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The Frost Demon: a chat with Manuele Bonini

Manuele Bonini is the programmer and game designer behind The Frost Demon.

What was your role in the making of The Frost Demon?

At the beginning I was working on another audiogame, but as the release date approached I began helping Alessandro Corazza with The Frost Demon, managing the testing, some game and audio design and bug fixes. After the release, however, I was reassigned to Blind Quest to work on the updates and since then I handled everything: design, writing and programming. It was fun to program, but also very frustrating. I asked my colleagues for help very often, in fact I thank them so much, I would not have solved anything without them. They gave me so much advice.

What brings you here, in the world of audiogames?

I’ve always loved video games, but I never thought I’d work in the industry. I studied communication and have always loved writing, reading and storytelling, so I would have liked to do it for work. I followed a course by Ivan Venturi, my current boss, and did an internship for Audiogames Association and, from then on, we started collaborating. These kinds of games are focused exactly on the things that I’m interested in: storytelling and sound design (I’d worked at the radio station of my university and now I really enjoy working with music and sound). Nonetheless, I had to learn to handle new things. As I said before, it was quite difficult for me to program, it’s like learning a new language. But if I think back to a year ago I am happy to have learned so many new things. Even if I wanted to cry every now and then.

Speaking of The Frost Demon, you have made a few changes that are worth underlining. What have you changed in the fighting system compared to the other chapters of the Blind Quest saga?

I had to make a list of the changes that had been improved: I have to say that I’m quite proud of this. The combat system has always been a problem for Blind Quest, but from the beginning Massimo De Pasquale (the first programmer and my current tutor) has made a lot of improvements and I believe we are moving in the right direction. Now the combat system is more complex: both Nathan and enemies have fast and heavy attacks, there is less indication from the narrator, so players will have to be more careful, we also have removed the mechanics of “spamming keys”. I hope that the players will appreciate this change, but I hope their keyboard will appreciate it too: Blind Quest 1 has been known as “the game that leads you to change you keyboard” because it would break for sure! Our community has given us a lot of feedback and even if I was not able to follow them all, slowly but surely we will get there. While our community is playing the demo I will continue to improve the game by following their advice and my ideas. During the fight, for example, it is now possible to know exactly the number of damage inflicted and suffered, something that the players have wanted for a while and that I’ve finally implemented, but I would like to create one more layer of complexity in the game and make Nathan have a combo system. The news that I want to include are many and certainly I will not be able to put them all, but over time The Frost Demon will get better and better.

I think a fantasy story, like The Frost Demon, is interesting because, among other aspects, the player can be whoever, or whatever, he wants. Can you tell us about this side of the game, like quests, or the equipment system for example?

I love RPGs for the exact same reason. We wanted to give an identity to our protagonist in order to develop a better story, but the player still has room to write his deeds. Given that, the story is the strength of Blind Quest but I wanted to try to expand it a bit, especially since the players wanted more side quests. By introducing the equipment system, which works through crafting and NPC, I was able to insert a small series of side missions along with an in-depth gameplay. The system is still quite basic, but I think it will please players to notice the damage increase as the adventure progresses.

What can you tell us about music and dubbing? 

Unfortunately I didn’t work directly on the music and most of the script, but I hope I can give them a little more attention in the future. One point we are trying to understand is how and when to implement a synthetic voice system or screen reader compatibility like NVDA. The ability to customize the speed of texts, insert automatic translations and similar functionalities are in high demand from the community. The big problem is that I would have to rewrite the program behind Blind Quest totally, and it’s a huge job to do; and it’s even bigger on a complete title. It will certainly be one of the first things we think about for the sequel. Anyway, I believe that a human narrator gives more interesting nuances to the story, although I recognize that Blind Quest‘s voice acting is a little over the top at times. Maybe the game will have both a narrator and screen readers compatibility. We’ll see.

You can listen to this episode of the podcast on YouTube:
Here is Blind Quest – The Frost Demon and its new update: