Videogame development is not an easy process. From level design and sound to writing and bug testing, there are multiple aspects that go into making a game. For Chad and Joe Waller, the team behind Dual Wield Software, the road to game creation has not been an easy one, but it has been a fulfilling one.
The duo comes from the small town of La Crescent Minnesota, where according to them, they spend half the year miserably frozen and the other half miserably hot. Their debut game, The Land Of Glass is a stained-glass style RPG/Card game and it launches on Tuesday, March 27th on Steam.
CGMagazine’s Alex Handziuk had the opportunity to sit down with Dual Wield Softwares two-man team to talk about the journey of creating The Land of Glass and the importance of long walks.
CGMagazine: Thanks for taking the time to sit down and talk to me! So after five years of work, The Land of Glass is finally releasing later this month. How does it feel to be done the game?
Joe Waller: Scary, ’cause now we gotta face the music and see if anyone actually wants to play the thing.
CGMagazine: For those who haven’t heard of the game, what is The Land Of Glass all about?
Chad Waller: The plot to the story is a fairly uh, tried-and-true high fantasy affair. You got these eight countries who open these portals in an effort to expand trade or go back and forth and stuff like that a lot easier. Something goes wrong and monsters start coming out and just start destroying everything. So the characters, whoever you pick, you’re basically trying to save the world. However, the plot itself isn’t that important. The game is a character study. Each set of protagonists is saving the world for different reasons, some noble some not. Like, Pak believes it’s all his fault that the portals broke, because he helped make them, and he’s got this “sky is falling” attitude about everything. If there’s a conclusion to jump to, he’ll jump to it. So he’s questing to basically fix what happened.
Marcus, meanwhile, is on this quest because his King ordered him to. It’s a suicide mission though, with a lot of politics at play. He knows this, but he goes on the mission anyways because he’s taken vows and sworn to protect his home, whatever the cost. He’s a knight, and that’s how he wants to define himself because if he strips that away, all that’s left is a person he doesn’t like. So the characters are on their own personal quests and they bring their own personal biases and grievances into it. They think they understand the world and its motives, but they don’t, so if you play the game more than once, you’ll get a bigger picture on what Vitrerran really is as a place to live.
CGMagazine: How did The Land of Glass come about?
Chad Waller: It started off as kind of a conversation that we were having about iOS games and touch screens and how you could do a more action-oriented game with one of those. And it grew and grew, and five years later, here we are. That’s the cliff notes version of it.
Joe Waller: Yeah, we obviously went away from the whole mobile game idea pretty early on honestly because the project was getting really big and what we wanted to do with the game wouldn’t work so well on a smaller screen. There’s been a fair bit of carryover from the early day ideas, but a lot has changed, especially the gameplay. It’s been a process, and I want to clarify that it’s been five years since the ideas inception and not five years of work. So it’s been more like two and a half strong years of work with three years on top of that being somewhat sporadic.
CGMagazine: What made you two decide to go with a card game/RPG style game? Was that something that was set from the beginning or did it come about later on?
Joe Waller: It was a very early idea but it did develop more towards the card game structure and then more and more towards an RPG structure. I’m not really sure what we were thinking to some capacity to how it got to where it is. It just sort of trying ideas and changing it as we need to but the decision to make it a card game came pretty early on. I don’t remember why a card game though.
Chad Waller: Oh I remember why! This came back to us making it an iOS thing and using the touchscreen to deal damage and make some sort of action game. And we were throwing ideas about using a grid or something like that and using spaces on a grid to deal damage. Joe was the one who was like, well what if it’s cards? Because that way you can assign more than one value to the taps and you could put other things with it, that would eventually become spells.
Joe Waller: It was also very early on that the concept of it being card-based game had sumo wrestling style aspects where you have to knock the opponent off of a board. Honestly, all of this stuff came about when we were going on a walk and we were just kind of throwing things back and forth. And a lot of the development of the game, if we were trying to think of something or fix an issue or trying to work through some sort of design aspect, walks are how we handle a lot of stuff.
CGMagazine: On that note, what was the hardest part of the five-year journey from initial idea to release date?
Chad Waller: Part of it is just staying motivated and invested in the project because it’s really easy to get burned out. What helped is that there are so many things that go into making a game, sound design, level design etc. and so if you get tired of one aspect you can go and work on something else. It still comes to the point where you’re like, we’re three and a half years into this, and it can be rather hard to find the motivation to sit down and keep going.
“If you see any screenshot from The Land of Glass, you know where that’s from because there’s nothing out there that really looks like it.”
CGMagazine: The art direction in The Land Of Glass really stands out, and it’s even reflected in the name of the game. What went into the decision to make that sort of stainless aesthetic?
Joe Waller: I was out for a walk by myself and I saw a stain-glass art piece hanging in a window and I thought that that would be a neat art style for a game. And that’s literally all it was.
CGMagazine: I really need to take more walks.
Chad Waller: Also for the art, I don’t remember what indie games were popular at the time but it was always one that had a very distinct style that was instantly recognizable as belonging to that game. If you see Bastion, you know immediately what game that is because of the stylistic choices that they’ve made. And we wanted to do something like that too. If you see any screenshot from The Land of Glass, you know where that’s from because there’s nothing out there that really looks like it.
CGMagazine: What games or art inspired The Land of Glass?
Chad Waller: There’s a couple but one of the weirder ones is Mega Man because you can play the levels in not any order you want but split into two sets of four. So you can play the first four levels in any order you want and the second four levels in any order you want.
Joe Waller: In classic Mega Man style the order is non-linear but there is a preferred order for those who know the games well and Land of Glass isn’t like that. But in terms of giving the player an option at the start of the game to do things a little differently each time was something we liked the idea of so we decided to try it out. It definitely caused some writing problems for Chad but it worked out well overall.
Chad Waller: Also, While I don’t have all the specifics, I do know bits of World of Warcraft made it in, as that game was a definitive RPG for me. I played it too much in college. What we brought in was … an aspect of the reward system. In WoW, the biggest and shiniest upgrade was always your weapon. A new weapon meant you were ready for new content. In The Land of Glass, our armour system breaks down to nothing but weapons. You get new abilities–attacks, defences, magic–and new weapons (and rings, but those are a bit more special). The weapons change in game, so if you find a new sword and equip it, you swing that sword. Armour is fun, helmets and pants or whatever, but it feels more passive than a new axe or polearm. We wanted active because the game is an action game at heart.
CGMagazine: Since you two are brothers, how was the process of working on the game?
Chad Waller: It’s been surprisingly less dramatic then most people would think. I mean we probably bother each other a fair bit but not to the degree of shouting matches. Personally, I have a problem where I don’t name the files intelligently, I know that’s pissed Joe off a few times.
Joe Waller: A little bit.
Chad Waller: But it’s usually been pretty good and a lot of things can be solved by conversation.
CGMagazine: And long walks.
Chad Waller: And long walks.
Joe Waller: And me telling Chad what he should change and what he needs to do better.
CGMagazine: There are eight protagonists in the game, who are your personal favourites?
Chad Waller: On my end James and Markus, the standard knight and mage pairing have a lot of humour in their campaign which I think works rather well. And there are some fun twists for the characters as you get into the latter parts of the game. But overall, I kind of like and hate all of them because I’ve had to write and re-write all they dialogue so many times.
Joe Waller: That hasn’t been so much of an issue with me because of writers and their whole perfectionist mindset. It’s kind of funny because Chad makes changes and I’m like, that’s totally better, I don’t know if it was worth fretting this much over but I’m glad you changed it. For me, I haven’t really had much of an issue with any of the characters in a negative sense but in a positive sense, I definitely would say Pakasoph and Caud are definitely my favourites in terms of their characters. In terms of story, I’d say that Herahk and Aros campaign is definitely my favourite.
CGMagazine: Being a two-person team where there moments where you weren’t sure what you were doing and had to learn on the go?
Chad Waller: I would say that almost everything that I was involved in I had to learn on the job. This is the first time that I’ve ever used a Daw to make music or sound effects, this is the first time I’ve ever had to design a level. Thankfully, the writing thing I came in knowing how to do but writing for a video game and writing for a book or a short story is pretty different. I will say that the whole learning on the job thing was one of the most exciting things about this project, like when it comes to music I have always wanted to get into making music and trying my hand at that. Being able to step into that artistic medium in a meaningful way was really quite rewarding.
Joe Waller: The engine that powers the game is custom written in C++ and Open GL, and there were lots of development problems and issues just to get things running, including worrying about running things on different computers because different problems crop up for different people. Some of it I definitely had experience with prior to working on Land of Glass, but this is definitely a from scratch game in pretty much every aspect and as a result, there was a lot to figure out and improve upon and re-write. It was a process.
CGMagazine: Now that you guys are done development and the game is on the way any day now, are there plans to work on future gaming related projects?
Joe Waller: It’s hard to say but we’re really focusing on bringing post-launch content to The Land of Glass, adding some new things for people to do as free DLC and content updates. We want to do another separate campaign as well as add in multiplayer to the game.
Chad Waller: The game is a CCG (Card Collecting Game) and so you collect all these cards and the action element is fun, so I think it would be cool to actually be able to play with other people. That way you can see who has the better deck and who has the better reaction. And overall we’re just excited for the game’s launch. I hope people like it and I hope people get excited about it. We’ve been working on it so long and it’s hard to look at it objectively. But we think people will like it and writing wise I approached it by writing the story first and then design the levels around it so it’s more organic. For people who really like RPG’s and who want a narrative experience, I feel like this game fits perfectly for that audience.
CGMagazine: Last Question, what does the world need more of?
Chad Waller: Positivity would be nice.
Joe Waller: And Dance offs!
You can follow Chad and Joe on Twitter at @DualWieldSoft and on their Facebook for updates on the game, post-launch content and straight up interaction. The Land of Glass launches on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, on Steam and retails for $14.99 USD.