, discussed organ extraction and other mechanics, and spoke about the animation.

Introduction

Hello! We are two developers, Maxime and Damien and we started game development at different times.

Maxime: For me, it started in April 2018 – a consuming passion for video games, a job that was leading me to boreout, it was time to begin what I really wanted to do since ever, and the answer was video games. In my free time, I started to learn 3D modeling and texturing, all self-taught with YouTube. In the beginning, I didn't understand anything, I broke everything, I always had my hand over the "ctrl + z", then little by little I started to do solid things until I applied for a French game contest "La Game Cup", of which I became a finalist in 2020. I thought it was time to try to work on a project full-time.

Damien: I was born in 1989 and I have almost seen video games evolve since the beginning and that media has always passionated me. Curiously, I had never thought about working in that industry before. Then, I discovered Unreal Engine 4 during the pandemic back in 2020 and I realized I could make a game myself if I spend all my free time studying game development. Thanks to my university degree in science, where I studied programming, learning how to program using Unreal Engine was easier than starting from 0. I made a project on my own and I learned a lot from it. I then saw Maxime competing at the game cup. I absolutely loved the game he was making, which is a very old version of Bloody Doctor (we changed almost everything). I was confident enough to offer my help, and now, we work together. I love being a game developer, it's so much fun giving life to a world we create. Plus, there is so much to learn and it's endless. That's precisely what I'm looking for in my daily job to prevent boredom.

Working in a Team of Two

M & D: Luckily, we get along extremely well, have good communication, listen to each other carefully, and argue for each proposal, whether it is about the game design, the workflow, or the art. The goal is to have a coherent game, and when there are two game designers, it is necessary to discuss and then decide. We manage to do this very well because the gameplay mechanics that we have established seems coherent, innovative, and above all, in line with its universe.

Bloody Doctor

M & D: There's a little bit of everything, a love for FromSoftware (especially Bloodborne), growing up with isometric view games like Diablo, a fascination with plague doctors, and a dose of France at the heart of it all. Mix it all together and you have Bloody Doctor, an isometric ARPG that takes place in Paris devastated by an epidemic.

We really wanted to push plague doctors' capacities. Frequently, a plague doctor is limited to its aesthetic aspect or the atmosphere, which is already incredible, but we thought about how to bring the player closer to the role of a doctor and how to impact the gameplay. The best answer was obviously surgical operations and the creation of solutions based on human organs.

The World

M & D: The game would take place in fantasy and anachronistic Paris, as if Napoleon III had never lost the battle of Sedan and the country had gradually turned into a steampunk fortress (which did not prevent it from facing the epidemic). Thanks to Unreal Engine, we can have beautiful lights to create a steampunk effect full of light to give the city of Paris a fantasy image of the "roaring twenties".

The sets are made on Blender and Substance 3D Painter, and we import everything into Unreal Engine working on the materials to make them look as good as possible. Furthermore, we are actually very proud of the game's optimization, thanks to Unreal Engine 4 and the view mode chosen, the game runs extremely well on all of our testers' machines, most of which had laptops.

Gameplay

M & D: In Bloody Doctor, you can fight enemies fair and square, with your melee weapon in your right hand, but you can also heal them (in a rather archaic way we understand) by filling their remedy bar with your weapon in your left hand (like a syringe) or by parrying them. Once the bar is full, extraction becomes possible. 

This organ extraction mechanic has a central place in the gameplay of Bloody Doctor because organs are the key to the game. Indeed, you have three ways to get organs: either by looting them, extracting them in battle, or operating on corpses.

In the Bloody Doctor lore, human organs are fundamentally linked to the epidemic, so the Doctor and the scientific community realized that they could find the cure by distilling them into concoctions to inject. You will have to find the formulas of your colleagues to concoct more and more powerful remedies to make the Doctor evolve and also the ultimate remedy to end this devastating epidemic.

Animation

M: This method is called "rotoscoping", I've seen it passed around on Twitter and I find it to be the most powerful workflow for making realistic animations when you can't afford motion capture. Everything is done by hand, but even mocap needs to be taken over by the human hand, so this workflow we use is actually effective.

Community

M & D: We realized that communication was a difficult exercise. We need to multiply our footage to make people talk about us. That's why we made this video on animation and we are very proud that it worked so well. We're also thinking about how to strengthen the links with the community because we need it, we're going to do it soon, we just had to finish our vertical slice. Now that it's done, we could focus on that.

Conclusion

M & D: We have almost all the mechanics integrated, what we need now is content, adding enemies, zones, and bosses. Everything is planned, now we have to roll up our sleeves and finish the game. What we're looking for now is funding to put us on full-time and recruit so the game can be released quickly. If we continue with the two of us making the game only in our free time, it will be difficult.

We made accounts on most social networks, so find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and TikTok.

The Bloody Doctor team, Game Developers

Interview conducted by Theodore McKenzie

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Comments 1

  • ryryryr ryryryry

    This concept would be so much more interesting if it was actually a simulation of being a doctor in these times trying to save people and stay safe, rather than yet another mindless killfest. I really hope video games grow up at some point. THATS MY HOT TAKE

    0

    ryryryr ryryryry

    ·a month ago·

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