Rollers of the Realm
In the world of video games, it’s often the biggest new concept that captures the most attention. But in the middle of the most modern creations, there’s room for nostalgia. Mashing up a narrative role-playing fantasy game with old school pinball, Rollers of the Realm offers both.
Game Director, David Evans
Created by the team at Phantom Compass, Rollers of the Realm was led by game director David Evans and producers Ericka Evans and Tony Walsh. David had a vision for an archetypal world, with classic characters and themes popular not only in video games but also on TV and in Film. He created a world with a “low magic” fantasy setting and a misfit gang of characters – and then added a classic arcade game. RPG and pinball, together at last!
Coming off of a previous project, Phantom Compass wanted to level up and Rollers of the Realm was the game to do it. Initially, the game was envisioned as a six-month project but the team soon realized they would need more resources and that a new extended team was required. Their small indie studio of four employees quickly ballooned to 22! Indeed, they reached the next level in more ways than one.
Launched in 2014 by publishing partner Atlus USA, Rollers of the Realm received fantastic reviews on Destructoid and Polygon as well as Leo Takes a Look, The Hermit and Jesse Cox on YouTube. However, the launch was one of the busiest weeks ever on PlayStation. They hit the perfect gaming storm by releasing on the same delivery day as Assassin’s Creed and other major titles. This was a key learning for Phantom Compass about the nature of the market and the importance of discoverability. Nevertheless, their Steam user rating was very positive (90%) and fans rallied around this unique and captivating game.
Rollers of the Realm “Throne Room”
In addition to the marketing done by the game’s publisher, Phantom Compass did a series of Live Stream talks and blogs, as well as demo booths at conferences and events. This had a measurable impact on downloads. Tony, Ericka and the team toured the Indie Game conference scene, including InPlay, the Game Developers Conference (GDC), Casual Connect, PaxEast and IndieCade (the Sundance for indie games)! At GDC, Rollers of the Realm took home an award for Best in Play and was nominated for a Digi Award in Gaming and Best Desktop Game at Casual Connect.
When creating the project, the team didn’t want to have a typical male-dominated game and instead went for a more diverse range of characters. It was a conscious choice to make the hero a young female protagonist and for the Realm to be a more multi-cultural world. The game reflects the team’s values and is something they hope resonates with Canadians.
After all, it’s Canadian talent that created the game. Ericka continues to foster the development of such talent, giving talks at nearby post-secondary institutions Brock University, Niagara College (where she is Chair of the Program Advisory Committee), and Sheridan College. They especially work to encourage more women to get into gaming. As well, it is common for high school and elementary school classes drop by Phantom Compass for tours.
Jos Yule, Tony Walsh and Ericka Evans (Phantom Compass company partners)
Outside of St. Catharines, Rollers of the Realm really put Phantom Compass on the map internationally and helped them to gain more respect. At conventions, they are proud to be part of the Industry standard: that Canadian means quality and experience. With Tony in Toronto and the main office in nearby St. Catharines, Phantom Compass covers a large area. In fact, it’s been somewhat of an open secret, but a gaming and technology bubble is on the rise in St. Catharines, with Phantom Compass playing a large role in its development.
When it comes to what he is most proud of about Rollers of the Realm, Tony sees the game as a big milestone for the company. They managed to achieve what they wanted from a company growth perspective and it became a turning point, allowing them to develop the company’s capabilities and higher production value projects.
“Peoples’ eyes light up when they play it. When they like it, they love it!” – Ericka Evans, Producer, Phantom Compass
Ericka is proud that they took such a big design risk and were successful. They had gamers say that they were waiting for this! Pinball and RPG together, forever.
Join them and Play Rollers of the Realm on PC and PlayStation. Interact with the creators and community on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Plus, stay plugged into Steam for the launch of Auto Age, the next game from Phantom Compass coming this Fall 2016!