The Flame in the Flood gameplay with developer commentaryGameSpot's Mary Kish hangs out with developer Forrest Dowling to find out about surviving the grueling world of The Flame in the Flood.
Hey what's up guys? Mary here, and I'm here with Forest. And you're going to show me the flame and the flood today. Yeah, that's correct. It's a game I've been working on for the last year and a half about since we kick started. And we're getting very, very close to release. So, I'm just kinda traveling around right now to show it off to folks and give them an idea of what we;ve got coming.>> Yeah. Now, this is. You'll have to help me with the definition of this type of game because I would consider it more like a Survival rogue like esque game because it's got procedural generation and perma death once you die you kind of have to start over. But it looks like you can continue if you want to end and come back to it. Yeah so there's checkpoints along the way, not that you can return to before so if you quit and come back Ane that's the normal way to play it. We also with this release, we haven't had this in early access, but we've introduced an easier difficulty mode for the campaign which itself is also new. And there are actually check points that you can rewind to if your playing in the easier mode just because Not everybody really likes that sort of process of dying and starting over from the very beginning so if folks wanted to play the game just because they like the music and they like the art it's a little bit easier. A little bit more forgiving. A little bit. Although I still watch people when they're playing it and are kinda pancaked within, you know. 15 minutes [LAUGH] of starting a new game on the easier mode. So we're gonna start right now then and are you gonna continue? Yeah, I figured since the game sort of builds up over time, I'm gonna continue and hope that we see some more wildlife than what you early on. I don't really know where this saved game was left off, so. I guess we're gonna find out. All right. Well, I'm looking forward to it. So tell me a little bit of the back story of what you're doing here. So right now I guess this stuff that we're skipping over is at the very start of the game. Like in the menu you see this. Skeleton in the bag and the dog drags the bag away from the skeleton. Then when the game begins, you see the dog dragging the bag through the woods and he comes to Scout, which is the character you play as, sitting at a fire. He brings the bag to her. There's a radio in it. She checks it and there's a garbled signal. So your first goal at this point is to find high ground so you can Hear this signal. And the hope is to find some sort of help other people, something like that. Right. Because she's basically fully alone in the wilderness. And the player doesn't really understand what she's doing out alone in the wilderness, either. Like she's all alone, she's got nothing but this raft, a dog, and some supplies that she's finding along the way. So is there any more explanations, like what you're doing out here, like what happens, besides obviously there was clearly a flood and something went wrong. Yeah, so that is something that unravels over time, particularly in Campaign. You do find along the way various little bits of story and you encounter people and have conversations with them and they sort of fill in a bit of what happens Around the world. So right now the players watching you, you in real time, you've moved your raft around, you've gotta avoid rocks or you can harm your raft and yourself. Yup, yup that's correct. And now you've just found the docking point to explore, what get more items things like that for survival? Yup that's the idea, so I stopped at a camp, I'm gonna shoo that crow away. And camps are rich in certain types of supplies. Let's see, it's night time so I'm passing a rabbit hole right now, which is why this, you'll see little tutorials and stuff pop up. They only ever happen the first time you play. But right now, let's see. I'm going to check my inventory because I'm starting New game. I wanna see the stuff that I've got. All right, I'm actually, let's see. I'm gonna eat some mulberries that I collected earlier. Okay yeah, I can see your hunger bar At the bottom, third your body temperature. You can get cold maybe when it rains and things like that. Yup. And it gets colder at night too. Okay. I'm actually- And it's the key and then there's also above your person, she looks a little beat up. Her eyes look pretty sad there. Yeah. You can see a [UNKNOWN] on the bar. Yup. And that'll change probably when she's fighting somebody maybe, or- Yeah, so when you spring around, like you can see this has Sly's going down. Well actually I'm going to, this is kind of our equivalent to audio logs. Okay. They're quilts. This actually came from one of our Kickstarter backers. We had a design a character tier and one person didn't really want to design a character she just asked if we could put a quilt in the game. So we're using these as sort of a story telling thing. So you can find these quilts and find these little stories in them. And they're actually written by Joe Fielder who was one of the writers on BioShock Infinite and is currently working on Underworld Descendent. A lot of you guys have great pedigrees. You yourself used to work at Irrational Games as well. Yep. Yeah, all the team did at one point or another. And you were a level designer? That is correct. I was the lead level designer. So, what inspired you guys to kinda break away and make this one. Well, I mean the simplest answer is the rational downsides of when we were out of work. All right, let's see. So there's a boar over there. He's coming after you. Yes, he is, I kinda irritated him. I don't really have enough supplies. To fight him? Yeah, so the combat in this game is largely based on traps. [LAUGH] All right. Well, I'm near a fire now, so I'm a little safe, like he's gonna kinda stay away. Okay. Let me collect bone stuff. So when you're teasing him a little bit. [LAUGH] > Uh-oh. Sorry, I cursed. [LAUGH] I think I was supposed to keep my language clean. Yeah, you startled me. It'll be fine. Let's see, you know what? I I am gonna run out of here, because I don't have the stuff that I need to make a trap. And if you, now obviously, there's a rabbit. And there's another rabbit right there. I do have, so let me see if I can find. But if you become injured, you don't have a lot of options, right? Like you basically. You need a splint to find or can you make items as well to heal yourself? Yeah, you can make items. So, there's nothing that can happen to you that there isn't a solution for. But, a big part of learning the game is learning that, like learning what you need to carry with you. All right, let's see, okay, bunny rabbit. [LAUGH] Are you gonna try and scare him in towards the trap? Yes. Great. All right, there we go. A lot of people might find some kind of similarities with this with don't starve or something where you're kind of like constantly fighting the elements. But you have added a really great Story element to this as well. So not only are you trying to survive, but there's obviously something else going on in the world that's continuously happening that you get to return to and keep trying to find more information about. Yep. That probably keeps the player more interested because it can get really daunting just constantly trying to live. And then once you find out how to live, What's the motivation to keep playing? Well, so that's part of, there's a couple. Like there is just endless mode, and a lot of people, like that's what's been in early access. And a lot of people are just playing it just to see how far they can make it. Uh-huh. And we've seen people make it incredible distances that I wouldn't have predicted were possible. But then in campaign as well there is But right now I'm just trying to get downriver. You know what I'm actually gonna. Oops! No. All right I'm driving really poorly right now. Okay. But this is really good to show everybody this new element that I've never seen in a game before, which is not only is it a survival game but now you have this live action. A sequence where you have to dodge, and you're able to kind of shift your boat really quickly. It does take stamina though, does it not? Yeah, you basically get 4 boosts, or 3 depending on the difficulty that you're on. When you hit some rapids you gotta be really quick to actually Yeah, and really the idea of the river is it's a force that's always pushing you along I'm gonna stop here cuz there's a really good chance that there's water in [INAUDIBLE] and I will really need water. Mm-hm. But yeah, but much like an actual river, ooh, I'm gonna be able to make the tracks too. You can't really fully fight the current. You just sort of need to work with it. And that was one of the, sort of the key ideas of The River, is like as you're traveling down and you're seeing these different locations and deciding where are the important ones, where do you need to stop. And there's a risk and reward with stopping as well. Like you'll find items, but there's also the potential that you'll run into a boar or a wolf or something that can really hurt you if you're not prepared. All right so, I'm going to eat this garlic, cuz I don't need anything else to do with it. Okay. And there's actually, let's see, there's a couple things here that are useful. So I'm gonna grab some sapling. I'm gonna go over to this well and just fill up my water jar. Great. You know what? Actually, I'm gonna- You should probably drink it. Yeah, I'm just gonna drink it. Yeah, the well, you only get one use whenever you find a well. That's a shame. How do you know, I've seen sometimes you find water and it's not clean. Well, that lady looks great. So this is also randomly along the river, you can find NPCs that might help you out a little bit. She looks really nutso- Yeah. [LAUGH] So, [LAUGH]. All right, I'm gonna kinda zip through this, actually. So, this might not be story-related? This is just a random generation of someone who can help you? Yeah, so, basically, NPCs either fill in some back story around the world or They do show up in like the main campaign. Or they can offer to trade. Like in her case if you you know select a story to tell her I forget what she gives you. She gives you something. I think she made a trap or something. Okay. I think I'm gonna get that. All right. Because you told her an amusing anecdote. Yes. All right. I think she's a heavy Southern drawl. [LAUGH] We get to fill in with our own imagination. Yeah, we really didn't wanna do voice recording for this, mostly, there's a lot of things that we've elected Cool there's another well. Great! But there is some tremendous sound design. So where there's not character audio, you, the audience can probably hear right now, there is beautiful music in the background with lyrics. You guys chose lyrical background music which is a great touch, kind of help with the loneliness the player might feel. Yeah and I thought it was kind of a nice contrast with the quietness of the game Let's see. Yeah, working on the music was great. We actually had just sent the musician, Chuck Ragan, a long list of sort of words that were associated with sort of feelings and ideas that we wanted to Convey in the game. And right here, I'm gonna keep this whole stack. And he wrote an album based on that, which is coming out very soon. And actually his folks are watching this and are on the East coast. He's gonna be touring in February, playing a bunch of venues in the Northeast. They go to the, if they have to be from Boston see the show at the Sinclair. I bet you will run into the whole [UNKNOWN] sled team which is all of us. [BLANK_AUDIO] Now does your dog have any? What else does your dog help you with? So he calls out You know, objects like threats in the world and things which you can collect and it also serves as like an expansion to your inventory. Mm-hm. And one of the nice things about him is when you die, when you start over anything that was stored on his bag, you start out with. So when you're sort of in the death throw's it's sort of a good idea to go into your inventory And figure out like, okay, I want this spear trap in my next life so I'm gonna move it Got it, got it. Well that's an interesting touch cuz you guys take some liberties with the realism of this game. I know if you break your leg, let's say, and you use a splint you're magically running again Yeah, everything's supposed to be based sort of in It comes from a place of authenticity. But there's certainly fudging here and there for the sake of gameplay. But there was a ton of research that went into just figuring out what are the plants that you? Can die from. [LAUGH] Yeah, or what yields you, these [UNKNOWN] things. Okay. Like aloe for a burn. Do you have to conduct research to know these things or does the player already come with a lot of this information? The player, this info is in the journal right from the get go. You do unlock recipes, like you get little pop ups as you collect all the supplies you need. Crap. Ooh, that's a tough one. But, yeah, there's not sort of research you need to invest in. But yeah, as recipes become available they alert you in the HUD that now you can make this, now you can make that. You know what, I'm actually a good [INAUDIBLE] so I'm gonna kind of bomb that river. I'm gonna see If i can make it to high cross. I don't think I'm gonna make it. There's some more rapids on- Yeah, I'm kinda gonna stay out of them a little bit cuz I'm a little bit of a weenie and I don't wanna die. I am gonna- It's pretty dangerous. I am going to go over here. Okay. So you can loot in the water and it's kind of prompted by those little circles that let you know, little highlights [INAUDIBLE] Yeah, yeah. If you look closely, it's a little red shopping cart actually. Keep your eye out for the shopping cart. Dog at the helm. Yeah. [INAUDIBLE] another one. So that's [INAUDIBLE] whole mess of debris right now [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO] Visually a very beautiful game, there has obviously been a lot of work into the details of this. How many people do you have working on that. The total team size is six. So. Okay, small. It's really the art team is three people, there's Our art director, Sinclair, who was the art director on Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite. And he kinda makes all of the textures, all the models that you see in the world. And then there is Chad, who is the environment artist. And he sort of puts it all together in the world. And then laugh. Remember the R team is [INAUDIBLE] who does animator. She's an animator and does a lot of tech art. So really like the world that you're seeing, like the actual pixels on the screen were built entirely by two people.>> And it's really tremendous and they've done a great job with Keeping the water in the same style as the game, which, I think, is a lot of times something that's more difficult than you might think. You've done a good job, nothing else in the game is realistic. It's got a really brilliant art style that's fluid throughout all of it, and he still found a way to make the rapids look completely different than still water. Yeah, well, and we wanted that to It is challenging because there's like an inclination with especially we're using the Unreal Engine. There's all these sort of water plugins that just make super realistic water. But that was like maybe the easiest way to go. She's got water droplets coming off of her because she's wet. Yeah. And you can also see that because there's a little icon above her thing she's currently [UNKNOWN]. Now, what's the one on the right that says shirt that's got an arrow below. Does that mean that her- Yeah, that means I'm ill equipped. Okay. And what that means is that the air temperature is much lower than the heat rating of my clothing. So if I look here, you can see over on the right I'm wearing cotton pants, light boots, basically starting equipment. Right. And the air temperature is way lower than my gear rating, so I'm getting colder. I'm actually going to- Get some sleep? For just a minute, which will also dry me off and warm me up a little bit. Right, and it's good. It's letting you know ahead of time, when you're sleeping, how hungry and how thirsty you're gonna be when you wake up. Yep. So you Have to give yourself some rest, but maybe not as much as you would like. Yeah. Four hours is not enough for a young adventurer. No. I'm getting pretty hungry, I'm gonna see, can I? Did you eat that rabbit already? No. Do you need to cook it in a campfire? Yeah, I was gonna make a campfire- Okay. And cook it up. No, what did I use that I needed? To make your fire? Right. [LAUGH] I used something. I was like just make the hammer. My flint. Okay. How hard is it to obtain new flints? Cuz it's all random, right? Yeah. You should known your odds, you did it. [LAUGH] Yeah, I just wasn't paying attention. I'm gonna run out of here actually and look for a camp. Okay. Actually, a camp will always have a lit fire too, so I won't even need to make one. And how long would you say, cuz you're saying you can save it and you will come back to the campaign. Mm-hm. In a ballpark, So there is an end game, there is a winning solution to the campaign. How long does it take to get there? I think it takes around four to five hours once you really know what you're doing. I don't think many people are gonna sit down the first time they play the game- And succeed, yeah. Yeah, I'm sure people who are playing in early access will be able to because they know the game really well. But that's part of the idea of it is it's knowledge-based. You figure out how to play it over time. I'm gonna try and bob down river faster. That is a dangerous game you're playing, my god. [LAUGH] I think I got it. Man. [MUSIC] Aw Christ. It's unfortunate. I'm fine, I got it. No you don't. No, no, I don't got it. All right, so what kind of things, do you lose items ever, or you just harm your boat and possibly yourself? If it's a really hard impact, there's a chance that it'll delete a random item from one of your Your inventory. [INAUDIBLE] here. Otherwise, I'm getting pretty hungry. I don't know if I'm gonna [UNKNOWN]. This is one of the, we're still working on a couple of little performance issues. Uh-huh. And. You've mentioned before because like this game is pretty close to being done, but you're obviously still tweaking a few things here and there. Yep, some very minor stuff. Especially on this is the XBox version, but this game is also coming out on PC. Yes, that's correct. I am going to while I'm here Making another trap, eh? Yeah, well, there's up at the edge of the screen right now, just pan the camera up a little bit. There's a wolf. [UNKNOWN] Yeah. You definitely, I didn't see him. There's actually a couple wolves. How do you see those? I only, I see one [UNKNOWN] Sleeping behind [UNKNOWN]. Yeah, there's one sleeping behind him. Let me see if there's a third, cuz I think, I'm gonna go back to the raft real quick and I'm going to, I think I've got what I need to make, yes. You're getting items from From your boat. Yeah, I picked up- that you didn't have room to hold. Yeah, so I keep a lot of crafting items on my boat just because I don't need- Does your raft get full, too? Do you ever throw away items? Yeah, yeah, eventually, let's see. All right, you gotta add [INAUDIBLE]. I'm just gonna toss this out there first. All right. So I don't have two going at Okay. So that's now poison me. That's pretty mean. No, now there's three of them. Okay. This isn't good. What's your plan? My plan is probably. Come on, come on, buddy. Get them to go into the trap? My plan is to try to get as much as I can from these guys. While running. I missed the impact, but he is super dead. Yes, and I'm just gonna- Jet? I'm just gonna bail out. Go. All right. And I don't know if I'm gonna find a fire. You're pretty hungry. Does- I'm just gonna, I'm just going for it. Yeah? Is it fresh? All right. Okay, he's out sick. Yeah, yeah- Right- So that's not good. That's unfortunate. What do I need to, sumac tea. I saw Into the Wild, and it's not good. All right, I actually- You have a parasite, ew. I had sumac, and I have water, But now I need a fire so I can make some tea. Okay, which you still don't have flint. Yeah. I still don't have flint. How long can you have a parasite? I saw your vision go hazy for a little bit, but it looks like it's gone now. No I still have it like you can see right over my little stamina bar there's a little throbbing thing there. But it won't make you visually, it won't disrupt you. No, those happen when you get an affliction or when you're about to die. And they're about to advance, all right And what kind of, my gosh that was I got some delicious grubs out of that Right? And you're still hungry? Yeah, so one of the things that if you have afflictions, they actually make your stats drop, so eating raw meat gives you like Follow them out of hell. No and your cotton t-shirt's not having it. Yeah exactly. Well you have a lot of stuff. Wait but there's a camp, but it's gonna rain which means I can't start a fire, but I can get the flame maybe. You have a lot. Come on, come on, come on, no, christ. You're having a lot of trouble. Yes I am. No, it's good. I've got this. It's under control. You're officially wet. Yeah. There's a bus. I know you can sleep in those. All right. Okay, you're going to dock here. Right, okay. Austin has flint and always has a lit fire. Although that's actually, that's kind of incorrect, because the fire- It's raining? Wouldn't be able to be lit, if it weren't raining. Okay. Okay. [SOUND] And you have, you guys are pretty much feature finally. Like you said, you are still tweaking a few things. There's a few hiccups here and there that you guys are going to finish, but you guys are pretty much close to Yeah, we're down to sort of performance issues and what not at this point. No, no. No, a big, mean boar. Yeah, all right, just leave me alone, dude. [LAUGH] You're not having any luck today. He's right there. Crap, I got the flint. You got lacerated. No, I don't, crap. I've got a full inventory. [LAUGH] You've been lacerated, you're wet. Your T-Shirt isn't working and you have a parasite. All right. I'm getting out of this forest. All right, they are very territorial, he's going to lose interest in me. Eric, did your animation change because you have so much crap going on? Yeah. I'm going to eat these grubs. I'm feeling pretty good because I ate a bunch of grubs. Okay, all right, that cleared out a little space. You look so sad and defeated. Let me see, so I'm gonna see, all right. So the intestinal parasites you just work through over time. But they make you get hungrier faster. The laceration I'm gonna need to deal with because if I don't I'm gonna get an infection. And if I don't do that I get sepsis, and sepsis will kill me. Now come on I can hear the boar I know, I can too [INAUDIBLE] No, dude, Dangerous situation. He missed you All right, I'm out [LAUGH] No, all right. Forget it. My god. [LAUGH] I'm not going to have time to deal with him. Maybe I could, I might be able to build a trap. You're building the item where you can actually build the trap itself? Yeah. All right, boar friend, I'm gonna take a little vacation from trying to survive just to kill you cuz I want your [UNKNOWN] boar meat. [LAUGH] You are hungry. I am very hungry. And sick and tired and almost dead. All right, come on. Come on dude, come on. Yeah, there you go. Man. All right, so now you're going to build a fire? You know what, actually because the, let's see, yeah. I mean. Come on, she looks terrible. Yeah, all right, all right. I'm going to make a fire. [MUSIC] All right. [SOUND] She's wet, sickly. Aw, you get to sit next to it? Yeah, I'm gonna warm right up. And it's gonna cure my wetness. Gonna eat some cooked meat. Great, so many things have gone well. No, I need two connects, uh-oh, all right. To- To make the tea. So you're not sick anymore? Yeah, so I'm gonna live with the bacteria for a little while longer. [LAUGH] Can it ever go away on its own? Or do you have to solve it? No, so if you look at Like when you look at your afflictions you can see theres these little progress bars. Right. And if there's nothing at the other end it's just gonna go away on its end. Got it, just like real diseases. Yeah, exactly. Well, kind of. You have an opportunity, sometimes it just goes away, you can risk it. All right. See look at this. Some clothes? [SOUND] Whoa! I don't have any stitching kits right now. But let's see. Now I'm just tired. But it's going well. Things are coming up Millhouse. You've got a lot of good stuff going for you. Well, this is a really great intro into This game, when-ish do you think people can expect to see it on shelves? We'll have an announcement very, very soon. But I'm shooting for some time next month. Okay. So very, very soon. Very, very soon, yeah. Absolutely. So a nice Valentine's release. [LAUGH] Something like that, yeah. Sweet. Well, [UNKNOWN] thanks so much for showing Showing us the game. That was The Flame And The Flood, you guys can expect to see that on PC and Xbox One pretty soon. Yep, absolutely. Great, thanks a lot. Great, thank you so much. [BLANK_AUDIO]