In early 2016, Nexon asked Socialspiel to create a reskin of their tactical role-playing game “Fantasy War Tactics”. The original is an anime-style free to play title popular in Asia, and Nexon believed that by creating a version in the art style of our previous game “Legacy Quest”, the game could attract a broader Western audience. Our job was to completely change out the art and story, while keeping the player progression, level designs and other proven aspects of “Fantasy War Tactics” untouched.
I worked as a game designer and head writer on the project, creating the story as well as the character concepts for the 30 or so collectable heroes in the game. Over the course of six months, I wrote more than 140 pages of dialogue and oversaw the creation of the cut scenes in which they were used. I also briefed our artists on the characters they needed to create and approved their designs. While I wrote “Rise of Heroes”’ main campaign, I coached and directed two other writers on the team that were responsible for additional stories used throughout the game’s secondary modes of play.
A few tight constraints made writing for a reskin an interesting challenge:
- “Fantasy War Tactics” lets players collect dozens of heroes for their party, by beating them in boss fights at specific levels. This meant that the story had to be written around these encounters in a meaningful way, often turning them into major plot points.
- We wanted to re-use as many characters and environment art assets from our game “Legacy Quest” as possible. Heroes and monsters had to be either taken directly from “Legacy Quest”, or they at least had to be modelled to fit the rig and (often very quirky) animations of their “Fantasy War Tactics” counterparts. This often limited what kind of background or personality I could give a collectable hero.
- Sticking to the level designs from “Fantasy War Tactics” meant that many enemies appear in dozens of places at completely different points in the game. I needed to ensure that our icy viking warriors would not also show up in our fiery volcano setting. This placed hard constraints on which of “Legacy Quest”’s environments I could use for each chapter of the campaign.
Throughout the production of the game, I worked hard to find a sweet spot between adhering to these limitations, minimizing extra work for our art department, and telling a fun and exciting fantasy story.
A large portion of the players that gave “Rise of Heroes” a high rating on the Google Play store stated that they really enjoyed its story.