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Into the Breach’s interface was a nightmare to make and the key to its greatness (rockpapershotgun.com)
153 points by somebee 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments



I think there's a big difference between what the headline is implying (some kind of hugely complex, hard-to-create UI), and what the article itself is saying. From what I can gather, the devs wanted to distill the entire game experience into something that is displayable in a simple manner, and as a core driver, this affected nearly every part of the game.

I'm also watching Into the Breach with some curiosity; the game seems to be a lot of fun, and has an amazing soundtrack. I wonder if it will be as big a success as FTL, and if so, whether it will be on its own merit, or the mass following they have due to FTL.


> headline is implying (some kind of hugely complex, hard-to-create UI)

Making anything simple is HUGELY complex. It took them years to get what they wanted and it shows. I think complex UI is actually lazy work. Space 4X games have notorious UI. Endless Space 2's interface might be much simpler than others but I guarantee you they put more time into refining their interface.

Being able to explain or create something "simple" is perhaps the hardest part of creating, and is much harder than naming things in programming and that actually is perhaps is the hardest part.


I made a game that has this design principle. The UI is all point-click and a few icons. But it presents things like: what you can do to the object in front of you, with the item in your hand. What you can do with items you have on hand. What you could do if you had an item that you know about. Hints about what you could do if you knew something you don't know yet. This is all distilled to a single icon with decorations, but computing it all correctly is quite involved.


> Making anything simple is HUGELY complex. It took them years to get what they wanted and it shows. I think complex UI is actually lazy work.

As an interaction designer: thank you! I wish more people understood this.


I think we're in agreement; I'm in no way belittling their efforts, quite the opposite. My point is just that it's not the UI itself that's complex in these scenarios, it's the entire package. Attributing the complexity to the UI is the same as a user who blames the front-end when a system goes down, while in reality that is the interaction area and there's a mountain beneath that.


To your later point: I never played FTL, but a pixel-art turn-based kaiju-killing tactics game was just too awesome to pass up.

And it runs perfectly under Wineskin on my Mac :)


I played both FTL and Into the Breach, I would say FTL is still my favorite of the two since it has more rogue-like RNG elements built into it.

Also the final boss in FTL was way more fun than in this game


> Also the final boss in FTL was way more fun than in this game

Not so fun for me, never managed to beat it after 3-4 tries, on easy difficulty while fully upgraded. I think that part could use a redesign, it's what made me loose interest in the game...although overall I think it's a great game.


The genius of it is that the best players in the world can get a 30 run win streak, so it's mostly about having a good strategy and playing well. On the other hand, you pretty much will need to know exactly how to beat the final boss, or spend several runs figuring it out...

So you are right, it's not noob friendly. On the other hand, it's one of the most sublimely balanced roguelikes.


Figuring out how to beat the final boss and beating it for the first time was very fun.

First few runs I got confused on the final boss map, ended up going to rebel controlled territory, escaping into final boss with a extremely unprepared / damaged ship.

I ended up having to unlock several more powerful ships and beat it via the starter Mantis ship (no weapons starting off + 2 mantises). On my first successful run, I had a double charge II laser, a lvl3 defense II drone, and a 4 man warp pad, so the final boss ended up being pretty easy with solid focus fire damage, boarding, and defense.


Stealth and Transporters. Made it kind of a boring game after figuring that this was the dominant combo to beat the boss.


For me I had a different problem. On the Easy difficulty I made it to the boss the 2nd time I played, and almost every playthrough after and I won about 90% of the time. However on "normal" difficulty it was several dozen playthroughs before I could get to the boss, and I was so under-upgraded that I had basically zero chance.

I think I have 1 win to my name on normal difficulty (not counting the crystal ship, which is clearly overpowered). I find the only way I can reliably do well on normal difficulty is to take a lot of early risks and then just restart if I don't get lucky.


I used to think the game was a little too RNG dependent but then I hear about people online who can beat the game 100 times in a row on hard mode and I realize I just suck at it.


It's certainly way less capricious than your average roguelike...


I remember taking like 30-40 runs before I even beat FTL on normal mode. That's what makes roguelike games fun, that winning depends both on skill and luck, and every iteration of losing on final boss gives you insight on how to beat it.

Into the breach kind of lacked roguelike RNG to the extent that every run more or less felt the same, so I ended up unlocking everything I wanted to after 3 days of playing. You also had infinite amounts of time to decide on actions in intoTheBreach, so there was no sense of urgency and it ended up becoming super easy to beat.

Beating it on 1 try was a little disappointing for me. I had higher hopes for intoTheBreach


Roguelikes aren't to be played only a handful of times. They are suppose to be hard and that is their replay ability. If you could beat FTL in 3 or 4 turns it would have ruined the game.


It's been a few years, but my winning strategy was using the square ship which I think had a self repair function or similar and disabling the boss ship as much as possible through fires, teleporting people to disable specific guns and using ion weapons. So not going for a full direct firepower method.


Awww, no native macOS version? I was going to buy this but that discourages me a little (getting it running with Wine and Steam sounds like a PITA).


I followed these steps: https://www.reddit.com/r/IntoTheBreach/comments/80nt36/i_hav...

Works perfectly.


This is on their road map. Consoles/mobile are where they are still hesitating due to the experience they had with FTL porting.


I'm really hoping for mobile, Into the Breach would work really well on mobile due to its bite sized battles and clean UI.


Agree, I'm holding off on buying because I'm not sure I'd sit down and play this on my desktop, but it looks like it would be great on iPad.


Oh I've played the crap out of it on the desktop already, it's great as is.


But it's competing against a lot of other great things on my desktop. All else equal, I'd rather buy it on the platform where I don't have tons of quality alternatives that I own already.


It works just fine under wine on Linux. Should be as easy to run on Mac.


I didn't like FTL but Into the Breach has me hooked!

The game isn't in the same genre (even if it looks a bit similar from outside) and is really good, I don't see why it wouldn't succeed.


> I wonder if it will be as big a success as FTL, and if so, whether it will be on its own merit, or the mass following they have due to FTL.

It's a very different game than FTL so while I'd expect previous FTL owners to check it out I wouldn't necessarily expect all of them to be interested (I was, and I really like ITB though I'm quite terrible at tactical games) (then again I'm also bad at roguelikes).


ITB feels more like a puzzle game to me than a traditional tactics game.


Amazing soundtrack ? I think it's entirely forgettable, almost as bad as XCOM2 (generic American war movie). To the point I would advocate spending that money on more sound effects.

But my point is that this kind of GUI approach is very much like a board game. In board games you have a few standard types of pieces, like cards, tokens, meeples, and you design a game with them in mind. The more of these objects you have, the more players have to move around and keep track of. More complex mechanics often add more physical objects. So as a general rule, good board game designers design games with as few objects as possible. Because there's no computer to keep track of things for you, unnecessary complexity is more apparent in board games. Best board game designers design exciting mechanics with creative use of small number of elements. Those games, with high "compression ratio", tend to be my favourite. A few examples are Tigris&Euphrates and Lords of Scotland.


> Amazing soundtrack ? I think it's entirely forgettable

Well to me the very point of a good sound track is immersion and is something to not standout. That is why Ben Prunty's FTL Sound Track was so good. The fact that the music builds up after you place your three mechs was brilliant.

Now ambient music might not be your thing but the games music was skillfully made and isn't some generic tomb of sounds. It was music for a turn based generated puzzles.

Now if this was an album for radio sure forgettable would be horrible comment. For this it is almost a compliment. Most games I just mute the music because it just gets in the way.

Just saw this article: https://www.pcgamer.com/how-i-made-into-the-breachs-soundtra...


I understand your point, but it's hardly the best example of a soundtrack that doesn't get in the way.

Red Alert(1) from 1996 got a "soundtrack of the year" award. Initially I was puzzled by that. It has a few great tracks, but not amazing. Until you play the soundtrack in a loop. The tracks are very atmospheric and totally unobtrusive.

Another soundtrack by Frank Klepacki - Tiberian Sun - is also not something you would play on a concert. But it serves a perfect background, too.

Then I understood there's more to a great game soundtrack than very memorable tunes. XCOM2 soundtrack is optimized for short term, for trailers even. Red Alert 1, Tiberian Sun soundtracks are optimized for long term, to be loopable.

I need to get in touch with newer games, but I have very fond memories of Master of Magic, Heroes of Might and Magic 1-4, Magic Carpet, Dungeon Keeper1,2; Little Big Adventure. Those were definitely special and music was a big part of it.

From newer games I appreciate Rimworld. It may be inspired by country and Firefly, but it's something I'm happy to play on a loop.

Incidentally ambient music artists are some of my favorites. I love programming while listening to the British band Fluke (on youtube) or even Orbital. Even ayahuasca shamanic songs.


Do you like the FTL music? To me that is great but Risk of Rain is my favorite game music ever. It was brilliant while playing and it was awesome just to listen to.


I will have to listen through it on youtube. It seems to have that light, vangelis-y feel. If you like that kind of music and retro graphics, check out Knytt Stories. Very nice music, free download, and the Design Tour video should convince you it's worth your time. The author even played the acoustic guitar for the soundtrack. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpnGL3ggGFk

I just realized something else about Into The Breach music. It could be put into many, many other games, and wouldn't feel out place. I mean swap it with Age of Wonders III, Hyper Light Drifter, Baldur's Gate, Nuclear Throne, Catacomb Kids, Rimworld, EVE Online, Homeworld, a Total War game, Samorost, Machinarium, The Witcher, Far Cry, Grim Dawn, Dark Souls, Cave Story, Bioshock, System Shock, Dishonored... I can't imagine it in Starcraft, a racing game or Day of the Tentacle, but otherwise it's the kind of music people say goes well with anything.

I really think the music is weakest part of the game. Pixel art is very good, design/game mechanics are excellent, interface deserves the praise. It's a very good game but I think they're just good at PR (self-promotion), like the guy from Ultima Ratio Regnum. He's good at procedural generation and wrote a few scientific papers (and RPS articles), but he doesn't seem to have ever released a game. URR will probably end the ultimate vapourwave. Game design and screensaver design are two different things.

Certainly self-promotion is a very beneficial skill to have and I can learn a lot from these guys.


it's fun, but imo FTL is my favorite because it seems to have way more replayability.

i haven't cracked the harder difficulties of ITB yet -- not that difficulty is an issue -- but the gameplay just seems so very similar from one run to the next, even if it's engaging for the moment.


Try a different mech squad. Blitzkrieg, for example, is vaguely similar to the Rift Walkers in composition but the mechs have much more specialized roles.


Random or custom squads also add a lot of diversity, though I do agree that Into the Breach doesn't have quite as much replayability as FTL with its greater element of randomness in encounters. I love Into the Breach and have played it a ton, but my biggest criticism is that the campaign itself doesn't provide enough variety; the individual missions vary from game to game but they are still a bit samey and there aren't any that stand out. I'm hoping there will be an expansion some day to mix things up a bit, either with some new mechanics or just giving us more islands and mission types.


Yeah, I feel the same. I felt way more attached to the runs in FTL and excited for every new game.


I’ve really been enjoying ‘Into the Breach.’

I wonder how much of the interface choices were driven by portability to iPad and especially mobile.

FTL (which is superb) is too complicated visually to port to a phone. It works well on an iPad, but having played on both the iPad and desktop I can see that they needed to make UI tweaks for the iPad to make it work.

This new game is an 8x8 grid though, so it’s easier to imagine it as a mobile game.


It begs to be a mobile game.

It's ability to be played, satisfactorily, in tiny bite size chunks - of maybe only a few minutes at a time - demands it makes its way to mobile.

I want it on my phone for my commute.


Into the Breach is a fantastic, complex game that at the same time feels very approachable and simple in scope, so good work on the interface.

It often feels like a very complex variation of chess. The maps are small and there are very few categories of objects in them, which makes the game easy to play but hard to master.


I really like that the game is digestible in one night or two.

It really shines on replayability with new types of units that dramatically change the way you strategize.


Really great game. It had me hooked from the get go.


The look-and-feel of the UI reminds me a lot of the original X-COM but it does a much better job at being easy to learn. The animated tooltips for weapon effects really are cool and a pattern that could probably be used elsewhere.


Into the breach is really a very elaborate Sokkoban


Anyone know if a Linux port is on the horizon?


Yes, a macOS and Linux version should be released later on


If you don't want to wait, people have gotten it working with Wine. I installed it on my Mac the other day.

https://www.reddit.com/r/IntoTheBreach/comments/80nt36/i_hav...


I want to buy the Linux version just to make sure my sale is counted as a Linux sale.


> We work hard to ensure our ads aren't a pain and they're how we're able to offer this splendid site for free. For Horace's sake, could you whitelist us?

And I work pretty hard to make sure my machine doesn't get hijacked by a Belorussian botnet or a Chinese cryptominer. I guess Horace better explain to me that your ads are entirely self-hosted without any JS tracking.


Sadly, no Mac release despite FTL working wonderfully.

For gaming, OS X is suffering.


No mobile either.

They're just a small company (it's just two devs) and they cannot work on things in parallel. I bet it'll come eventually.


Another overrated as hell indie game with bad pixel graphics. Between this and Celeste its getting annoying.


Celeste looks great. Thanks for the recommendation.


It's really an amazing game.

I think OP just can't get past the pixel graphics because he just picked two of the highest acclaimed titles of the year, highly recommend both of them.


In the same way you just picked two you liked and decided to call them amazing, despite being pixel rehashes. Rude.




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