Earlier this week European game developer Team21 launched a Kickstarter looking to fund their project Dungeon of Aledorn. Doing more than just coming to the table asking for money, Team21 has already produced a tech demo that shows off combat and can be downloaded by anyone on their Kickstarter page. If you are a fan of X:Com and Blackguard you may find that DoA is a game designed with you in mind. Read on for a recent interview I had with Ladislav Štojdl game designer for DoA.
MMORPG: Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background?
Ladislav Štojdl: Hello there! My name is Ladislav Štojdl. I studied at the Technical University Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, where I successfully graduated two years ago and I actually started working on the game at the school, in parallel with writing my thesis!
How did I get into game development? That’s a good question, especially if we take into account that I have studied mechanical engineering, nothing really related to games such as programming or graphics . It is fair to say that even though I studied one thing, in my spare time I dealt with something else entirely. I played a lot of games of course, but I mean tabletop RPG games (D&D, GURPS, Shadowrun, and many others). In these games, I was almost exclusively GM. What does it mean to play as a GM? You must create a world, story, characters and plot – essentially the whole game. You may have a small advantage in that you do not have to deal with the mechanics (at least the base, there are rules of the game written), but everything else is up to you.
MMORPG: What is the inspiration for Dungeons of Aledorn?
LS: Our inspiration didn’t come from a single source, but a primary source was surely the old-school “dungeons style RPGs” in general, like Betrayal at Krondor (Neal Hallford, lead author of BoK, is excited by and actually backed our game!) or Shadows Over Riva. The game scene, for the last decade or so, has almost completely forgotten this genre of game and it survived only thanks to the classical dungeon crawler Legends of Grimrock. Grimrock undoubtedly proved, that there´s still demand for this kind of game experience. While Grimrock ‘only’ revived the genre and did add just a few new features, we’re trying to bring back all the time-tested principles of these games and enhance them with new ideas and a new approach to game mechanics. For example, we already mentioned the camping management. Apart from that, several board and pen & paper games (such as D&D) also served also as an important inspiration to many of the game mechanics of DoA.
MMORPG: What is the story behind DoA?
LS: I would not want to spoil the story here; however, I can tell you that the main foundation is a war between humans and orcs. Orcs are currently stronger and the players have the task to stop that war. There is a certain prophecy, which acts as a guide on how to stop the war. The main character is a bastard of Earl Aledorna III, an old guzzler who decides to change his life after he learns who he really is and that his father needs him.
MMORPG: With the tech demo prospective backers can take part in two examples of combat, but what are the quests and exploration going to be like?
LS: Certainly we would like to introduce to you a playable demo, which will show questing and exploration. In fact, we planned it directly for our KS campaign, but a lot of used mechanics are still not working as they should be and so we just have individual prototypes, which is certainly not appropriate to present publicly. However, you can learn how it all works at the KS site.
MMORPG: Can you tell us about the active achievement feature?
LS: The feeling of strong inspiration of the game King's Bounty. This game had a particularly well-developed system of characters; however, active achievement also appeared in the game Fallout: New Vegas.
It is simply the fact that we will have the same achievement as they are in actual games at today's market. Some hard, some easy. Some open, some hidden and for each completed achievement player will receive some type of in-game reward.
For example, if a player completes transfer quests in all five characters, he/she will get an achievement "Craftmaster" and each character receives a skill point to spend.
MMORPG: Can you tell us more about the game's release schedule?
LS: After finishing the KS campaign, we will need about a year to come back with an alpha version of the game. It will contain all of the main storyline and all of the core mechanics + most secondary mechanics.
The following six months we have factored in to finish the alpha version and gradually add secondary quests. So, then we have to get the beta version. The beta version has to contain at least 90% of the game and we expect quite a few mistakes (due to the scale of the game), which we will remove in the rest of the development time. For this testing / removal we’ll utilize our community (that we’re building around DoA). And finally, around late Q4 2016 and early Q1 2017 we will launch.
MMORPG: How long have you been in preproduction?
LS: We have been working on the game actively for around 2 years.
MMORPG: Why did you decide to crowd fund the game?
LS: Kickstarter has now become a major phenomenon and very attractive for indie projects like ours. With so many eyes from around the world paying attention, a successful campaign on Kickstarter will bring you much more than just money. It gives you an invaluable advertising platform and that is exactly what this game needs. There are a lots of titles published these days, though of course PC has considerably less than on mobile devices. Even so, the competition is great and it’s not easy to succeed. Therefore it is important to have a good and interesting game, and when you put it on Kickstarter to tell the world, it helps market the game.
The second answer is money. All who are working on DoA, are doing it as a secondary career. Each one of us is doing something else to survive, we can say that most of us involved in the DoA development are part time. Which strongly inhibits the development and makes it take longer. If we manage to get the money together from Kickstarter, it’d help with the basics, you know like buying food, keeping the wolves from the door and so on. It would be much easier being able to pour in the time needed to develop such an ambitious title.
MMORPG: What do you think makes DoA stand out from other turn-based tactical RPGs?
LS: DoA will be different from the tactical RPG especially in combinations of individual features and options to choose where the fight occurs. This is no similar to any tactical game you find. In all the games where you can switch to GUI hexafield is always predefined battlefield. Also the battlefield will be adaptabe to players movement in the fight. Hexes will be automatically added so that the player will not be limited by the place. It will always be limited only by area locations. But in the fight the player will not to be able to leave the location.
Another important element is the overall complexity and realism. The player will be able to customize characters as need and will not be frustrated with meaningless restrictions, such as In X-COM: Enemy Unknown, where a player for must choose what to get: a vest, a grenade or sight. Players can not have everything at once, in X-COM although we think it is totally illogical.
Next there are several elements which will revive the game, not as in Blackguards. We speak about "exploring mode" in which player can just explore the locations, managing their camp, playing minigames, delving into complex quests and so on. It's a more open-ended RPG as opposed to one that follows a straight line.
MMORPG: Thanks for your time! Folks, if you'd like to see Dungeons of Aledorn succeed, you can visit their Kickstarter and make a pledge for the next three weeks. They're only asking for a $60K, and are about a third of the way there. Take a look.