Independent video game development team Mystery Egg Games are currently working on their second title, Hero.EXE, which creative director Branson Lowman describes as “an action RPG heavily inspired by the Mega Man Battle Network series.”
“The game borrows mechanics from a wide variety of genres including visual novels and popular trading card games,” says Lowman. “The combat is an interesting combination between Mega Man Battle Network’s grid-based card combat and Hearthstone-like card mechanics.”
Lowman says the cards in Hero.EXE function as attacks or spells for the player to some degree, but that the cards also have their own unique mechanics.
“When designing the game I really wanted people to do really insane things with their decks,” said Lowman, “We have combo decks, aggressive decks, and other archetypes you would more traditionally see in a trading card game, but with the design framework of Battle Network. You can still play the game with a really simple deck and be successful, but you can also create some really amazing combinations.”
According to Lowman, there are around one hundred cards with four “keyword mechanics,” which are “Rhythm, Extreme, Balance, and Fade.”
“We will be refining the list after extensive testing and player feedback as well as patching in balances and new cards,” says Lowman.
In hopes of receiving player feedback prior to a full release, Mystery Egg Games are aiming to release a demo for Hero.EXE in February of next year.
“We’re hoping the demo accomplishes two major things,” said Lowman, “The first is show publishers and fans that the team is capable of making the game. This will help us get the funding needed to make the full game. Either through publishers or a Kickstarter.
“The second is feedback, we value feedback A LOT. Feedback from our Discord server has already shaped the game in numerous ways. We hope to see a lot of positive as well as constructive feedback after the demo releases.”
Lowman listed funding as a major challenge in the making of Hero.EXE.
“I fund the entirety of development myself on a $14.50/hr night job. Which means the budget is EXTREMELY tight,” Lowman said. “However, the team and people we work with are incredibly accommodating with the budget and it’s been a true blessing to work with such talented people. Our voice actors and guest artists specifically do an incredible job and I feel privileged to work with them.”
Lowman went on to describe the manner by which Mystery Egg Games came into contact with their voice talent.
“One day a couple months ago. We got a cold email from Aimee Smith asking if we needed voice actors,” said Lowman. “Voice acting was never even remotely a possibility for the game… but I decided to look into it nonetheless. After talking with Aimee I discovered that the rates on indie voice acting was within my limited budget and worth the investment.
“After talking with the team, I decided to hold auditions on Reddit and Twitter for our 5 characters. What followed was probably the most grueling week of my life. Over 150 email chains, NDAs, audition takes, it was a trial to be sure, but I am so happy with the results because we are now working with not 5 but now 7 amazing voice actors including Aimee”
Mystery Egg Games, aside from their recently taken-on voice actors and guest artists, consists of seven core members, six of whom went to the same University. The card system is being worked on by one of the programmers “virtually by himself,” in addition to continued attendance of University.
Lowman described the amount of time Hero.EXE has been under construction.
“Hero.EXE is about to enter its 5th month of development,” Lowman said via an email in early October, “Conceptually I worked on the game for about 5 weeks before we began its development. However, I’ve been thinking and designing different Battle Network inspired games for around 6 or so years.
Hero.EXE has four main characters, each of whom Lowman said will feature distinct playstyles.
“The characters will all follow the same story path,” Lowman said, “but they will not only interact with the story differently but have their own unique story chapters. Valentine and Chip will have the same general plot notes, but Valentine and Chip are different. They go to different places and have different relationships with the characters.”
Lowman said the game is currently only planned for release on PC, but that the team is hopeful for a Switch version “depending on funding.” Mystery Egg Games are aiming for a Q4 2019 or Q1 2020 release “if everything goes 100% according to plan.”
“I would say worst case we would need an extra 6 months after that, should things go awry,” Lowman said.