Iron Tower Studio ForumsRPGThe Age of Decadence (Moderator: Vahhabyte)AoD 4-page article/interview in IG Magazine
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Vince
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« on: March 19, 2009, 01:32:44 PM »

http://www.ig-magazine.com/fr

The first two pages.
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MaximB
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2009, 01:39:23 PM »

Damn, it's in French.

I didn't know you speak French Vince

Anything new in this interview ?
If so could you or someone translate is for us - the English speakers ? Wink
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Vince
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2009, 01:54:02 PM »

"2. Iron Tower Studios is an independent game developer. Is it by choice, for instance to keep total control and creativity over your games, or is Age of Decadence a way for the team to get its work noticed by big publishers ?

By choice. We’ve received quite a few publishing inquiries ranging from distribution offers to “let us take you under our wing” scenarios.

Publishers are the problem, not a solution. They are what's dragging the industry down. Digital distribution combined with growing high speed internet represents a viable alternative to boxed copies and the sooner developers start dealing directly with consumers, the sooner we’ll see creativity and originality flowing back into games."
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Jedi_Learner
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2009, 01:59:15 PM »

Anything new in this interview ?

Nothing for a regular. Vince talks about the status of being a independent developer, when the team switched to the Torque Engine and what role the player will play in AoD. The Babel Fish translation, as always is terrible.

(click to show/hide)
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I'd like to take a moment here and address the issue of expectations. There is nothing revolutionary or evolutionary about AoD. I hope it will be a good game, nothing else.
Vince
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2009, 02:06:40 PM »

The other 2 pages have more interesting stuff. I'll post the interview in full after the magazine is out.
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Morbus
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2009, 02:48:49 PM »

I didn't know you speak French Vince
Isn't French the second official language of Canada?
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Wendigo Design, by Tiago Sá
pkt-zer0
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2009, 04:34:37 PM »

4 pages? That's pretty impressive.
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pnutz
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« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2009, 09:17:15 AM »

Sweet. Congrats for getting featured so prominently.
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Gauntt
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« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2009, 09:29:04 AM »


Even if you don't read French its a good idea to click for the art.

Also gave me a chance to test out my average French. Was surprised how much I understood.
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suibhne
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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2009, 10:59:43 AM »

Direct link to article PDF:
http://staticns.ankama.com/ig-magazine/www/pdf/Iron_Tower_Studio.pdf

Looks great, and it's wonderful to see AoD continuing to get attention.
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Arzar
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2009, 01:42:24 PM »

The other 2 pages have more interesting stuff. I'll post the interview in full after the magazine is out.
It's out !
Au menu :
  • Interesting bits about short-term and long-term consequences when dealing with factions.
  • "Real time combat is dumbing down [for] 10-year-old kids."
  • "A combat demo should be available at time of publication of this article."
« Last Edit: March 27, 2009, 01:53:13 PM by Arzar » Logged
Slaughter
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2009, 02:05:41 PM »

Quote
“The Age Decline”.

Add a "of" and I smell a new Codex meme being born. A good name for a sequel, too.
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Arzar
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« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2009, 12:18:07 PM »

Here is my translation of the most interesting part of the interview : faction mayhem.
It's only a google translation with minor editing - sorry about that. I hope it would be still comprehensible.



Q : Tell us about the faction system, which is at the heart of Age of Decadence. How the choices of the player affect the political balance of the game?

A : In Age of Decadence, everything you do affects someone or something. There is no generic quests: you will need to take sides and be ready to accept the consequences. For example, the first quest of the Imperial Guard (one of the factions available) involves impersonating raiders and attacking a caravan of the Merchant Guild (another faction) to give the Guard a justification for taking control of a city, which currently belongs to the Daratan House (yet another faction). So if you choose to do this quest, your actions will affect three factions.

Now, imagine that you prevent the coup d'état of the Guard by means more or less brutal. The city still belongs to its former House and members of the Guard in this city end up in a weak position. You can persuade them to join the ruling House, which will increase its power and won't go unnoticed in the eyes of the other Houses. This is the short-term effect. In the long term, the entire Imperial Guard, as a faction, will be weakened - and if you want, you can persuade other factions to confront it directly.

On  the whole, factions spice things up: it gives different motivations to keep moving on, and of course great opportunities for betrayals, flip-flop, put the player's loyalty to the test, etc. You can join a faction and follow its related quests from A to Z, just as you can betray and switch side at the first opportunity - which will be provided.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2009, 12:30:07 PM by Arzar » Logged
Vince
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« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2009, 01:18:46 PM »

Since the magazine is out...

2. Iron Tower Studios is an independent game developer. Is it by choice, for instance to keep total control and creativity over your games, or is Age of Decadence a way for the team to get its work noticed by big publishers ?

By choice. We’ve received quite a few publishing inquiries ranging from distribution offers to “let us take you under our wing” scenarios.

Publishers are the problem, not a solution. They are what dragging the industry down. Digital distribution combined with growing high speed internet represents a viable alternative to boxed copies and the sooner developers start dealing directly with consumers, the sooner we’ll see creativity and originality flowing back into games.

3. When did you start working on Age of Decadence ? At which point did you decide to use the Torque game engine ? What motivated the choice of Torque ?

We started working on the game in March 2004, using the above-mentioned 2D engine. However, the reaction was mostly negative since the graphics were, well, subpar. Eventually we had to acknowledge that the game simply doesn’t look good enough to have a fighting chance and start looking for a suitable engine. In the middle of 2005 we switched to Torque Game Engine. It’s an aging, but well supported engine with very powerful scripting tools, which is a big plus for a game like AoD.

4. Along the years, the game's graphics have evolved quite a bit, and it now looks really nice. Do you plan to improve the overall look of the game again before its release, or will the current look of the game be the same in the final product?

I think the game looks great (for an indie game) and we did the best we could, considering limited technology and tools. At this point trying to improve the graphics further would produce diminishing returns, so it’s safe to say that the current look is what the finished game will look like.

5 Age of Decadence seems heavily influenced by Fallout (for instance the game's UI is very close to the one seen in Fallout Tactics). Is the Black Isle / Troika-era RPGs your reference for Age of Decadence ?

They are an inspiration, of course. Games like Fallout, Planescape: Torment, Arcanum are the finest RPGs ever created. I think that every RPG developer should play them to see what’s possible in RPGs, to understand how powerful and incredibly immersive text can be, to see how multiple ways to handle quests enrich gameplay.

6. About Age of Decadence : the game's universe uses Antiquity with a post-apocalyptic twist. What is the scale of the game world ? How does the player character fits into the big picture ? What are his initial goals in this world and what kind of impact can he expect his actions to have on the world ?

The player’s character is not a chosen one. He is in the picture because several Noble Houses are heading for a confrontation, which creates different opportunities for many people.

Your story starts when you acquire an ancient map depicting a long-forgotten temple. Trying to figure out what this map is draws attention of the Noble Houses to you. They have different reasons to be interested in the temple and you’ll be able to join the House that appeals to your character the most.

Your main goal is to find the temple. What to do next would depend on your past actions, information learned, choice of allies, and personal goals.

As for the impact, everything you do will affect someone or something. We don’t have generic quests that take place in vacuum, so you’ll have to choose sides and think of how your actions will affect someone. For example, the first Imperial Guards (a joinable faction) quest will require you and other new recruits to dress as raiders and attack a merchants guild’s (a joinable faction) caravan in a town’s vicinity to give the Imperial Guards a pretext to take over the town from House Daratan (a joinable faction). So, if you decide to do this quest, your actions will affect three factions. I’ll explain the global effect of your choice below.


7. Will the player be able to witness the consequences of his actions during the actual gameplay, or will they only be summarized at the end (Fallout-style) ?

Both. You’ll witness short-term consequences and will be told about long-term effects of your action at the end of the game. For example, the Imperial Guards – an army remnant – will try to take over one of the towns. If you’ve joined this faction, you’ll do your best to help them bring a new order and establish a military rule. Alternatively, you can side with other factions and do your best to prevent the take over by any means necessary, from clever scheming to targeted assassinations.

Let’s say you’ve stopped the guards from taking over. The town remains under the old management, the Imperial Guards in that town are weakened and can be persuaded to join the local House, which will strengthen it and won’t go unnoticed by other Houses. That’s the short term effect. The long term effect is weakening of the Imperial Guards as a faction – they fail to establish a foothold, they lose a capable commander and the entire garrison that was stationed in that town. It also shows that they are not the power they once were, which will make it much easier for you to talk other factions into moving against the Imperial Guards, should you wish to do so.

Also, there is an ending that will only be possible if the Imperial Guards remain a powerful faction. Weaken them and the ending and events leading to it are no longer available.

8. The emphasis in Age of Decadence is on the factions. How will the player interact with the seven "houses" featured in the game ? Is it possible for him to finish the main quest without allying with any faction ? Can you tell us more about the diplomatic possibilities found in the game ? How a war against two factions affects the player and what are the repercussions on the world itself ?

Factions spice things up, provide different motivations, and set up great opportunities for double- and triple-crossing, diplomacy, to test one’s loyalty, etc. It’s an interesting, but not mandatory gameplay element.

We have three Noble Houses and four professional guilds: assassins, thieves, merchants, and the above mentioned guards.

All three Houses are interested in the temple for very different reasons. One House wants to seal it to prevent whatever’s inside from falling into the wrong hands. The wrong hands in this case are the hands of a rival Noble House that hopes to find ancient engines of war in the temple to tip the balance of power. The last House is descending into religious madness. They are trying to summon a deity and believe that the temple is the key.

You can join any faction and follow a chain of questlines. You can serve your faction faithfully or look for double-crossing opportunities, which are provided. For example, an assassins guild will be contracted to kill an Imperial Guards’ commander. You’ll be given a choice: to kill the commander or to kill your partner and join the Imperial Guards.

Most quests have non-combat solutions and there are many quests where diplomacy is the preferred solution. To continue the example with the Imperial Guards failed take-over attempt, one of the related quests would require you to convince the remaining garrison to join the local House. Should you fail, the barracks will be attacked and all guards killed. If your tongue is truly silver, you’ll succeed and the garrison will join the House, strengthening it.

As for the last question, a full scale attack on a faction will either eliminate it or weaken it, which would eliminate or reduce the in-game options associated with this faction.

9. About the combat system : it will be turn-based with action points, once again a lot like Fallout or Arcanum. Why turn-based ? Do you think turn-based combats adds "value" to the gameplay ? What do you think of real-time combat in RPGs ?

Why turn-based combat? Because it’s vastly superior to real-time combat and we think that our audience deserves the best. We wouldn’t want to offend their delicate sensibilities by offering them a real-time clickfest. It’s like serving cheap wine-in-a-box in the Restaurant du Palais-Royal, if you know what I mean.

Seriously though, I like real-time combat. I love shooters, I love RTS, I love Diablo games and am eagerly waiting for Diablo 3. I just don’t think that RT adds anything to RPGs or should be there in the first place.

RT combat is “combat simplified”. It fits perfectly into the “even a 10 year old should be able to beat the game easily” mentality championed by publishers. TB combat is a “chess party”. It’s about taking your time to consider different tactics and go over all available options. If done right, TB combat is about presenting the player with a combat puzzle and giving him a wide range of tools to try to come up with solutions that may work.

Here is an example:

I’ve decided to replay excellent Realms of Arkania: Star Trail. I made a party of different characters and went adventuring. A few minutes after I left the starting town a text message popped up informing me that five orcs are attacking a priestess who wouldn’t mind some help. Five orcs? Hah! They’ve gotta be kidding me. Must be a tutorial. I have six capable party members. We should be able to stop at least two orcish armies and maybe even invade a small country. I join the battle feeling bad about ganging up on poor orcs like that. Five minutes later my party is dead. Dead. Orcs 6, me 0. That’s turn-based combat in a nutshell. You either think and plan carefully or you are dead.

AoD combat system offers a lot of different attacks and options: aimed, normal, fast, power, special attacks plus throwing nets to entangle your opponents, acid to burn through armor, rare neurostimulants, liquid fire, black powder bombs, etc. Fights are hard and are not designed to make sure that you win (in fact, they are often designed to put you back into your place), so you’d need the turn-based system to have a fighting chance.

10. And last but not least : do you have a release date for Age of Decadence ? And what is coming next for Iron Tower Studios ? A sequel for Age of Decadence ? (Can you tell us about the Lovecraft-inspired RPG Cyclopean and Iron Tower Studios involvement in it ?)

The release date is “when it’s done”. If one can learn something from Blizzard, it’s the importance of taking your time and not releasing anything until you’re satisfied with what you have. Fortunately, we are getting close. A combat demo will be released in about 3 months.

Our future plans depend entirely on how well AoD will be received. Should everything go well, we can do either another game set in the AoD universe or a sci-fi RPG that – in a surprising turn of events – doesn’t revolve around killing them alien dudes.

As for Cyclopean, it’s an independent effort. Scott, the lead designer on Cyclopean, is a very talented writer/designer and we want to use our experience and technology to help him transform his vision and ideas into a game. However, we are not involved on the creative level.


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Wrath of Dagon
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« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2009, 02:17:02 PM »

Great interview, I think it's the best I've read so far. Quit teasing already.  Mad
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Secondly--MURDER? Merely because I had planned the duel and provoked the quarrel! Never had I heard anything so preposterous.
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