After spending over a year in early access, Achilles: Legends Untold launched in full in early November, and the immediate response among those who’ve dove into its offerings has been quite positive. The game’s blend of mechanics from Soulslikes and isometric action RPGs has proven to be a popular one among many, and to learn more about how that evolved during the development process, and what lies ahead for the game in terms of future updates and improvements, we recently reached out to developer Dark Point Games with a few of our questions. You can read our interview below.
"We wanted to create something new for the Soulsike enthusiasts."
For starters, congratulations on the launch of Achilles: Legends Untold. How has the immediate post-launch period been for the development team?
Thank you, after release we spent some time analysing the feedback we collected. We look at all the issues reported by the players and based on that we began preparing patches to address those issues.
Achilles: Legends Untold’s blend of Soulslike mechanics and isometric action RPG gameplay is definitely one of its bigger selling points. Can you tell us about how that idea first came about, and what the process of effectively implementing that vision was like?
We wanted to create something new for the Soulsike enthusiasts. During the prototyping stage, we realised that the isometric view works really well for this type of gameplay and decided to drive off that for further development. The first year of game production was mainly focused on combining the isometrics view with a target lock fighting system, during this year we also began our development on the AI GAIA system.
What are the biggest learnings you took from the game’s early access period, and how significantly did they impact development?
Early Access had a significant impact on the final version of the game. After the Beta release, the feedback was very positive, especially from the Soulslike players. When the Early Access release took place, a lot of players, due to the isometric POV and camera angles, thought the game was a hack-and-slash production, which caused some confusion. The difficulty for us was that we wanted players to perceive the game for what it was, not what they assumed. In the end, we made the game enjoyable for hack-and-slash players as well as die-hard Soulslike fans, mainly through difficulty settings. The game map we had prepared for the final version of the game was created right after player feedback and released in the first update.
What were the biggest challenges in implementing Achilles: Legends Untold’s Group AI Action system? What sort of an impact does it have on the moment-to-moment gameplay?
The GAIA AI System is essentially a self-aware and self-acting AI mechanism. The idea behind it was to make the AI run and choose actions randomly and spontaneously throughout the game at any given point.
For example, some games have NPCs with scripted actions, we wanted NPCs to run similarly to those scripted ones but without the script and randomly rather than following one. How our GAIA system approaches this is that it decides on its own which actions the NPCs will carry out at any point in the game.
An example of this would be a cyclops attack, which on a random attack, would attack by throwing a barrel or a skeleton. They can pick an NPC, eat him and regenerate life. Those actions and options are in the GAIA AI system, and the system, on its own initiative, decides which action the Cyclops will carry out, which in replayable gameplay can vary as it is random.
Another example can be NPCs soldiers that attack out of character, and randomly they can join forces and carry out a combined attack by one ducking and another using this opportunity to bounce off their shield and carry out a stronger attack.
These events are all unpredictable and are randomly decided by our GAIA AI System.
Reception for the game has been largely positive, though some players have criticized some aspects of the experience, like the balancing of its loot and progression mechanics. Are you working on releasing updates for the game based on feedback from the players?
Yes, we are currently working on rebalances in the game. Since the Early Access release, we’ve based our updates on player’s feedback, and we will continue to do so. We are taking in players feedback and planning fixes to address any issues.
Given how replayable action RPGs tend to be, what do you have planned for the game’s future where new content or features are concerned?
We’re planning new future content such as a new map (new ruin map), which is in development along with new side quests, amulets (strongly changing gameplay), and new co-op maps. Additionally, we’re continuously working on fixing game issues and delivering new improvements. We posted a post-launch content roadmap on Steam, and we’ll continue to inform players of what’s coming.
Do you have any plans to bring the game to last-gen consoles or the Nintendo Switch at some point in the future?
We’re currently looking into and exploring publishing options onto the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, but at this moment in time we cannot promise anything.
Since the reveal of the PS5 and Xbox Series’ specs, a lot of comparisons have been made between the GPU speeds of the two consoles, with the PS5 at 10.28 TFLOPS and the Xbox Series X at 12 TFLOPS. How much of an impact on development do you think that difference will have?
While preparing the console versions of the game, we wanted it to run identically on both consoles. The differences in specification (GPU & CPU) weren’t as important to us, and they had no major impact on game preparation for those devices.
The PS5 features an incredibly fast SSD with 5.5GB/s raw bandwidth. How can developers take advantage of this, and how does this compare to the Xbox Series X’s 2.4GB/s raw bandwidth?
The PS5 with a much faster SSD is a strong feature, however we tried to design and optimise the loading of the whole game to be fast no matter the SSD, whether that’s normal SSD or SSD M.2 on PC or the fast PS5 SSD. We got good results with both consoles due to proper preparation for the game’s levels streaming.
"We’re currently looking into and exploring publishing options onto the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, but at this moment in time we cannot promise anything."
The Xbox Series S features lesser hardware compared to Xbox Series and Microsoft is pushing it as a 1440p/60 FPS console. Do you think it will be able to hold up for the more graphically intensive games as this generation progresses?
In our case, the Xbox Series S still runs at 4k resolution. We made the decision to keep around the 60fps mark while other games decide to keep their resolution high, costing frames per second and keeping them around the 30fps mark. Graphics are calculated by dynamic resolution (900p mean) and scales it up to 4k, if we were to keep 60fps in 1440p, the graphics would have less detail.
What are your thoughts on the Steam Deck? Do you have plans for any specific optimizations for the device?
Our game is verified by Steam and Steam Deck compatible. During Early Access, we optimised the whole game in order to receive the ”green” Steam Deck verification, and we’re very pleased with how the game performs on it. The Steam Deck hardware is great and is quite powerful for a portable machine, so putting the game on this machine was less of a challenge than we initially expected. It’s impressive to see the great evolution of portable gaming and how it is now capable of running the full versions of today’s big games!