When RujiK first played Dragon Quest Monsters, they were disappointed that the results of monster cross-breeding were so… predictable. Every combination was predetermined: set formulas of slimes, drackys, and orcs produced set results, with little call for experimentation.
Years later and now a developer, RujiK is trying to rectify that childhood disappointment with a game named Socket Beast (working title), whose big draw over other monster catchers is its vibrant, GBA-esque art style coupled with a unique animation system which supports combining the game's creatures into potentially thousands of unique offspring. One of RuijiK's WIP demonstrations of the game exploded on Twitter, with a GIF of the game's cheeky little critters exploring its vibrant environments retweeted well over 15,000 times in just a day.
Childhood Dream finished: fully procedural CROSS BREEDING of two monsters. Nothing is pre-rigged. #gamedev #GameMaker pic.twitter.com/eKDUhM16ZCApril 25, 2022
RujiK has created animation cycles for a host of different animals and developed a process to seamlessly blend them together. If you combine a scuttling insect with a slithering serpent, the result will be a new creature blending the physical characteristics and movement of both, a scuttle-slither bug lizard that manages to avoid being too terrifying thanks to the game's charming art direction.
RujiK is also drawing from an expert-level knowledge of biology and genetics: they previously worked for five years as a CRISPR lab tech making genetically engineered mice. To quote the developer, “that's kind of related to monster mixing, I suppose.”
In an early devlog, RujiK compares the process of animating these creatures to the sort of “follow the leader” party trains of classic JRPGS: “What if I take that same process of follow the leader and glue everybody together like a giant centipede?!”
While the seamless monster combination bears more than passing resemblance to the “Creature Stage” of Maxis' classic god game, Spore, RujiK claims to have derived more inspiration from 2003's Impossible Creatures, with the art direction owing a lot to Earthbound and Pokemon.
RujiK's ultimate vision for the project is a “small open world with NPCs to meet and monsters to catch, raise, and breed” with a real-time battle system, and they hope to bring the project to Steam. For the time being, progress on Socket Beast can be followed on the developer's Twitter and YouTube accounts.