So I finally got to see Terraria: Otherworld in action at this year’s Game Developers Conference. The game is currently in development for PC and Mac, and I got a hands on demo via Engine Software VP Ruud van de Moosdijk.
Terraria: Otherworld is currently pre-alpha, but they’re very close to alpha. There’s a lot of gameplay features that haven’t been implemented yet and there’s more content in the game than gameplay, because their artists had a head start over their programmers. The game looks cleaner and smoother, but it’s still using the double pixels seen in the original Terraria.
The game has been in development for six months, although the game has been in the concept phase for roughly two years, when Ruud pitched the idea to Andrew Spinks, the original creator. “We just started bouncing ideas off each other,” Ruud said. When asked how different or familiar Otherworld is compared to the original, Ruud explained:
“We want it to be familiar, but it has to be different enough that people don’t say ‘you could have just added this to Terraria.’ Concepting was months and months of bouncing ideas back and forth between Engine and Re-Logic.”
The original idea for Otherworld came from Ruud listening to a piece of music one night. “I was like, oh my god I can totally see this as a track for Terraria, if it was a darker, rotten, and a miserable place. Imagine Terraria combined with Pitch Black.”
So what makes Terraria: Otherworld really differentiate itself from the original game? Ruud said that is most definitely the towers. “You could never build enough traps to actually hold off an invasion, there was no perfect defense. So I thought why not add a tower defense element?”
The goal of the game is to essentially cleanse the world of its corruption, although it’s definitely a more involved process in comparison to the corruption seen in the original Terraria.
The entire world is completely corrupted, and you’ll have to slowly erode the corruption away with purification towers. Each purification tower requires crystals to function, and once functioning, monsters begin to attack them.
“It’s like the thumpers [from Dune], which are great, but they attract the worms. Whatever infection you have in your world will try to destroy your tower, because it wants that land back. It’s not going to be easy for you to just stand there with your sword, because they just keep coming.”
As you keep getting invasions upon your towers, you’ll have to be ready to return and defend your towers. If you’re on the other side of the map when this happens, you’ll get an alert saying ‘this tower is being attacked,’ and you’ll have a potion (Re-Logic hasn’t decided the final item) that lets you return and defend your tower
The towers function similarly to armor that you equip, they’re built from varying materials you find in the game, and as you build better towers, you get more weapons slots. Right now they have at least 18 towers already made, although Ruud wouldn’t say how many total they’ve planned.
AI has seemingly gotten an upgrade in Otherworld as well, as old defenses for your base will no longer work. “There’s a way to build the perfect defense, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s not like I’m going to put my purification tower here, dig out this part, put lava in it, and everyone will just jump and burn-like you would build a defense in Terraria right now.”
“If you have all the walking enemies and they see this pit of lava, they’re going to build a bridge,” Ruud said. “If you build a wall around your purification towers, they’ll either destroy the wall or more magic casters will be spawned, and magic goes through the blocks like it does in Terraria.
“The AI is thinking, ‘ok what kind of defense is the player building, and how are we going to go around it?’ It’s going to be this little chess game between the invasions and the first ten times you’re probably going to lose.”
While finding the right defense is a challenge, it is a forgiving system, as when your tower is destroyed, the materials will just fall to the ground where you can pick them up and rebuild it. “We want you to put the time into figuring out how to defend it, not by having to recraft everything. Depending on how easy/hard it gets when we balance that, we might have you get half the stuff back. It might be a difficulty setting that you can choose.”
It’s worth mentioning Ruud hired the composer which originally inspired the idea for the sequel. I heard a track he composed, and it was quite brilliant – it gives me high hopes for the overall soundtack for the game.
Ruud said that Re-Logic is looking to ship the game later this year, although he wouldn’t specify a month. “We don’t want to rush it, we’re not doing Early Access or anything like that. We’re bringing you a finished product that will stand alone.”