Chatty Q&A: Rogue Legacy with Cellar Door Games' Teddy Lee

Cellar Door Games first stormed the castle last year with their platforming roguelike, Rogue Legacy. Over the course of the last year, thousands of PC players have met their demise inside the game's procedurally-generated castles. Of course, Rogue Legacy is all about persistence and those same players continue to run through the castles in hopes of vanquishing the monsters that dwell within.

Now it's time for PlayStation owners to begin their adventure, with Rogue Legacy arriving on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Vita earlier this week. With that in mind, Shacknews reached out to Cellar Door Games' Teddy Lee, one of the two brothers that comprise the studio, to answer some questions about the roguelike's PlayStation version and answer some questions from the Shacknews Chatty community.

Shacknews: How does it feel to have Rogue Legacy out the door for PS4, PS3, and Vita? Did you run into any trouble developing the game for these new platforms?

Lee: The first time we saw Rogue Legacy running was pretty insane. I just got all giggly and stuff. But it was also pretty scary because the first few builds of the game weren't running well at all. It was sub 20fps on some platforms, and loading the game took upwards of 5 minutes.

We're not the best programmers, and we don't have the technical skills to bring the game to consoles, so we had to team up with Abstraction Games bring the game to Sony consoles. So when we first got those builds we were afraid they wouldn't be able to bring it up to a quality level that we would be happy with.

But thankfully, they were able to knock it out of the park. It got close, but they put so much work into the port, that every issue we had was eventually resolved. The load times are super short, the game runs at 60fps on all platforms, and the controls are super tight. It's just absolutely amazing what they were able to accomplish. Really super happy we teamed up with them, and I think everyone's gonna be happy with the PSN version.

Shacknews: Are there any differences that long-time Rogue Legacy players will notice with these versions of the game?

Lee: Depends on when you started. About 6 months ago we released a massive 1.2 patch which added 5 remixed bosses, more rooms, more traits, and a secret class. There's also been a slew of tweak, making the game a much more balanced experience too. So if you were one of the first people to buy the game, you might have missed out.

All of this content and a little bit more is in the PSN version. For the Sony version we also added 2 extra traits, Sony-exclusive stuff like touch controls and whatnot that we couldn't do on PC, and a few more tweaks to the game for a slightly better game balance. We didn't want to go overboard because we wanted to avoid punishing early adopters by releasing an expanded version later on.

Shacknews: What sense of gratification do you get when you see people post about how difficult Rogue Legacy is?

Lee: I like it! I like it a lot!

But it kind of depends on what people say. If they're like "Rogue Legacy is hard but fair," those comments hit me right in the heart in a good way. But if they say "Rogue Legacy is unfair and stupid," it hits me right in the heart in a bad way.

Shacknews: Are there plans to take Rogue Legacy to even more platforms, like ones from Microsoft and Nintendo?

Lee: We've been in talks with them, but we're a really small team, so our sights have just been set on the Sony version. We've also got a timed exclusivity period with them, so we've just been keeping our heads down. Currently, we're hard at work on bringing the game to Japan. This is a huge risk because Western games - especially indie Western games - usually bomb in Japan.

We've teamed up with these awesome people at 8-4 too see if we can change that.

Lee was also happy to take some questions from our Chatty community.

Rauol Duke asks: What are some of your favorite and least favorite trait combos? And which combination do you feel is most overpowered?

Lee: My favorite trait combos are more trait + class combos that works out best. So like, Mage + Dwarfism is great. All the goodness with no flaws. Especially if you specced yourself for a mage.

Ninja/Assassin + ADHD and Muscle Weakness is also a lot of fun. You move fast, and enemies don't get knocked back so if you're really good at back stepping, you can clear entire rooms in seconds. I also really like Knight + gigantism. Your shield class ability really offsets all of the detriments you might have with being so large.

Oh, I also really like Gigantism and hypergonadism. That combo's cray cray.

I also always take dementia when it's available. Just because I love that trait.

Most overpowered combo is easy. It would be P.A.D + EHS. All platforms open, and no spike traps? I could probably beat the game with 1 life. Or P.A.D and Eid. Mem... Really just P.A.D and anything else... P.A.D OP

My least favorite trait combos, is CIP and Hypochondriac. Being unable to even guess how much HP you have is crazy stupid. I use to hate Vertigo + anything, but we buffed Vertigo in the PSN version so it's actually not so bad anymore (+30% gold gain for people with Vertigo).

Oh I also can't stand Flexible. I back step so much that not being able to do it just screws me up every time.

VictoriouSecret asks: What other traits did you have planned that didn't make it into the final release of the game?

Lee: There was quite a few. We don't believe in documentation, but two that I can pull from memory are:

1. Left Handed: Swapped your attack and spell buttons. Would have just been a nuisance so we didn't go.

2. Vampirism: Spells cost health. Too expensive to implement, too many fringe cases which could break the game.

I also wanted to implement a Roguemode where characters would be obfuscated, along with a bunch of other rules. It ended up being too expensive to do for just a side feature. BUT, the Sony version of the game got a new trait called Prosopagnosia added into it, which took the essence of the child obfuscation, and put it into the game proper.

RomSteady asks: There have been some impressive Rogue Legacy speed runs. Which speed run has impressed you the most?

Lee: I like all the speed runs! But my favorite videos were the kind of "challenge" vids. So for example, there's one of a guy beating all the bosses as the first character in the game which is insane! It takes him like 30 minutes to beat the final boss because he has no upgrades.

But one of the speed run videos I liked the most was more of a casual speed-runs by a guy named Smite because people are just talking casually while it's happening so it's got a really nice atmosphere.

Guybrushed and snot3353 ask: Are you planning on releasing anymore content to Rogue Legacy at any point, paid or otherwise?

Lee: We added a major patch midway through the year, and I think we're planning to stop. At this point, all of the changes we'd want to make, are big enough to warrant a sequel, so we'd rather do that instead. Not that we're working on the sequel just yet. We want to try something new first.

As for DLC, the funny thing is, if you make a game without DLC in mind, it's very hard to add DLC later. Plus, again, we'd rather make a sequel.

snot3353 asks: Are you happy with the current state of balance in the game?

Lee: I'm pretty happy with the way character classes are balanced right now. There are some classes I'd remove just because I think they're not set in the right direction that I'd want Rogue Legacy to go. And there's some major character imbalances in NG+ and onwards. These imbalances were by design in order to makes some classes better early, and some better late, but the differences get a little too extreme in NG+ and onwards.

There are some core fundamental features in the game which I'd want to change to fix balancing. But those would require a complete overhaul of the game, so we'd save that for a sequel.

megarust32 asks: The soundtrack is one of the best things about the game. Have you considered adding new tracks later down the line?

Lee: Oh yeah! We totally were gonna use old versions of our songs and get them put into the game as a trait! it would have been awesome! But... music is huge. You can't compress audio when you're making a game, so songs end up taking hundreds of megs. And I don't think people would have appreciated a massive file update just for a single trait. So it got the axe!

kaddar0 asks: What was toughest to get right about the design of the leveling system? Is there anything you feel you could have done better?

Lee: We did a very similar XP system in one of our previous free flash games Villainous, so it was pretty easy to do on the meta level. But everything else was a huge hassle. Coming up with all of the skills was quite tough because we were working on a budget, so every skill in the game had to be both important, and cheap to implement. Not always an easy combination to hit.

Also setting up the order of the skills was a lot of work. The placement of the skills probably changed over 50 times, because we needed it to act as both a tutorial, and an upgrade system at the same time. The first 6 traits especially got changed a ton.

Oh, and balancing. That took forever.

On the improvement side, there's a lot of things we could have done better. Making a skill tree is tough, and I built a rudimentary tool to help us make changes quicker. But it had flaws in it which caused a lot of grief. This was doubly embarrassing because it was my second attempt at this type of skill tree. We also increase the cost of all upgrades when you level your character. This was important in order to enforce variety, but it irks people, and we knew it would. We have a solution for that which we'd implement if we ever made a sequel that would help alleviate this.

shavenwok and Nerdsbeware ask: Do you feel like Rogue Legacy relates in any way to your original Don't Sh*t Your Pants game?

Lee: It's more or less a direct sequel.

Just kidding, but honestly, when we first made DSYP, the first really big eureka moment for that game was putting the achievement screen right after the death screen. It was a 2 second solution which more or less cemented the game flow. It really helped us understand the importance of breaking the status quo of video game structure so that every decision you make is right for your game, and not for video games in general.


Rogue Legacy is available now from the PlayStation Store and on Steam.