Spyro the Dragon ignited the hearts of PlayStation owners in 1998, but few fell in love with Insomniac Games’ purple dragon like the team at Valefor Games. They’re in the midst of making Glyde the Dragon, a scaly adventure that aims to adopt Spyro’s best qualities while teaching him a few new tricks, too. What started as a fan project has evolved into a full-blown action title that stands tall on its own, and in many ways, it might be more impressive than the many games that inspired it. We had the opportunity to interview project lead Martin “Valefor” Hernik to talk about Glyde the Dragon and how the team has worked to create an experience that will appeal to every kind of video game fan.
Hernik explained how Glyde takes itself more seriously than Spyro while upping the ante when it comes to combat and exploration.
The Escapist: Tell me about yourself and your role on Glyde the Dragon. You mentioned to me that this game is a dream project of yours, so I’d love for you to explain why that is.
Martin “Valefor” Hernik: Hello and thank you for this interview! My name is Martin and I’m the project lead on Glyde the Dragon. There are multiple reasons why Glyde is a big dream project of mine, but I think the main reason and the ultimate driving force behind the idea is the fact that I truly believe that Glyde could become the best dragon game in the world.
Personally, I haven’t seen a game yet that does what we are planning to do. There are similar games where you play as a humanoid character, but when it comes to actually playing as a dragon, there is only Spyro, and even Spyro is a totally different game. While both Glyde and Spyro share certain similarities, they are totally different titles. I believe that we can deliver something that fans of games and dragons can truly enjoy, and it will allow people to fulfill their fantasies of being a dragon in a beautiful magical world full of interesting characters.
Glyde clearly takes after Spyro the Dragon, but its combat seems to have more depth than any of those games ever did. Can you talk about what Valefor Games has done to make this combat as engaging and flashy as possible?
Martin Hernik: We get that a lot haha! Yes, while Glyde does have some similarities to Spyro, the combat is one of the things we are most proud of, and it’s also one of the main features that makes Glyde unique. Not only when compared to Spyro, but other games as well.
Some might say that Glyde features combat similar to the Spyro reboot series, The Legend of Spyro, and while it might appear like this at a first glance, when it comes to the actual gameplay, it’s totally different. In Spyro, players would perform simple combos and unlock new abilities powered by different elements such as Earth or Lightning and more. While those games featured a different and more active combat system than the original three games, the combat system still was very simple and limited.
That’s where Glyde comes in; the depth we offer with our system is beyond what any Spyro games have offered in the past. We basically cranked everything up to 11 and added some of our own original ideas. At present, Glyde not only has many more different attack options, but he also features eight different elemental forms that change his appearance and unlock an array of new abilities to use in combat.
Currently, there are more than 60 different attacks and abilities in the game, and players can mix and match those abilities in any order to create unique combos. The system is deep and allows every player to play the game differently while still being accessible and simple to understand! We call it “easy to learn but hard to master” because even beginner players are able to fight enemies and perform simple combos without any issues; however, those looking to perform more advanced combinations will also feel right at home!
Glyde’s primary inspiration is obvious, so what have you done to set your project apart and make it feel unique?
Martin Hernik: While Spyro was one of the main games that inspired Glyde, there are also multiple other games that we use as sources of inspiration. At a first glance, you might not realize, but Glyde is also inspired by games such as Dark Souls, Devil May Cry, World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Final Fantasy, and more! It’s truly a mix of everything.
One of the biggest and main differences is the way the world is constructed. I think of Glyde as a semi-open-world experience that allows you to go anywhere you want and backtrack to areas you have already visited in the past. The world is big; it features many different areas, locations, and secrets to explore. Best examples of this kind of approach would be the recently released Kena: Bridge of Spirits or a popular older title, Darksiders II.
Spyro games, on the other hand, feature a level-based approach, where you go through a level, complete it, and then go back to a hub world to pick another level, and you do this until you reach a boss level. After the boss level, you complete it and you go into another hub world where you have another bunch of levels. I want Glyde to be a fairly seamless experience where, in the full game, you will be able to travel between locations without any loading screens.[As for the story and lore, it’s] hard for me to even compare Glyde and Spyro in this aspect. But in my opinion, what sets Glyde apart is the fact that our story is meant to be more serious and actually an epic journey akin to something like The Lord of the Rings where Frodo and Sam set on an adventure to deliver the ring to Mordor, where there will [also] be opportunities to laugh and joke. The threat and the dire situation that the world is in will require players and the characters in the world to take the matter seriously, as essentially they are fighting for survival.
How will bosses differ from the standard enemies that players will encounter during their time with Glyde?
Martin Hernik: Personally, I don’t think a lot of single-player games do what we are planning on doing. The bosses will vary in size, they will be smaller and bigger, and they will feature many different mechanics that will check player skill and will test their patience as well. If you have ever fought the Lich King in World of Warcraft, you might be familiar with the mechanics of that fight.
And if you haven’t had a chance to experience this fight, it was probably because World of Warcraft is an MMO! We are going to see how MMO-like fights would work in a single-player environment. I think it’s going to be interesting to see what players think of the current boss fights, and while it is just a testing ground, for now, we will see if we continue with this approach after feedback from the upcoming demo!
What portions of Glyde will the upcoming demo allow us to experience? Could you share release date plans for the demo?
Martin Hernik: The demo is going to be a standalone experience, a small game on its own in a way. It will feature a saving system, and it will probably take players around an hour or two to complete. If you want to explore the whole demo and all of the content, we estimate around 3-4 hours. The demo will feature a big level with multiple smaller areas to explore, multiple different puzzles, lots of enemies to fight, tons of crystals to collect, boss fights, arena battles, a training room… You name it!
There is a lot to do and it kind of blew out of proportion what we originally intended, but we are still going to deliver the demo free to everyone! In terms of the release date, we were hoping to release the demo by the end of 2022. However, due to some personal circumstances, the demo had to be pushed back to the first half of 2023.
Valefor Games has been transparent when it comes to Glyde’s development. Could you shed some light on how far along you are and how much work is left to be done?
Martin Hernik: It’s a little hard for me to estimate how much we have left because a lot of things are dependent on other things. Overall, I would say we are around 70% done. We still have some smaller things to tune and adjust; however, in terms of what still actually needs to be done, the main things are to actually complete the demo level, and make sure it’s playable from start to finish. Writing dialogue, recording voice-over for characters, fixing bugs, finalizing enemy and NPC placements, etc. In general, there are quite a few things left to do still, but the foundation is there, and I would say the worst is behind us.
What length is Valefor Games targeting for Glyde?
Martin Hernik: I’ve always thought of the full game as a longer journey. You will be with Glyde and his companion, Wing, throughout every area and location as they head to their destination. With eight different elemental regions to explore, I would say the full game would probably be around 30 hours to complete with possibly more hours if a player wanted to do all of the side content.
I wanted to ask if there are any plans to bring Glyde to Switch, PlayStation, or Xbox, but I’m sure it’s safe to say that you’d love to bring Glyde to consoles. So instead, I’d like to know what resources Valefor Games would need to eventually bring this project to other platforms.
Martin Hernik: Of course! My dream would be to not only release Glyde on PC, but also on all consoles! Currently, we are only releasing the demo on Steam as this is the easiest for first-time developers like ourselves. I know that bringing games to consoles is a totally different beast, and to conquer this beast we would need the help of a publisher and a lot more resources. At the current stage, we could use any help and resources we can get. Funding and publisher support and porting would be amazing, but we will see what the future will bring. If you are a publisher reading this, and you are interested in Glyde, let me know!
Is there anything else you’d like to add about Glyde, indie game development, or Valefor Games?
Martin Hernik: I wanted to say that I’m really proud of everyone who helps me bring Glyde to life. Everyone who contributes to the project, whether it’s my dev team or the community, this project is a project of passion and we are doing this so everyone can play the best dragon game ever!
If you are interested in Glyde and would like to share your opinions and suggestions or just talk about the project, you can join our community on Discord at https://discord.gg/glyde.
You can also follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GlydeTheDragon.
Glyde the Dragon will launch on PC sometime in the future. A demo will launch in the first half of 2023.
This interview about Glyde the Dragon has been edited for brevity and clarity.