Q&A With Louis Agoglia

Whilst scouting for new, upcoming indie titles last week, I came across a promising-looking game called Dusk Tactics, Heavily influenced by the Tactics Ogre series, Dusk Tactics is a 2D isometric tactical RPG reliant on player’s skill to customize characters with unique weapons and abilities, as well as employing different job classics to suit different foes throughout the game. Conceived initially back in 2011, the project is wonderfully varied and ambitious in scope to the extent that I wanted to learn about the project. I, therefore, got in touch with the game’s creator, Louis Agoglia to ask him for some details regarding the developmental process and what players can expect from the final game. Here’s what Louis Agoglia had to say about Dusk Tactics:

 

What were the influences behind your game?

The main influence behind Dusk Tactics are games like Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, Tactics Ogre: Knights of Lodis, and the Final Fantasy Tactics/Advance series. I’d say the entire genre could be considered an influence as I’ve played hundreds of tactics/strategy (SRPG) games over the years.

What has the developmental process been like?

It’s been long! This project started with me doing research, taking notes, and writing down ideas as far back as 2011 with coding beginning in early 2018. One decision I made was to create my own engine, so my development process has been somewhat longer. I felt that since this is my “dream project” I wanted to have full control over the execution. I had a certain vision that benefited from creating a custom engine including how the story was told, which led to the creation of a “cutscene engine”. When I went public with the project toward the end of last year (2019) the reception was beyond anything I could have imagined, and that alone has fostered a positive feedback loop of sorts.

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

That’s a tough one, I had a certain schedule in place and then 2020 happened and I think it sort of shook a lot of people up. Right now the engine is pretty much complete, with the ‘game’ itself being in the early stages of development. I am working on a closed alpha demo, the release of which I am hoping to get out sometime this year. As for the finished product, I want to be realistic about it, so I have to say my current goal is for a 2022 release window. A lot of the work that still needs to get done consists of art and sound/music assets, both of which I currently have people working on and both of which will take a good amount of time, but while they’re being created I hope to have the majority of the game finished. Overall percentage-wise I’d say I’m near 60% when discussing the entire project.

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Getting to see some of the ideas I’ve had for a tactics game since 2011 sort of come to life is probably the best part of the process. I wrote so much in the early years, pages, and pages of notes that covered various ideas and mechanics as well as a background for the story/lore. If I didn’t have such a strong background in gaming, this project might have become more of a book as I’ve always enjoyed writing. All in all, the game will be very rich in lore and story, and will have some pretty neat (hopefully balanced) mechanics that both borrow from older games and add a little innovation here and there. Specifically, seeing two characters I created, Alton and Emma, start off as basic ideas and turn into fleshed out characters was really awesome. Both the 2D portraits and the sprites were done extremely well and I look forward to seeing them in the many scenes I have planned for the story!

Have many of the developers you have interacted with across social media offered advice in regards to the development of Dusk Tactics?

In terms of art, @jmitchell1628 and @nixpixgames were extremely helpful, the latter of which I will continue to work with. When I wrote about some technical issues a few months ago, many people were eager to lend a hand and some went even further, such as @retromatn (who is also working on a tactics RPG!) who actually created a sample program to detail his ideas!

Early on, I happened upon a game in development, Lawmage Academy, and beyond being a great game in and of itself, the developer @LawmageA is an overall amazing person. Following them early on helped me learn a lot about how to use social media the right way and also what to expect from various events like releasing a demo or going to your first convention! It helped to have someone just talking about their experiences!

I consider myself very lucky that I witnessed the creation of @IndieWorldOrder which is an amazing group of developers, content creators, artists, etc who have come together to help one another out! Without people like @ancalabro and @labsskull, I doubt I would have as much exposure as I have had, it really helps out when you have people who are truly passionate about game development. I’ve worked on a side project with @bluegoogames in which we created a “twitter follower” horse race. Stuff like this really helps with project burnout and it was a lot of fun! You can see it here, also feel free to join!: 

http://www.nicmar.nu/race/?race=2

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

It would probably be the scale of the project. While I’m only in my third year of development, the thought of another two years is pretty overwhelming, but it is my dream project so I’m also trying to enjoy the process for what it is! Bigger challenges would be the overall “how will I balance this?” question which tends to pop up a lot. I know I’m going to spend a lot of time after I am “done” so to speak, balancing game mechanics and various Jobs, skills, items, etc. It’s pretty daunting, haha.

How well has the game been received so far?

I’ll feel more confident about this when I have a playable demo out, but so far what I have experienced is way beyond my expectations. As a huge fan of the tactics genre, I felt I kind of had an idea of what people wanted, but I never expected it to be this popular! I honestly hope it holds up when people get their hands on it, and if anything I feel like I have an obligation to make sure it does!

 

Have there been very many ideas considered for the game and have since been scrapped?

Early on I had a bad case of feature creep, where I really had some grand designs for the game that over time would be tested by the reality of the situation. At one point I had plans for around 100 Jobs or Classes and I even had the name of the game being “Hundred Tactics”. This would make for a pretty crazy issue of balancing, let alone design and depth! One of my favorite parts of RPGs, in general, is the Job/Class system so it was very important to me to have it be something at the forefront and while it is, I have since lowered the number of Jobs to a more manageable amount at ~30.

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

First and foremost the game will be released on PC. Windows, Linux and Mac releases will be the main focus at the beginning. I would love to see Dusk Tactics on consoles, and I may leave that up to a stretch goal in fundraising. Since the game is coded in Java it will take some work to get it up and running on consoles like the Switch (easily my #1 choice) so it will depend on having the funds necessary to either do it myself (most likely) or farm it out.

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

For those who have yet to decide whether or not to pursue game development, there’s only one reality: you won’t get anything done without starting! It’s not easy, but if you are really interested in it, then you need to take that first step! Technically you should start small to increase your chances of completing the project. I only had a few projects before this one ranging from very small arcade-style mobile apps to some FOSS (Free Open Source Software) role-playing games I worked on. Working on open source projects early on was a great way to learn how to work on a schedule, working with a team, using project management software, and more. I feel like there’s a lot of information online that should suffice when it comes to preparing yourself to start a project. While it’s important to plan things out as best you can, remember you can’t plan everything. If it’s a medium to large-sized project and you’re a solo dev, then I can say the best thing is to get into a schedule and keep track of things like burnout and feature creep. The former happens to everyone and sometimes requires taking breaks while the latter brings up the need for a well-designed plan for what you want to accomplish!

Where on the Internet can people find you? 

The project’s main website:

http://dusktactics.com 

It is a major source of information about Dusk Tactics, however, I tend to update more frequently on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/dusktactics

There is a forum: 

http://dusktactics.com/bb/

It will be used more in the future to conduct closed alpha testing and I would like to post more frequent updates to it.

Do you have anything else to add?

One thing I was very wary of at first was social media. I didn’t have much experience with it as I never really got involved with Twitter outside of game development. There’s a lot to learn, but the biggest takeaway is that I wouldn’t be where I am today without it! Promoting your project is something I am still learning about and it’s an area where a lot of developers including myself sometimes feel like we are in over our heads. A fellow game dev @bluegoogames created this video that honestly details a lot of what it takes to get a good following behind your project: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEmuwU0UhU8&t=3s

With that being said I want to thank Scouse Gamer 88 so much for the opportunity and for the great questions!!

 

I would also like to thank Louis for taking the time out to answers the questions I had about Dusk Tactics and wish him the best of luck with the title. A new tactical RPG would be a breath of fresh air for the industry as the genre has remained somewhat dormant over the eighth generation of gaming, and I feel the release of a game Dusk Tactics would be an ideal catalyst to revive the genre and perhaps even take it to new heights of popularity.

Again, you can follow the links left by Louise to track the development of the game and hope you guys enjoy playing it upon release. But in the meantime, I hope you guys had as much reading about Dusk Tactics as I did covering it.

 

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

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