Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Teddy Lee (Co-Founder and Lead Designer, Cellar Door Games) to find out why Rogue Legacy was ported to mobile devices and what makes this version a unique one.
About Rogue Legacy:
Originally released in 2013 to critical acclaim, Rogue Legacy blew players’ minds with its novel approach to death: Upon dying, player characters passed their traits (and loot) to their descendants, who then lived on to fight another day. An unexpected hit on Steam, Rogue Legacy was also successfully ported to the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch – where it also received rave reviews from the press.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was Rogue Legacy: Wanderer Edition born?
Teddy Lee: Our friend Ethan introduced us to Caleb – a friend and co-worker of his who specialized in porting games from XNA to mobile. We’ve had offers from other companies to port Rogue Legacy for us – but this was the first time we could do it in-house, so we decided to jump on the opportunity.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Why port to mobile?
Lee: It was a perfect storm. At the time, the idea of trying to make a touch pad control scheme for a game like Rogue Legacy sounded really interesting to me. And the icing on the cake was Caleb being available to work with. It might not have made financial sense to tackle the challenge, but it was fun.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How difficult was the process?
Lee: Like all development cycles, it had its ups and downs. Porting the game went great, and we only spent like a month and a half before we were SUPER happy with the controls. But then we did playtesting, and the first thing that came up was how many people have different preferred grips, gestures, etc. All these edge cases came up, so getting the control scheme to fit these infinite number of grip nuances ended up being pretty difficult.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What was development like?
Lee: Really interesting. This was our first project where the lead developer (Caleb) was completely remote – and it went surprisingly well. We’ve done remote work with programmers before, and it’s been difficult – but working with Caleb turned out great!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes Rogue Legacy special on mobile?
Lee: Since so much work was being put into the control scheme, we decided to go the extra mile – adding features like new rooms, bosses, traits, gear, and so on. There are a LOT of changes in there – and we’re super proud of what we were able to accomplish.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What other games influenced this one the most?
Lee: Rogue Legacy was inspired most by Dark Souls, the DS Castlevania titles, and Dungeons of Dredmor – which was the only roguelike we’d ever played at that point. For the mobile edition of Rogue Legacy, it was the mobile version of Super Mario by a long stretch. The moment I heard that it became an auto-scroller was the moment I really wanted to tackle making Rogue Legacy for mobile. The challenge was too interesting.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Lee: One day, the game controls suddenly felt awful – like straight up terrible. The problem with development is that so many things get touched between builds that it’s tough to find out exactly what happened. So we were like, did something get reverted? Did the iOS update break something? Did we break something? After a day or two, we were able to find out it was this obscure bug with iPad where the touchscreen registration goes crazy in very subtle ways (e.g., multi-touch max inputs will plummet, input locking will skyrocket, etc.). It’s extremely rare – but when it happens, your iPad controls are borked until you do a hard reset. This isn’t noticeable if you play simple games, or if you’re browsing the Internet – but when you’re pushing out dozens of inputs rapidly like in Rogue Legacy, it’s immediately awful. The problem is that it seems to happen the longer you’ve had your Apple device running – and you’d be surprised at how long people keep their devices running. (Spoilers: It’s forever!)
Old School Gamer Magazine: What were the major lessons learned?
Lee: Working on very weird problems can still be very fun!
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Lee: Preserving older gameplay mechanics is good if they’re solid – but all too often things are kept for nostalgia’s sake. Why are lives still in some platformers? Why do some games still have a high score board? Things like these that serve no purpose are no good. They clutter up your UI and require excess development. It’s just not good. With that said, I do think sequels change the situation up a bit. Every change you make risks alienating your previous fans, so it becomes a different type of push and pull. I’m more forgiving in those situations.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Lee: I have a pretty fuzzy memory, but my favorite moments as a gamer were probably when my brothers and sister would sit around the PC and we’d all be working together to try and beat the latest adventure game. We devoured adventure games when we were kids, and it’s still a genre I wished there was a resurgence in. In fact, one of our most favorite games we ever made is I Have One Day – which was our twist on the whole point-and-click genre.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want Rogue Legacy: Wanderer Edition to be remembered?
Lee: As a good platformer. Rogue Legacy, while simple, is mechanically intense. The game asks a lot from the player on console – and we didn’t want to dilute that experience when porting it to mobile. We performed so many tweaks, and we’re incredibly proud of what we made. We hope other people enjoy it, too! Also, if your controls feel bad, please try resetting your device – or changing the sensitivity 🙂
Old School Gamer Magazine: Why is the mobile version a solid entry point?
Lee: Some of the biggest evangelists for Rogue Legacy come from the Vita port. The game was made for that pick-up-and-play mentality – and you don’t really get more pick-up-and-play than you do with iPhones and iPads.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Lee: We’ve already been working on our next game for about a year now – and while I can’t say anything about it yet, we’re pretty excited!
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Lee: If you love games, you should try something out in every genre. It’ll give you a deeper respect for the genres you already love – and you may just find something new that you really enjoy!