Eleventh Hour Games
by Peter Ward
Last Epoch is an online Action RPG that combines time travel, deep character customization, crafting, and an engrossing loot system that guarantees endless replayability. Drawing inspiration from dungeon crawling games of the past, Last Epoch aims to refine the genre for newcomers and veterans alike.
Lost to the Void long ago, your world had ceded to its destruction. But now, you have found a way to save your world from this dark fate. Become the traveler and journey through the different climatic moments in Eterra’s history. Fight the oppression of the Undead Empire, stand your ground against the Gods and their war, be witness to the untouched beauty of the world ignorant of humanity, and most importantly, discover the secret of The Void and the true nature of fate.
One of our goals in presenting the story of Last Epoch is to do so without interrupting the player’s experience while also having it be an ever-present part of the world. We strive to display our story though the environment and player interactions as much as possible, so that a player will be able to absorb the impact of their journey through the world around them rather than pages of quest-text.
Team up with up to four other players to take on swarms of enemies and fierce bosses, connect with them to trade epic loot, or challenge them in glorious combat! Go offline and travel the various times of Eterra alone with only your strength to rely on. Either way, Last Epoch is doing online play right with server-side hosting designed to dissuade cheating and exploits, tentative plans for LAN multi-player options, and a variety of community-focused features such as lobbies, guilds, trading, seasons, ladders, and chat channels.
In Last Epoch, you will begin your adventure as a base class which can then specialize into one of two Mastery Classes. When specializing into a certain Mastery you will be able to access new skills, and skill augments from your base class!
One of the elements that separates Last Epoch from other games in the genre is its focus on time travel as core of its design. Every zone will be designed with the goal of maximizing the impact of seeing it in varying states of glory and decay, whether these differences are utilized in the main campaign or in our extensive endgame systems.
Skills in Last Epoch are one of, if not the, most defining aspect of your character and your adventures through Eterra. Ensuring that our skills are impressive, iconic to the class they belong to, and customizable in satisfying ways is a key part of Last Epoch.
Your skill bar, more than anything else, is what determines the playstyle of your character. Unlike many games where you may use as many skills at a time as you have buttons for we have elected to restrict players to having a maximum of five skills on their bar at any one time. While this may sound limiting, in practice this will result in a more engaging experience.
The five skills you choose to place on your skill bar are special not only by virtue of being your skills of choice, they are also the skills that will have access to our Skill Trees. Over the course of the game, your five skill slots will one by one gain the ability to augment the skills slotted into them by giving you access to the skill’s tree, unlocking a vast amount of customization potential. Every skill in Last Epoch will have its own fleshed out skill tree full of exciting ways to augment the skill for your playstyle, even offering unique branches only available to certain Mastery Classes!
With the Passive Grid system, you will be able to increase your character’s attributes and acquire special augments to your character that persists no matter what skills you choose. The Passive Grid of each class will have 4 lines on a grid, each line granting different stat increases such as increased health or increases to certain damage types, in addition to these stat lines there will be augments with more impactful effects spread throughout the grid beyond these lines.
Each class will begin at the center of their Passive Grid, as you play you will gain the ability to advance along any of the 4 lines increasing your stats in your preferred manner. The true depth of the Passive Grid system is revealed once you elect to advance in multiple lines, doing so creates a shape that connects the furthest points you have achieved along the stat lines, unlocking the various passive augments spread throughout the grid!
Strong in honor and fearsome in combat, the Knight stands stalwart against what is unjust even at the end of the world.
A righteous warrior focused on protecting their allies and taking down swaths of enemies.
A knight who has taken part of the void inside themselves and uses it to devastate their foes.
An Elder cresting his prime, the Mage wields the power of the arcane to make up for his past wrongs and to give the world a new future.
A mage who has mixed martial prowess and cunning with their mastery of spells to face enemies head on.
A master of the arcane who wields unprecedented power to devastate their foes.
Unrivaled in bow and blade, the Rogue strikes out from the shadows to find a higher purpose for her deadly talents.
A master of the bow adept at engaging their foes from a distance and keeping them there.
An artisan of killing, they dash in and out of the reach of their enemies, each movement another deadly cut.
An outsider from the surface who has seen the horrors of the void first hand, the Primalist is one of the last guardians of the power of Eterra, the power of the earth.
In tune with the long dormant power of nature, they bend the fury of the storm to their will even as they take the form of ferocious creatures..
A warrior who takes command with the might of beasts, leading them by example with strength and power.
A rebellious scion who disobeyed her masters to seek out forbidden magic, the Acolyte will let nothing stop her from becoming more powerful.
A general of undeath, they send their animated thralls to battle perfectly willing to sacrifice them as they deem fit.
Master of the forbidden arts, they tear into the essence of their foes, twisting and corrupting their spirits.
In Last Epoch you will discover equipment and items that you can use to enhance your character with more powerful stats. Nearly every piece of equipment you will see will be different when one drops the base item is randomized along with the number of stat modifiers, the type of stats that are modified, even the exact quality of each individual stat on the item. Between this level of item randomization and our gameplay changing Unique and Set items, there are untold ways to use equipment to customize your experience. We also believe that the pacing of loot acquisition is a key part of ensuring the longevity of a game, to this end many of the most powerful and impactful pieces of equipment will be only obtainable through completing the highest difficulties of content or through extreme luck.
On your journey, you will find special items called Shattering Stones, these items will enable you to customize your gear in a nearly infinite amount of ways. When you take a Shattering Stone to certain NPCs, you can use it to break down pieces of Magic quality equipment, turning a random assortment of the stat modifiers into items that represent these stats called shards. You may then take these shards and use them to add these stats to another piece of gear increasing its power! Beware though, the more you add shards to an item the higher chance you have of causing it to crack, rendering it unable to take any more shards.
Eternity Cache System
Hidden throughout the world are Eternity Caches, special containers with the unique quality of being immune to the changes of time around them. By placing an item within an Eternity Cache along with certain rare materials too potent for mundane crafting, a player may return to the same cache hundreds or even thousands of years later to retrieve the resulting synthesis. This is no easy task, for the Eternity Caches lie in places dark and forgotten, places exalted and under the watch of fierce guardians, or worse of all may have attracted the attention by foes eager to snatch the treasure you’ve locked away for themselves.
Pillars of Design
Before beginning our development of Last Epoch, we established three central pillars to base our design around.
Each class should feel very distinct from one another, even if characters are built to play similarly. Well defined class themes while keeping them flexible enough to give options in how you build the class while still retaining a defined class identity. Fulfilling the fantasy each class represents during a player’s adventure is vastly important to us.
Through skill choices, ability trees, the passive tree, and gear each character should be able to be customized to the greatest extent possible. We recognize that one of the most appealing qualities of the genre is the ability for a player to fine tune and tweak their character to maximize their potential.
Maximizing depth while minimizing complexity. ARPGs are complex by nature and that’s part of what we love about them. Many systems to use and interact with, creating exciting encounters and unique synergies in building characters. The issue a lot of ARPGs run into is not effectively managing that complexity, making it very difficult to learn. Our goal is to make an ARPG that has a lot of mechanical depth, giving players a lot to explore, while still being easy enough to pick up and learn.
Dive into a sea of unending content with our variety of end-game focused systems. Once you complete the main campaign the game still offers you untold hours worth of engaging gameplay.
Monolith of Fate
Travel through worlds that never were and times that could have been by exploring the Monolith of Fate. Push back The Void with each timeline you restore even as they close behind you, never to be seen again. (procedurally generated, high risk – high reward)
Gates of Memorium
Travel back to the world of Eterra that you knew, even as its dangers rise to meet your newfound strength. Though the Gates of Memorium bring the recollection of your adventure to life, no memory is perfect, your memory and thus the version of Eterra you find yourself may become fearsome in ways you do not expect. (explore the pre-endgame world again but scaled to your level with the possibility of augmenting areas of the world to add new challenges)
As you adventure through the different times of Eterra, the Epoch will guide you to sources of aberration in the timeline. Creatures that belong to another Era, places that should not exist, even other time travelers with goals less noble than yours. Correcting them will result in valuable rewards that will make you eager to hunt these anomalies down. Even as you explore the Monolith of Fate and traverse the Gates of Memorium the Epoch will still beg you to heed its call!
Enter the Time-Lost Colosseum and battle other travelers lost in the infinite pathways of time. Engage in duels, 2v2, 3v3, 5v5, and free for all combat as you vie for dominance in an arena discarded and forgotten by reality, the perfect battleground for warriors with nothing to lose. Earn cosmetic rewards that flaunt your skill in battle and grow your Pile of Skulls!
We are planning to support Last Epoch well after its full release with the regular injection of content in the form of new zones, new quest lines, and even entire new acts. We also intend to keep gameplay fresh and exciting with regular balance tuning, the addition of new skills, even entire new classes, and more!
What is your first gaming experience?
My first gaming experience was watching my father play games on the original NES. The Mega Mans (3 and 4 in particular), Castlevania, Faxanadu, Super Mario of course, and especially Kirby’s Adventure. Kirby’s Adventure had a simple story of course, but something about the world and aesthetic drew me in, all culminating in the final boss sequence and ending which were the first time I had ever seen what could be called a “cinematic” moment in a game. The ending of that game left an impression on me, it was the first time I can recall a game eliciting an emotion beyond the simple reward stimulation that games inherently show.
What got you into programming games?
I’ve always wanted to tell stories. As I really started to get into games as a child the genre that I felt drawn to was the RPG, I fell in love with that feeling of not just playing a game but experiencing a story. I devoured books, movies, etc. also of course, and aspired to create stories with those mediums, but my heart always returning to games. I wanted to make a story that someone could experience.
What development tools or coding did you use?
We are using Unity, a fantastic game development software that is very well suited to indie projects. I suggest any aspiring game developer give it a shot!
What hurdles did you have making your current game?
The largest hurdles have been mostly time and communication. Our group has grown to over a dozen people from around the world, and as we are all doing this in our spare times it becomes hard to keep everyone up to date with immediate tasks sometimes. We have managed very well though, we’ve come very far from where we were at the start that you wouldn’t even think that some of us worked thousands of miles away from each other!
After the completion of the game what game will you make?
For Last Epoch, completion is a tricky term, we want to support this game for a very long time. Once the basic release content is complete we will go immediately into the production of our content updates that will add new quests, new endgame areas, and even down the line maybe new class options! We want Last Epoch to be a game you can play for years.
What other games have you made you made?
Last Epoch is actually Eleventh Hour Game’s first title! Many of us have programming experience, composing experience, writing etc. but this is the first game we have come together to make! Very exciting!
My favourite computer was my Amiga and console the Megadrive do you have a favourite?
I have an undying love for the SNES, it took everything great about the NES and made it better, and it had some of the greatest games of all time. Final Fantasy 6, Super Metroid, Kirby Super Star, and of course the GREATEST game of all time: Chrono Trigger! Though I have to admit, there is a special place in my heart for the PS1, there was a little golden age of RPGs on that console that I have very fond memories of such as Star Ocean 2, Grandia, Wild Arms, and the Final Fantasy games of that era of course.
What is your favourite retro game?
It is a very close tie between Kirby’s Adventure and Chrono Trigger. I have very deep nostalgic roots with Kirby’s Adventure and playing it with my father when I was young, but Chrono Trigger solidified my love of RPGs by showing me the closest thing to perfection in the genre.
Do you still game on the current consoles if so whats your favourite game?
My current favorite game would have to be Bloodborne, with the Dark Souls trilogy right behind. The trepidation of exploring a new area, the wonder of finding items tucked away in hard to reach places, the thrill of first encountering a deadly boss, and the rush of victory of finally taking one of those bosses down after countless tries. Those games are an experience.
Whats the worst game you have ever played?
Quest64. I was at a stage where I had exhausted the selection of RPGs on the SNES yet was not privy to the gems on the PS1 yet, so imagine my delight when I found an RPG for the N64! It was not a good game. At all.
Finally what game or feature would you like to see on Retrogamesmaster in the future?
My first impulse is to say Chrono Trigger, but as much as I adore that game I feel like quite a lot has been said about it over the years. I would be interested in a feature examining how Kirby’s Adventure took advantage of the NESs hardware to look and perform as well as it does. Kirby’s Adventure came out towards the end of the NESs lifecycle and you can tell that the developers had every trick under their belt and used each and every one to make an NES game feel so ahead of its time.