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Kingsway's developer explains how to make the most out of your user interface

July 21, 2017 | By Bryant Francis

In case you hadn’t heard yet, Kingsway is a role-playing game released this week that’s designed to look like it’s being played on a ‘90s-era operating system. That means most of the gameplay elements live in different windows, and navigating those windows becomes a core part of trying to kill monsters, gather loot, and solve puzzles. 

As luck would have it, we were able to have on Kingsway developer Andrew Morrish join us on the Gamasutra channel today as we discussed Kingsway’s game design. If you want to learn more about what it takes to make an authentic-looking operating system for your UI, you can give the video a full watch up above. 

But in case you’re in the middle of a round of Kingsway yourself (and if you are please comment with how you’ve solved some of the puzzles seriously they’re hard), here are some quick takeaways from our chat with Morrish you may find insightful. 

Why are fake interfaces fun? 

Morrish says he likes games that use minimal interface, but with Kingsway, he said his goal was to make something fun even if it was based on a “terrible and archaic” kind of interface. 

He admits these “fake computer” interfaces are hard to describe, but with people familiar with computers and game design, he says the phrase “mock operating system” often gets the idea across. 

Partnering with Adult Swim got the game out the door

Morrish admits that having Adult Swim’s help publishing the game has been a great boon for his work, in no small part because their milestones and deadlines helped him get the game ready for shows and ship. “Without them, I would probably just iterate on this forever and it would never come out.”

Making roguelikes hard helps make every mechanic matter

We also asked Morrish why a game like Kingsway has this roguelike permadeath gameplay instead of being a straightforward RPG. His response got into the game’s difficulty, and he said that while designing Kingsway he learned there was a danger in players who found the path of least resistance, who would wind up ignoring other game mechanics in favor of what got them through. By making death a part of the regular loop, Morrish says it helps players experiment and discover the game’s other mechanics. 

For more developer interviews, editor roundtables, and gameplay commentary, be sure to follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel. 

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