Risk of Rain's Paul Morse talks about improving the original game with the help of modders

Developing Risk of Rain Returns required the teams to work out what improvements and additions should be included while retaining the feel of the original.

Hopoo Games

Risk of Rain has always drawn in an avid fan base since its release in 2013. Seven years after its launch, the team at Hopoo Games put out Risk of Rain 2, taking the game from 2D to 3D. And now, Duncan Drummond and Paul Morse are back as they prepare to release Risk of Rain Returns, a remake of the original that looks to improve upon the first game while staying true to its roots. We had the opportunity to speak with Paul Morse, co-founder of Hopoo Games, about what goes into creating a remake like Risk of Rain Returns. We pick his brain about returning to a game after ten years, what the team has brought over from Risk of Rain 2, and much more. Check it out!

This interview was conducted by Blake Morse with article contributions by Sam Chandler.

Shacknews: What made you decide to revisit the original Risk of Rain after all these years?

Paul Morse: The original Risk of Rain is something both Duncan and I are very fond of, but were also hesitant about updating after all these years. I think doing a remake that stays true to the original design of the game but improves a lot of the pain points for players gives us the chance to create something really special for the existing community. Not only that, but it gives players new to Risk of Rain the ability to look back at where it all started.

Working directly with Risk of Rain modders who have led and supported the community over the years felt like a natural way for us to make sure the remake stayed true to the original. Thankfully we built up a really talented small team of passionate artists, designers, and programmers to make it happen. 

Source: Risk of Rain Returns

Shacknews: What was it like to dive back into your 10-year-old game as a developer? How much of your creative process has remained the same after so long and what has changed for you?

Morse: Having worked on both the original Risk of Rain and Risk or Rain 2 for almost 10 years now, it never felt like we forgot how to design in that space or what improvements players might want. We have been listening and gathering feedback from the community for years about what design choices we originally made that are core to the game and what could be slightly tweaked or upgraded to be more in line with modern games. Even the most basic things like fully supported Steam networking like Risk of Rain 2 has are a huge upgrade that Risk of Rain Returns has over the original.

The nice thing about Risk of Rain is that its design and core loop were very simple, just executed well. A lot of the creative process we tend to go off what we like to see in games as players, and see how we can translate that or improve on it in our own titles. A lot of the designers and creators on Risk of Rain Returns have been working with the game for years and know the game better than either Duncan and I do at this point, so it's great to know the design space is in good hands.

Source: Risk of Rain Returns

Shacknews: Are there any key elements from Risk of Rain 2 that you are implementing into Risk of Rain Returns?

Morse: A lot of the improvements and refinements to the game from Risk of Rain 2 have been brought back for Risk of Rain Returns. Small things like how it feels to control the player, difficulty scaling, items and even some systems like Mountain Shrines are going to be really fun for returning players to see. Larger systems like the networking rework (playing with friends without Hamachi), language support, alternate skill unlocks, Providence Trials, and more are great additions that we felt were necessary for a game launching in 2023.

Source: Risk of Rain Returns

Shacknews: How difficult was it for you to implement everything you wanted to into Risk of Rain Returns?

Morse: It is always a challenge to take something people love and recreate it. We want to honor the original game while also incorporating years of learning and feedback to make the experience even better for players. With that in mind we brought on an incredible team including some mod developers who are very familiar with the original game. With their help we are able to meaningfully incorporate many of the solutions the community had already adopted themselves as well as build from that foundation.

While making a beautiful experience with an updated codebase was the initial goal, over time as we grew our team and continued development it became clear that turning this into a full remake was the direction that we felt fans would value the most. The biggest issue we ran into was actually having too many ideas, not the execution of them. Each idea affects the integrity of the original game and is worth a conversation. We wanted the game to accurately represent an improvement over the original before we explored new possibilities beyond the core of what makes Risk of Rain great. The art of it is in containing our excitement for innovation enough to honor the original while still refining the experience. We think we have managed to strike the right balance.

Source: Risk of Rain Returns

Shacknews: After making a 2D and a 3D version of Risk of Rain where would you like to see the series go next? Could we see it branch out into other genres?

Morse: The team at Hopoo Games has loved working on this franchise and taking it from the early days in 2D to its realization as a 3D experience. The journey taught us so much and that growth is a huge part of what makes us excited to remake Risk of Rain. Back in December, we officially turned ownership of the IP and development over (beyond Risk of Rain Returns) to the team at Gearbox. It’s the same team we have been working with for the past few years on projects like Survivors of the Void. We are incredibly excited to see where they take the game next, but for the time being I know they are laser focused on delivering SOTV on console.

While Risk of Rain Returns doesn’t have a concrete release date yet, it is scheduled to launch sometime this year. Check out the Risk of Rain Returns Steam page or the Nintendo Store to add it to your wishlist and then swing by our Risk of Rain page for the latest on the series!

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

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