In the rougelike game Road Not Taken, from development studio Spry Fox, you play as a ranger who lives near a small village. Although you are not a traditional townsperson, your skills are often called upon for a variety of services. comes from a poem by Robert Frost.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
This poem speaks to the heart of what this game is all about, a character who lives off the beaten path. It is something that the game’s creator is familiar with. I got the chance to interview the developers about this game, porting it to Android TV, and deeper into philosophy and culture than I intended.
On the Game’s Origins
What was the original idea behind Road Not Taken?
[Editor’s note: I was directed to a link for this question, so this answer is interpreted.]
The developer’s life has been non-traditional, far from the expectations that are normally set in life. Along the way, he started to understand that many people have lives off the beaten path. In this game, you play as a person who doesn’t fit in with the normal expectations of the village. However, you still find a purpose and find meaning in helping the village. “You can try to live a perfect life.”
There is a repeated theme in our upcoming game, Road Not Taken. The characters in our little northern town have all lived their lives according to the same plan: first you go to school, then you get a job, then you fall in love and finally you start a family.
But life doesn’t always work out that way.
How big was the development team? Was it split between graphics, programmers, and composers?
For the main (PC) sku it was 2 engineers (expanding to 4 towards the end, during the final polish push), two designers, one artist, 2 QA folks, and 1 producer. Each of the port teams had their own engineers.
How long did the development process take? What unexpected hurdles did you face?
More than a year. Some of the unexpected hurdles came from the realization that while people don’t mind dying and starting over in most roguelikes, they really hated losing their progress in RNT. So we had to introduce an easy mode and a savepoint system, which we originally thought wouldn’t be necessary, to account for that. Another hurdle was that people really wanted the game to have a LOT more secrets, but when we added those secrets, they started to complain about difficulty learning and using them all. 🙂 That turned into a balancing act.
On Android TV
Why did you decide to support Android TV?
Because it was relatively easy, since the game already had a console version.
I had some trouble playing the game on some controllers. How much work went into Android TV testing?
As much work as we could manage. 🙂 We’re a very small studio with limited resources, and the large number of Android devices on the market makes it pretty much impossible for us to cover every base.
What’s next for Spry Fox? Any new games in the works?
We’re working on a sequel to Alphabear, a coop VR game for Daydream called “Beartopia”, and a bullet hell MMO for PC/Mac called “Steambirds Alliance”. 🙂 If folks are interested in learning more about any of those, they should follow us on twitter or facebook @spryfox! And of course, visit our website: www.spryfox.com.
It’s a fascinating game and it makes you think deeply about each of our lives and our place in the world. As I comment, I had some trouble playing with one of the controllers, so I only got so far in the game. The game has generated a sort of intrigue since this interview, and I’ve been itching to play it more even though I’m pretty busy. If you have more free time than me, check out the game on Google Play. It’s $5 on Google Play.