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Interview Meriwether: An American Epic Interview at RPGWatch

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Crooked Bee, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. Crooked Beegender: ⚧ wide-wandering bee Patron

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    Tags: Meriwether: An American Epic

    RPGWatch's GhanBuriGhan has interviewed Josh DeBonis, lead designer on the historical RPG Meriwether: An American Epic, which ran a successful Kickstarter campaign last December. Have a snippet from the interview:

    RPGWatch: Meriwether, subtitled "An American Epic" is based on the Lewis & Clark expedition, which is a well-known historical event in the U.S. Could you summarize the scenario for our non-American readers, and explain why you chose it as a basis for your game?

    Josh: In 1804, President Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis along with a party over 30 men, a woman, a baby, and a Newfoundland dog on a journey across the North American continent. They were looking for the Northwest Passage. They never found it, but they had an amazing adventure, made it from coast to coast, and met so many interesting people along the way.

    RPGWatch: The historical setting as well as the financial support the project received by various public sources could lead gamers to the conclusion that Meriwether will be more Edutainment than game. What are the central gameplay elements that you think will make Meriwether attractive to RPG players?

    Josh: It's been a constant struggle to separate Meriwether from edutainment. Yes, you will learn things playing this game. But we are approaching it first and foremost as a game, in the same way that we approach other games we design. I tend to favor elegant, distilled game mechanics that are easily approachable but have great depth to explore. This philosophy manifests itself in Meriwether in many ways; we wanted a game that won't feel too daunting to a history buff who doesn't play a lot of video games, but also will have lots of difficult choices to offer to hardcore gamers. We have shown and playtested the game at both PAX East and a Lewis and Clark convention, and had a very positive response at each. I think we are well on way to making that difficult balance a reality.

    There's two parts that will be especially attractive to CRPG players. The first is our dialogue system. Our writer, Carlos Hernandez, is an incredible storyteller and he is giving a unique voice to all of the amazing characters. The conversations are a pleasure to play, but they also offer an interesting "facet" mechanic. We associate each dialogue choice with one facet of Lewis's personality-leader, soldier, diplomat, scientist, or melancholy. When you choose an option, it increases your level in that facet. Occasionally, you need to choose melancholy to keep balanced, which can often lead to an undesirable situation. The trick is to choose it at the right moment! So the facet system will couple a good story with good gameplay and provides players with a pretty unique dialogue system.

    The other mechanic that I think will interest CRPG players is managing the party as a whole. You need to balance all of your resources very carefully. Will you spend your timing hunting or clearing a safe path for your boats? Will you trade your last spare rifle for horses to make your journey across the Rocky Mountains easier? The real Lewis and Clark Expedition had to think about balancing those choices every second of their voyage, and they import beautifully into our game.

    RPGWatch: You have stated that in contrast to most CRPGs, combat is not a major focus in Meriwether. How did you go about creating interesting gameplay for a CRPG without this typically central gameplay element?

    Josh: Personally I love combat in RPGs, but it wasn't an appropriate direction for this game. Historically, the Expedition got into one fight, and came close a couple other times, but even though they were a military expedition, they were on a mission of peace. If you look at RPG combat formally, it almost always comes down to some form of resources management-usually under the guise of trading damage for hit points. We have made the "gamey" aspects of the game very much about managing your men and materiel, which allows you to explore interesting systems in the same way that combat often does. Combat can occur in Meriwether, but it is uncommon, simple, and lethal. My favorite aspect of combat in Meriwether is our game's "dragons"-ferocious grizzly bears. Reloading is slow, so you usually only get one shot, and if you miss, you better be prepared to run!​

    Meriwether is scheduled for release at the end of 2013. You can find the full interview here.
     
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  2. Overboardgender: ⚧ Cipher

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    RPG Codex Watch News and Content.
     
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  3. Country_Gravygender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

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    At the end does he blow his brains out, or will it have multiple endings?
     
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  4. Borelligender: ⚧ Arcane

    Borelli
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    It is good to see a proper America game instead of the usual :patriot: stuff.
     
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  5. HiddenXgender: ⚧ The Elder Spy Patron

    HiddenX
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    I understand that you can choose how quests can be solved and how characters develop (in boundaries). So you don't have multiple endings, you have multiple pathes and character developments through the game.
     
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  6. Castanovagender: ⚧ Prophet

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    When he said this I immediately distrusted everything else he said.
     
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  7. Arkadingender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Will be happy to learn more about this. Wonderful topic for a game, and I'm always happy about more historical RPGs.
     
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  8. Dorateengender: ⚧ Arcane

    Dorateen
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    Expeditions paving the way?
     
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  9. HiddenXgender: ⚧ The Elder Spy Patron

    HiddenX
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    At least he knows the historic story.
     
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  10. oldmanpacogender: ⚧ Master of Siestas

    oldmanpaco
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    But will be able to tastefully enrich native Americans like Sacagawea?
     
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  11. Burning Bridgesgender: ⚧ Enviado de meu SM-G3502T usando Tapatalk

    Burning Bridges
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    Interesting, the kind of game I like to play.

    Artstyle is ok. But I don't like the clothes. Outside of special occasions, meetings with natives perhaps, no one would walk the wilderness in such an attire. It's completely impractical.
     
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  12. GhanBuriGhangender: ⚧ Erudite

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    They commented on that in an update - they originally planned to have changeable clothing, but later decided to go for a fixed, easily recognizable attire for each character.
     
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  13. Burning Bridgesgender: ⚧ Enviado de meu SM-G3502T usando Tapatalk

    Burning Bridges
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    The art style is fne, changeable clothes are an unnecessary feature. What I mean is that in the wilderness Lewis and Clark would wear more plain clothes. Shirt, jacked etc, and not such .. costumes which are for the parade ground and fashionable for portrait sessions. It unnecessary takes away a lot of the realism autheticisty that they seem to strive for, and which makes this interesting.

    Here is an example, I think the painters had a much better feeling for authenticity.

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Burning Bridgesgender: ⚧ Enviado de meu SM-G3502T usando Tapatalk

    Burning Bridges
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    And by the way, Sacagawea should make an interesting character. From what I know she was first seen as a normal indian woman, giving birth and carrying her young child around, but turned out much more useful than her husband, who had joined the expedition. She was energetic, intelligent and diplomatic, exactly the kind of qualities that are necessary on expeditions. If done right, she has the potential make one of the (rare) interesting females types in a computer game.
     
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  15. Country_Gravygender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

    Country_Gravy
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    Wasn't she banging Clark? I thought she had his kid. She knew a few of the tribes they met along the way and kept them from getting their asses kicked a few times, I think.
     
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  16. Burning Bridgesgender: ⚧ Enviado de meu SM-G3502T usando Tapatalk

    Burning Bridges
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    Indian women were probably libe-ral with such matters. But I only remember that he adopted her (two?) children after her death.
     
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  17. karnakgender: ⚧ Arcane

    karnak
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    Sorry for "necroing" this thread. Does anyone have any update on this game?
     
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  18. HiddenXgender: ⚧ The Elder Spy Patron

    HiddenX
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    A "silver" version was released for backers ->link
     
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  19. karnakgender: ⚧ Arcane

    karnak
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    Too bad that development is going very slow, though. This was the first KS that managed to grab my attention ( I couldn't back it for financial reasons at the time) yet it's sad that it's not on early access or anything.
     
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