Iron Lung


Alterborn Devlog #1

March 24, 2022

Hello, and welcome to the very first Alterborn Devblog.

We’re hard at work on the Vertical Slice; an early prototype that is meant to showcase all the core gameplay systems, mechanics and act as a proof of concept for what we try to achieve.

I am Pawel, Alterborn Lead Game Designer and I will walk you through some of our pre-production thought processes.

1. Inspiration

It is my belief that you can’t make games without actually playing them. Well, not decent games anyway. Take a good look at any successful game, especially an indie premium one; these games usually have a lower budget in contrast to triple A titles and achieve both commercial and critical acclaim mainly because of good design direction and subsequently innovative solutions in areas with relatively low risk and high potential.

As you play Alterborn you’ll encounter many varied enemies with diverse action pool; you will have to learn the said actions methodically to triumph.

Our very first step was to break down our favourite games into prime factors and think long and hard about what makes them tick if you will. Is it the action loop of the player? The game’s structure? Progression systems? All of those combined? Or something else entirely?

Alterborn healing object asset.

Which in turn led us to many prototyping sessions and the current state of Alterborn.

2. Player Fantasy & Action Pool

This is where I think the absolute best games of genres such as soulslike, roguelite and looter shooter shine the most. Having fluid and intuitive gameplay player tools is pivotal to a good experience; frame by frame, we analyzed multiple titles and replicated specific mechanisms, at the same time trying to improve on them in some aspects.

Concept Art of the Player Character’s initial armor suit.

In Alterborn you can jump, shoot, slash, crouch and use countless abilities which let you throw enemies onto walls or reflect projectiles. All of these actions have their place within the game flow and if used correctly will make you feel like an absolute badass.

3. Progression

There is a reason why most modern games borrow from the RPG genre and utilize many progression systems; a fair amount of players, including myself, like to feel like they continuously get something out of playing the game, even if they don’t always succeed.

An early iteration of the Alterborn Character Screen; keep in mind that this mockup does not represent the final UI and we’ll be completely overhauling it prior to the final release.

What a lot of these games seem to have forgotten is that a sense of progression is futile if not combined with meaningful choice. What is the point of having talent points if you can unlock all of them at some point within the game? You basically strip the game from player agency and the player will just end up having a stronger character with X% more value on specific parameters. If you’re forced to make a difficult decision though, the game instantly becomes more interesting.

Head Slot wearable item Concept Art.

This is what Alterborn progression systems are all about; as you play the game, you’ll find countless weapons, armors, trinkets, slottable passive and active abilities and much more. You won’t be able to equip all of them though. In fact, you’ll be quite limited and have to constantly tweak your loadout to adapt to challenges that are being thrown at you. As you keep on progressing through the game, you’ll learn more about enemy archetypes and whatnot subsequently being able to make better, informed decisions.

4. Game Structure

I am not big on linear games but at the same time, I’d rather not be overwhelmed with an expansive open world. This is why I am an avid fan of roguelite games which are seemingly linear but utilize systemic logic to procedurally generate additional content and make every single playthrough feel unique.

After we finalize a gameplay blockout (functional whitebox) we proceed with making an environmental Level Art concept.

Alterborn is not a roguelite per se BUT it does have gameplay systems which will make all the players familiar with the genre feel right at home. We combine interesting, handcrafted geometry with procedural content to achieve what these games do best and eliminate what they suffer from the most.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse at the development process of Alterborn. Stay tuned for many more such updates in the coming months along with an eventual lengthy gameplay reveal. We look forward to reading through your feedback; you can chat with us over on our discord server:

Thanks and see you in the Shattered Lands!

Iron Lung

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