The Game Director and Lead Level Designer discuss how the game has come together
Fellow adventurers, a little over two years have gone by since we announced Hob, and now we’re crossing the finish line: Hob launches tomorrow!
Many of your questions about Hob are along the lines of, “What is this world?” We are dying to hear your own theories as you play, but we also created a webcomic (illustrated and inked by our concept artist Kristina Ness), to reveal backstory you won’t find in the game. The comic features our construct, who we affectionately nicknamed Jeeves, through the many years he waited for you.
Read the full comic at the official website.
Hob has an unusual mechanic you won’t find in other games: the world shift. You’ve seen some of our awesome world-shifting moments that are both story and gameplay driven. We held a grueling, brutal, no holds-barred, five minute interview in the office with our Game Director and Lead Level Designer Patrick Blank to give you the truth about why this is so gosh darn great.
Wonder: How did level design differ between Torchlight II and Hob?
Patrick: Well, Torchlight II was heavily randomised; I don’t know of a game that had more randomisation in their levels than Torchlight II. We had to build what we call “chunks,” and you never knew what they were going to randomise next to, so you couldn’t plan progression. And, you had to make a lot of randomised options for the game to choose from. It got a little tedious.
That’s one of the reasons we chose not to do randomisation in Hob. Even before we got into the shifting world, we wanted to do something that was more crafted and felt like it all flowed really well. It was more interesting for us to make because we knew what the connections were going to be.
Wonder: So the level design became a focus, and a feature?
Patrick: Yeah, it became something that was going to stand out and change the gameplay and the visuals. We don’t really do cutscenes, so it’s all happening in real time. It’s kind of evolved, it turned into being tied to puzzles, and I think it’s one of the coolest things about the game.
Wonder: How does the world shifting tie into the story?
Patrick: It’s a huge part of the story. There was a little bit of back and forth about which served the other more, but thankfully they clicked together perfectly. Once you start playing Hob, you go down into other areas and realise that they’re not all just natural looking caves, there’s a lot going on down there that sparks your curiosity, and you see how things are tied together in a really interesting way. It might make you question more about the top parts of the world.
Tied with the other elements of the game, you can figure out why the world is in the current configuration, an almost unfinished state. You can figure out what is powering it and what has halted it. It might not be what you think it is, initially.
Wonder: What do you want players to take away from the game?
Patrick: In the end, I hope people think that Hob is its own thing. We’ve had lots of inspirations for this game when we kicked off, but it’s evolved into our own unique thing. It’s a pretty cool, funky game. It’s different. It’s weirdly relaxing in a way. I hope people really love the world and get a great vibe from it, and they think it’s fun. We do a lot of cool stuff in there.
We’re so thrilled to be here. We hope you love Hob as much as we do, and we’ll see you tomorrow at the finish line.