Ruins of Rydos is what I would consider an exercise in simplicity. This in no way implies bad though.
Too often I think, we attempt to create something that is more complicated than it needs to be, myself included. Frost on the other hand, seems to have cut out all the unnecessary parts to leave nothing but a fun dungeon crawling adventure.
The game opens with a word crawl in front of a simplistically depicted background image of your caravan approaching the location the game takes place.
We learn that the characters are from an academy and are here to investigate some ruins. It feels mostly like an excuse plot, but it works in this case. After the crawl, you get to choose your gender and name the main character. The choice doesn’t matter that much, as both characters still end up in your party anyway.
We start in the base camp, which includes weapon, armor, and item shops, and an inn to heal up our party. Not a lot of pizazz here, but its everything you need out of a town. Another thing you will notice is the graphics.
All the graphics in Ruins of Rydos, with the exception of the battle animations, are custom made for the game. They have a great old school charm, looking like they stepped right out of an NES game. Frost faked a 16×16 tile grid by treating each “pixel” as a 2×2 pixel block.
From the camp we go to explore the ruins. Exploring the ruins seems to take a lot of inspiration from old school roguelike games. While it does use standard rpg battles, enemies are seen on the map as black shadows that you can sneak around.
The ruins are barebones, but fun. There is a bit of a mazelike structure heading up to the top, and dodging enemies when I don’t feel like fighting is a nice break from the otherwise old school feel of the game.
The four characters are archetypical in play, but balance well. Gerald and Miles are physical hitters, Brenda is a healer, and Reynard is a mage. Most of your heavy damage will probably come from Reynard, especially if you can find the enemies’ elemental weaknesses.
The bulk of the gameplay is just going further and further into the ruins. You can return to the entrance from the beginning of every floor, but you can only start the ruins from either the bottom of the ruins…
… or from the convenient warp points every five floors once you activate them.
In the current demo, the game ends at the tenth floor after the second boss, which hints at a further story yet to be seen.
So what did I think of the game?
Its good. Its not epic, its not going to be the next Final Fantasy 7. But it does a lot with very little. The gameplay was simple but well thought out, and the minimalistic graphics really appealed to me aesthetically.
Overall, I’m really interested to see the game through to its end. (Note: As of this writing, Frost has informed me that an updated version of the demo would be coming within the next two weeks).
I also caught up with Reynard Frost to ask him a few questions about his background in RPG Maker, his inspirations, and his design process with Ruins of Rydos.
What is your history with RPG Maker?
I’ve been using RPG Maker for years, since the 95 and 2k days. I don’t even remember how I got into it originally, I think I searched online for a way to create RPGs and stumbled upon it. Since then, I had spent my time creating tech demos here and there. Proof of concepts mostly. I jumped into 2k3, but soon after I walked away from RPG Maker and focused more on recreational gaming and college. I walked away mostly due to the legality behind the early makers, and once XP became available officially to the US, I jumped right back on board and got back to creating different ideas. I did the same for VX, and then eventually to Ace which I’m using for Rydos.
What are your inspirations for game design?
My major inspiration comes from playing the games I like to play. RPGs mostly. By immersing myself in what has been done, I can imagine what can be done. I’ve also had the privilege to work at a couple development studios such as Sony Santa Monica and Naughty Dog, which let me get some first hand experience at seeing how games are developed and designed.
What skills do you think you bring to the table with RPG Maker?
My skills involve Project Management, Level Design, Dialogue, Eventing (It counts!), and some novice Pixel art. I enjoy using as much of the core features that RPG Maker offers and seeing how far I can push them without resorting to scripting (although I do use scripts).
What made you decide to use simple design with Ruins of Rydos?
Well originally the idea was to create Rydos in a month for National Game Development Month. I wanted to create a simple, bare bones, RPG that was fun to play, but also reasonable enough to make on my own in thirty days. I see a lot of new guys and gals creating their “dream game” that is loaded up with a bunch of features for what seems like the sake of having features. A “More Features is Mo’ Betta” school of thought. I wanted to create a game that could set an example and let others know that you can still make a fun game with a core set of features without including every single feature you’ve ever seen in other games. When creating something, be it a story or a game, I try to remember what Antoine de Saint-Exuper said, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
However, despite how simple my game idea was, my job and the amount of art required (I’m going for a full 8-bit look, no RTP) prevented me from finishing the full game for NaGaDeMo. However, I did manage to complete the Alpha Demo and get it submitted to the contest website.
Did you have any help with the resources in your game?
I did get a bit of help. I’m using the Super Dante music from the Ace Pre-order bonus, as well as several scripts from Yanfly, Jet, peachround and NeonBlack. As for the art, I drew all of it myself (using a lot of references).
What one thing do you think is important for all RPG Maker developers to keep in mind?
The one piece of advice I’d share with everyone is to “Work with what you have”. A lot of folks kind of sit on their laurels waiting for everything to be perfect or to have this ideal amount of people helping them or ideal amount of resources. You’ll never finish your game with a mindset like that. You need to use what you have, and make the best you can with it. If you get some extra help, fine. But work on what you can and make the best of it. It’s better to have a finished product that’s rough than an unfinished mess that’s only partially perfect.