Loop Hero interview: Four Quarters designer on how the game really started from nothing

Loop Hero Intro
Loop Hero Intro (Image credit: Devolver Digital)

Four Quarters' Loop Hero has been one of the latest indie crossover hits, selling over 500,000 copies in its first week. That's for a good reason. The game is simple on the outset: You play a lonely hero in an empty world who has to run around in a circle and defeat enemies. However, as you play, you realize how complex and addicting the gameplay is. It relies on a combination of strategy, an easy-to-understand interface, and solid pacing to ramp up the stakes and lay out a melancholy, philosophical, but relatable story.

However, when speaking with Aleksandr Goreslavets, also known as "blinch," who did writing, design, and composing on the game, the story wasn't even a big part of it. It all comes back to that titular loop first.

"It was originally just a hero on a loop, but then we started seriously developing it. Everything else came pretty naturally, and all of the decisions were pretty obvious," Goreslavets said in an interview with Windows Central. "It comes from our idea that you can build, for example, a bandit camp or something, and your hero will come back to it."

We already broke down what makes the loop in Loop Hero so intriguing, but we wanted to speak with Four Quarters to get a break down of why the game works. We also spoke about what the surprise success means to them and if they have any plans for the game in the future.

Carli Velocci, Windows Central: A really broad question to start: Where did this concept come from?

Aleksandr Goreslavets: This idea of Loop Hero was created our main artist Deceiver (Dmitry Karimov), and it was born when we talked about [runner games]. It's games where you're not directly in control of your hero. We started thinking a lot about if we create a game where your hero just walking in the loop, and he will just put some difficulties on his path, and he will handle this on his own, but with the right balance of how difficult it is. The Hero must handle this and at the same time he must get stronger. So this is how the hero was originally,

How then did everything else sort of spawn from that if the loop came first?

Hard to say. It was originally just a hero on a loop, but then we started seriously developing it, everything else come pretty naturally, and all decisions were pretty obvious.

[We wanted to] just have fun gameplay. You don't have any idea about story. But then we decided, OK let's put some background for it. And it was, you know, some reflection of the story. It also was a reflection of the gameplay; gameplay things like why everything is gone, why is there an empty road. OK, maybe the end of the world happened, and we need to figure out what what's happened, why the Hero can build some lands around him but he's not a god or something. OK, maybe he's not really building it, maybe he's remembering them. And in in this way we created the basic story, and then we started to make additional details for it.

Why was this the kind of game you wanted to make?

We just have this original concept and we find it's interesting. In the beginning, we didn't want to make this game actually. We forgot about this idea for half of the year, and then in [the Ludum Dare game jam], we were entered into it and they were like "start with nothing." Then, I remembered this concept and was like, "oh, this fits the theme pretty good." Let's try to make some, and this is how it started.

Loop Hero Game Board

Source: Devolver Digital (Image credit: Source: Devolver Digital)

I have to imagine it's kind of difficult to have a game where the hero is going around in a circle for the entirety of it and making it interesting and engaging for the player. What went into making sure that it was engaging for the player?

I guess, in all of this complexity in the game's system, there's an overlap on each other. It's really key for this engaging for player, and all these tile strategies that you can [discover] is very addictive for experimenting… Even when you find out every synergy there's still a lot of space for experimenting. Like, you may not find new tiles, but you can create new strategies, and [figuring out] how to combine them in the best way is still really addictive.

I wanted to talk about the UI of the game, and it seems very retro-inspired. Is there a huge retro inspiration? Where the style itself come from?

Yeah, we're not really trying to make some retro game, and it's not actually a reference to old games. We just don't know how to make it better. It's just how we imagined how we can put it all together. We have a few versions of our UI and the release version, it's a pretty late one. We're working on it, trying to make it more clear but it's still a lot of work, what we can improve.

Loop Hero Traits

Source: Devolver Digital (Image credit: Source: Devolver Digital)

This game has already sold 500,000 units in its first week, which is huge. How do you feel about that kind of success? Were you expecting it?

We did not really feel something special because it was not our target. It's not our goal to try to sell as many copies as we can. We just want to make a really interesting, small game, and it's what we focus on.

I know there's already been an announcement that there's going to be more cards added. And you mentioned sort of earlier about maybe wanting to play around with the UI some more. So what are some of the plans y'all have for working on the game?

Right now we're working on quality-of-life update, there will be an expedition, new deck for perks from bosses, new traits from bosses, and also new speed option for battles. It's like a small update, but also we already worked on additional content. It was new cards, new enemies, but it was a little bit more complex than just, you know, a few cards or something. We're trying to expand our story campaign. And I think when we are ready for it and announce, I think people will not be expecting it, but it will be really great.

Are there any plans to bring this to other platforms?

Yeah, I hope so. It will be soon. And right now we thinking Switch will be first.

Loop Hero is now available on Steam and the Epic Games Store. For more games to play on PC, check out the best PC games available.

Carli Velocci
Gaming Lead, Copy Chief

Carli is the Gaming Editor and Copy Chief across Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. Her last name also will remind you of a dinosaur. Follow her on Twitter or email her at carli.velocci@futurenet.com.