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In the second edition of the Ravenbound Q&A, we welcomed CM Althalus, Simon (Lead Game Designer) and Emil (Creative Director). We discussed the new changes made to Hatred in the most recent update, Patch 1.0.3, as well as questions that were sent in by our community.
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If you'd like to listen to the full recording instead, click here.
What’s your win rate for Elites and Wardens in Ravenbound?
Simon: On the first difficulty, I expect to clear most Wardens. As for Tier 2 Hatred, the first Warden is usually fine, but I probably die on the second and third Warden the most.
Emil: I play a lot, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm good. Usually, I make it to the third Warden.
What was the first project you worked on?
Simon: My first official game work started at Avalanche Studios Group during the end of the production stage for Rage 2.
Emil: My first project was Just Cause 2, which I joined as a dialogue coordinator. I did things like coordinating line recordings and some localization stuff.
In this patch, we've added 111 smaller Raven towers, with the aim of reducing downtime between camps and exploration. Do either of you have any additional insight you'd like to give to the Raven Towers?
Simon: We've tested a bunch of different methods for how to change up between flight and ground play. For a long time, you could become a bird at any point. The issue with that was that you’d lose the sense of scale of the world and it almost became like selecting points on a 2D map, which is not what we're going for. After testing different variants, we landed on what we have today with the towers. I'm quite happy with that, but we want to improve the downtime you're experiencing; we want more things to do when going to these towers and for the world to feel like it's appropriately made for that experience.
Emil: As mentioned, we've tried a bunch of different things and tested them out throughout development to various degrees of success. This latest version that we have is the one that's worked the best. I remember one version we tried; you ran out of "bird juice" as you flew. Although you could find more in the world, it just ended up being this crazy race to find a top-up before your “juice” ran out. Sometimes it would run out while you were above the ocean, so it didn't work out well.
Is there a plan for co-op or multiplayer in the future?
We've addressed this a couple of times, and we want to reiterate that currently, the only plans for Ravenbound are in a single-player capacity. Ravenbound is really focused on being a single-player experience.
The new patch introduces adjustments to the Hatred system. Previously, enemies received a 5% boost per Hatred card to their health and damage. Now we've changed this value to a Level, which is a base value that can be changed per enemy.
Also, you will no longer absorb a Hatred fragment when opening chests. Instead, whenever you open a chest with Hatred, you'll find that one of the three cards you pull from that chest will be a Hatred card. Those are new items that we’re introducing – each Hatred card has a different effect.
The aim is to make Hatred less punishing and introduce more variety to the mechanic.
Simon: The reason for this change is that it was causing unintentional scaling behaviour, for example, making one enemy become too tanky. Introducing five more health for one of our Utlagi enemies is not a big deal, but, doing it on a boss is, of course, a huge deal. So, now we’re able to balance them individually and the power increase shouldn’t feel as jarring.
Emil: I think there is more of a risk/reward element. And also, every time you get a Hatred card you also get two other cards. You get something for the risk you take.
My favourite aspect of these changes is that Hatred chests no longer lock up fragment slots. Previously, when you played, you could get into a situation where you found a good chest, but if your fragments were locked, you couldn’t open it. But now, you can always open chests. There's still a risk to any chest with Hatred, but the risk is much smaller and more interesting.
Simon: We've also made some changes to the graves. Now, the region you select will have four graves, and the first grave you find is the only one you get, so you don't see the others. That grave won’t have any Hatred on it, you’re free to interact with it without any drawback. Then, when you select a new region, you get one more grave. The graves were one of the biggest RNG cases since you don't know what the other person had in their inventory, and now there’s going to be a little bit more loot available to players.
Emil: When there was Hatred associated with the graves, we found that a lot of people opted out. But we want you to have fun with them, as you can find something that you technically haven't unlocked yet.
Simon: Hopefully, this take is gonna make Hatred feel like it's a little less punishing. We are super interested to see how people react to this.
Is there anything else that either of you want to talk about on the Hatred changes for this patch?
Hatred has been a struggle for both the community, and us in development – we need players to keep moving forward because that's the nature of roguelite; we want to give you a different type of openness and agency in how you choose to do that.
We tried one solution where, after a certain increase in progression, you were locked into an enemy fight. And after progressing some more, there’d be an even harder fight, there's high risk involved and that risk gets higher the more you want to progress. We also talked about having a timer, for instance, but you'd probably feel bad if you ran out of time just as you were about to open the tomb gates. Anyway, we're super keen on seeing what you make of the recent changes.
How was the overworld of Ravenbound created? Was it a collaboration between teams or was there one mastermind?
Emil: Was there one narrative mastermind? No, there were narrative masterminds, for sure. The whole process went through, as anything in the game, a bunch of iterations. I think I wrote the first version of the lore and that was completely scrapped, because it was terrible. Then people who actually know things came in and did a better job. It's something that was spread out across multiple disciplines.
When it comes to the lore and narrative, we had specific people. For example, our narrative designer, Josephine, wrote the narrative that you will consume in the game. For the actual world, though, when it came to the island’s construction, David was our world designer; he created many worlds for the studio.
But the design of everything, in the end comes from the collaborative effort of making a game.
Simon: The studio has big teams making big games, like Mad Max. And then we have our smaller games like Ravenbound, and in my experience, there’s much more collaboration on those small teams because it becomes so tight-knit, and you need to work together.
It's an exciting challenge, the world of Ravenbound is quite big, and there are only a few people on the team. So even though we have a lot of collaboration, quite often, there has been monumental amounts of effort put in by one individual. For example, David sculpted the entire world. But there's still that collaboration and input from the team.
Emil: That's what strikes me with Ravenbound. If you told another developer, “all these animations were made by one crazy animator. All the cards, and all the UI, yep, one person,” they’d probably say, “Oh, wow, that looks impossible.”
What’s your favourite biome?
Emil: I'm fond of Sushammar, the region without a tomb. There's something rugged about it.
Simon: Whenever I fly towards the fire region - Fornfjall - I'm always in awe. When I'm on the ground, it's Myrkskog - the dark forest at the centre of the island - I love the feeling of being there on the ground. It's dark, and it's a bit scary. Maybe you’ll hear some creature screeching further away. I love that.
Emil: When you're flying out towards Livsveden - the autumn forest area - there is one path you take to the right of the mountains where you come upon these waterfalls. When the light hits right, it's just gorgeous.
One of my favourite parts of the world is behind one of those waterfalls. A few people reading this won't know where that is, so we'll let you discover that one for yourselves. And on that hint, thank you to Emil and Simon for joining us!
We're looking forward to being able to chat with Steacy next week, who's the product owner for Ravenbound. We'll be able to discuss many extra things that we haven't covered in the last couple of Q&As.
Please add any questions you’d like answered in the next Q&A in the replies or in #questions on our Discord server. We’re aiming to do these Q&A's regularly and the next one will be May 11th, at 15:00 CET!
Working side by side with our players, we want to create sandboxes with unique settings that allow your creativity to thrive. Our focus is freedom, exploration, and a drive to create games like the ones that kept us up at night as kids.