October 7th, 2012 | By Sam Adonis
The Boston Festival of Indie Games was held recently to celebrate Independent Game Development Day. I was able to go, and while there I sat down and talked to Dan Silvers from Lantana Games about his upcoming game, Children of Liberty.
Children of Liberty is a stealth-based platformer set during the American Revolution. The player takes on the role of a group of young American patriots who work as spies for Samuel Adams, an American Founding Father, to help the cause of American independence.
The game features cartoony visuals, with hand drawn art. The art style, plus the story and absence of gore, make Children of Liberty reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon called Liberty’s Kids.
“People will say ‘Oh, it’s Liberty’s Kids!’ and even though the game is called Children of Liberty, it’s not,” Dan Silvers explained. “We’ve seen Liberty’s Kids, and we kinda laughed. It’s very historically inaccurate, and we are going for one hundred percent accuracy.”
Children of Liberty promises to be educational by telling the story of the American Revolution using real sources, such as actual diaries and letters from the time.
“That said, the kid’s stories exist to fill in actual plot holes from Paul Revere’s ride. So there’s a lot of stuff that happened that did not make any sense, or was far too coincidental. Like, ‘oh yeah, he rode a boat right next to the H.M.S. Summerset across the Charles River without them seeing him because the moon was behind a cloud?’ Sure, I buy that,” Dan jokes. “So what do we do instead? Oh, we send the kids into the Summerset to knock out all the lights.”
Despite the developers attempts to educate players on the events of the time period the game takes place in, Lantana strives to avoid Children of Liberty from becoming a boring or stereotypically dull educational game.
“We don’t want to force the education down your throat with quizzes or something after every level,” Dan explains. “Those kinds of games are not games. Kids play games after school to get away from school, they don’t want more schooling. The way I see it is we can use videogames as an educational tool without doing anything stereotypically educational. I’m a firm believer that videogames inherently teach something, no matter what. At the very minimum, they teach you to play the game you are playing. But you can go deeper than that, like teaching kids strategies of war…or how to survive in the wilderness, like Minecraft. There’s so much that videogames have to teach. Some of it is more abstract like Minecraft does, some more direct like we’re doing. You’re playing out the story, but since it’s a true story handled in a way I think kids can relate to without talking down to them, I think that is what puts us in a really good spot from a positive perspective.”
On the gameplay side of things, Children of Liberty is a stealth-based platformer. The game uses a three-dimensional world space, with two-dimensional characters. This allows for the player to do things like duck against walls or under tables.
“We are handling it similarly to Mark of the Ninja, but not entirely the same. I will say that our friends at Klei did a fantastic job. The way I see it is that Mark of the Ninja is very ninja. Very precise, strategic, slow. But in Children of Liberty, you are playing as kids so it’s a little more sloppy.”
Lantana added several new stealth features since they last showed their game. For example, the player can now peak out of cover, or roll between two different concealed spots. If the player is caught, guards will pull them out of cover and attempt a fight. Despite guards carrying guns, Redcoats will never shoot players. Fighting in Children of Liberty is almost entirely physical, except for boss characters who can throw smoke bombs.
“The guards do not shoot you. We know that no Redcoat soldier would shoot an eight year old. That’s insane. Mainly because those muskets take forever to reload. I don’t know how they’re doing it in Assassin’s Creed 3, but if they’re having guards shoot over and over with muskets…that’s completely incorrect. I hope they’re not doing that.”
Dan believes his studio’s greatest challenges, and triumphs were “…related to money…lack of, and what we’ve been able to achieve without it.”
“And at this point, we are going to need the fans to get this thing out there.” No word on an official release date.