'Dustforce' dev Hitbox Team Announce 'Spire'

By Joseph Leray

Yesterday, Hitbox Team game designer Woodley Nye announced the studio’s follow-up to last year’s "Dustforce:" it’s a first-person tower climbing game called "Spire," and it was apparently influenced by "Quake 3’s" rocket-jumping.

“One of our goals since the beginning has been to create an FPS movement system that feels snappy like Dustforce, incorporating walljumps, wall sliding and other advanced techniques,” Nye writes. “The level generation will result in scenes that demand mastery of all sorts of skills, not just running and aiming.”

Nye goes on to explain that the team wants “'Spire' to exude a sense of exploration and mystery, but also promote flashy and skillful play. … We tend to agree that the ‘best’ way to play a game should look and feel cool.”

"Spire" is a fantasy game about reaching the top of a mysterious, procedurally generated building, with new items, monsters, and level design for each playthrough. These elements won’t be completely randomized, though, as Spire uses some sort of Left 4 Dead-esque AI Director to manage the rhythm of the game.

“Environments and the transition between them tell a story,” Nye explains. “If the generator has created a dangerous, frantic sequence with lots of combat, it might think to then generate a scene with lower intensity to better control the emotional arc of the experience. In this way, 'Spire' will generate intentional level flow instead of randomized environments.”

Hitbox Team is promising that the enemies and items will be “non-standard”: avoiding traditional fantasy elements like elves and goblins will make enemies feel “new and unfamiliar,” they write. The choice of in-game items seems to have a similar goal -- I don’t see any swords or shields, but there are harps and cannons, apparently.

There’s no release date yet -- though the team is “well into development” -- but comments on the Hitbox blog suggest release for PC, Mac, and Linux, thanks to the versatility of "Spire’s" Unity engine.

Moving from "Dustforce" -- a graceful and precise 2D platformer -- to "Spire" seems quite ambitious, but the promise of first-person free-running game that isn’t Brink is exciting. EA and DICE seem obstinately opposed to developing a Mirror’s Edge sequel, but Hitbox Team may be up to the task of bringing wall jumps and parkour back in style.

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