duelyst1Hopefully by now you’ve heard of Duelyst, a squad based tactical strategy game from some of the guys that brought us such titles as Diablo 3, the Ratchet & Clank series, Rogue Legacy, and much more.  The game features some unique board game roots, an admirably restrained scope, and some fantastic artwork.  We’ve covered the artwork of Duelyst already, so lets look at the rest of the game.  To help us gain a better understanding of the game we sent some questions to Keith Lee, the man whose responsibility it is to make the promises of Duelyst, and the hopes of nearly 3,000 backers, come to life.


Cliqist : Hi Keith!  Thanks for answering some questions about Duelyst.  Can you start us off by sharing a bit of your background?

Keith Lee : Hey Greg!  After finishing my CS degree at Stanford, I worked in investment banking.  But I hated it.  Fortunately, Insomniac Games hired me to work on Ratchet & Clank during the PS2 launch.  After that, I joined the amazing team at Blizzard Entertainment to start work on Diablo III in 2006.

Let me tell you — having spent countless hours on Mephisto runs and trading SOJs on eBay back in college, the rare opportunity to work on Diablo III was better than mana falling from the sky.

duelyst ingame 4

Cliqist : Is working at big game studios really so bad that you need to strike out on your own?  What if you have to go to the dentist?

Keith Lee : Having been in AAA, social and mobile games, I’ve seen the entire landscape.  More than anything (including the dentist), being independent gives our team the ability to make our own decisions and define the path of our company.  Personally, I just love the craft of developing games and staying very close the metal; each day I get the immense satisfaction of programming, designing, and putting all the pieces together with an awesome team to build something great.


Cliqist : Before we start talking about the game, I thought I might mention that there’s a typo in the title of your game.  Not sure if you noticed.

Keith Lee : Yes, the “Y” in Duelyst was intentional 🙂  Yet to be revealed — the “Y” itself is connected with our story since the capital Monolith takes the same form and shape.  Practically speaking, we wanted to keep the title of our game very short in contrast to the commonly used “Long Game Name: Even Longer Subtitle” formula.  From a business perspective, the “Y” makes it easy for text search and for avoiding trademarking issues.  Plus the www.duelyst.com URL wasn’t taken yet — a surprise in this day and age!


Cliqist : For those that might be too lazy to read your Kickstarter page, can you briefly describe what Duelyst is?

Keith Lee : Duelyst is a tactical turn-based strategy game with a heavy focus on ranked competitive play, brought to you by veteran developers and creators from Diablo III, Rogue Legacy and the Ratchet & Clank series.

The focus is on squad-based combat on a tactical map with fast-paced multiplayer 1v1 battles where victory comes from defeating your opponent’s General.

At launch, there will be five unique factions with a roster of 100+ battle units and spells.


Cliqist : The board game origin of Duelyst is interesting.  Any chance we’ll see a version of the board game released at some point?

Keith Lee : After shipping our digital game and assuming it’s a success, we’d have the resources to also produce and launch the Duelyst board game (or at least work with a partner who’d do an amazing job).  We’d definitely like to work on a physical tabletop version!


Cliqist : Given your previous work Duelyst seems much smaller in scope, at least with regards to playing area.  Was there a temptation to blow things up and create a huge world?

Keith Lee : Funny you ask us this.  Most AAA studios tend to have huge pie in the sky games with requirements to match parity with other category leaders in a massive arms race with exploding budgets.  We did the opposite.  We asked ourselves what we could build with very limited resources.  As a result, the extreme constraints we place on ourselves force us to prioritize mercilessly and be very creative every day.  That’s part of the challenge and fun.


Cliqist : Based on the features you’re including it seems you’re positioning Duelyst to be a staple on the world of gaming tournaments.  Could you see it working in that environment?

Keith Lee : There’s a huge demand for robust competitive leagues, ladders, and tournaments.  We definitely want to be a part of it and gear it towards gamers who enjoy tactics, tabletop, and CCG games.  Plus we like making games that emphasize competitive progression and skilled mastery.

 duelyst songhai empire world

Cliqist : Your Kickstarter page emphasizes that Duelyst isn’t pay-to-win.   Maybe I’m the exception, but I don’t mind that model.  It gives me an opportunity to see more of the game without neglecting my family more than I do.  Does that make me less of a gamer?  Am I going to have to grind for hours in order to be competitive?

Keith Lee : That’s why we also offer Ranked Draft play.  In this mode, each player forms their battle squad from the entire unlocked collection of units and spells available in the game.  No need to unlock anything at all 🙂


Cliqist : Any final messages for someone that might be on the fence about backing Duelyst?

Keith Lee : We recently posted our Core Game Rules so hopefully that will get people over the fence. Our hope is that people will not only perceive our game as visually pleasing, but also contain robust, well-thought out game rules.  And if all else fails, Kickstarter backers can earn the official Rogue Legacy and DOGE skins. Be a fellow Shibe — but only for a limited time 😛


Cliqist : Can you close this out with a Duelyst inspired haiku?

Keith Lee :

As Blooming started

Duelysts take long journey

to Grand Tournament


duelyst dogeIf you’d like to learn more about Duelyst be sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign, it’s running until April 9th and is well into stretch goal territory.

It’s also worth noting that the team making Duelyst are the first ones to accept pledges from people using Dogecoin, the most adorable of cryptocurrencies.  They’ve even gone so far as to release an open-source platform and widget so that other developers can accepting funding through Dogecoin.



[follow id=”Cliqist” size=”large” count=”true” ]

Greg Micek

Greg Micek

Editor at Cliqist
Greg Micek has been writing on and off about games since the late nineties, always with a focus on indie games. He started DIYGames.com in 2000, which was one of the earliest gaming sites to focus exclusively on indie games.
Greg Micek


All the latest from the world of #indiegames. Partnered with @NewNormative
Greg Micek
Greg Micek
Greg Micek