Image courtesy of NEOWIZ Games

Lies of P takes inspiration from Pinocchio, French history, and marries them with Soulslike combat

Mike Williams |
August 29, 2023
Established in 1997, NEOWIZ is a pioneer in social platforms and online games. As one of the leading game companies in Korea, the company has successfully published a wide variety of PC and mobile games since 2003. In recent years, the company has developed and published several wildly successful titles including; Brave Nine, Skul: The Hero Slayer, Lies of P, and DJMAX RESPECT V.
Come one, come all, and marvel at this magnificent take of one of the world’s classic fairy tales! Taking inspiration from Pinocchio, NEOWIZ and Round8 Studio have developed a new story in the upcoming action-adventure game Lies of P. No longer a harmless puppet, our silent hero is now a warrior wandering through the ruined city of Krat.

Lies of P pits players in pitched combat against the plagued denizens of the city and puppet automatons. Though ruined by disease and disuse, Krat’s streets and interiors ooze with style of France’s La Belle Époque. And as they fight through grand foyers and museums, players can craft new weapons that match their playstyles and equip themselves with Legion Arms that offer unique abilities.

Ahead of release, Lies of P is already impressive, winning “Best Action Adventure Game,” “Most Wanted Sony PlayStation Game,” and “Best Role Playing Game” at the Gamescom 2022 Awards. We spoke to Round8 Studio about developing its first Soulslike game, creating the game’s intense atmosphere, and how Unreal Engine helped them bring the game to life.
 

Lies of P is the first Soulslike game for NEOWIZ and Round8 Studio. Can you talk about the game’s influences?

Round8 Studio:
We have many developers at Round8 who were inspired by their childhood experiences playing console games. However, only a few of them had the opportunity to create one similar to what they played. This situation left me with a sense of being unfulfilled.

Considering the gaming industrial environment in Korea, the decision to venture into the Souls-like genre for a console game was a difficult choice, not only for our team but also for our company. Nevertheless, our top priority was to create a game we enjoyed, and a game that we wanted to play. We believe this allowed us to create a game that will be favored by gamers while also maintaining a high standard of quality.

Round8 Studio previously worked on Bless Unleashed, an MMORPG which seems very different from Lies of P. Is there any part of that previous title that the team was able to leverage and build upon for Lies of P?

Round8 Studio:
It is safe to say that, genre-wise, Lies of P is a vastly different game from Bless Unleashed. We started from scratch for Lies of P. However, we did have the advantage of leveraging our experience and know-how of developing on Unreal Engine from the development of Bless Unleashed.

For instance, our understanding of Unreal Engine was a huge help when we built a prototype in the early stage of developing new features, such as weather changes and the weapon assemble system. Moreover, when it came to designing and implementing optimizations, our prior experience allowed us to elevate the game to the next level.
Image courtesy of NEOWIZ Games
Lies of P is inspired by the classic Pinocchio tale. Can you explain how the team started with that fable and ended up with the game’s concept?

Round8 Studio:
Some of our primary focuses for game development are creating captivating stories and immersive settings. We believe the story and setting should pique people's interest even before playing the game, leaving a lasting impression without the need for extensive explanation.

To garner attention and curiosity, our strategy was to draw inspiration from a globally-recognized story while giving it a fresh and unique twist. We believe a game's concept must resonate with gamers, leave a lasting impact, appeal to adult audiences, and have a narrative that goes beyond a basic interpretation of the story.

The Adventures of Pinocchio perfectly aligned with these objectives. Although it may come as a surprise that we chose a fairy tale, the original Pinocchio story actually encompasses elements of black comedy, cruelty, and captivating characters. We believe it was a great choice based on what we have achieved so far.

How closely does Lies of P stick to the original Pinocchio story?

Round8 Studio:
Lies of P draws significant inspiration from the original Pinocchio story and various characters and elements from the original lie behind the characters and setting of the game. However, we have also infused unique twists and interpretations into them. If gamers are familiar with the original story, they will discover numerous connections and callbacks to it. We hope gamers find those hidden narratives in the game while on their journey in the city of Krat.
Image courtesy of NEOWIZ Games
The setting is inspired by La Belle Époque, a period in French history. Why was that the right aesthetic choice for Lies of P?

Round8 Studio:
La Belle Époque represents a remarkable era in France, a flourishing time just before the onset of the First World War. It is characterized by qualities such as experimentation, diversity, innovation, culture, and art. People living in the La Belle Époque witnessed vibrant and diverse improvements in both culture and technology such as the construction of the Eiffel Tower and the World's Expo.

Our studio explored numerous styles, periods, and art forms before settling on La Belle Époque. The battles, artwork, story, and characters we wanted to present through the game perfectly aligned with La Belle Époque's rich tapestry of cultural and artistic expansion.

What other stories or historical figures inspired the world and characters of Lies of P?

Round8 Studio:
Lies of P was inspired by multiple sources, including works that are familiar to many and fairytale-like, but on the other side, possess more adult themes of greed or cultism. These influences span across different mediums such as movies, novels, paintings, and games, making it challenging to narrow down a few specific examples. Additionally, our team drew inspiration from awe-inspiring experiences during their travels.

I mentioned a few specific names of these influences in the past, but as I think of inspiration, countless sources have shaped our creative vision. It is intriguing to see how others have interpreted these inspirations in their unique styles, which also led us to think about how we should present Lies of P while endeavoring to introduce a fresh and never-before-seen interpretation.
Image courtesy of NEOWIZ Games
The Black Brotherhood are a group of characters who hunt our hero. Can you elaborate on the process of creating these distinctive antagonists?

Round8 Studio:
The Black Brotherhood is from the Black Rabbits in the original Pinocchio tale. We could not resist incorporating them into Lies of P because they possess their own unique settings, perspectives, and memorable lines in the original story.

The Black Rabbits hold a special place in our hearts. Their distinctiveness and intriguing nature have made them favorites among our creative team. We hope players will enjoy uncovering their presence and exploring the unique qualities they bring to the game as much as we did.

“Lies” are a big theme of Lies of P, but also a key game mechanic where players have the choice to answer key questions with truths or lies. How do the player’s answers affect their journey through the game?

Round8 Studio:
In terms of gameplay, the choices made by the players lead to different endings. The questions presented to the player are intricately woven into the various narratives within the game. They also encompass profound questions such as "What does it mean to be human?" and "What is a lie?" We wanted to encourage players to contemplate these thought-provoking questions that could change based on the situation presented to them.
Image courtesy of NEOWIZ Games
In Lies of P, players can craft their own weapons by assembling various blades and handles. Can you talk about how you designed the crafting system to provide players with a host of fun and meaningful weapons?

Round8 Studio:
In Lies of P, the Weapon Assemble system plays a crucial role in allowing players to create unique weapons by assembling different Blades and Handles. Each Blade and Handle in the game possesses distinct capabilities and properties. We aimed to provide players with the freedom to mix and match these components based on their preferred combat style to overcome the challenges they face.

All assembled weapons must have a natural aesthetic look, and beyond that, we also needed a weapon system that had a visually coherent and natural feeling since it is interconnected with various other factors of the combat system such as impact, weight, and special skills.

The weapon assemble system is a significant aspect of the game, as it greatly impacts the overall combat experience. We leveraged the capabilities of Animation Montages to their fullest extent, as it required extensive preparation and testing from the design stage of this feature.

There’s a great deal of combat variety with the combination of weapon crafting and P’s interchangeable Legion Arms. Can you explain the team’s overall design philosophy about combat in Lies of P?

Round8 Studio:
Our design philosophy regarding combat in Lies of P revolves around providing more variety to players and offering an enjoyable experience. We wanted to offer players the flexibility to shape their combat experience as they see fit, ensuring that Lies of P provides a multitude of playstyle options, promotes replayability, and ultimately delivers a satisfying and varied combat experience, not only through the customization of weapons but also with the interchangeable Legion Arms of P. This approach not only allows for multiple playstyles but also ensures each playthrough can offer a different and unique experience.

Combat holds significant importance within the Souls-like genre, and our team invested a great deal of effort into it. Our objective was to give players a wide range of combat experiences within the same game.
Image courtesy of NEOWIZ Games
Lies of P looks fantastic. How did the team approach the game’s high-fidelity graphics and visual style?

Round8 Studio:
Creating high-fidelity graphics and the overall visual style for Lies of P was a meticulous and collaborative process that involved various stakeholders. Right from the art concept stage, there was extensive collaboration and discussions between the designer and art teams. We strived to ensure our visuals presented a varying aesthetic that is gory, strange, and beautiful all at the same time.

Since the developers themselves did not live in the 19th century, we conducted thorough research and studied various aspects of the era, including artwork and music. Additionally, we explored other cultures from the same time period to enhance our understanding and expand our creative influences.

Throughout production, we constantly had to consider how to achieve the desired artistic vision while maintaining optimal performance. During the actual development process, the art team worked closely with the planning team, maintaining continuous discussions and feedback loops. Collaboration with the technical team was also vital, as we needed to optimize the implementation to achieve the desired visual quality while ensuring smooth performance.

Can you explain how you designed the fallen city of Krat, both from a visual and gameplay perspective?

Round8 Studio:
It was a collective effort from our entire art team to portray how a once beautiful and thriving city fell into a state of decay in such a short period. We wanted to capture the unique atmosphere of Krat, and convey the subtle emotional journey of the P, the game's protagonist, who is unable to speak, in a way that players could imagine and feel.

From a visual perspective, we employed various techniques to create a captivating and immersive environment. The art team worked diligently to utilize physical lighting techniques and light scattering, resulting in rich and atmospheric lighting throughout the city, even during nighttime. We carefully calibrated the color temperatures of the lights to match the aesthetic of 19th-century gas lamps, prevalent during the period that serves as a backdrop for the game. Additionally, special attention was given to the interaction of environmental lighting with effects, ensuring a cohesive and visually impactful experience.
Image courtesy of NEOWIZ Games
Why was Unreal Engine chosen for the development of Lies of P?

Round8 Studio:
Round8 Studio had a significant number of developers already familiar with Unreal Engine, having utilized it for previous projects. This existing knowledge base provided a strong foundation for the development team to leverage and efficiently work with the engine.

Unreal Engine's widespread usage and popularity within the industry were additional factors in the decision. The extensive community and available resources made it easier for the team to find the information and support they needed throughout the development process. The engine's compatibility with multiple platforms, including consoles, was also advantageous, as it allowed for broader accessibility and ensured the game could reach a wider audience.

In terms of graphics, Unreal Engine was particularly well-suited to visually represent the desired aesthetic and quality of Lies of P. Furthermore, Unreal Engine aligned well with Round8 Studio's production style, which emphasized rapid prototyping, testing, and iterative development. The inclusion of Blueprints in Unreal Engine provided a convenient and efficient means of implementing gameplay mechanics and systems, streamlining the development process.

Were there any particular features of Unreal Engine that were helpful in developing Lies of P?

Round8 Studio:
The accessibility and versatility of Blueprints—allowing our developers to quickly prototype and test to anticipate the final result—was a massive advantage for Round8 Studio.

Given that Lies of P is a Souls-like game, achieving satisfying and impactful action was a top priority. Unreal Engine's Animation Montages and Animation Notifications played a crucial role in fine-tuning the combat experience. These features enabled the team to refine the balance, timing, and responsiveness of combat interactions while checking animation and monster AI. Furthermore, the use of Niagara was invaluable in managing the movement and interaction of a large number of GPU particles within the game. This feature allowed the team to create dynamic and visually impressive effects that enhanced the overall immersion and environmental interactivity.
Image courtesy of NEOWIZ Games
Were there any challenges during development that Unreal Engine helped the team overcome?

Round8 Studio:
One of the major challenges was optimization, especially considering the game's support for multiple platforms. Unreal Engine provided a wide range of features that assisted in optimizing the game for each platform.

Ensuring smooth gameplay on devices with limited memory was a particular challenge. To address this, the team utilized tools such as Unreal Frontend and Unreal Insights. Level Streaming was a massive help to the team to handle large maps to be played seamlessly without excessive loading times.

In addition to these tools, the team leveraged various Unreal Engine features that help the team to find information for optimizing the game. Not to mention features like Level of Detail, Texture Groups, Detail Mode, and Quality Switches as well.

Thank you for your time! Where can people learn more about Lies of P and NEOWIZ?

Round8 Studio:
You can find information about NEOWIZ and Lies of P, including updates, news, gameplay features, and more on the official website. Thank you for your interest in Lies of P!

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