Heroes of Legionwood #7: Doing the Ending Justice

Well met, Legionwood fans!

It’s been a busy couple of months here at Dark Gaia Studios. Early last month, I released the Definitive Edition of Legionwood 1 on Steam and followed it up with the Director’s Cut DLC for Legionwood 2. In between bug hunting, moderating forums and making sure the releases have been as smooth as possible I’ve been elbow deep in RPG Maker, plugging away at a currently unannounced side project and, of course, spending most of my time working on End of Days, the third and final episode of Heroes of Legionwood.

Here’s what Episode 3 looks like right now:

The above image may not mean much to players, but it represents a whole month’s work tweaking weapon stats, editing classes and balancing a new stable of enemies. Unfortunately, however, not everything is going according to plan. The good news is that we’ve made a good start on Episode 3. The story’s been finalised, the script has been written and, in terms of actual development, the basic foundation (engine tweaks, enemy and character stats, new equipment, save importing from Resurrection etc.) is pretty much done. If things continued at this pace, the game would definitely be ready in time for its planned December release. The bad news, however, is that progress has been pretty slow lately… and it’s likely that you won’t see End of Days this year.

Given the usual style of these dev posts, you might be forgiven for thinking Dark Gaia Studios is a rather sizable team. The thing is though, aside from a couple of people I hire on a freelance basis, the “studio” really just consists of me. Without revealing too much, recent weeks have made it clear that End of Days, at least what I plan to do with it, is far more ambitious than the previous two episodes, especially for just one guy. To do justice to the ending I have in mind and make sure everything fits together and all of the loose ends from player choices are accounted for, it’s almost going to have the time commitment of a full length standalone game — and this is why I ended up opting for three episodes after all, instead of trying to condense everything into Episode 2.

So why is Episode 3 going to take so long? It’s all about the ending. Let’s talk about the Mass Effect trilogy for a moment, a series I’ve mentioned before as a good example of a story centered on player choices. Mass Effect had the right idea. From the very start, it was marketed as a series that would be shaped by the player, each decision having far reaching consequences that all led up to vastly different conclusions. The first two games took nearly three years (each!) to make, and all said, the series contains thousands upon thousands of variables that are different in each player’s story. Then the ending happened.

masseffect3ending

Despite having two 80+ hour games worth of player choices to resolve, Mass Effect 3 was given a development cycle of just one year by its publisher. What we ended up with was a far cry from what was originally promised: a conversation with three options that triggered three strangely similar endings that were the same for everyone, previous choices be damned. To this day, Mass Effect 3 is still reviled for its ending, and it’s all because the game was rushed to release before the developer had time adequately resolve what they’d spent the previous six years setting up. I don’t want to do that with Heroes of Legionwood. While my series is nowhere near as complex and filled with variables as Mass Effect, I want to make sure it works. If you’re going to promise players that their choices will matter, you have to take the time to make sure every possible permutation is taken into account. Maybe having the same ending for everyone isn’t so bad, but how they get there should be personal.

With that said, I know you’re all eager to see how the Heroes of Legionwood story ends (and I’m eager to finish it) so please accept my apologies. At this stage, the planned release date seems to be “whenever I can get it done”, and I can’t offer you anything more concrete than that. Just know that it will be coming.

Eventually.

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About dgrixti

I develop games and I write. I'm studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and I've been published in a number of literary journals all over the world, and my first actual book is being launched in July 2012 by Disposable Fiction. I like writing speculative fiction, horror and literary fiction, sometimes all blended together. You can find elements of my writing in my games, because I consider my games stories that happen to have gameplay.
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