Game Dev Recipes: Aegis Defenders

Game Dev Recipes: Aegis Defenders

Here's a look at some of the games that inspired GUTS Department's Aegis Defenders.

One part of any creative endeavor is inspiration. Sometimes, we're so focused on innovation for innovation's sake that we forget some of the amazing things that come from being inspired by other work. Many of your favorite scifi films draw inspiration from German Expressionist works like Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Shakespeare borrowed ideas from the works of Geoffery Chaucer and Ovid. Things that struck a chord with creators in their past are remixed, redone, and reused to create new art. The same is true when we skip from film and literature into video games.

Many developers are inspired by a host of old games. These older titles are full of successful and unsuccessful ideas, from which current developers can pick and choose. These ideas are thrown into the development pot to cook, simmer, and marinate, until finally a finished game stands ready to inspire a new generation of developers. This series is intended to look at recent games and see what classics inspired them.

Our second Game Dev Recipes takes a look at GUTS Department's Aegis Defenders. The title bills itself as a "16-bit tactical platformer", mixing elements of Metroidvania-style exploration with Tower Defense. Aegis Defenders is currently running a Kickstarter drive to fund the title. We reached out to the developer to find out what games inspired the creation of Aegis Defenders.

Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger (30 Percent)

Super Nintendo | 1992, 1995

The team behind Aegis Defender is big on world-building. Sure, there's the part of the world that the game takes place in, but GUTS Department wants you to feel like there's much more happening on the fringes of what you can see.

GUTS Department Says:

There are a whole slew of old school Squaresoft titles that could fit in here. The thing they all had in common was this sense that you'd never in a million years see the whole game. It felt like an entire universe lived inside the cart, like people were living real lives behind the impassable, world defining boundaries. It feels a little weird that games that actually let us do this- like Skyrim or Fallout 3- somehow feel smaller. I think our imaginations really filled in the gaps there. World building is an important part of Aegis Defenders and we really want players to look into the backgrounds and wonder what else is out there.

Also, Bart's design is totally riffing off of Cid from Final Fantasy 6. Subsequently, Clu's design was just a color swap of Bart. Go figure.

Metroid Fusion (25 Percent)

Game Boy Advance | 2002

Hey, Aegis Defenders is a Metroidvania game, so there has to be some Metroid or Castlevania in there somewhere, right? Most players would assume the bigger Metroidvania games are the inspiration, like Super Metroid or Symphony of the Night, but GUTS Department had a different title in mind.

GUTS Department Says:

As a huge Metroid and Castlevania fan, I feel like most people would expect us to pick Super Metroid but Fusion takes the cake because of the way it tells its story. Our game has similar aims to tell a really compelling story using playable cutscenes that really immerse you into the story and the world. Also, the atmosphere of our game - which is a haunting combination of ancient technology, overgrown wilds, and gigantic creatures - all owe a lot of the Metroid Franchise as a whole.

There's also a B-issue here where both the Metroid franchise and Aegis Defenders have a female protagonist that players usually don't read as female. The fact that Clu is a woman isn't something we make a big deal out of and is, in fact, something a lot of players don't realize. I want to say that was a choice, but its also just part of the way we write characters- As people, not plot devices.

Plants Vs Zombies (20 Percent)

PC | 2009

The other major part of Aegis Defenders is the Tower Defense gameplay. Clu and Bart can place traps, turrets, and other items on the battlefield to help them turn back foes. If things are going bad, Bart can repair placed items and both characters can take the battle to enemies directly!

GUTS Department Says:

One of the first TD games to make those mechanics accessible to people who weren't super hardcore min/max'ers. A lot of TD games are really designed as puzzle games- There are just one or two solutions that really work and you have to guess your way to them. PvZ was balanced so well that it felt more like The Incredible Machine or something. You could mix and match, play the way you wanted. That kind of flexibility was a big influence on the Tower Defense end of Aegis Defender's gameplay.

We've had a lot of people say "Oh, I hate TD games, I don't wanna play Aegis Defenders" and we always wanna be like "No please its not really TD, I mean it is, but...". The way PvZ really slipped those mechanics in without making people realize they were playing a TD game was special. We've pretty much stopped using the words 'tower defense' just because I think they do such a disservice to the gameplay. Maybe we'll invent a new genre. TD-Lite. Towerish. Tower Defensible. If anyone has any ideas, e-mail us!

Legend of Zelda - A Link to the Past (15 Percent)

Super Nintendo | 1991

In Aegis Defenders, players will have to navigate through distinct environments like the Mysty Mines or the Nereis Desert. And the end of each area, after taking down all who oppose you and solving any puzzles, you'll have to fight off a large boss. Unlike A Link to the Past though, the Tower Defense aspect means you have more options in how you dispatch the huge bosses.

GUTS Department Says:

The overall game progression - where you find a new item/ability, solve a series of puzzles that require using said new item/ability, and then face off with a boss encounter is pretty much exactly the same in Aegis Defenders. The main difference being that our boss encounters usually include some sort of tower defense battle and have a little more flexibility when it comes to strategies for success. But we really like that sense of 'testing' a progression of abilities. Newer games tend to have a pretty flat curve and we miss that sense of a game steadily changing over time.

Lost Vikings (9 Percent)

Super Nintendo | 1992

Each character in Aegis Defenders has unique abilities, and you'll need to switch between them in order to proceed.

GUTS Department Says:

The character swapping mechanic is straight out of Lost Vikings but we actually didn't know that until about a month ago. However, we are hoping to have less leap-frog gameplay and more strategic placement because of our Tower Defense-style combat. Placing your characters in areas that plays to their strengths will be huge. But that mix & match flexibility is absolutely the secret sauce. Like the balance of PvZ, this sense that there's always a way out of your predicament if you could just invent it is really important.

Mega Man (1 Percent)

NES | 1987

For a series that Capcom won't even acknowledge as a primary draw, Mega Man sure gets around as an inspiration in the indie scene.

GUTS Department Says:

Scott, our producer, insisted that we get this one in here. None of us are especially huge Mega Man fans, but he believes that Clu's blue cape and her jump/shoot mechanics must be a subliminal tribute to the blue bomber.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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