Developer interview: The Legend of Tianding

The recent Steam Next Festival allowed gamers to get to know and try out a lot of upcoming games. One of them was The Legend of Tianding from developer CGCG, which is being released through Neon Doctrine later this year. As a sidescrolling action adventure with roots in history and folk tales, it certainly stood out to us and we couldn’t wait to find out more. We reached out to the developers at CGCG and here’s what we learned.

How big is the team at CGCG that’s working on the game?

The path of indie development is tough, we’ve got people coming and going. We’ve had an average of around 9 people during the 2.5 years we’ve been with this project. We currently have a 7 person team which contains 2 programmers, 2 designers and 3 artists (2D, 3D, VFX). All the tools and content of this game were made from scratch by us except the music, for which we cooperate with Rising Music Studio.

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Which real-life/historical events influenced The Legend of Tianding?

Taiwan is an island country in East Asia which features integrated cultures. In addition to its indigenous culture, since the 17th century there has been an influx of Spanish and Dutch culture as well as and Chinese culture coming from mainland China. Taiwan was colonized by Japan at the end of the 19th century. During this colonization period Taiwan had an astonishing cultural diversity. At that time, on a regular day a person in Taiwan could see traditional Asian farming villages and the latest technologies coming from the west inspired by the Industrial Revolution. There is no better way for players to experience such an amazing Taiwanese history than through a game featuring Liao, Tian-Ding.

Liao, Tian-Ding, the protagonist in our game, is the most controversial character during the Japanese colonization era. He was a criminal, but he is also a Robin Hood. His heroic stories have become famous folktales that circulated through every corner in Taiwan. We increased the authenticity of this game by looking into many historical facts and legends about Liao, Tian-Ding. We want our players to impersonate Liao, Tian-Ding in the game as they walk through places and events he actually did in history. As the game unfolds, the objects our players acquire and NPCs the players encounter are all based on historical facts. We want our players to not only enjoy the game we designed but also get to know more about Taiwan’s rich culture.

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What are some examples of games that have inspired the gameplay in The Legend of Tianding?

The Key visual design is all about retro martial arts comics. We reference a lot of Hong Kong Manga which is closer to Taiwan style than American and Japanese comics. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse does help us with some idea of posteffect. Gameplay is all about combining the famous action games we played and were inspired by – our combat feels like Shank, and player movement was inspired by Guacamelee. Varying weapons and attacks, as well as fast pace dodging, is a bit like in Dead Cells, and closed boss fight resemble games like Rockman and Hollow Knight.

You had a demo out for the game not too long ago. What has the response been like from the community?

It turned out very uplifting to us. We’re in the Top 50 of most playing demos during Steam Next and got into the Top 25 a couple of times. So many players from Taiwan are streaming their gameplay with our game and giving valuable feedback to help us improve the game. Some full-time game streamers even made a highlight clip of their experience and got 100k viewers just for one of them. Our thanks go out to all the players who liked our game and helped us promote it! That really helps a small team with no marketing budget like us.

Where in development are you right now?

The content is locked down, we’re fixing bugs and porting the game over to the Switch. We plan to release the game in October.

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