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Stick to what you know

Do you ever wonder what game developers are thinking about when they come up with the concepts for the characters, environments or mechanics? One thing I’ve heard time and time again throughout my life is “Write what you know.” This is a saying that doesn’t need to be taken literally, but rather as a generalization. In my case, The Forbidden Arts is a representation of me. It’s what I know, what I love and in many ways, what I’ve experienced.

When Shigeru Miaymoto created The Legend of Zelda series, a lot of the world he created was a representation of what he loved as a child, exploring the countryside of Japan. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, claims that the absence of any meaningful relationship with her father and the loss of her mother have been two of the most important influences on her writing.

The point is: stick to what you know and love. When you create something without meaning, more than likely it will feel empty and dull. When you have no passion in what you’re doing, people can sense this. I’ve created more than my fair share of meaningless garbage over the years, whether it be trying to make a quick buck or capitalize on a current trend etc. I’m not proud of this by any means, but it’s been a huge learning experience for me as to what not to do. Spending 3+ years developing a game is not an easy thing to do, especially when funding it myself. But luckily I’ve built up enough success with my other software company that I can afford (barely ) to develop a game I’m truly passionate about and I love deeply.

Everything in the Forbidden Arts is inspired by something I love. When I was 15 years old I spent a great deal of time playing the MMORPG Everquest, and about a decade later I returned to the game to play on an emulated server called Project 1999. I had several friends that also played and I met lots of new ones in the game. A lot of my friends became inspiration for characters of The Forbidden Arts including Joppay Sloppay, Faedora the Enchantress and Guard Bennett. It’s really cool to put your friends and experiences into games. It really makes you want to try hard to give these characters personality, not only for yourself, but for your friends too. Ruktan the Chiromancer was named after my older sister’s ex-boyfriend, who I nicknamed Ruktan. I tend to give people in my life nick-names, and often they are quite comical. It’s a quirk of mine, but most people find it entertaining.

As for environments, the swamp of green mist is inspired by one of my favorite locations in all of Everquest: Guk. The Slopes of Orin is heavily inspired by The Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age franchises. In these games I’ve spent dozens of hours searching for the next big Dragon to kill, and I really wanted a scene that was full of Dragonkind.

Slopes of Orin Concept Art

Even though I’ve been inspired by countless video games, my entire philosophy with The Forbidden Arts has been originality. I did not want my game to feel like another game. I want people to feel like they are playing something unique, and after the past 2+ years I’ve been working on the game I can truly say The Forbidden Arts feels unique. I’m very happy to be creating something I love, and I’m excited to continue to share progress of the game until its release next year.

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