Indie game’s are almost always were you see the really daring innovations: complete redesigns of existing ideas, bizarre artistic directions or whole new genre’s grown up from the inspiration of years.
Mr Donovan is what developer Elliott Bynum calls a SOBO. This stands for Single-Player Online Battle Open World, and involves using modern MOBA character & ability mechanics within the setting of an open world. This creates an incredibly unique feeling game, paying homage to a host of different genre, all very disparate, but also clearly recognizable in the vibrant and colorful word of Mr Donovan.
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Elliott about Mr Donovan, what inspired to mash so many genres together into a SOBO, and his experience as a solo indie developer.
Our thanks to Elliott for taking the time to talk with us and tell us more about Mr Donovan’s development and his own backstory.
Mr Donovan is still in a very early state, but I think the idea and game has tremendous potential. It take a little while to feel comfortable using MOBA movement mechanics and skill-shot-like abilities, but once it clicks, it’s a fun combination of elements you’re no doubt familiar with combined in a very unique way. Exploration and Combat feel a bit like Diablo, but with a massive focus on timing and skill shots, as opposed to stat scaling. In particular, the extra damage you get from attack with your blade in time is a fantastic addition that makes the combat immediately more complex than simply spamming an attack. Combining this with the ability to fire off your boomerang-like particle cannon, switch to your sword and position yourself to take full advantage of the returning ball of energy makes combat feel frantic and fast paced in a very good way.
The game is also gorgeous. It’s bright, colorful and alien feeling and the various environments are just waiting to be explored. Exploration is made to feel worthwhile through the addition of a gathering/prospecting tool, the need to collect materials to upgrade your abilities and your ship, and numerous pets to be collected across the surface of the planet.
Currently, the tutorial for Mr Donovan is a little bare bones, and I wish it would delve a bit deeper into how to approach the game, rather than just the basic mechanics. At first I was a little frustrated by the open world, not knowing where I should head first or what I needed to do. A little bit more direction could be a nice addition. The game sometimes feels like it lacks a little direction, but I think this is more a symptom of trying to do a lot rather than an actual lack of focus. I think that folding these secondary mechanics into a core objective or small plot could really help things come together.
As stated earlier, Mr Donovan has solid bones with a lot of potential, looks fantastic and it’s offering something unique and different, well worth a try.
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