In my ongoing endeavor to discover as many different video gaming prospects as possible, I this week came across a wonderfully dark-looking game entitle Lucah. Lucah is an action RPG with a heavy emphasis on combat and exploration and sinister-looking conceptual design; the game itself described on it;s Kickstarter page as “a nightmare action RPG about finding oneself”.
Presenting players with multiple combat options and learn-able abilities, as well as giving players the additional option of combining these different skills giving the game even more variety, I was eager to interview the developer behind the nightmarish title; Me Less Than Three operating out of Los Angeles, California. Programmer on the game, Colin Horgan, agreed to answer some questions I had about this unique-looking title, and here are his compelling answers:
What were the influences behind your game?
From a gameplay perspective, LUCAH started as a Nuclear Throne-style arena shooter. While I was developing it though, I was getting more into melee-focused action games like Bloodborne, as well as style-focused brawlers like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta.
I combined this mechanical fascination with the dark, high-contrast style that I had been developing for the past couple years, like in my previous games Comforting Sounds
This is a style that sort of evolved naturally just based on my ability – I’m more of a programmer by trade, but I wanted to use my own art in my games, so I started simple, but stylized.
As LUCAH slowly grew into a full game, I started putting a bunch of thematic and narrative ideas into it and kept what stuck, including a lot of personal subjects I like to explore (nightmares, Catholicism, lyricism). Ultimately it evolved into a gamified night terror, and I decided to weave the whole story into that context.
What has the developmental process been like?
Since I’m most comfortable with programming, most of my games start as mechanical prototypes, taking a game idea and making it playable as soon as possible. From there I’ll put a little bit of kinesthetic polish on the game, the details that make it “feel” a certain way, and allow the aesthetic style to evolve from that. As LUCAH became a more methodical, tactical action game after the switch from projectile-focus to melee-focus, I tailored the look and pacing to fit a more horror-inspired game. An important step in this process was taking on my friend Nicolo Telesca as our composer – his glitchy and atmospheric soundscapes entered the game even before there were levels to score, so the shape of the game took form based on those sounds and songs.
Once the game felt like it had enough form to be played, I put various demos out – first a combat-only demo, then a demo with the first “dungeon” – and saw what resonated with people and what didn’t. The game went through a large visual overhaul at this time, keeping the distinctive style but pushing it as far as it could go, with an emphasis on better communication for what is going on (attack signals, more contrast for enemies and backgrounds, and so on). At this point, we knew we had something special, and took this direction towards the eventual full game LUCAH will be.
How close are we to seeing the finished product?
All of LUCAH’s major systems are set, and the current demo is a good standard for what the full experience will feel like. However, we still need to fill out the rest of the story, which I expect will be another 4-5 hours of content. At the current rate of development, my tentative estimate for LUCAH’s full release will be sometime next summer, so be on the lookout then!
What has been the most exciting aspect of development?
The most exciting aspect of development has been sharing my process with others through social media and seeing the excitement the game is already creating. Oftentimes I would finish a new mechanic and create a GIF to show it off, and with that, I can see what developments excite people most and feed off that energy. I make sure to read every comment, response, and the message we get about the game because even though LUCAH is a very intimate and personal experience, I want to do my best to ensure it’s an experience that resonates with as many people as possible!
What has been the most challenging aspect of development?
The most challenging aspect of LUCAH’s development by far has been solidifying the visual style. Because it’s so out there and hard to describe (is it wireframe? stylized pixel art? hand-drawn impressionism?), making sure it communicates the appropriate moods and information has been a struggle. We are doing our best to make sure a new player can wrap their head around what’s happening on screen, and what these ever-shifting figures represent, but I don’t think we’re totally there yet, even if we’ve come far already. Still, as we develop the game, we’ll do our best to make LUCAH the most brilliant visual experience it can be.
How well has the game been received so far?
LUCAH has been received surprisingly well so far, especially for such a niche title! Besides some of the visual roadblocks I mentioned previously, most people who try LUCAH find something to love about it, whether they’re absorbed into its abstract world, or want to explore the various combat systems at play, it’s a game that’s really resonated with both seasoned game players and new players alike, and that’s something I’m especially proud of. With Lucah, there is clearly a massive emphasis on dreams, nightmares, and the subconscious in general. Did any of the developer’s own dream serve as inspiration for the game? I used to struggle with night terrors and sleep paralysis, often because I became very good at psyching myself out with an overactive imagination. While I’ve become much better and handling nightmares and the anxieties that create them, it’s still fertile material for me to process and explore in LUCAH. Hopefully, once the game is done, those terrors will be a thing of the past!
What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?
Currently, we’re planning to launch LUCAH on Windows, macOS, and Linux, though I would also love to bring it to consoles. The game was built for a controller, so I think it’d fit right at home on the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, and I’ll pursue those consoles if that becomes a possibility.
Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
The usual answer I give to these sorts of questions is to 1. exercise, and 2. read books. The broader answer here is to make sure you take care of yourself, both mentally and physically, as much as you are able, and be sure to have something non-game-related to enjoy. Not only will it allow your brain to rest from any development-related stress, but varied experiences and interests will help you be a better and more creative developer. Also, be sure to be creative whenever you’re able, it’s the only way to get better!
Where about on the Internet can people find you?
I can be found on Twitter @melessthanthree.
You can also follow LUCAH’s development on Facebook – http://gamejolt.com/games/lucah/184325
and Tumblr (https://lucahgame.tumblr.com/),
and download the free demo on either itch.io (https://melessthanthree.itch.io/lucah) or GameJolt (http://gamejolt.com/games/lucah/184325).
Do you have anything else to add?
At the time of this interview, LUCAH is currently on Kickstarter, and we still need some help to get funded and finish the game! Please check that out
and tell your friends that might also be interested in sharing or pledging. Also please try the demo and let me know what you think, I love hearing about your experience playing LUCAH!
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Colin for agreeing to this Q&A session and to wish him and Me Less Than Three Studios the best of luck with the game, and with the Kickstarter campaign. As of the publishing of this article, there are 9 days left, so if you’re interested in playing the complete game, you can donate via the link on this article.
Scouse Gamer 88