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Pilgrim – Development Revealed ★ Disintegration Games Developer Interview

by onJanuary 4, 2015
 

Understand: All New Material Shown Are Of Extremely Early Builds.

 

Pilgrim is a clever game coming to Nintendo Wii U that is unlike anything coming to the system. Nexis Community was quick to reach out to the studio behind it. A game about choices, consequence, and time. Pilgrim takes place over a 100 year period as you play out the lives of multiple characters related to another through lineage. The main objective is to successfully pave the way for future generations in a family by making the most out of your life today to a degree of lasting effect. Time isn’t always on your side however. Pilgrim on Wii U begins its adventure opening to Andrew Stewart a young Scottish immigrant being motivated by his parents to sail over seas to America in order to thrive. Once stateside, Andrew can find employment, mature into an adult and fall in love leading into a family before growing old and passing away. The main objective is to mature and pass your life experiences to your kin and live long enough to make a difference in their lives as they may learn and carry after you have passed on. The main antagonist fighting your chances of success is only time.

Pilgrim has various RPG elements that create a solid foundation holding up its unique gameplay. As players level up, they grow in age and increase max health. After a certain level your health caps. The more you increase in age afterwards the lower max health decreases leading to only one inevitability.  Death. While growing up is a key objective element in Pilgrim systematically accomplishing goals ideally within key moments before players let opportunities slip away. it will also increasingly work against players challenging them to make the right decisions under multiple circumstances across various amounts of time. Levels equate to generations, and players have a bucket list of objectives to complete in a fixed amount of years, however some generations are allotted different amounts of time. One generation could expect a lifespan of 30 years and another only 15 before natural death sets in. It all depends on the player. Its an interesting balance that adds a deal of strategy and depth enticing multiple ways to experience Pilgrim encouraging players to return to the experience over and over.

Players will combat dangers that impede your ability to survive forcing you to make decisions in the game to better protect your safety but not in traditional formats you might come to expect. In Pilgrim players suffer from health conditions such as heart disease and polio but such inflictions can be prevented if players are properly vaccinated or actively maintain healthy eating habits. Interestingly there is no map directing players and Pilgrim doesn’t have a health bar displayed making things even more challenging forcing players to rely on visual clues and audible expressions to unlock their health status or preserve it by keeping an ear out avoiding a car coming from around corners dangerously.

Pilgrim’s intriguing  concept in its gameplay mechanics promise much and those inside Disintegration Games have agreed to take the time to explore its complexity with Nexis Community today in a Nexis Community Developer Interview


Nexis Community Developer Interview

#1
Disintegration Games

Pilgrim
Mark Wilson
Wii U

Randy Freer: Greetings! Thank you for meeting with us Disintegration Games! Here you guys are! Pilgrim. I have to admitt I have alot of interest in it since peaking at its development. First off how far into this new eShop project is Disintegration Games right now?

Disintegration Games: We’re still fairly early, in the level design and asset creation phase. The main storyline is written out, and the systems are outlined in in some cases coded.

Randy Freer: Good to know! No problemo! Moving on, what style of presentation will move Pilgrim scenes?

Disintegration Games: We’re designing Pilgrim in the first person, with levels that we’re calling “Generations.” Between each Generation and at key times within there are cutscenes.

Randy Freer: Its already setting itself apart from the crowd with its clever strategy system and you have only just began! What is your guys inspiration going into this Wii U project and how are you balancing Pilgrim’s staple choice mechanics?

Disintegration Games:  We’re drawing inspiration from a number of sources. Growing up, my mom was really into genealogy, and as I grew older I started to ask “what made me, me?” I started wanting to explore my family and where we came from. One of my favorite bands is The Proclaimers, out of Scotland. Most people know them for the 500 Miles song, or I’m On My Way, from Benny and Joon, and Shrek. But one of their songs really started the ball rolling for inspiration on Pilgrim, and that’s their fantastic piece

Letter From America

which looks at immigration from the point of view of family left behind in the old country. It started me thinking about the family that my ancestors left behind, so I wanted to make this game that saw the point of view of the immigrant, but also paid homage to the people brave enough to stay home.

As far as balancing choice mechanics, well, it’s still pretty early in the development cycles, so we’re working on how to give the player choice, while moving the storyline along. Our last title, Rionon was open world and while there are definitely elements of that in Pilgrim, and many lessons we’re taking from that, we’re still figuring out the choice mechanic. :)

Randy Freer:  Sounds great! The values and morals of humanity you are depicting in the various elements of Pilgrim I really think will prove to be something capable of impacting us all, something that cuts deep.

Now… I have got to ask, are there any nods to the Oregon Trail classic in Pilgrim?

Disintegration Games:  That is funny, because somebody else asked that not too long ago. When we began designing Pilgrim I don’t think we thought “hey, let’s make a game that harkons back to Oregon Trail,” but now that it’s mentioned we certainly can see why people might make that connection. Clearly, OT was a classic, one of those games that helped define an era, and to even be thought of in the same sentence would be a huge honor. There definitely is a resource management aspect to Pilgrim, although there’s also a lot of places that the game’s going (no pun intended) not in OT. That said, we LOVE putting classic game Easter Eggs in our titles, so you might see some nods to OT and other games.

Randy Freer: There seems to be a degree of a certain horror element haunting Pilgrim, I’m curious if any supernatural elements are within the game. Can you provide any hints as to any events transpired after a players death?

Disintegration Games:  That’s really observant of you, Randy! Without giving too much away I can tell you that while I’m not a huge fan of a lot of survival horror these days, I love certain aspects of it. Namely, tension. I loved the atmosphere and tension in the early Silent Hill days, and love the trailer for PT, not to mention game series like Slender, movies like Blair Witch Project, etc. Growing up, I wasn’t necessarily afraid of ghost stories or zombies, but the idea of a killer lurking right outside my bedroom window scared the daylights out of me. – Real world stuff, you know? So is an element in there? Maybe.

Randy Freer: The more I hear the more I love it! What age rating will satisfy you for Pilgrim looking ahead?

Disintegration Games:  We’re really big on making our games accessible to nearly everyone. That said, I think that we’re looking to develop Pilgrim toward 13 and up.

Randy Freer: Perfectly reasonable. Will there be any historical faces familiar in Pilgrim? How important is its story to the overall experience?

Disintegration Games:  The story is huge, and drives the entirety of the game. As far as historical faces, while players might see some, from a distance, I’ve always been so much more interested in the small stories of people’s lives. We know the big stories. Reading the Bible, I’ve always been drawn to the folks who might have only had a sentence or two written about them. What were they about? Why were they called blessed? What makes a good man or a good woman? Was it Longfellow, in his poem The Day is Done who said “not from the grand old masters, not from the bards sublime, whose distant footsteps echo, through the corridors of time?” There’s been so much written about those folks, and rightly so. I want to tell the immigrant’s story.

Randy Freer: Pilgrim’s atmosphere is a really fresh and innovative approach into the survival genre, could you illustrate to the Nintendo audience explaining Pillgrim’s GUI, does it play on the fear induced by players not knowing their own crucial life threatening details? How is DG exploiting that approach inside the Pilgrim gameplay?

Disintegration Games: Absolutely. We wanted to remove any visual meters or numbers and make the player see through their character’s eyes. So there’s no checking the HP meter and going “I need to drink a potion!” Like in life, you have to be responsible for your choices. There will be subtle hints, like a cough here, blurry vision, difficulty walking, etc. The thing is, just because those things might appear, the game still goes on, the objectives still go on. Some things, you can cure. If you catch a cold, you’ll probably get over it. Catch gangrene, and probably not without severe damage being done. All of your choices matter. You might pass a generation even though you didn’t get the secondary objective done of getting your child immunized against Polio, but in the next generation they might catch it, severely affecting their ability to complete their objectives. So it almost forces you to not only think in the near term “how do I survivethis generation,” but also “how do I give my children and grandchildren the best chance to survive their generations” as well.

Randy Freer: It really puts things in perspective definitely. What kind of secrets can gamers playing hope to unlock? Is Pilgrim designed with inherent replay in mind?

Disintegration Games:  Now, if I told you, they wouldn’t be secrets  😉  We’re hopeful that the way the game is set up will lend itself to many hours of gameplay. Some players, for instance, might enjoy the challenge of having their characters live with different ailments. One of the things that we’re hopeful is that the game will educate people about not only illnesses, and what it’s like to live with them, but also about each other, that the human race isn’t a bunch of stereotypes, that we’re all connected. Somewhere, across the sea most of us still have family, long forgotten because we’ve been here for a couple of centuries. While I’d love for players to still pick up Pilgrim long after they’ve finished it, I’d be equally happy for them to think “where did I come from? Is my family still there?”

Randy Freer: Hyped! Wow,  I think thats a good place to stop for now! This has all been very informative and im very happy to be involved in Pilgrims history revealing this game even so early in its development, thank you Disintegration Games for chatting with Nexis Communtity, everything you revealed is much appreciated!

Disintegration Games: Thanks Randy! You’re awesome!

Randy Freer: You guys are too!.. Cheers!

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