Edmonton’s Beamdog indulges in 1980s nostalgia with MythForce

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Waking up on Saturday morning to eat cereal while watching hours of cartoons on TV was a highlight for many who grew up in the ‘80s. In its latest video game, Edmonton-based Beamdog tapped in on that nostalgic sugar rush to come up with the idea for MythForce.

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Billed as a first-person swords-and-sorcery adventure, MythForce borrows heavily from the clean, colourful artwork of those beloved cartoons, such as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Thundercats, for its graphics. It also pays tribute to the ’80s with its own cheesy theme song, replete with thundering guitar riffs and a soaring chorus.

“There was a real desire to make a game that was all-ages,” says Trent Ostler, Beamdog’s co-founder. “We explicitly targeted a cartoon level of violence where there’s no blood, there’s no gore.”

MythForce gives players the options of four character classes — rogue, mage, hunter and knight — and throws them into a dungeon stuffed with outlandish baddies. While designed to be played solo or with others, multiplayer is clearly where the most fun lies. Ostler describes early testing sessions of the game when it was codenamed Battle Axe with his business partner and his unimpressed five-year-old daughter who dubbed it “Battle Boring.” Months later in a multiplayer session of a more polished build of the game, the girl’s interest was piqued and she took over the controls, excitedly ordering her teammates around.

Edmonton-based Beamdog released its new video game, Mythforce, as early-access on April 20, 2022. supplied

“At that moment, I think we kind of realized that we’d hit on something that was really accessible,” recalls Ostler.

The game falls under the subgenre known as ‘rogue-like’, which is a dungeon crawl through randomized levels. It’s also designed to be the type of title a gamer strapped for time, so essentially anyone who grew up in the ’80s, could jump in and play a session for an hour or two, says Ostler.

“I almost think of it as it’s kind of like a vacation game. If you’re a hardcore gamer and you’re committed to Destiny or whatever your game of the month is, when you just want a fun break, this is the game you come to.”

MythForce marks a departure for Beamdog, which has previously stuck to releasing enhanced versions of video games developed by other companies, such as the Baldur’s Gate series. After three years of development, MythForce entered its early-access phase on April 20, giving gamers a chance to play it while allowing Beamdog to make tweaks based on players’ responses to rollout through periodic updates.

“We really view this as kind of the minimum playable version of it. There’s one adventure and there’s a single boss, you play it through,” says Ostler, whose team is having fun watching MythForce players through streaming outlets such as Twitch.

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For much of MythForce’s production, Beamdog’s staff of 83 worked on the game largely from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ostler, who was previously one of the co-founders of Edmonton’s BioWare, says he’s content with having the company’s 11,000 square foot office sit largely empty as long as his staff continues to focus on building imaginative games.

“Don’t feel like you got to come in here just because some suit in a chair decides that everybody needs to go to the office. That’s not what we’re about. We’re about allowing creative people to be creative,” says Ostler. “Honestly, if there are four people in the office for the rest of the days that we rent the office, I’m fine with that. As long as those people are getting a lot of benefit from (working from home), and it’s working, we’re doing things right.”

MythForce is currently available through the Epic Games Story for play on Windows.



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