Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Dragonborne lead programmer, narrative designer and director Chris Beach, who details the origin of his new Game Boy RPG, Dragonborne. Discussing his influences and what it’s like to develop a game on the classic Nintendo Handheld, Beach shares his special journey with what appears to be an exciting new adventure on the Game Boy.
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Old School Gamer Magazine: How was this game born?
Chris Beach: Developing a game for the Game Boy has always been a dream for us, the system brings back so many childhood memories and allows you to become very creative when programming for it, due to its limitations. We are both massive fan’s of RPG’s and adventure games and felt that the West didn’t receive enough good quality Game Boy games of this genre, considering the amount that Japan received. This is where our idea for Dragonborne came from, we wanted to create a brand new full-scale adventure RPG that included elements from more modern games.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes the Game Boy special for you?
Beach: I think the Game Boy is special to me because it was one of the first consoles my parents purchased for me and my brother. I have lots of great memories from playing Links Awakening in the back of the car on long journey’s and sitting in my room with my brother for hours trying to figure out all the secret areas in Super Mario Land, the nostalgia effect is massive, I have a pretty decent size collection of games and consoles now and even to this day I get the same nostalgia feeling when sitting down to have a session.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What is your role in the game?
Beach: I actually have a few roles due to us being a two-man team, I am lead programmer, narrative designer and director.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How did you get involved in the industry?
Beach: I got involved out of curiosity to be honest, I had always wanted to learn how to programme a video game, dabbled in and out over the years but when GB Studio was released it gave me an opportunity to really get stuck in and get my creative juices flowing. At first it was something I did in my spare time and now here we are releasing a full-on RPG for my favourite handheld system ever.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What has development been like?
Beach: Development has been pretty smooth sailing, bar a couple of bugs which took a bit of digging to smooth out, the whole thing has been a fantastic learning curve and allowed us to come up with processes that we can take on to future games for the system.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes this game special?
Beach: I think the mixture of gripping storyline, zelda like puzzles/dungeons and Final Fantasy/Pokemon type battle system really make this game special. It’s a fantastic mixture of elements that has come together really nicely, we have tried to include as many things as possible to make it a special experience, such as a full animated opening cutscene, weather elements such as snow falling from clouds when up high on a mountain, animated waterfalls, a character zapping section and much more.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?
Beach: LOZ – Links awakening is probably the game that has influenced Dragonborne the most in terms of easy on the eye art style, various dungeons, puzzles and mini-quests, it has definitely been influenced by the Final Fantasy games and Pokemon too, when it comes to the turn based battle system.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Beach: This is a tough one because my partner actually lives in Germany so we have a long-distance business relationship so to speak lol I can say we have had loads of fun developing the game though.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What were the major lessons learned?
Beach: Be patient and don’t rush, take your time to triple check scripts to avoid bugs further down the line, have fun and don’t be scared to try things that might seem impossible at first.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Beach: Absolutely, all modern games have been influenced by the originals in some form and the pioneers should never be forgotten.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Beach: I think my favourite memory is probably completing Link’s awakening for the first time, it seemed like such a long game when I was younger so it felt like a massive achievement.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want this game to ultimately be remembered?
Beach: Our dream for this game is that it’s remembered for being the game that brought back development for the Game Boy in a big way and for being the greatest indie/homebrew adventure RPG for the console from the modern-day.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Beach: We have a lot of cool ideas and already a few games in the pipeline, so watch this space!
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Beach: Just want to say a massive thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this interview and to everyone who has pre ordered Dragonborne so far, we can’t wait to hear what you think!