Back in May, we presented Wantless to you, a dystopian turn-based tactical RPG in which you face nightmares in the minds of tortured patients.
And since this production is French and since we like putting the spotlight on our own country’s developers, we tried to know more about this game, the people involved in Drop Rate Studio in charge of it, which seems to be as dark as it comes and which topic is new and innovative in the world of tactical RPGs.
Théo Maudet, studio developer and founder, kindly answered our questions with patience and good will.
(la version française ici)
RPG jeux vidéo: Hello Théo Maudet. It’s a pleasure to be able to talk with you. First of all, could you introduce yourself? What is your role in Wantless?
I’m Théo Maudet, game designer and developer for Wantless, and founder of the studio creating it, Drop Rate Studio. I’ve studied videogame production management and have been working in the industry since 2016, principally as a producer.
RPG JV: How did the idea for the game appeared in your mind?
Théo Maudet: The gameplay concept actually came before the universe.
On one hand, I’ve always been fascinated by the characters’ growth potential and customization offered in action-RPGs and MMORPGs. I’m deeply attached to the perspective of forging a character after my preferences and “invent” it, and afterwards invest my time to develop it’s capacities to a point where they’d explode.
In the other, I love the turn-based gamefeel. They might be less spectacular than their real-time alter egos, but I like the experience based on preparation and planification they propose, more than reflexes and instincts. Their gameplay is often just, clear and particularly rewarding.
Even if counter-examples exist, we don’t often see these two aspects merged into one game, and they’re not exploited to their full potential. I think it’s partly because it’s rare to see a turn-based game where you only control one character, and that it’s harder to propose deep customization options and vast gameplay opportunities when you control multiple characters.
As for the universe, it’s objective is to propose things different from our inspirations and what we usually know, and to make you think. I wanted to talk about grief and anxieties coming from a silent world without wars or any other cataclysm, where the battles that remain are led into the people’s minds, where the enemies are our own limits, our own weaknesses.
RPG JV: Why the title ‘Wantless’? Why en English title?
The game is developed en designed in English before all else, even though a French localization is planned. The game is not aimed at the French market, but more a worldwide one.
In the game’s universe, your patients use the transposition method to get their desires extracted, which they see as unmet and frustrations. When pushed to extreme levels, the repetition of this process leaves them without any desire, any will, any want: Wantless!
RPG JV: What were your influences for this game’s development?
I wanted a gameplay that would be a mix of titanic builds customization like Path of Exile’s, with the precise and strategic gameplay of Divinity: Original Sin, XCOM or Into the Beach.
Dark Souls inspired the universe’s solitude and desolation while Blade Runner influenced its big, dark and derelict metropolis.
RPG JV: What are Wantless’ features? How many hours of gameplay will we get? Will it be replayable? And in the end, in which category can we put it in?
Wantless is a tactical RPG which story is set in a dystopian future. You’ll take the role of a futuristic psychiatrist that will have to enter the minds of her patients to fight their sorrows and their nightmares « made flesh ».
The majority of these patients and their mental labyrinth (the dungeon in which the gameplay takes place) are procedurally generated, which means that there is an infinity of different dungeons spread into several difficulty tiers. Thanks to this, Wantless should be quite replayable and offer infinite hours worth of gameplay.
The main story, the one guiding the player through several different areas is mostly made through patients made by hand. You will meet them regularly in the game: we write their stories, and their mental labyrinth is also designed by us. The time taken by this “main quest” is still unknown by us, but we aim for the 15-20 hours of gameplay if you play it straight.
Though the game does not stop once this main quest is finished, and we want to develop endgame content to keep the game alive and satisfy the people’s thirst for challenges, progression and theorycrafting!
As for the game’s features, Wantless has quite a bunch. I’ll try to sum up the main ones as quickly as possible:
- You only play one character on the battlefield, Eiris. The gameplay complexity comes from the possible interactions with the environment and from the virtually infinite number of skills that you can equip.
- You forge these skills yourself. In the universe of Wantless, you loot components that allow you to craft the skills you can dream of, with almost no limitation.
- In the minds of your patients, your enemies play as much as you. You spend Action Points to move and use your skills, while during their turn, your enemies will use the same quantity of Action Points you spent. You can decide the rhythm of the fight yourself.
RPG JV: Will the game only be solo? Or will a second player be able to penetrate the brain of the patient to work in cooperation with you?
The game is solo only. The design could indeed use some cooperation, but the team’s size and budget won’t allow this.
RPG JV: How did/does the development go, and when did you start?
We created the studio in October 2021, so the full-time development had been in march for 7 months. We haven’t announced a release date yet, as we still have a lot of work to do.
RPG JV: What’s the game’s roadmap? Where are you, and where are you going?
Publishers are currently playing the game’s first demo, “Business to Business”. We’d like to offer a free and time-limited demo on Steam during 2023 in order to have some player feedback.
RPG JV: So you are looking for a publisher. What will it bring to you? Is it necessary nowadays? And more importantly, do you have a business plan to make sure you finish the project?
Collaborating with a publisher would allow us to address several of our needs:
- To make the game known and sell it correctly demands a lot of time and expertise: a publisher collaborating closely with us could help us spread the word and make our game more recognized!
- We have a very small team, and before the game is ready to be presented to the community, we need a network as big as possible to have relevant feedback and iterate on the gameplay with a certain objectivity.
- A part of the development still remains to be financed, and if there are several ways to finance a videogame, the two needs I listed above allow us to kill three birds with one stone!
Our business plan is made and clear, and finding the best publisher for Wantless would make this a reality.
RPG JV: How many people worked on the game?
We are currently two associates, and we communicate with other industry’s professionals to expand the team. We have been working together for almost 10 years, so this collaboration has no secrets for us!
RPG Jeux vidéo : What tools did you use to develop the game?
The game is developed with Unity.
RPG JV: What were your hardships? What did you like? What did you learn?
Wantless’ core gameplay has several major twists, and to balance it and make is satisfying in every step of the player’s progression is hard!
The mix of artistic and creative effort makes developing a videogame unpredictable. It’s rather simple to estimate the time it would take to implement a feature, but it’s almost impossible to know when it will be “fun” and cool to play.
You have to iterate constantly, so you need to plan to iterate. Not knowing how much time it would take to make the experience pleasant and engaging has to be taken into account on every step of the plan.
Honestly, everything is pleasant when you develop a videogame. It’s hard, but always incredibly exhilarating.
RPG JV: Is there a story? A lore that you wrote? What were your inspirations?
Wantless is carried by its gameplay more than by its story, but yes, there is one!
In a desolate future, the ghost metropolis remains silent, and a lot of its inhabitants are asleep. The others are addicted to a neurological process capable of erasing bad memories, unmet desires, traumas, flaws and even conscience itself: it’s called Mental transposition.
You’ll play as Eiris, a futuristic psychiatrist. As a Transition professional, you’ll use this technology to infiltrate the spirits of your patients and release them from their afflictions by fighting their monstrous incarnations.
One day like any other, a sinister apparition irrupts in your patient’s mind, brutally ending the Transposition and killing the patient in the process.
What was this? And how could you stop it?
RPG JV: When will the game be available? In 2023? 2024?
The Full Release cannot be expected before 2024, but we aim to launch an Early Access phase in 2023, but we’ll have to confirm this with our publisher.
RPG JV: Have you already anticipated the future release of DLCs/expansions if the game sells well? We could imagine levels with specific biomes depending on the patient’s condition, with different graphic styles (for example, the brains of the Joker and Harley Quinn could be represented with a grim dark style and an Alice in Wonderland vibe)?
The minds of the many patients actually materializes through different biomes. And you are spot-on: the two we are working on currently are:
- “Desolate Nightmares”, dark, nocturnal and desolate, and inhabited by your abandoned thoughts, your bad ideas an your repressed desires.
- “Twisted Dreams”, colourful and distorted dreams actually inspired by Alice in Wonderland, where solitude, addiction and mourn reign.
RPG JV: Was the reception of the concept good? The people’s feedback? The testers’?
The feedback from the various professionals that tested out the demo are mostly positive, even if it’s only a first development demo, way simpler than an Alpha build of the game.
RPG JV: What is your definition of RPG? What is your favourite RPG? What games do you usually play?
For me, RPGs are defined by the characters’ freedom of progression. Open-world or not, turn-based or not, I have the sensation of playing a RPG when I’m allowed to build my character and my playstyle the way I want to.
I play all sorts of RPGs (action-RPG, jRPG, tactical-RPG…) if the universe seems appealing to me and if I like the game and progression mechanics. I like FromSoftware’s Soulsborne games, Divinity: Original Sin and Path of Exile. All those are part of my favourite games.
RPG JV: Do you have one last word for our readers? Perhaps you have things to say (about DLCs, long-term projects about the game or not… anything)?
In its details, the gameplay of Wantless is less than conventional: we would be very pleased to welcome you on our Discord server to answer any of your questions and tell you more about it!
RPG JV: Thank you Théo Maudet for your time and we pray for the best. We hope that Wantless will be a great game!