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Minions of Mirth 13 questions and 13 answers
Interview - posted by Saint_Proverbius on Tue 20 July 2004, 17:21:40Tags: Minions of Mirth; Prairie Games
1.) Tell us a little bit about Prairie Games. How did you guys form up? What are your past dealings with games?
Hello, my name is Josh Ritter. Prairie Games was founded in Spring 2003. We are 2 people, Lara Engebretson and myself. We met like many men and women do and happen to be engaged. In a former incarnation, I was a game artificer at Canopy Games (http://www.canopygames.com) where my engine technology powered 11 retail titles. Minions of Mirth is Lara's first game.
2.) What made you decide to make Minions of Mirth? What aspects and previous titles made you want to make a CRPG?
I blew all my birthday money on Ultima IV one year and didn't see daylight for a couple months. After I finished the game, I broke the EULA by sector editing a backup of the game. The complexity of the system was fascinating and from there I wrote several mini-adventure games. I knew at a very early age that game making would be my career. After a number of years making other people's games, I decided to start an independent game company. It was time to make the game I wanted to play. This game is Minions of Mirth or MoM for short.
3.) Minions of Mirth has 15 career types with three archetypes. Can you tell us a little bit about the archetypes? What careers there are?
We decided early on that we needed to focus the gameplay without sacrificing variety. We also wanted to make sure the system was expandable. So, we came up with archetypes and careers. The three archetypes are Rogue, Mage, and Warrior. The game supports multiclassing with primary, secondary, and tertiary classes. The combination and order of the character's classes defines the career. Here are some example careers: Monk, Hunter, Crusader, Ranger, Stalker, Warlock, Assassin, and Shaman. Interestingly, a player can choose to change secondary and tertiary classes on the fly. So, your character can have a midlife crisis and change careers if he wants :)
4.) How are the skills of the careers handled? Do the skills of the career follow a strict development path based on that career or can players pick and choose how they advance through a system of point buying?
Skills are primarily tied to archetype, but there are career specific skills. Skills are gained and capped at certain levels based on your character's class combination. Skills are advanced by using them, which is my favorite system. There are around 80 skills, some examples follow: Tactics Offense, Tactics Defense, Combat Efficiency, Light Armor, Medium Armor, Heavy Armor, Two-Handed Cleave, Intimidate, Berserk, Near Shot, Far Shot, Head Shot, Multishot, Poisons, Skullduggery, Bloodletting, Cripple, Death Twist, Grevious Wound, Necromancy, Voodoo, Mythos, Chain Cast, Power Cast, Hold Breath, Healing, and Tracking.
5.) Can you tell us a little bit about the races in the game? What are they? What sets them apart from one another? What advantages and disadvantages are a part of their characteristics?
The initial eight races are: human, elf, dwarf, halfling, orc, goblin, troll, and ogre. A big separating factor is height. Halflings and goblins are very short and trolls really tower. A character's race also affects starting stats and skills. As expansion is a theme in our game's design, you can expect more races in future installments.
6.) Can you provide us with an example of good and evil instances in the game? How is good and evil handled? Are there consequences for evil actions?
There are four alignments in the game: Good, Evil, Neutral, and Monster. A character can be any of the first three (and at some point we may support monster characters). Depending on your race, you start borderline good, evil, or neutral. There are good/evil quests and good/evil NPCs to aid or vanquish. If you play both sides, you'll be considered Neutral (though, technically I would call this evil). Importantly, there is also a political system which is based on opposing factions. This works much in the same way as alignment, but allows us some liberty in the writing.
7.) One of the features you list are sprawling dungeons. Can you tell us, in your opinion, what makes a good dungeon? What criteria do you have when you go to design one?
A good dungeon has concentrated gameplay with carefully balanced risk and reward. A dungeon must have an absorbing theme and a purpose for getting to the bottom. It should offer progression with an overall sense of rising danger. There should be interesting things that happen along the way and not just a cool monster at the end. I read "Deathtrap Dungeon" by Ian Livingstone as a kid and was enthralled. If I am capturing some of the excitement I felt back then, I know I'm on the right track.
8.) How is airship and boat travel handled?
Minions of Mirth has a number of transportation modes. You can walk, teleport, or travel by boat and airship. For the latter, you can buy a single ride or seasonal pass. The nice thing is that our boats and airships are always on time.
9.) From the videos, we see some of the epic battles in action. Can you tell us how the player can impact these? Does the player get involved with them often?
This is a really exciting part of the game. We have implemented a scalable battle system which can handle everything from small skirmishes to the epic sized battle in our promotional video. The battles can be hooked up to the quest system so we can trigger them and have their outcome affect the player in a number of ways. We can use the battle system creatively for things like nightly raids on towns by the undead, etc. The initial offering of the game will focus on lower leveled characters. Though, the story arc will lead to a large battle, and there will be plenty of skirmishes to take part in!
10.) How is experience and advancement handled? Do you get experience from completing quests or just from kills? What happens when you advance?
The game offers both level and skill experience. Level experience is gained for quests and kills. A character has an overall level and, if multiclassed, can have separate primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. When you gain a level, your "sublevels" may or may not go up as a result. Skill experience is gained by using a given skill, there is also a random factor involved with raising skill levels.
11.) Can you tell us a little bit about the special items in the game? How do they affect a character? What bonuses can they give? What penalties? Are they premade or randomly generated?
Minions has an extremely robust item system. It's actually far too detailed to go into depth here. Basically, items can give bonuses to statistics and can have several spell like effects attached to them. These effects can be activated by the player or can "go off" when certain events happen. There are use (player activated), weapon (hitting something), armor (being hit), and worn (random chance while the item is equipped) effects. Items have race and class requirements and level and skill recommendations. If a player doesn't meet the recommendations, a weighted penalty is applied to the item's stats and none of the effects will work. There are item flags like unique, indestructible, and artifact. Items can also have a quality associated with them (Crappy, Shoddy, "Normal", Superior, and Exceptional) so there is yet more variety to be found there. Items are premade as well as being created randomly.
12.) It's interesting you mention vendors in your list of features. How are they handled in the game? Do they restock? How often do they restock? Can the character affect the prices on items with a skill or attribute?
Vendors are simply NPCs which have some stock attached to them. Thus, any NPC can become a vendor. Vendors restock their inventory at regular intervals and there is also a random frequency for some choice items( so, you'll want to check back on occasion). Some vendors only sell items and won't buy them. The markup a given vendor has is also dependent (supply and demand, don't expect the vendor who is risking life and limb to bring you health potions to give you rock bottom prices!). There is a bartering skill, which like all other skills, increases with use.
13.) How is the magic system handled? Are there any features of the magic system that you can share with us like types of spells?
NPCs and players can cast spells in MoM. Magic spells come on scrolls that can be scribed in your character's spellbook. Spells can have effects like levitation, blindness, and paralysis. They can also buff, cause damage over time, siphon mana and/or health, teleport the player, etc. The game has the following spell lines: Mythos, Necromancy, Abjuration, Conjuration, Voodoo, Divination, and Conjuration.
Big thanks to Joshua Ritter of Prairie Games for taking the time to answer these questions!