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Seal of Evil Interview
Interview - posted by Exitium on Thu 19 August 2004, 06:55:43Tags: Liu Jiang; Object Software; Seal of Evil
1. Feel free to introduce yourself. Tell me about your current position at Object Software.
My name is Liu Jiang. Sorry, I am using my Chinese name here. I like this name because in China it means â€œflowing riverâ€. I hope I can keep moving forward like a river. And I am the product manager of Prince of Qin, World of Qin and Seal of Evil. These games have occupied most of my life in recent years.
2. Please describe what Seal of Evil is, in brief, to our readers.
Seal of Evil is an A-RPG game and it is the prequel to Prince of Qin. This title adopts an entirely new engine and the game system is greatly improved as compared with POQ. Players will have a completely different feeling while playing the game.
The game is set in the last few years of the Warring States period in ancient China more than 2,200 years ago. The State of Qin had gradually become the most powerful of the seven major states and had began a long term offensive to conquer the other six major states. During this offensive they launched repeated wars against the Baiyun people which were a minority race in the south west of China.
In the game the lead character is Lan Wei, the daughter of the Leader of East Baiyue, Lan Xiong. After his mysterious death Lan Wei sets out on her adventure to find the famous Empyrean Stones in the belief that it will bring her father back to life. Although she succeeds in finding the Empyrean Stones she had not expected that piecing together the mysterious stones would have such dire consequences. You have to play the game to discover what these consequences are and how Lan Wei and her friends cope with them.
The game combines ancient Chinese history with Chinese legend to provide a rich background which we think will be as fascinating to players around the world as it has been to players in China where Seal of Evil has been very successful.
3. Why has Object Software decided to pursue the development of games in the setting of Ancient China? What elements of this setting do you think gamers will find most appealing?
We have chosen Ancient China as the settings for our games for a number of reasons. First of all China has a rich 5,000 year history which provides tremendous resources for game developers in terms of famous events, characters etc. Secondly, it is a setting that is rarely encountered in games of international quality so we have felt we could establish a niche for our studio by specializing in these kinds of settings. Thirdly we think that with interest in China and things Chinese growing rapidly around the world there should be a receptive audience in the west for Chinese themed games just as there has been for Chinese themed movies.
In Seal of Evil I think gamers will really enjoy the mix of history and legend. We think this mix makes Seal of Evil more enjoyable than Prince of Qin because legend adds an unreal almost supernatural element which gamers can use to fire their imaginations and just have more fun.
4. Can you tell me what the major game-play related differences between Prince of Qin and Seal of Evil are? Please elucidate.
There are mainly three differences:
First, the Five-element system. It is applied throughout the whole game, e.g. characterâ€™s attributes, skills, equipment, Item Creation and puzzles in the game. It has become the basic and most important concept in the game.
Second, the skill system. This system has been greatly improved. Skills are classified into main skills and sub-skills. One main skill will have different effects when it is used together with different sub-skills.
Third, the Item Creation system. In SOE, players can use several different methods to make the same equipment. Of course, different methods will result in equipment with different attributes. Moreover, players can upgrade their favorite equipment now.
5. How has the "Making Things" item crafting skill been improved in Seal of Evil compared to Prince of Qin? What new items can we make with this skill, and is it possible to upgrade items now?
As I have said, players can now use different methods to make the same equipment and equipment can be upgraded. Different methods demand different components and players will be awarded with different attributes. Besides weapons and armor, in SOE, players can use Item Creation skills to create medicine which is much more effective than herbs and raw materials.
6. Is the storyline completely linear or are there branching story paths? Will the player be able to affect the game world with the choices that he makes during the course of the game, and how will it affect the end?
We should say the storyline is linear, but there are many interesting side quests for players. Playersâ€™ choices will affect the end of the game. For example, the game playerâ€™s choice will decide the fate of Liang Hu, which will later decide the ending of the whole game.
7. One of the major complaints about Prince of Qin was the 'poor' translation and voice acting. What measures, if any, have you taken to remedy this issue in Seal of Evil?
Yes, we did get a lot of criticism about the translation and voice acting in Prince of Qin. We felt that the criticism of the translation was a bit unfair because we were deliberately trying to create a very Chinese flavor to the dialogue. However, a lot of reviewers didnâ€™t see it that way. The voice acting in POQ was, however, admittedly a weakness of the game.
In Seal of Evil we have engaged a professional writer to re-write the translation so that the text reads much more smoothly than was the case with POQ. We have also engaged a professional sound studio in Taipei to handle the voice acting which we are confident will be greatly improved as compared to Prince of Qin.
8. In Prince of Qin, we started with pre-determined character â€“ the Paladin. In Seal of Evil, will we be able to create and design our own character and given a choice of class (e.g. Paladin, Witch, Assassin, etc), or are we restricted to playing only the main character (the Witch in the demo)?
Yes, players will play only the main character Lan Wei, the witch. But over the course of the game, players can choose and recruit others into their party.
9. Has the Feng Shui system from Prince of Qin been changed or improved in Seal of Evil? If so, please explain what changes have been made and how they affect the game.
(Laughing) I think the Five-element concept is quite different from so-called Feng Shui. Feng Shui is kind of fortune-telling stuff. The Five-elements was the basic theory of Chinese Ancient philosophy. Ancient Chinese believed that the whole world was made up by five basic elements, Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. There is a kind of complicated interactional relationship amongst the five elements. The theory of the five elements reflected the traditional knowledge of ancient Chinese people towards the world and how they explained the constitution of the world and how the world worked.
The Five-element theory itself is the same in SOE as in POQ, but the way in which the theory is used has changed. In SOE, even the heroes have a Five-element attribute and the attribute can be changed by allocating attribute points. A Heroâ€™s attribute will influence his/her features and skill use.
10. In Prince of Qin, there were certain unique weapons that when used together with other items became more powerful and had more attributes, and in games like Diablo 2 and Sacred, there are set items and unique items. Does Seal of Evil have any such equipment? If so, how easy is it to find these items?
Yes, SOE retains the concept of hidden or concealed attributes on items. In other words, some items have hidden or concealed attributes which will take effect only after the carrier item has been activated.
Different from POQ, SOE also has set items. If you find a set of such equipment and equip it on yourself, you will obtain extra awarded attributes. There are two kinds of set items: one is ready-made equipment, such as Witchâ€™s Silk Clothes, Silk Headband and Cloth Shoes (the same Five-element attribute). To obtain these kinds of set items, you should keep your eyes on what you obtain over the course of the game; the other is set items made from the same animal or beast, e.g. panther's paw, skin, bone and etc.
11. From my experience with Prince of Qin, combat was fairly straight forward point and click. How has the combat in Seal of Evil improved, when compared to Prince of Qin and other similar games?
A kind of new type of attack, Rear Attack, has been added. You can easily understand it from its name. If you attack an enemy from the rear, the target will suffer a lot of damage. So in battles, you should always try to take a good position and launch an attack from your enemyâ€™s rear. And SOE reduces battle participants from 5 to 3 in order to make fight control easier.
12. Will there be any Kung Fu-related moves present in Seal of Evil? Are there any combo-attacks or special martial arts moves?
SOE has only a few such moves and those are quite simple. Itâ€™s hard for 2D graphics to display a complicated Kung Fu move. We do have stuff similar to combo-attacks. In the game, assassins can edit continuous skills, meaning assassins can add some of his/her skills together to form a group of skills for use.
13. When do you plan to release Seal of Evil to the European, American and Asian markets?
Seal of Evil has already been released in China and Taiwan. It is due to be released by GMX Media in the UK, Benelux and Scandinavia at the end of September. For other markets we are talking to a number of publishers but nothing will be concluded until the full English Beta of the game is available towards the end of August.
14. What features would you like to have added in Seal of Evil if money, time and manpower were not an issue?
A lot of things. First of all, the Multiplayer function. Secondly, an open and powerful map editor would be a big bonus for players.
15. Tell me about Object Software's future plans in the gaming market. Will you continue to pursue the development of PC RPGs and Real Time Strategy or are there any plans to move on to a different platform (PS2, Xbox) or develop action games? We at the RPG Codex would love for you continue developing more RPGs for the PC. :)
We have not decided yet whether we will develop more single player games after Fate of the Dragon II. We are now very focused on online games which offer a much better business model for us than single player games. We will see how Fate of the Dragon II does first before deciding whether there will be anymore single player games coming out of the Object Software studio.
Thanks for the interview!
Seal of Evil