Hi, I'm Arthur Bruno (Medierra on the Grim Dawn forums). Once upon a time I was a top ranked ladder player in Age of Empires who stumbled into the game industry largely by accident. I ended up leaving college for my first design job on Empire Earth but later returned to finish. In 2001 I was recruited to work at Iron Lore Entertainment, which was then a tiny startup studio in a cramped, windowless basement office. Over the next seven years I became lead designer, shipped Titan Quest and Immortal Throne, pitched games to publishers and experienced the studio's end days. When Iron Lore closed in 2008, I made the insane decision to try launching my own studio. It has been a wild ride with a lot of hardship but it has also been very personally fulfilling. We've been working out of our homes developing our first game, an action-RPG called Grim Dawn for about 2.5 years now. We've recently launched a Kickstarter for it that we hope will help us complete the rest of the game and get it into the eager hands of players before the world ends in a zombie apocalypse.

So yeah, I'll answer as much as I can! Game development, Titan Quest / Iron Lore, life and times of an indie developer, dealing with publishers, Grim Dawn, or whatever else... oh and proof

EDIT - Okay, looks like I got most of the questions, so, I'm signing off for now. Wow, 8 hours of reddit, it was fun marathon! Thank you to everything who came to support us and for all the positive and encouraging comments. Really wasn't expecting this to be such an overwhelmingly positive experience! Reddit rocks!

Comments: 623 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

THOFDA187 karma

One of my favorite little "features" from Titan Quest was how if you saw a little goat-man running at you with some bad-ass glowing sword of doom he actually dropped it. It was awesome how mobs would actually wear the loot that was on them; will we see something like this in Grim Dawn?

Medierra146 karma

Yes, we've tweaked the system a little so that enemies can sometimes drop things that aren't equipped (although we're still trying to keep that semi-appropriate) but if they have a magic item, that item will always drop. If it is just a common item, it can break and you won't see it but bad-ass glowing swords of doom will always drop when equipped.

Sariat89 karma

Holy crap. I'm supposed to be studying for my finals, but I need to tell you, your game is amazing. Everyone wants to go ape for Diablo 3, but I keep telling 'em, Diablo 3 came out years ago. They called it Titan's Quest, and there was a sweet metal track at the end.

Medierra82 karma

Haha, thank you! The hidden track was by a band called Bang Camaro that our lead programmer was in. We might actually be able to get them to do a new song for Grim Dawn. ; )

hikemhigh85 karma


Medierra42 karma

Haha, yeah Bryn Bennett, he actually left Harmonix (where he ended up after ILE) last year and is working on his own indie game. I'm not sure what the name is yet but his studio is called Eerie Canal.

bgk001852 karma

Just wanted to thank you for your part in Titan Quest/Immortal Throne. It was one of the most played games with my brothers and Dad right up there with Diablo 2. I already paid for the Legendary game key ages ago and still eagerly wait for Grim Dawn. :D

Medierra24 karma

Awesome to hear you enjoyed TQ and TQIT so much! Thank you for supporting Grim Dawn!

ashleywr46 karma

So excited for Grim Dawn. Been following forever, and cannot wait.

  1. Has there been any thought into adding systems to make combat more actiony? Dodge-rolls, timed blocks ect? Obviously this would be a departure for most ARPG's, just wondering if you've ever considered it.

  2. Been playing another ARPG that's in beta right now where they have potions as actual loot, that have stats and refill with kills. Have you though about taking items like potions and whatnot and making them loot that has stats and abilities?

  3. One of the big problems I've heard my friends had with TQ was that the multiplayer was so open, compared to D2 which they vastly preferred. Will the multiplayer be largely the same, or will you run your own servers to validate characters to stop cheating and have the ability to charge micropaymetns for cosmetics and whatnot.

  4. Since you are publishing the game yourself, will you release tools and/or making the game modable? I know TQ owes a lot of its following to the modders, and it'd be great to open it up to them in some way.

Thanks and can't wait for the alpha and the release!

Medierra39 karma

1) We've sort of considered it but we're at a point where we really need to be careful about what new features we take on with our very limited resources. I also sort of feel like that isn't quite the type of game we're building. To me, ARPG is more about the sort of meta-tactics of laying down synergistic skills, figuring the best way to counter certain enemies, tactical movement to avoid being surrounded / avoid high-damage attacks, etc and of course the strategic aspect of character building.

2) We've changed our health / resource system so that potions don't really play as big of a role. Not only do classes all have health recovery skills but there is a fast-regen that happens when you haven't been hit for a few seconds, similar to many shooters. So, given that and the extra inventory management / display required for different stat potions, we feel like it isn't a good fit.

3) It will most likely start out largely like TQ. We realize closed servers are hugely important to people but they're also hugely expensive to build given that we'd need to convert the game to run with a server-side architecture and build a multiplayer platform. This is something we'd be very interested in doing down the road though if Grim Dawn is successful and we have the resources. 4) Yes definitely, we've even made improvements to the modding tools and will be able to better support the modding community as an indie studio with ownership of the game.

metalthorns31 karma

What aspects of Titan Quest have been improved for Grim Dawn in your own opinion?

Medierra66 karma

The biggest are mood / atmosphere and combat. I always felt like TQ was a little flat in terms of the atmosphere. There wasn't that sense of mystery and danger that the Diablo games do so well. We've put a lot of effort into developing that more and creating an interesting world with a well-developed history. We've also put a ton of effort into combat and pacing. We've added blood / gore effects, enemy hit reactions, special deaths for some enemies, others ragdoll, zombies can be dismembered, hit sounds are crunchier, blood spatters on the ground and pools under bodies, etc.

There are also a lot of cool new features though. The more open world is something I really enjoy as a player who prefers to ignore the main story and run off exploring. We've also added more randomized elements, dynamic weather, a faction system, destructible environments - really cool busting through doors or blowing up walls to reveal hidden areas.

TheBigHairy19 karma

I am SO glad you guys are addressing the atmosphere. I really liked the first few areas of Titan Quest, but after a while you start to realize that it just doesn't change very much. I'm looking forward to see what you guys do in the future!

Also if I might voice an opinion, the idea of a centralized hub/base from which quests and missions are launched really appeals to me. I couldn't tell you any of the places in Titan Quest except maybe...Memphis. None of them really had any impact on me other than to run through them as quickly as possible.

Medierra10 karma

I totally agree on the hub areas. On TQ, part of the owner's vision was to visit as many of the cities and sites of the ancient world as possible. This is cool from a historical perspective but, as you say, it prevents the player from ever really building any nostalgia for a given area. Because the content was spread out through so many cities, much of them were just largely eye-candy you ran past. In Grim Dawn, most of the game is centered around the survivor enclave called Devil's Crossing, an old prison where refugees have taken shelter. There are other peripheral survival enclaves you'll discover out in the world but Devil's Crossing is the main hub.

Durrok8 karma

By "randomized elements" do you mean randomized dungeons/maps? The one thing I did not like about Titan Quest was the static areas... really killed the replayability for me.

Medierra15 karma

We have a new feature we call "setpieces" that can be used to spawn different sets of randomized scenery or entire enemy camps complete with monster spawners and camp art assets. This means on different play-throughs a specific location in the world could be just wilderness, couple coffin wagons surrounded by zombies, a groble camp with totems and boiling cauldrons, a cultist shrine with a bloody altar, or a traveling merchant camp. We also use this technology to create randomized barriers in the levels that can change the slow of gameplay, so you fight through it a little differently each time.
Add to that, we also have new tech to randomly spawn dungeon entrances that can lead to different dungeons, which can also have randomized enemy spawns and randomized barriers. It is sort of middle-ground between totally randomized levels and the more appealing look of hand-crafted environments. It is a bit of the best from both worlds.

loudchai18 karma

Haven't heard of this game before, but checking out your website it reminds me of that NWN and Baldur's Gate/Planescape esque style and I love those games! So I'll keep an eye out and donate to your kickstarter. :)

Two questions, how hard is the journey from concept/idea to actual substance, IE, a working game model? I see a lot of people who start with these excitable ideas but eventually they loose steam and the idea is just vapourware.

And secondly, where the heck do I find little indie studios? Is there a bar? A small watering hole on the web that you meet so I can see what sort of indie games people are working on? At the moment I rely on word of mouth from friends and Destructoid.

Medierra23 karma

I think you'll enjoy Grim Dawn then as we're going for sort of a blend of ARPG and old-school style RPG. As a kid I loved the TSR Goldbox AD&D games like Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Eye of the Beholder, etc. I want to advance the core gameplay of ARPG while bringing some of the magic of those older games into the mix.

It is a huge challenge and one that I think inexperienced developers often totally underestimate. The only reason we can be doing what we're doing is that we started with the sourcecode from Titan Quest, which represents about $3m worth of past development. I've also built up a massive tolerance for working long hours, over the course of multiple years, from the development of Titan Quest - that was a brutal project. ; )

Honestly, I'm not really sure I have any better idea than you. I mainly only find other indie studios when read about them in articles or bump into the developers at conferences and such. I think it is tough though to really compile any sort of list since indie can range from larger more established studios that are technically independent from publishers but not really "indie" and, on the other end of the spectrum, inexperienced developers right out of school or may or may not ever finish a game.

GrumpyDoctorGrammar13 karma

I just wanted to pitch in and say that Titan Quest was an amazing game and it's similarity to Diablo was most definitely a plus to me, as I had exhausted Diablo II years prior. It was a refreshing change to my gaming schedule (as I wanted a game that was a bit less intense, but still interesting to read lore about and play with friends).

I suppose I do have a question. What exactly did you do so far as the development for TQ? You say that you were a "lead designer", but I'd like to know what you have directly been involved in, or perhaps some specific detail that you could point to in the game that you had contributed.

Medierra19 karma

Good question - I know sometimes you get these dudes who say they were the "creator" of such and such a game but they were really some manager who didn't directly do hands-on development work or were only responsible for a small part of the game. In my case, I literally designed all of the core gameplay systems in Titan Quest. This was possible only because of the very long time it took us to get the publishing deal from THQ. I was the only designer in the company for 3 years (Brian Sullivan didn't do any direct gameplay work and was primarily involved in managing the company and overseeing the story / quest development). In that time I wrote design specifications for virtually every core system in the game including combat resolution, interface, skills, the skill system, merchants, item drops, experience / death / respawn, enemy spawning, etc. Other designers that we brought on later helped flesh out and implement some of these systems but I oversaw that work as gameplay lead. I did a bit of everything, whatever needed doing but my biggest contribution was the design and implementation of the skills and skill system. That was one of the few systems by the end that other designers hadn't helped on. On Immortal Throne, I also wrote the story outline and created the high-level plan for the all of the main quests, regions, and enemies as well as creating the Dream mastery.

[deleted]10 karma

Honest question, why are you guys releasing this along with Diablo 3, and Torchlight 2, what audience are you trying to appeal to that aren't gonna be sucked into those 2 games? Is it more of a support small devs thing?

Also, how do you like your job? Is this a good field to get into, or is it hyped up more then it should be? I've heard both that it's awesome, and it's hell because of the work hours, and you never really get to play the game.

Medierra28 karma

Its a valid question. We aren't actually releasing now, just trying to raise some funds to help complete the game. So our actual full release will be in about year, which seems like it will be a good time as some people will be coming off TL2 and D3... hopefully. ; ) Beyond that though, it is really tough, the timing on games is a bit of a crapshoot because you start developing it so far in advance, you don't necessarily know what potential competitors are doing. When we started working on Grim Dawn, we didn't even known Torchlight existed, for example. Even though we're not releasing right now, we'd probably be doing a lot better at fund-raising if TL2 and D3 had released last year when they were originally planning to... but we can't control or predict what they're going to do and we can only adapt our schedules so much. We couldn't have gotten the Kickstarter out much earlier and to delay it would mean to also delay development, which would make fans unhappy. So, we have to just try to make the best of the time-frame we're working within.

Legnd10 karma

Anything you can tell us about classes? I always felt the biggest drawback of RPGs is the facts that they have the standard Mage/Archer/Melee characters. If like titan quest, awesome, I liked that variety.

With that being said, I loved titan quest and cannot wait to play Grim Dawn. Best of luck!

Medierra16 karma

It will be similar to Titan Quest, as far as having classes that loosely fit into certain archetypal gameplay roles but with diverse themes that aren't just cookie-cutter RPG classes. I'm also trying to build each class with more options for active, big-impact skills that are fun to use and more flexibility in terms of weapon-types. So, for example, soldier is mainly geared toward melee but you can use all the skills with a gun / crossbow if you want, which makes for a lot more synergy with, say, the demolition class. We also have an occultist, that is a summoning / debuff / DoT class, an arcanist that is more of a straight sorcerer style class with lots of high-damage and AoE skills, and a "nightblade"... names aren't quite finalized. The last class is sort of a blade throwing assassin / illusionist. Then we hope to keep adding new classes through expansions. I'd love to get up to 10-12 skill masteries, or more!

LoioshDwaggie9 karma

I've noticed that you guys have done work on the sound. The newest trailer has fuller, more impactful sound (and animations). I was curious if this was an intentional move on Crate's part to change the sound design from Titan Quest (or if I'm just crazy).

Medierra12 karma

Yes, one of the things we heard / read a lot as we gathered feedback from fans / people who didn't like TQ, is that the combat lacked impact. I totally agree with that feedback and like many problems with games, it wasn't just a matter of fixing one thing, it was really sound, effects, animations and enemy reactions that needed improvement. So, sound is just one of the areas we've tried to improve in the process of trying to create more satisfying combat.

hornsofdestruction3 karma

Who does your sound design? And any advice for someone who is attempting to get involved in a game from the ground up? My husband is a sound designer trying to make a break from advertising into games. Just wondering if you had any tips.

Medierra4 karma

The comment below offers some good advice - create a solid portfolio. There are a lot of sound people trying to get into gaming and a lot of freelance sound designers looking for work, so it is a very competitive job market. One of the audio designers from Iron Lore, Dan Crislip, who now works at Harmonix and another guy, Steve Pardo, who works with him are doing out sound and music.

tehrealDOA8 karma

Will Grim Dawn have a secret [Animal name] level?

Medierra14 karma

I can neither confirm nor deny this

[deleted]8 karma


Medierra6 karma

Yeah, he was a cool guy to work with. We often butted heads on game design but I respect him and miss our long philosophical talks. I haven't talked to him in a while and hope he is doing well. You're very lucky to have a teacher who actually has real game industry experience since it seems like most of the teachers in these programs don't.

BenZen8 karma

As a huge Diablo II fan, TQs release was a gift from the gods to me. Almost everything in this game felt right, you guys got rid of 80% of the annoyances present in D2 (TP scrolls, identifying items, extremely small inventory, lackluster bosses, etc.).

Here is a list of things I'll be looking forward in Grim Dawn:

  • Bosses that require you to dodge attacks and be prepared for the fight. Maybe make them a little less repetitive than in TQ (more like Hades than Typhoon)

  • Skills/Class system: this was a must in TQ, but the balance wasn't great and it hurt the game a lot in the end.

  • Items: I think TQ did a great job of making item's attributes interesting, varied and important. This lead to a lot of broken builds but was a big part of the fun in the game. I hope you guys don't just simplify everything to get rid of the broken-nes. I hate lazy design.

And here is a short list of the things I hope will get fixed, because you know, no game is perfect ;) :

  • Animations: seriously. Hire a qualified animator or two, they do a great job of making characters and environments come to life. I have friends that refused to play the game solely on the base of the lacking animations. It just made everything in the game feel so un-epic. Also, please get rid of the ragdoll bugs... Having a giant furry leg in your screen is funny, but it breaks the flow of the game pretty bad.

  • Optimisation: I hear you are reusing TQ's engine. That sure does save time, but this game has also suffered a LOT from bad optimisation and general compatibility issues. Effects that load several seconds after they should have, massive slow-downs, crashes and system incompatibilities were frequent problems that were never addressed.

  • Spells: get rid of the "every spell needs a cooldown" mindset. I found that the most annoying and limiting factor in TQ in regard to character builds was that about 90% of the skills/spells in the game had rather long cooldowns, making them generally useless (especially after IT, since 100% reduced cooldown builds became impossible). ARPGs really need to be action packed and a large part of D2's success lies in the fact that very few spells have cooldowns. I'm not saying cooldowns are always bad, but there needs to be a balance. Something like 50% of the spells have cooldowns/other limiting mechanics, the other 50% can be spammed much more.

  • Stash: if your game doesn't intend to go all-out multiplayer and have auction houses and such, then I think a VERY large (possibly infinite) stash should be considered. Part of the fun in ARPGs is the loot, and hoarding loot never gets old. Several mods/external software for TQ were aimed at giving you unlimited storage and such stuff would have been largely unnecessary had it been in the game from the start. Call me a dragon if you wish, but I like to pile up on the good stuff. On the other hand, a kind of "Hardcore" mode where you don't have access to a shared stash could be great too!

  • Enemies: TQ tried to bring some variety to the types of enemies you fought during the game, but that never quite panned out. Even in D2, this aspect of the game felt very bland. D3, on the other hand, really nailed it this time around and it makes the game SO much more active and entertaining. I think some thought should really go into questions like "how can we make every encounter feel different from the last?", "How can we push the player towards adapting his strategy to the type of creatures he's fighting?" and "How can we combine visual, story and gameplay elements so that the player goes "OMFG" every time you introduce a new monster?".

I think that's enough suggestion for now, I'm not on your dev team and this is starting to sound like I think I'm better at this than you are, which is most certainly not the case, seeing as you designed one of the games I played the most in my life. On to some questions!

  1. What was it like going from AoE player to lead game designer in such a short time window? Do you think that kind of stuff is still possible nowadays?

  2. In my personal experience, getting into the game industry can be a very long and hard quest, to say the least. Even here in Montreal where we have some of the biggest studios in the world, the task is daunting at best. Any advice for a junior designer trying to make his way into this jungle?

  3. What is it like being a serious indie dev? How many hours a week do you work? What were your biggest challenges?

  4. I've been on a couple of projects with friends were we had to work at home 99% of the time and communication proved to be a very hard obstacle to overcome. What do you think is the best way to approach this kind of project?

I think that's all, I wish you the best for Grim Dawn and all your future projects (an RTS sounds great, I loved Empire Earth, even tough it was a mess of a game if you didn't limit it heavily). I also wish you good luck at building an independent studio and most of all, I hope you will be able to achieve all this and still sleep 8 hours a day. Good luck!

Medierra5 karma

Whoa, ton of info, I agree with many of your points and thank you for the detailed feedback. I know what you mean about "lazy design" - just simplifying or placing arbitrary limits on things to avoid the potential for imbalances. I try to avoid that as much as I can. 1) Well, it wasn't that short, there were a couple years where I just had a designer title, then moved to lead gameplay, then finally lead designer. I think the best way to move up quickly though is to find a small but promising studio where you can take on greater responsibility more quickly by showing initiative and demonstrating your ability. Of course, there is a downside to that to, which is that if you take on too much responsibility too quickly, you can become overwhelmed and end up falling flat on your face. I certainly walked a fine line at various times in my career where I felt almost overwhelmed by the responsibility and did have a few failures but fortunately none that were too disastrous. 2) I don't know if that means you have a position yet or not. If not, just find a way to demonstrate your ability in a tangible and relevant manner to the places you're applying. If you're already working as a designer, learn everything you can from everyone who has more experience than you. Be open-minded and make yourself listen to criticism that you receive. A lot of times, I think people, including myself, tend to try to justify or excuse criticism and this really is just a disservice to ourselves. Sometimes, it is important to accept that other people can see things that we can't from our own limited perspective. Also, don't always go for the first, most obvious solution, take the time to really think things through. Often the key to finding the best result is just putting more time into finding it. 3) It is pretty hardcore. I worked fairly ridiculous hours at Iron Lore, so I'm used to that but I often work 14-20+ hour days and usually work 6-7 days a week. The biggest challenge right now is working remotely. The lack of face-to-face human interaction is tough sometimes. I very much miss working directly in a team environment and can't wait to get back to that once we're able. 4) I think one thing that is hugely helpful for us is that most of the guys working on Grim Dawn have all worked together before. Also, a massively helpful tool has been Tencent's QQ insant messager - you can drag-select a portion of the screen and paste it into the chat. Makes it 1000x easier to quickly show something to someone.

solaceinsound8 karma

Glad you jumped on here Arthur, I've been watching the Kickstarter since it launched waiting patiently for it to hit that $280K. I pre-ordered the Legendary copy form you guys earlier, and bumped up to a higher tier once the KS launched, been trying to spread the word and get people on board. Can not WAIT to play this, alpha, beta, errrything. The recent music update was great, can't wait for my soundtrack copy :D

Keep up the great work!

Medierra11 karma

We seriously can't wait for you to play it either! We're trying our best to close in on that long awaited release. ; )

CapnSafety8 karma

When going to school, do you recommend getting a game design degree or something more open ended like a software developer degree?

Medierra16 karma

Honestly, I don't even really know what people do in game development courses and I think most of the industry shares that feeling. The game programs have a few schools seem to have some merit but most just seem like a quick attempt for schools to cash in on students hoping to get into game development.

So, depending on what type of game development career you want to get into, there are different options. If you want to be a programmer, get a CS degree. That is, of course, very useful in or out of the game industry. If you want to be an artist, think about a traditional art or graphic design course but you're probably better off learning 3d on your own (go to places like polycount.com or gameartisans.org for help). If you want to be a designer, please learn how to write! Haha, seriously, I can't tell you how many applications I get for design positions from people who can't even write a cover letter. I'd suggest a degree in history, English, Business or really any traditional degree, especially one that is writing intense. Being able to think analytically, organize thoughts, and communicate effectively on paper is critical. Plus, if your game career aspirations don't pan out (there is enormous competition now for a relatively small number of jobs) at least you have other options. It is probably difficult to get a job outside the game industry with a degree in game development.

Queegeh7 karma

Assuming your funding needs are met how do you intend to implement the expansion of your game studio? Will you set up offices or continue to work remotely with the new employees you intend to take on? If you choose to work remotely how do you think you will overcome the need for regular contact with all the team to ensure you maintain good momentum and direction?

Medierra13 karma

It depends on where we end up with funding. If we just barely scrape by our goal, we'll probably do a mix of working remotely and having a few people local get together at someone's house daily or at least a few days a week to help improve collaboration. If we end up feeling like we can afford it or if we end up in a situation where we don't have quite enough to hire another full-time person, we could consider getting a small, totally ghetto office. There is a nice abandoned building down the street that I've been eyeing. Put a tarp on the roof and its probably good to go!

We've gotten pretty good at working remotely though over the past couple years.

bdurruti2 karma

i was to ask a question in the same direction: how do you imagine the immediate future of crate (even if only vaguely)? guess i'm more concerned with what comes after the strenuous effort that will birth grim dawn, that is... ...both if there'll be and if there won't be a zombie apocalypse...

Medierra9 karma

Assuming there is no zombie apocalypse, which seems overly optimistic, our hope is that the profits from Grim Dawn will finally allow us to get down to proper development, with the whole team together in one place, working on awesome traditional games. The immediate thing would be to continue work on Grim Dawn. When you work with publishers, you don't generally own your games, so there isn't much incentive to keep working on them since you'd basically just be doing free work to for the publisher. In owning our own game, there is a huge incentive to keep it going as long as people want to play it. So our main focus would be expansions and improvements for Grim Dawn. At some point further down the road, I'd love to work on a strategy game, maybe even set in the Grim Dawn universe.

MangoTeaCup6 karma

There is that "open-world action role-playing" statement in Grim Dawn description on Kickstarter. I have a few questions about gameplay - will there be multi-leveled dungeons with a bad-ass boss on the last floor? How the game world is made - is it one seamless place or many different locations with loading screens between them? Are there bosses fixed to every locations or just in key scenes? Is gameplay divided on acts like in Diablo? Oh, btw, supported.

Medierra3 karma

Whoa, this is a very question-dense post! ; ) We're trying to create a fairly randomized. The terrain isn't randomly generated but we want to try to randomize the location of important content like enemy camps, boss locations, dungeon entrances, as much as we can to boost replayability. Some bosses will occur in most fixed locations, like the bottom of multi-level dungeons but others will appear more randomly. Most of the above-ground world is seamless and actually a large, connected expanse of land that makes geographic sense. We've developed a new system that allows us to randomly place entrances or portals to dungeons and different regions, some extra-dimensional realms. Entering one of these portals nearly instantly pops you out in a new location, so there isn't really loading but it isn't quite seamless when you enter these types of semi-random side-areas. We're not planning on having acts, the game is a bit more free-form where you can access regions in different orders and sort of progress in different directions at your own pace.

nefD6 karma

I don't have a particularly good question for you, but I just wanted to say that Titan Quest is probably my favorite game of all time. Even my wife, a non-gamer, got completely sucked in with little to no prodding from me. I'm greatly anticipating Grim Dawn, and wish you guys nothing but success!

Medierra8 karma

Bringing couples closer together is what game development is all about! ; )

Haha, hoping I have similar success prodding my wife into playing Grim Dawn with me when it's done.

Keyrock426 karma

Will there be more people to talk to in towns than just quest givers? Will there be books or plaques you can read to get some lore? I know loot em ups are about an almost endless stream of enemies to hack through, but I often enjoy taking a break from the grind while in a safe location (e.g. a town) and like exploring the place and talking to people, etc...

Medierra6 karma

Yes, there will. This is an important part of our efforts to create a more immersive atmosphere and deeper backstory in Grim Dawn. One thing we have planned are these journal pages that you can randomly discover written by a "Constable Creed" that reveal some of what happened during the initial Aetherial and Ch'thonic war and events leading up to the current time.

At the same time, we want also want to design story content so that it can be ignored by those who aren't interested. So basically it will be there for the taking if you want to find it but if you're not interested, we won't shove it down your throat.

dangolo5 karma

One of the biggest pet peevs I have about the gaming industry is that I never feel like the money I fork over ever gets to the actual DEVELOPERS. I just checked out the Kickstarter site and I must say that, it looks like that site does exactly that!

For that, I went with the "Co-op Digital Deluxe Bundle", because DRM-free LAN Co Op dungeon crawling with a cold micro brew is better than heaven with a thousand Brazilian virgins.

Medierra5 karma

Your feeling is pretty accurate, developers quite frequently don't earn any profits off the games they create, they just live off development money, project to project. This is due to the traditional "advance on royalties" structure of funding and the small royalty rate given to developers. Your sales have to be quite high relative to your budget to make any profits. On Titan Quest, for example, Iron Lore never earned any royalty money and the game would have had to sell about 2m copies before they started to earn anything. Not sure about the thousand Brazilian virgins, that seems like a good deal.

suntorytime5 karma

TQ had the best moon physics, I hope it's retained in Grim Dawn.

What happened when Iron Lore studios shut down? How and why did you guys decide to start a new company without any funding etc?

Medierra9 karma

The physics in Grim Dawn are quite fun and we've tightened them up a bit since TQ, so that hits / sending enemies flying has even more impact. We also have a new feature where you can knockdown / ragdoll enemies that are still alive and they can get back up and run back at you. In TQ, enemies only ragdolled on death.

Iron Lore basically fell victim to what most often kills smaller independent studios, for various reasons, they just couldn't survive the gap between projects / line up the next paying project fast enough.

It was probably mostly insanity that promoted me and a couple others to try to launch a new studio. I think to take on a task like that, you need to know just enough to be able to get started and make educated decisions but not enough that you fully realize how much work / challenge you're taking on. On a personal level, I really wanted to be able to keep working on more complex, traditional games that I love and I didn't see a lot of job opportunities to do that. I also didn't want to just sign on at a big studio where I'd have to work within all of the constraints handed down to me from above. I'd already had enough of that at Iron Lore, despite it being a relatively small studio. I wanted to be free to make games according to my own vision. We also wanted to find a way to break out of that traditional publishing deal treadmill of signing a deal, losing ownership of your IP, getting funds as an advance on royalties you had to pay back before you earned any profits and always being at risk of going under if you couldn't line up that next paying deal fast enough. It just didn't seem worth it.

eisprinzessin5 karma

In which other game development positions did you work before Grim Dawn? You started as game tester and became lead designer for Titan Quest. What was inbetween?

Medierra14 karma

I only briefly "worked" as an external multiplayer tester for Ensemble and then wrote a couple chapters for their official Age of Kings strategy guide. Talking to some of the designers there, Bruce Shelley and Ian Fischer, is what opened my eyes to the possibility of working in the game industry. Before that, I sort of had this notion that games magically appeared and never thought about the possibility of a career in making games. From there, I landed a job as a designer at Stainless Steel Studios working on an RTS called Empire Earth. I was only there for about half a year then went to finish my college degree. I only had half a semester left, so it seemed ridiculous not to finish. Then right after graduating I was contacted by Brian Sullivan who remembered me from Ensemble and was looking for a designer. So, I started out as the only designer at Iron Lore, moved up to lead gameplay designer on Titan Quest as we hired more designers (they felt Brian Sullivan needed to retain the lead design title for marketing purposes) and then later was promoted to lead designer on our new project.

DatBunny5 karma

Grim Dawn sounds really interesting. Any info if it will be on Steam and/or when it will be released..? I realized you recently started the Kickstarter for it, but any idea what year? Are you working on your game/ game studio full time now?

I also bought your game Titanquest while it was on sale on steam, and can't build up enough determination to play it. Can you think of anything that will convince me to?

Edit: typos

Medierra8 karma

We fully expect that people will be able to redeem their keys on Steam as Valve has done that with many other indie studios but, of course, they have final approval. We think we may be able to release the alpha end of this year / early next and then are shooting for a release in August of next year. The more people we can get helping to build out the content, the sooner we'll get the full release and the more content we'll have.

Yes, I've been working on Grim Dawn full-time for about 2.5 years now along with our programmer. Other guys, mostly friends from Iron Lore, have been helping out part-time but have to keep day jobs at other studios to pay the bills.

Hmm, I don't know, depends on your thirst for ARPG loot goodness. You should go talk to the folks at titanquest.net or maybe find someone to play with on the Grim Dawn forums. ; )

SirDigbyChknCaesar5 karma

My friend was your audio designer on Titan Quest. He's doing well and works for Bioware in Austin now. Good luck in your new project!

Medierra4 karma

Ah, I assume you speak of Scott Morton! Tell him I said hello. : )

Corruption2495 karma

As someone who wants to go into the games industry, what's one thing you wish someone had told you when you began? Also, what's you personal favorite language to code in?

Medierra7 karma

This may sound sort of weird and probably applies to any job, not just the game industry, but it took me a long time to realize that part of my role within a company was fulfilling the goals and expectations set forth by management. Not just doing whatever I thought made the most sense to me at any given time. I started out with a bit of an overdeveloped independent streak. Eventually I realized that, sometimes when you're working in the trenches or lacking in experience, you just can't see the big picture and that things may not be as simple as they appear from your limited perspective. I learned that part of my job was meeting the expectations of the people who paid my wages. On the other hand, a good manager won't want you to just kiss their ass and only do what you're told. So, you have to strike a balance but I think open communication is the best course. The more you communicate with the people above and below you, generally the easier your job will be and the more people will respect you.

Reddit4Play5 karma

I liked a lot of things in Titan Quest, but one of my least favorite things was how LONG and grindy the game got - levelling up slowed way down, and trying to play through on all of the difficulties was an exercise in patience to say the least. Will Grim Dawn work to change this difficulty/reward curve at all beyond the open world structure, and if so, how?

Medierra5 karma

Yes, I myself was displeased with that in TQ. I felt a sort of tedium set in on multiple play-throughs of Greece. For one thing, the combat in Grim Dawn just feels a lot more exciting / satisfying and helps to pull you through the game. The open world does a lot since it allows you to easily cut through areas to get ahead, instead of having to run up a long, linear road. Grim Dawn is paced out more by increasing difficulty than the length of world you need run through. I also feel that an issue in TQ is that the spawning system wasn't accommodating enough for different players rate of progress. It was easy to end up out-leveling the monsters spawn, which resulted in a drop of difficulty, leading to mindless, boring combat. The way we handle spawns in Grim Dawn alleviates that problem since there can be a wider range of enemy levels in each area. I've also worked to make the experience curve a little more consistent so that you don't hit that wall around level 30ish.

Tastevenn4 karma

How much do I have to put in to get Giraffes in this game...?

Medierra12 karma

At the $1k reward tier you could name something a giraffe, which isn't an ideal solution but gets you partway there. At $4k you could request that we create a giraffe armor set and at $10k you could design a giraffe-based quest, for which we'd have to actually build a giraffe. Of course, we reserve the right to veto inappropriate quests but giraffe's seem like a go!

soilheart3 karma

Woo. I was actually thinking about you last month, although I didn't know your name back then. It was something in the order of "This game is nice, I wonder what would have happened if Iron Lore wouldn't had been closed. And I wonder where the designers are today..."

And here you are, telling me that you're working on Grim Dawn, which kinda boosts my expectations of that game about five times. Can't wait!

Oh, and a question? Will there be more "direct" synergies in GD? My biggest issue with TQ is how the classes are rather disconnected, i.e. an archer/pyromancer can't shoot fire arrows. "Only" one skill per "double class" would have sufficed and made the game feel better IMO.

Medierra4 karma

Yes, I've been trying to make more of the skills have cross-mastery synergy. You can actually shoot fire arrows in TQ as a hunter / pyromancer though using earth enchantment. ; ) I'm also making more of an effort though to make skill masteries less weapon-type specific so that there is more potential to create different buildings around different weapon configurations.

Queegeh3 karma

I have noticed that there is a lot of talk about the ways Grim Dawn intends to improve on Titan Quest in terms of environment and combat etc.

Titan Quest was a lot of fun for me and am interested to know what aspects of Titan Quest if any do you think are most valuable and don't need improvement for Grim Dawn?

Medierra8 karma

The thing I like most in TQ is the skill system. I think some of the skill design could have been better but I really liked the way the system worked and we're carrying that forward. A lot of the basic stuff will remain much the same as well and many systems are just getting minor tweaks, basically improvements that are the result of feedback from the Titan Quest community. We don't want to go crazy and completely change the game, we just want to build on it and improve it in target areas identified by fans.

Theomniproject3 karma

I really liked Titans Quest and will be looking up info on your new game once I get out of work. Will it include multiplayer? Co-Op? PVP?

What were your inspirations for designing he game? Any particular books or other games that helped give you ideas?

Medierra3 karma

Yes, we'll have all the same multiplayer options at TQ and will more easily expose the PvP option for those who want to host PvP games. If Grim Dawn is a success, we'd like to add to it with other gameplay modes, like co-op survival and possibly a battle arena if we can build closed servers. One of my biggest inspirations has been New England, the region I live in. In autumn it is the quintessential Halloween location, complete with creepy old farms and colonial houses. I've also been re-reading a lot of HP Lovecraft, who set many of his stories in New England. Btw, the "Chthonians" are actually not directly borrowed from Lovecraft, it is derived from a Greek word Chthonious, which roughly mans "under the earth". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chthonic

MrMojo5013 karma

What is your absolute favorite game of all time?

Medierra7 karma

Oh man... tough call The game I probably spent the most time playing was Ultima Online. The level of interactions possible in that game were crazy and no other MMO has ever surpassed it in that respect. Where else can you rig a poison trap in your personal tower, hide in the shadows and laugh as would-be burglars open it and then jump out to loot all the items off their corpses and put them for sale on your NPC vendor? ; ) I also loved Diablo / Diablo II, which probably played hundreds of hours of, going so far as to complete it in hell difficulty with two hardcore characters. Also, the original Age of Empires, Warcraft 3, old TSR goldbox games, pirates on the Apple2GS, a totally obscure strategy game called Ultimate Domain: Genesia, and I could probably go on forever...

jmblock23 karma

Do you code at all? What skill/experience do you wish programmers you work with had/need to be better at? And what kind of tools do you find important to the project or what kind of tools do you wish you could just pick up for a reasonable licensing fee that really aren't out there?


Medierra8 karma

No, I'm just a designer who also meddles in art. My coding skills are virtually non-existent except for the occasional crude attempts at scripting. Rhis is our programming master-mind and could better answer this than I.
I think the main thing I'd wish of some of the programmers I've worked with over the years is that they'd put more thought into how they implement features. I've found some programmers will just do the bare minimum, exactly according to the specs, and call it done. To create robust features or tools, you really need a programmer who, doesn't necessarily deviate from the design but who has the good judgement and initiative to to take things to the next level. It is always awesome when programmers or artists get back to you with finished work that is better than you envisioned. That's what makes someone a real pro and a pleasure to work with.

w1w1w3 karma


so my question. How closely do you think grim dawn is, compared to titans quest. is it a lot different? For better, or worse?

Medierra3 karma

I think it is quite similar in many respects since we were building from the same sourcecode but I think we've made a ton of improvements. Personally, I'm proud of what we did on TQ but I never found it nearly as fun to play during development as I do Grim Dawn. So, I think people will be really pleased.

[deleted]3 karma

Please, for the love of God, do everything so the rubber banding issue does not happen again.

Medierra3 karma

We're on it! We think we have it fixed but if it turns out it is still happening for some people, we'll be here to fix it. Since Grim Dawn is our game and not a publishers, we're free to patch it without having to go through a tedious authorization and release process and we have a huge incentive to do so.

newdaydre3 karma

Hey Arthur, we haven't talked since the email interview I did of you and Crate a while back. No questions now, I just wanted to say you guys are still awesome and I'm looking forward to this game immensely. Take care.

Medierra2 karma

Thanks man, I appreciate the kind words, take care!

Nieless13 karma

When I moved away to college, TQ & TQIT is what kept my brother and I united. We were probably the only ones who pre-ordered TQIT in my town (they looked at me funny). It really had the gameplay we liked of Diablo II, with a well-researched greek mythology theme. I really hope you guys continue your success and will be looking forward to Grim Dawn. My question is, what are the chances of making a TQ2? If there is a possibility, will it have dedicated servers instead of P2P multiplayer?

Medierra6 karma

TQ2 is extremely doubtful as THQ owns the rights to the game as we'd have to cut a deal with them to work on anything TQ related, which doesn't really seem in our best interest. Who knows though... If we can't do secure servers, I'd at least like to add the functionality for dedicated servers. We can't do it prior to release but I think we could add this in down the road if the game does well. I'm a big multiplayer person myself, so it really disappointed me that we were so limited in this regard on TQ.

Dudyr3 karma

I have never played Titan Quest, a few of my friends had played though. I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors.

Medierra6 karma

Thank you for the kind words Dudyr, much appreciated!

kesoyam93 karma

I am very interested in game development myself. What programs do you recommend to get familiar with? What classes to take? I do not know where to begin to start my path towards a career in game development. What advice can you give me?

Medierra5 karma

I'd start by researching as much as you can about the workings of game studios and the different development roles. Gamesutra is probably a good place to find articles. Step one is to really figure out what career path you're interested in. I sometimes get applications from people who have finished a game development course and just want a job in any position available... I'm usually not really sure what to make of those. So, figure out where your interest lie, be it programming, art, design, production and then work on developing the relevant skills.

hear_me3 karma

So... Diablo 3 looks good. Seriously though after a few seconds of watching some classic monster slashing, this is what D3 should have been. I would definitely player 50 dollars for a game like this. Titans quest is fantastic too. Keep up the great work!

Medierra6 karma

Thank you for the encouraging comments and support!

anonentity3 karma

Bump for your new game, it looks really nice and worthy of a kickstarter success story.

Also kudos for Titanquest, such a beautiful arpg. Gave me many hours of enjoyment.

Lastly, raspberries for the Manticore, what a mean monster. Who's idea was that one?

Medierra3 karma

Haha, you can mostly blame me for that. ; )

I take credit / blame for Dactyls and Toxeus the Murderer as well.

Diede3 karma

I'm going to study Digital Arts and Entertainment in college over the next 3 years, I'd also like to start up a Game Development company after a small career of developing for others. I'm more interested in programming than art, but also like designing levels, mechanics and lore. If I ever get to do an internship, I'd love to go to Blizzard but chances are low anyone can get in. Do you have any suggestions before I start? How do I impress a big company like Blizzard? And how did you start off?

Thanks, you're great.

Medierra8 karma

One thing I can't stress enough, is make sure you take some writing courses. It is extremely important that you're able to write clearly and correctly. If I get a cover letter than starts out "I'm not sure weather or not..." it generally goes in the trash (actual example, that really happened). There are so many people applying for entry level positions that if you can't do the basics properly, I don't think anyone will read any further. Of course, this is more important for something like design than programming or art. Another important thing is to work on something that you can use to demonstrate your ability. If you're aiming for a programming position, develop a small game. If you're shooting for a level design position, grab a free copy of a toolset like Unreal and create a badass level or an entire mod. If you're specifically aiming for Blizzard, create a Starcraft II mod or something else relevant to them. Best way to get into Blizzard though is to start at a smaller studio and do impressive work while your're there. As an actual example, I was asked if I'd be interested in talking to Jay Wilson about the lead gameplay position on D3 about a year and a half ago. It was extremely temping of course, so much so that I declined to even talk to him because I felt I had a commitment to see Grim Dawn though and didn't want to be lured away from that goal. How did I get started, well as I wrote above, mostly by accident. Back when I was in college, there weren't any game development programs and few people really thought of it as a possible career choice. It never even crossed my mind. However, I ended up getting sucked in Age of Empires competitive ladder play and wasted away enough hours at it that I ended up as a top ranked player. The game's maker, Ensemble Studios contacted me to help with play-balancing Age of Kings multiplayer and then I ended up writing a couple chapters of their strategy guide with Bruce Shelley. Talking to Bruce and Ian Fischer, I started to realize game design was something I might be able to get into. I applied there but also at a local studio called Stainless Steel, which was founded by Rick Goodman, the brother of Tony Goodman who founded Ensemble. I got an offer from them and left college for that first design job on Empire Earth. Eventually I returned to finish my degree and then was hired on at Iron Lore. So for me, it was a bit of a fortuitous series of events that changed my path in life dramatically.

GMAucr3 karma

As an outsider to the game industry, it seems like it's very hard to get a job from one of the "big" corporations like Activision or Valve? I have a good BS degree from a good university, but it seems there's this giant glass wall in the game industry.

What should one like me do to build up a good "game-related" resume so I can apply to Blizzard without feeling like a scrub? I'm not really interested in designing, would like to be in a support role (database admin, network admin).

Medierra3 karma

Most of the big companies can afford to be very selective about who they hire and tend to mostly hire experienced developers. Your best bet is to aim for a smaller studio where you can gain experience and use it as a stepping stone to advance. Personally, I wouldn't want to start out at one of the big companies as I feel like it would be very difficult to gain the recognition necessary to advance and it would be a long time before you could really take on any significant level of responsibility. I don't know if that is true since I have no direct experience but I feel like people can advance more quickly by starting out at a smaller studio, getting in roles of greater responsibility and then being able to enter a larger studio like Blizzard at a more senior level.

Wussie3 karma

TQ/TQIT were (are) awesome, cannot wait to try out the Grim Dawn alpha and beyond (assuming the kickstarter gets fully funded, but things are looking well so far, congrats!).

With Grim Dawn not being rooted in Greek Mythology like TQ was, do you feel like you're taking a different approach to monster and level design? Perhaps having more freedom, being able to shape a bigger part of the underlying narrative/themes yourself? As a player I don't think TQ has been very constricted by the narrative in this regard, but things often are different from the designer's perspective.

Medierra3 karma

I definitely feel like it is much more liberating working within a fictional setting. Building off mythology wasn't too restrictive as there are tons of interesting stories to pull from (although, I feel like that wasn't done nearly enough in TQ) but I think a fictional setting is much more conducive to cool equipment and enemy designs.

LeSouthAfricanSpy3 karma

Just wanted to say thank you so fucking much for Titan Quest, remains one of my favourite games since I moved to the US (years ago). I'll be donating as much as I can to your kickstarter (minimum wage job, I'll push to get $200 or so your way :D ). Good luck!!!!

Also, May 19th is this dudes birthday so you'd better reach that goal.

Medierra3 karma

Birthday, shit, better start kickstarting faster!

Knights_Hemplar3 karma

Any chance of job? Would love to get employment in the gaming industry.

Medierra3 karma

Hah, well, depends what your skills are and whether you're able to work for bread and moldy cheese. Given the difficulty of working remotely, we're mostly working for experienced developers that won't require too much direction.

MeanwhileInSAfrica2 karma

I've been following Grim Dawn for a long time, and still play TQ/IT often with friends, 7 years later and the game still shines with quality. With all the bullshit the big game studios are serving up (and charging a fortune for), Indy game studios are something the game industry direly needs.

I love what you're doing with Grim Dawn, so I hope you get 5x your funding goal to make the game as awesome as possible and continue to make games after release.

Medierra3 karma

Glad to hear you got so much enjoyment out of TQ - sounds like we have a lot to live up to!

yuri99992 karma


Medierra3 karma

There will be more story in Grim Dawn and a deeper back-story / world history but not as much of a structured main quest-line. There is more open-ended exploration and different quest-lines / stories that you can become involved in. There will also be more lore to find in the world. So, we're not aiming for a single, cinematic story experience but I think you'll be pleased with the amount of story and lore in the world. We also have big plans for the future as we've taken the time to develop a back-story with multiple layers of reveals that will develop over the course of multiple expansions.

Vermilious2 karma

One of my favorite aspects of TQ was the fact that enemies ragdolled, and would go flying when struck with excessive damage. Is this feature being implemented in GD, and/or is there going to be any way to track it or turn it into a competition, along the lines of furthest distance enemy struck, or most overkill damage?

Medierra6 karma

It is better than ever in Grim Dawn. We've improved the system so the physics simulation is better, plus there are occasionally ridiculous and awesome moments, like one time I sent a zombie flying and its head got stuck in a window, causing the body to dangle down. Enemies also leave blood spats on building walls and such, you can hit them on roofs and watch them roll off or even lodge them in trees with a little luck.
One big improvement is that certain skills with knockdown damage allow you to ragdoll still living enemies, who will then get back up, which wasn't possible in TQ.
Furthest distance / most overkill damage sounds awesome, will have to add that to the wishlist.

ICryCauseImEmo2 karma

What exactly is Chaos damage, and are we able to hurt animals in the game say pigs sheep etc?

Medierra3 karma

Chaos damage is not yet fully understood by science but the result is the deconstruction and corruption of organized matter. ; ) The pigs and sheep are already dead!

JGPH2 karma

Titan Quest single player was great. Multiplayer could have been awesome were it not plagued with so many netcode issues demonstrated as rubber banding. That and the fact that they were never fixed is what killed the game for me. Please make sure Grim Dawn doesn't suffer from the same issues. :(

Medierra5 karma

We think we've resolved the rubberbanding issue but perhaps better than that is that we'll have the ability and incentive to keep working on the game and fixing any issues that arise. With Titan Quest, THQ owned the game and once they didn't feel like supporting it anymore, that was pretty much it. Since Iron Lore wasn't receiving any money from sales of the game and was basically struggling to stay open, they couldn't afford to do free work on TQ, that really would have only benefited THQ. We're in a totally different position, so you can count on us continuing to support Grim Dawn.

vtbeavens2 karma

What will make me want to play GD over something like Diablo 3 or Torchlight 2?

Medierra5 karma

Well, probably the biggest reason is that you've played those games into the ground and want something new. Beyond that though, we're going in a bit of a different direction with more of a hardcore slant. We have traditional skill and attribute point allocation, a more open world to explore with free-form question, less invasive storytelling, players can progress in different directions in the world at their own pace and we have a dark, gritty, more realistic visual style. We're also bringing in some new gameplay elements like faction-based questing and quest choices that can effect the world. If those things appeal to you, you might be interested in Grim Dawn, if not, well, then you can stick with D3 and TL2. We're not trying to win over the entire ARPG audience, just enough earn a decent living and keep making these kind of games.