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An exclusive interview with Jason Jolley, one of the three creators behind Stolen Realm


You haven’t hit someone with a sword like you will in Stolen Realm. We’ve had the distinct pleasure of playing this turn-based roguelike for a few hours now, and we can say, with confidence, that twonking an enemy over the head and watching them ragdoll into the distance is one of the most satisfying experiences in gaming. Big shout, we know, but it’s true.

How did the ragdolling come about? It’s clearly the one question we wanted to ask Jason Jolley, one of three people who helped to realise Stolen Realm. But we had to surround it with other questions so that we didn’t seem like madmen. Read on and see if we managed to hide it.

stolen realm keyart

Hi, could you please introduce yourself and your role on Stolen Realm?

I’m Jason Jolley and I’m one of the 3 creators of Stolen Realm. I mostly write code and we all help with game design.

Could you give us a quick rundown of the game?

Stolen Realm is a turn based RPG that focuses on extreme character customization as well as a great co-op multiplayer experience. You can make any kind of character you want. There are 9 skill trees and there’s no restrictions between any of them. You can stick to one or mix and match a bunch. We make sure that you spend your time in strategic fighting and making interesting decisions that always affect your character in meaningful ways. We’ve tried to distill the rpg experience so you are always fighting, upgrading, discovering and choosing without downtime.

Stolen Realm seems to bring ideas from roguelikes and turn-based RPGs together. You complete missions, but within those missions, you can choose your path, straying into shops, treasure rooms and hard battles. What brought these two ideas together? 

We love turn based RPGs like Divinity and Roguelikes such as Slay the Spire. We wanted to bring the power of making quick meaningful choices into the turn based RPG world. Roguelikes tend to keep interesting choices coming quickly. While RPGs are fundamentally about choice too, there can be a tendency to bloat the experience and take the focus away from making choices. We’ve tried to bring that pace of choice and action you’d get from a roguelike to an RPG. 

Six-player online co-op is insanely ambitious. We didn’t get a chance to play it in this way, but we can only imagine how difficult it is to accommodate that many players in a turn-based battler. How have you managed to ensure that everyone is invested, and no one is bored?

Simultaneous Team Turns allows for fast paced turn based combat. When it’s your teammates turn, it’s also your turn. So instead of waiting you’re either acting at the same time as your teammate or planning out how you’ll interweave your skills together to maximum effect. It allows 6 people to take their turn in the same time one person would normally take their turn so you don’t have to wait. Same for the enemies. Whether you’re facing one enemy or 20 enemies, they all act at once so there’s no extra time added. So unlike most turn based games, it’s almost always your turn and you’re not waiting on anyone.

stolen realm screenshot 3

There are lots of twists on traditional turn-based games here. One of the most unusual was the ability to place your units wherever you want. What does this freedom offer a battle of Stolen Realm? 

This was a feature much requested by our community that we just added! People were a bit annoyed when they couldn’t exactly control the layout of their party so we gave them what they wanted. We did take it to the extreme though, and it allows you to get into perfect positioning to land those first area of effect or control spells and get those explosive barrels into exactly the right positions at the start of battle. We may scale back to a more limited placement in the future.

Environment plays a big part in the game, with crates, explosive barrels and statues to the gods all featuring. Did you imagine Stolen Realm as a very environment focused game? 

The environment plays a huge part in making each Stolen Realm battle unique and strategic. There are many vital choices to make about timing and positioning. Should I move into the mana shrine so I can cast way more spells, but face the danger of the frontline? Should I explode the fire barrel now to wipe out the first few demons or should we try to funnel more of our foes to this spot before taking advantage? Can I slow my enemies with frost so they can’t make it around these crates I’ve placed? The environment is one of the features that makes Stolen Realm easy to play yet hard to master.

We know we shouldn’t love it so much, but one of our favourite elements of Stolen Realm is that the enemies fly into the distance like rag dolls when you hit them. We finished an entire battle in the time it took one enemy to land. Where did the idea come from?

Originally we wanted everyone except for the person acting and the person being hit to be moving in slow motion. So instead of a static battle, it would look like a fast battle viewed in slow motion. The only thing that was eventually implemented from the idea was the slow motion knock out. It’s become a fan favorite and a very satisfying/hilarious way to defeat an enemy. There are some great streamer clips out there!

stolen realm screenshot 2

The events have a D&D feel, bringing in dice rolls and difficult choices. Are old-school RPGs an influence on Stolen Realm?

We love Baldur’s Gate and D&D and are heavily influenced by those games. We hope we’ve captured the feeling of gathering your party and venturing forth!

How much fun was it writing the game’s events? Which is your favourite? 

It’s a blast although it can be a lot of work. My personal favorite is the Treasure of Moltendunn. If you’re lucky you’ll get to team up with our Indiana Jones inspired character to find the lost dwarven treasure. But only if you can discover the secret and make it out alive!

Our favourite boss was one that called on a genie to save him when he was in a scrape. How did you go about concepting the many encounters in Stolen Realm? 

We’re heavily inspired by all the games, movies, tv shows, and pop culture we’ve experienced over the years. There are many hidden and not so hidden references throughout the game. This one hails from our favorite thief Aladdin and his magical lamp.

You call out your community repeatedly on your Steam page. How much have they changed Stolen Realm? Do you have examples where they’ve made a real difference? 

Stolen Realm simply wouldn’t be as good without its dedicated community. The time, effort and feedback they’ve given is invaluable. Community feedback led to the introduction of Shrines, Barrels and Crates that make positioning so important. They’ve spearheaded many important features such as a shared character stash and the ability to upgrade items. They were also the ones requesting our latest skill tree, the Monk. We owe so much to our community!

stolen realm screenshot 1

When can we expect to get our hands on an Xbox version of Stolen Realm? 

The Xbox version of Stolen Realm should be released at the same time as our full release on Steam this year in Q2.

Finally, whose mean idea was it to make some of the animals – wolves, bears, boars – beg for mercy when you kill them? You’re monsters!

This actually started as a bug. The grizzly bear was saying a voice line that was meant for a different human character. So when you killed the grizzly bear he’d say “Why would you do this?” Some streamers thought it was so hilarious when it happened that we ended up keeping the voice line and extending it to other animals. Sorry for the emotional hardship!

We’ve been playing Stolen Realm for some time on PC via Steam (spronging enemies off the screen, more like) and we can say that it’s bucketloads of fun. Expect a preview soon, covering the other delights it has to share. When it arrives later this year on Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PC, we’ll be near the front of the line with our prodding sticks with a full review. 

Huge thanks go out to Jason at Burst2Flame for giving us some time to find out more about Stolen Realm. 

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