Frontiers - Interview @ Polygon
Game developer Lars Simkins of the kickstarter Frontiers was interviewed by Polygon.
Simkins says he feels almost "uncomfortable" calling the game an RPG, as its elements are heavily simplified. There are no classes in Frontiers, and players instead start as an apprentice in an organization known as the Pathfinders Guild. Experience is gained by exploring new regions and exploring paths. Frontiers does feature an RPG-based combat system, with players being able to upgrade weapons with magic skills or crafting. Other abilities are picked up from NPCs or books and range from magic attacks to hang gliding.
"The player's here to explore, not to grind."
"I make a point only to include mechanics if they don't discourage exploration," Simkins said. "If I find during testing that I'm being held back by some mechanic or other I alter it or remove it altogether. The player's here to explore, not to grind."
Natural threats will play as much of a role as animal threats, but players should still be wary of wildlife. Bears pose a pretty nasty threat, Simkins said, and the game's seas are plagued by Lovecraftian-inspired Leviathans. Humans pose a definite danger as well, but in a different kind of way.
"Human threats ... are resolved with dialogue, so you'll have to think your way through them," Simkins said.
Survival is the darker half of Frontiers — a force that pushes players to recognize their own mortality. It's a driving factor in real life, but a difficult one to convey in virtual territory.
"In real life, if I want to see over the next hill I have to decide if it's worth the effort of getting muddy or losing a shoe, and if it's worth adding that distance to my trip back," Simkins said. "Maybe it's getting dark, maybe I'm hungry — I have to take in and process a lot of information to make that choice, so I'm totally engaged. But if I could just teleport over there, all that brain activity would shut down. I might as well just stay home."
"Unless you're reckless it's pretty hard to die in the midst of civilization," Simkins added. "But head out into the wild and it's as simple as twisting your ankle at the wrong time. It puts things in perspective."
Release: In development