Why a musical?Gaider:
Back when I worked at BioWare (where I was until 2016), I brought up the idea of doing a musical DLC for Dragon Age. I’d worked on a song for Dragon Age: Inquisition, something that the characters would sing in-game, and it was a great experience. So I thought maybe we could do more of that, but something a bit more complex: create songs that worked like dialogue, where you make choices during the song that created branches during the music. The team was excited by the idea, but it didn’t make the cut, so I abandoned the idea even if I always had it in the back of my mind as something I wanted to try. Hence why I immediately brought it up when we were discussing Summerfall’s first project. We were both big musical fans, after all, and we wondered why there’d never been an interactive musical game before. So why not make one?
What made you decide to use Unreal Engine to build your game?
Elie Young, Summerfall Studios Co-Founder and Executive Producer: Early on, we did a significant amount of research into Unity and Unreal, and spoke with reps from both engines who gave us a deep-dive into their future plans. While there are lots of positives to Unity, we felt that for the kinds of games we wanted to do moving forward, Unreal was a no-brainer. Overall, five years after we made that decision, we’re still very happy with Unreal and feel that the future of the engine continues to be bright.
What challenges did you face as you developed your approach to Stray Gods and how did Unreal Engine help you overcome them?
Esler: Creating a game that makes extensive use of real-time 2.5D cinematics was a challenge. In any engine this would be difficult, but Unreal’s existing tooling allowed us a strong base to work from in order to create pipelines that made Stray Gods possible. We created our own branching dialog tooling, and used Sequencer as a basis for our cinematics pipeline. This allowed us to recruit team members for animation and video editing, and create a robust cinematics pipeline we could rapidly expand and build out to create the many, many hours of content that make up our game!
Can you explain how the game’s mechanics work and how they allow players to guide the story?
Gaider: All the major choices in the game are made in the songs. Think of them as our “boss battles.” They’re the big moments, the places where all our emotions come to bear, so they are also where the story forks. As the player hits each song, they determine where the story goes next, and we build up reactivity over time… until we get to the very end, where the amount of reactivity makes for a pretty wild web of divergent content. The player is determining not only what happens at the end of the plot, but the sort of person Grace becomes.
Source: Unreal Engine Blog