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RPG Codex Interview: Dungeons of Aledorn

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RPG Codex Interview: Dungeons of Aledorn

Interview - posted by Zed on Fri 20 March 2015, 18:41:18

Tags: Dungeons of Aledorn; Team 21

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To begin the interview, please tell us a little bit about Team 21. Is this your first project together?

Hello. Yes, indeed, this is the first video game made by Team 21. Team 21 has existed for some time, although its focus was previously geared more towards the video and film industry.​

So, Dungeons of Aledorn. You namedrop a lot of interesting games on Kickstarter. What is it from each of these games that you want to draw from?

Well, Betrayal at Krondor and Realms of Arkania: Shadows Over Riva are the ones we've drawn the most inspiration from. They have the classic dungeon exploration with a group of companions, and the tactical battle system through an isometric perspective. These games are probably the closest to us, if we had to choose games similar to DoA.

From the Might & Magic series, we drew mainly from the mechanics and the development of the characters in your party. We have different skill levels (from apprentice up to expert) and transfer quests, thanks to which, each profession may broaden their horizons of other professions' knowledge. The distribution of magic and spells is also very similar.

King's Bounty is a source of various interesting features, especially in combat, and the existence of "active achievements."

["Active achievements", as explained on the Kickstarter page:

"We also plan to implement an "active achievements" feature. They work like classic achievements, but, unlike them, "active achievements" directly affect your gameplay. One example: Players may gamble in a dice throwing mini-game in every tavern in DoA. As you surely know, dices are based heavily on luck. If the player wins in various taverns throughout the known world, he´ll get an achievement called "Lucky" which slightly improves the critical hit strike chance for his party. These achievements are completely optional and won't be necessary to accomplish in order to finish the game. That applies especially for the lower difficulty levels, which will be discussed later on."]


And Fallout? This classic series served as an inspiration for our work with the inner mechanics of the game – action points, perks, percentage rolls, critical successes and failures, etc. We also have one stretch-goal to implement a karma system, heavily inspired by Fallout.​

There seems to be goblins, animated skeletons, magic spells and other classic fantasy stuff, yet it also seems to be a bit “grounded” and you do mention an emphasis on realism. What can we expect in the full game, in terms of fantasy-ness?

Regarding the realism we're talking about, it's more about what you can do. So it's not realism in the sense of comparing the setting to our world and "our reality."

We intend to have realistic combat, in the sense that, for instance, even a higher level fighter can be outnumbered. Imagine being surrounded, even by low level skeletons. You'd be overwhelmed. This is unlike something like Diablo for instance, where you alone can kill enemies by the hundreds.​

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You mention that there will be several different playable races with racial bonuses, and also a variety of different classes. Could you give us some examples?

We just ran a Kickstarter update which focuses on the topic of playable races. I'd strongly recommend taking a look as there's so much information there. It should answer any questions you have.
[Link to the Kickstarter update covering the playable races.]​

Aledorn will feature “hundreds of NPCs.” Will these be unique NPCS, with unique dialogue? Over how many towns and locations? What's the scope of civilization in the game?

It is true that the game will have literally hundreds of NPCs, but most of these will only be common citizens and villagers etc. Active NPCs will be around about 15% of the total. Obviously, if we had more money, each NPC would have their own unique spoken dialogues and actions, but we're not budgeting for a triple-A title.

Where the number of cities is concerned, we have a big capital city and then there are three smaller towns. Interspersed around the game there are also several forts and villages, with the rest being, more or less, "dungeons."​

In the pitch video, you say: “You will move your characters on hexagons. No squares. We hate squares.” Why do you hate squares? What are the benefits of hexagons?

The advantage of hexes is that everywhere is equidistant. Hexes give much fairer conditions than squares. With squares there are actually two variants. They either allow characters to walk on diagonals and thus more advantageous walking on them, or you have to walk at a right angle – which isn't ideal and out of the question. When you try to hit someone who is at a distance from you, and they are on a 60 degrees position from you – with squares it will often state that you cannot see the target, but with hexes it presents no problems.​

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There seems to be environmental considerations to make in combat, such as lighting oil on fire. This was seen in Divinity: Original Sin. Are there other ways to manipulate the environment, and how prominent will this be in Aledorn?

It will be possible, for example, by using magical spells. We have spells that create solid walls, ice walls and thus are modifying the environment. Furthermore, it will also be possible to maneuver the various obstacles and props. Here, however, we go a little further in interacting with the battlefield than most games. While in most games it is necessary to destroy barriers, in our game you can jump or climb over them. While characters perform these maneuvers, the battle system will subtracts the appropriate number of action points. The system will roll the luck dice and compare it to your skill level and, if successful, the player will overcome the obstacle and land where they wanted to be. If they fail the roll, the character is probably going to fall on the ground instead, thus giving the enemy a considerable advantage.

By creating fire, you can also impact the AI. So, for example,if you have to fight a pack of wolves, you'll be able to cut them off with fire, as they would rather run away from the flames than going straight through them.

There will also be numerous items generated on the battlefield that can give advantages, and not only to the player, but the enemy too. So as you've pointed out, oil may be set on fire creating a barrier between you and the enemy. We have more to reveal on this, but can’t say too much without revealing some awesome tactics that we want the players to figure out for themselves.​

The battle maps are generated in the same space that the player can explore in the first-person view. Are there any ways for the player to affect the start of the battle, in terms of positioning when initiating the encounter? Are there any sort of formations that the party can use?

You can set the formation in which the player will start the fight. Within the GUI, you have a "circle" gadget of the 17 hexes. On this, you create the formation of your party. All fights will begin using this formation, unless you're directly attacked, like in an ambush (e.g . in the night while camping, when the party is asleep).​

You say that the game is made for the hardcore gamers who appreciate a high level of challenge. What level of challenge are we talking about? Unprecedented levels of masochism? Will there be a “permadeath” hardcore option?

We have several hard-core elements. The first of which is called ‘the mode of marching Orcs’. In this mode, players will play under a time limit. With each passing day, events will unfold on the continent of Aledorn. The player will therefore not be able to procrastinate too much. When the game begins, the situation is that the humans are losing the war, and time is running out. If a player fails to finish the game before the Orcs charge the capital city, the player loses.

Another element is the NO-SAVE mode. This is the mode in which the player will have to play through the game in one sitting, and if it ever happens that all the characters of the player's party die (all at the same time), they lose. This mode starts to get extra interesting when, for example, characters are attempting to create potions, charm or enchant items, try to steal in towns, etc. Since everything is counted in percent, you will not be able to load or save the progress of the game.

As for "permadeath", the characters do not really die. It's more like a loss of consciousness. Only rarely do they really die (for example by a strong magic spell, or if they're buried under falling stones, etc..). If a true death occurs, players can resurrect the character by using another character with an appropriate resurrection spell or by visiting the temple and paying a considerable fee. We are considering a permadeath mode, but we're unsure how much of a demand there is of such a feature. Maybe your readers would like to give us some feedback?​

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You mention an emphasis on complex quests. Quests with choices and consequences, with impact on gameplay. Can you expand a little bit on this? Also, will choices throughout the game affect the possible ending outcomes? Fallout's “end slides” are very popular among Codexers – can we expect something like this?

Yes, some quests will have different endings, which then affect subsequent quests in the game. This mainly concerns the side quests. The basic main storyline is pretty much given as is, but with different ways to move to the next milestone. There are a few ways to do this, and it's the player's choice.

We're looking at karma and characters leaving a mark on the world, but they're currently only stretch goals, since such a complex feature requires a huge amount of additional work. However, we have the underlying mechanisms for this feature prepared already.​

How long in terms of gameplay hours do you think the game will be?

Well, ultimately it'll be up to the individual player. On lower difficulties, a player who goes purely for the main story arc should finish in around twenty hours. Harder difficulties will put the player on a lower level, and finishing the game without at least some side quests completed will be almost impossible. However, if we factor in completion of some 90% of the side quests, then the game should last players 50 hours. It will also depend on how the player will fight their battles. You could easily end up with hundreds hours of playtime within this game - simply because all of it is dependent on how fast the player win the battles.​

What are your plans for distribution? Are you pursuing any DRM-free options?

Yes, we will have a DRM free version, and we'll also be on Steam. We're also considering GOG. ​

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Harsh reality question: Like all Kickstarters, there's a chance that the target goal won't be reached. What happens then?

Well, it would definitely not mean the death of the project. Of course, we have a plan B, and even a plan C.
In a variant of B, we can expect an investor to come on board - a third party. We have already been approached by several of them after our pre-campaign for Kickstarter. We have politely declined, stating that we first want to try our hands on crowdfunding to see whether players deem the game worthy of purchase.

Plan C is that we will continue from our own resources and capabilities. Even like this, we will finish the game, but we will have to remove some elements to make it easier to finish. It will also extend the development time of the game, as obviously we'll have to continue working on DoA whilst working full time to support the project.​

And finally, what are your favorite ales?

Very good question! Actually, in the Czech Republic, we don't drink ales. We like lager style beer, like Budvar 12°, Kozel 11° and Svijany 13°.​

Many thanks to Team 21 for answering our questions, and good luck with the remainder of the Kickstarter campaign!

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