DevBlog,  Mesmer

What is Mesmer? A step forward for Rain Games

Hi everyone. My name is Peter. I am project lead on Rain Games new game, Mesmer. I am also the game designer for the project.

With Mesmer it occured to me that over the last one and a half year, we have been working on and building a lot of things that as far as I know have no equivalent in other games. Perhaps this is something that people would be interested in knowing more about?

With this thought in mind, I have decided to take off some time to write a little dev blog for Mesmer. I will work to keep it up with weekly updates. Though starting out we have over a year of development and design to catch up to. That will be my first couple of posts.

As a company, we always want to make something new every time we make a game. Though we set all our games in the same world, there is something great about not only building on what you have done before, but also in a sense starting out fresh.

Teslagrad was a Metroidvania with puzzle platforming elements based around magnetism.

World to the West was an action adventure in the vein of Zelda, with an explorable world and story.

And that begs the question: What is Mesmer?

Though we always work in a lot of new mechanics and ways of telling stories in our games, our last two titles were still safely cradled in genres that have been around for years. This makes development a lot easier, as there is a solid foundation of work that has gone before, and people have found good ways of how to do things, as well as making a lot of mistakes in certain areas that you won’t have to repeat. Essentially as a game designer, I would get to focus just on the areas where I wanted to create something new, and I could leave it to the well-explored framework of the masters of the past to ensure that the rest of the experience was solid.

This time, we dared venture off the beaten track and into the jungle itself.

Mesmer is a Social Survival game.

What is that, you might ask?

We looked at the genre of survival games that had sprung up. Like Don’t Starve or Rust. There is a world that contains all the resources you need. You can play it pretty much as you like, frequently with the Roguelike method of only saving when you exit the game replacing the linear model of progression. There will be crafting, you will be in the wilderness. There will be few other people, and at some point you are likely to be punching wood.

There is a lot to love here, to be sure. But after Minecraft inadvertently kicked off both the builder and the survival genre, I feel that the building side of things with entries like Robocraft, Factorio and Space Engineers have dared venture further away from this common origin.

For Mesmer, we want to find out what might be hiding over the next horizon.

Mesmer is a game about Revolution. Specifically it lets you play as a revolutionary leader, able to direct the flow of events in the city to a degree.

Usually something like this is done like a strategy game with a gods-view interface and pure strategic choices, but real revolutions are way more messy than that!

In Mesmer, the player controls the character in 3rd person. You have to speak to both the masses and the small number of people who hold true power in Mesmer. The trick is to get what you want without revealing too much about yourself to the powers that be, and to do so without expending too much capital, neither social nor otherwise.

Rather than the forlorn wilderness devoid of other people, this survival story takes place in the heart of a bustling metropol. Every day, the city becomes a harder place to survive. The king wants your head, rival revolutionaries want your blood, and the masses are making the streets unsafe even for a revolutionary like you. If you cannot build support fast enough, you will likely be swept away.

The city itself is alive. Due to Mesmer not having the focus on exploration and natural resources, the layout of the streets and houses is always the same. To us, this fits well with the idea that any revolutionary is somewhat familiar with their city. However, the social landscape of Mesmer is always different. It starts out changed in every new game, and it also warps during play, as NPCs attempt to further their own ambitions, the changes you yourself make to the social landscape makes itself felt, and the pure weight of revolution makes society buckle!

Phew… This first post became a little longer than intended. I only wanted to tell you all about the very basic idea, and I haven’t even gotten down into any of the specifics yet. I hope you will find this interesting, and I will work to keep up these posts for the remainder of our development. You’ll have a new one every Tuesday.

Next week I will talk a little bit about the inner mental workings of the characters in our world. We will be looking at moods, mental states and how that affects both the game mechanics, as well as how the characters present themselves in animation.

If you have any thoughts, I would love to hear your feedback on the Rain Games Facebook page, or on Twitter to either Rain’s official Twitter, or to my personal handle (Rainypete).

-Peter W. Meldahl