Idol Minds Talks Ruin
One of the games unveiled at Sony’s E3 Press Conference was a little dungeon crawler speculatively called Ruin. We didn’t get a whole lot of information on this project at the conference though. Fortunately, I got to spend some time with Jeff Litchford, VP of Prodcution for Idol Minds, and was given a detailed rundown. I even got to play it for a little bit. I must say, this is definitely a game that I’ll be watching closely.
At first glance, Ruin looks like a typical dungeon crawler, similar to the Diablo series or the indie hit Torchlight. Exaggerated fantasy character swings his way through a dungeon, breaking jars, plundering treasure chests, and collecting loot. I even managed to confirm that Ruin will contain the traditional red and blue pots players have come to expect from the genre.
But Ruin does some innovative things. The game revolves around the concept of a lair, a home base that players will constantly be returning to after dungeon runs. Each lair features a central hub, with access to three rooms: the forge, the minion room, and the character room. As you collect items during dungeon runs, you will be able to place them in one of these rooms to enhance certain aspects of your game.
The example Litchford gave me dealt with a poisonous mushroom. Say you placed this mushroom in your forge, it would allow you to craft weapons enhanced with poison. (Crafting takes place in this forge, and functions similar to the way cooking does in Café World. You can start your character crafting something and shut down your game, and your character will continue working in your absence.) In your character room, the mushroom would provide an enhancement to your character, and in the minion room, the mushroom would give your minions some sort of poison-related powers.
The social element of the game revolves around these lairs. Whenever you want, you are able to attack another player’s lair. When this happens, the game will generate a dungeon based on what your opponent has placed inside their lair. The minions mentioned above feature here. The attacker will have to travel through this dungeon and fight waves of these minions in order to obtain some bit of treasure.
Litchford admits to being inspired by Mafia Wars. In Mafia Wars, players are able to attack others, which causes the attacked player to be immediately notified. This is the basis for the social interaction in Ruin. Players will be able to attack others by invading their lairs, and the victim will be notified in real time. So even while your system is powered off, you could still be attacked.
But don’t worry about spending hours of time working on your lair only to have it destroyed by a high-level character. When an opponent strikes, a loot pool is generated. If attackers manage to complete a lair dungeon without dying, they will get the entire loot pool. But as they die, some of that loot pool is distributed to the defender. After a certain amount of deaths, the entire loot pool will go to the defender. So even if someone attacks your lair, you won’t lose anything, but just defending can net you some great rewards. It’s possible to fire up the game to find out you’ve earned a bunch of loot just by having a good lair setup. Also similar to Mafia Wars, Ruin will link players up automatically that have similar stats. You won’t have to worry about a level 30 character coming through and making quick work of your level 5 lair. But unlike Mafia Wars, the goal with Ruin was that one player would continually keep encountering the same set of rivals, thus building ongoing rivalries with them.
Litchford provided an example: say a character named Bunnypuncher attacks your lair. It is likely Bunnypuncher will show up on your radar when you look through your list of rivals. Also, you’ll most likely be attacked by Bunnypuncher again in the future. However, as the gap between your levels increases, Bunnypuncher will slowly fall off your radar to be eventually be replaced with someone more similar to you in stats. This should keep you on a level playing field, but is designed to allow you to build long-term relationships with other players.
So how does the single-player campaign factor in? Well, there are quick dungeon runs that will allow you to collect loot. This loot is what you will be placing inside your lair to give you enhancements. If you defeat a boss during a dungeon run—I encountered a gigantic dragon during my play session—you will receive an item that causes that boss to spawn within your lair when it is attacked.
Ruin features cross-platform play between PS3 and the PlayStation Vita. Litchford explained that if you start swinging your sword on the Vita, but save before the sword makes contact, you can load that save on the PS3 and finish delivering the blow. To prove his point, he let me try this feature myself, and it worked perfectly.
Ruin will use both the front and back touch panels on the Vita, and will support Move on the PS3. However, Litchford expressed the desire that neither PS3 nor Vita players would have any tactical advantage. This is something Idol Minds is still working out, so further details on these control options are unavailable at this time.
All in all, I was quite impressed with what I saw. Ruin provides a dungeon crawler experience that appeals to hardcore gamers, yet is full of social gaming-type functions. Litchford and the team at Idol Minds have high hopes that Ruin will be available for PS Vita on launch day.