Kickstarter Interview: Last Dream is a nostalgic blast to the early RPGs of yore
Twenty-six years ago, Square made a role-playing game for the Nintendo Entertainment System by the name of Final Fantasy. While the series it spawned has strayed a fair deal from its roots, those roots shouldn’t be ignored. The fine people over at White Giant would full-heartedly agree – so much that they are busting their tails to make Last Dream. This RPG takes the “best features of classic RPGs: replayability and complete immersion into a vast world, rich with detail.”
As someone who grew up on the original Final Fantasy, this game is more than appealing to me. From what I’ve seen, Last Dream takes the mold I loved in 1987 and has applied it to a completely independent RPG. You pick four of the available eight characters to love, to hold, and take on a 44+ hour adventure. The feature that is blowing my mind is just how nonlinear this game is – especially as an RPG. There are 500+ unique paths players can head down, making your game experience truly unique. So not only is there replayability with different party combinations, but you can take those parties down completely different routes.
Currently Last Dream is on Kickstarter for you to check out and take advantage of their offers. If you’re a classic RPG fan of played the hell out of Final Fantasy back in the day, this game is absolutely calling your name. Now imagine there is both a leaderboard and achievement system built in; yeah, it has those. Not convinced? There is a FREE demo. So check it out.
We had an interview with the devs of Last Dream to find out more about this tantalizing RPG. Check that out below, and back the project on Kickstarter!
1. What exactly is Last Dream?
Last Dream is an independent RPG with challenging, immersive gameplay designed to offer players the highest degree of replayability. It is also the passionate result of our shared childhood joy from SNES-era RPGs.
2.Where did the idea for Last Dream stem from? How long have you had a project like this in mind?
One short decade ago, as college friends in the Oregon State University physics program, we banded together to compete in a video game marathon… the kind that spans 24 unbroken hours involving non‑trivial sums of money that demands intense practice! To our immense good fortune, that competition became an annual tradition. Yet as time passed, we ran out of suitable classic RPGs on which to (fiercely) compete. So two years ago, we set out to create our own dynamic game to enjoy year after year.
3.What games inspired you for this project? I’m getting an original Final Fantasy vibe from it.
Initially, our marathons were exclusively NES Final Fantasy tournaments – a treasure of a game that unquestionably influenced our foundation. Even our game’s name, Last Dream, is a play on Final Fantasy. In fact, our Chief Writer was prescribed a NES System by a doctor when he was 9, and Final Fantasy was the game he rented every month for years (perhaps the problem was fixed, but a new one certainly developed: RPG Addiction). Exploring vast worlds of possibility and challenge is something all of us enjoy.
4.I like the idea of putting a free playable demo out there so people can get a taste of the project, what was the thought process behind that?
Even after we decided to invest in Last Dream as a commercial product, our primary goal has remained the same: to create a multilayered, enduring RPG in the classic style. Providing a free demo allows us to obtain feedback and make improvements, while also allowing players to experience the essential aspects of our game, including party selection from eight unique classes, a captivating storyline, challenging puzzles, and the freedom to build each character as they see fit.
5.I like the options to save anywhere and to choose the difficulty, was this to branch to a wider range of gamers?
Absolutely. We believe that RPGs should appeal to a spectrum of people with different expectations – some are looking for a relaxing experience and others want a precision challenge. Thus, we sought to create a flexible game with customizable enemy strength, encounter rates, and saving options. Last Dream is dramatically altered depending on the options chosen, and with as much as 55 hours of content for a single playthrough, Last Dream has vast replayability potential.
6.With the choose 4 of 8 class system, will there be that ONE class every party will need – like a White Mage for instance?
A fair question, certainly, and we have strived extensively to avoid a user-base consensus that a single class is “essential.” Taking your example of the White Mage, we would say that she has unique assets such as the inherent ability to heal or resurrect, yet there are classes that can accomplish similar tasks through different mechanisms. For example, throughout Last Dream you can visit various docks to catch fish for trade or medicinal use. When certain fish are combined with the Engineer’s learnable “Item Boost” skill (which enables him to double the efficiency of healing items), you have a healer that can surpass even the White Mage at times.
This issue you keenly identified occupied hundreds of game-testing hours, where we leveraged as wide a network of gamers as we could gather. Hence, we rather fervently fine-tuned the 8 unique classes until they were as balanced as we could muster. We believe that we accomplished our goal, but we are always eager to hear and learn from the experience of new players.
7.Could you explain the achievements system / leaderboards in more detail? Will some be class specific?
The Achievements are a means of recording the extent to which a player has experienced Last Dream, and with over 200, there is a great deal to explore. Achievements range from reaching the top tier in the Arena to reaching every hidden dungeon, and from solving every puzzle to completing the game without using an Inn. Really, we created these Achievements to compete amongst ourselves, but we found them so obsessively fun that we thought other completionists would enjoy them as well.
The Leaderboards recognize and reward players that push Last Dream to its limits. Categories consist of completing the game in a certain amount of time, below a certain level, or in a certain number of steps and at the various difficulty settings. The ultimate category is to acquire all of the Achievements in Last Dream, a monumental task that took our creators well over 100 hours. We are looking forward to planned competitions using the Leaderboards in the near future, with some fun rewards.
8.Will racing be key to the storyline or more of a fun side game?
Moa racing is a culturally-significant sport within Last Dream, although it is only a side opportunity for the skilled to garner gold, and unessential to the primary storyline. If you mean meta speed-racing (beating Last Dream as quickly as possible), that is certainly dear to our hearts but not relevant within the storyline of Last Dream.
Our development team has met in cities across the US to race through Lufia II, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy (many, many times), and numerous others. In doing so, we gained substantial insight into the intricacies of these games that we subsequently applied to Last Dream. Speed running is not necessary to experience all that Last Dream has to offer, but we do sincerely hope that people will join us in the racing fun (our next Tournament is in September of 2013 in New Mexico).
9.Could you further explain the 500+ unique paths by virtue of the non-linear gameplay? Sounds like a lot of replayability.
We argued amongst ourselves whether a suitable calculation was 500 or many orders of magnitude greater. What we mean is that Last Dream contains abundant forking paths that weave through the primary storyline. For example, very early in the game you can elect to gather ancient artifacts in exchange for a ship from the affluent Relic Collector of Doria, or venture through the dangerous Woods of Despair and thereby gain the interest of the King of Doria. Both paths are completely unique, can be achieved in isolation or together, and both will gain you your passage to the wider world. As another example, there are four Ultima Crystal shard dungeons that can be completed in any order; however, the enemies scale with strength as you defeat each dungeon, making the ideal order heavily dependent on your party choice and preference. Yet one more example is the six Magi Trials, of which you need only complete two. If we had a singular goal in designing Last Dream, it was to craft a game players could return to again and again.
10.Once funded, will you attempt to Steam Greenlight Last Dream?
We will always host Last Dream on our website, WhiteGiantRPG.com. In addition, we view Steam Greenlight as an expanded avenue for us to share Last Dream with the wider gaming community, and thereby benefit from their valuable expertise and feedback.
Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ