Interview: Hexguardian Initially Focused On RTS, Later Expanded To Roguelite Tower Defense

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Hexguardian - via Split Second Games

Hexguardian is an upcoming strategy, roguelite game that starts with a variety of abilities and spells. The game suits both newcomers and veterans with two modes: Standard and Challenge. As the name implies, a Standard Mode is designed for a balanced progression and offers decent upgrades from the start. Meanwhile, the Challenge Mode will test your patience with limited resources and fierce battles. 

Your best bet is to utilize resources wisely and recruit an army with a variety of abilities to defend from sea, air, and ground. Now that the game is nearing release, we spoke to the solo developer behind Hexguardian of Split Second Games to discuss the inspiration and different mechanics used in the game.

Hexguardian - via Split Second Games
Hexguardian – via Split Second Games

Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work on Hexguardian.

Split Second Games: I previously worked in game companies as a game designer for several years but eventually decided to pursue my true passion and start my career as an indie game developer. Hexguardian is my first indie game, and I used Unreal and Blender to develop it. Hexguardian has undergone a lot of changes since two years ago.

Initially, it was more of an RTS game, where you recruited workers, gathered resources, constructed buildings, hired troops, and assigned tasks individually to each one of them. It now focuses more on the core gameplay: building and expanding.

What was the inspiration behind such a cute, nostalgic world combined with a lot of aspects of strategic gaming?

Split Second Games: The inspiration for Hexguardian’s gameplay primarily came from tile-based terrain-building games like Carcassonne and Dorfromantik. Creating complex terrain with simple tiles is addictive, and since I enjoy strategy games a lot, I wanted to add more strategic thinking to this gameplay. Such as using terrain building to create defensive advantages or trap your enemies.

world of Hexguardian
Hexguardian – via Split Second Games

Hexguardian brings a unique gameplay experience to the roguelike and tower defense genre. Such as the hexagonal tiles for creating a path offer a neat strategy touch to the game. Can you elaborate on the decision-making process behind path manipulation? How does this mechanic affect tower placement and overall strategy?

Split Second Games: Having control over the terrain brings significant changes to the game’s strategy compared to other tower defense games. In traditional tower defense games, the terrain is given in advance, and you need to decide tower placements based on the terrain and enemy invasion routes.

In Hexguardian, the question becomes: how should I construct the terrain to obtain better tower positions? Extending the enemy invasion routes gives more defensive depth while creating corners (instead of straight paths) and increases your tower’s coverage area (especially for AOE damage towers).

However, there are more factors to consider, such as possibly bringing two portals closer to each other to eventually close them off. In the Rockland map, there’s even more to consider since highland tiles increase’s tower’s sight.

There are multiple enemy types (land, sea, air). How do the different tower types specialize against these enemy variations?

Split Second Games: I want combat to be more varied, with different towers and barracks having their advantages in various situations. For example, melee units excel against ground enemies but are completely ineffective against water and air enemies. Cannon towers excel at dealing with clustered enemies but have little effect on single boss units or scattered enemies, and they cannot target air units.

Different magical elements and elemental reactions also apply to different scenarios. For example, the light element can blind enemies, creating a better environment for your melee units to output damage. Using the fire element to trigger a toxic explosion causes significant damage to clustered enemies, and so on.

Hexguardian - via Split Second Games
Hexguardian – via Split Second Games

You also mentioned using and learning a variety of spells. How many spells can players use, and will they be able to unlock them during progression?

Split Second Games: There are currently 8 normal spells and 3 weather spells in the game, which players gradually learn as they unlock the talent tree. There is no limit to the number of spells a player can learn in a game, and spells do not consume gold and can be reused, serving as an essential means of defense against enemies.

Some spells can work with your towers/barracks to create powerful area effects, such as creating a large area of water elements with the Pond spell, which, when paired with a Thunder Tower, can stun a large group of enemies. Or even casting a heavy snowfall to freeze all enemies walking on water!

Also, some bosses grant blessings upon defeat. Can you detail some examples of these blessings and how they contribute to player power growth?

Split Second Games: In addition to defeating bosses, players can now obtain blessings through other means, such as praying with stars produced in cultural buildings. There are over 100 blessings in the game, including strengthening your defensive towers, barracks, production buildings, spells, etc., under specific conditions or amplifying the elemental reaction effects. Some blessings bring about interesting effects.

For example, there is a blessing that forcibly converts half of the enemy’s maximum HP into armor, which is not particularly useful in usual situations but can be extremely powerful when your main forces excel at armor penetration (such as Crossbowmen).

Hexguardian - via Split Second Games
Hexguardian – via Split Second Games

How will the enemy waves be progressively more challenging? Will there be additional mechanics introduced in higher difficulties?

Split Second Games: As your defenses progress, enemies will become stronger, including the appearance of new enemy types. From Day 4 onwards, boat enemies will appear, and on Day 8, flying enemies. On Day 10 of difficult levels, you will face bosses for the first time. On Day 1, only one portal will spawn enemies, but as the days progress, enemies will emerge from more portals. The enemy’s HP, armor values, and attack power will also increase over time.

How many developers are actively working on Hexguardian and how long has it been under development?

Split Second Games: Currently, there is only me (excluding the sound effects and music in the game, which are produced by Qiyi Music). Hexguardian has been under development for approximately two years.

massive world
Hexguardian – via Split Second Games

Now, since the demo has been live for quite some time, how has the feedback been from the community?

Split Second Games: The community’s response has been very enthusiastic, with some players spending nearly 200 hours playing the demo alone. I have also received a lot of valuable feedback from players, leading to significant optimization over the two-plus months since the demo was released.

There has also been some negative feedback due to issues in previous versions of the demo, such as forced tutorials, bugs, performance issues, numerical imbalances, etc. However, I think recognizing the game’s problems and fixing them is crucial.

Anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Split Second Games: Thank you very much for your interest in Hexguardian! Hexguardian has interesting core gameplay, and I believe there is still plenty of room for development, such as new maps, buildings, and spells, or even entirely new game mechanics and game modes.

I will continue to provide updates to players after the game is released, and if you have ideas or feedback about this game, please contact me through [email protected].

Hexguardian is an upcoming city-building, tower defense game, under development by Split Second Games. The game is set to release on May 2, 2024, for PC.

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