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Tyranny Interview at GameBanshee

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Tyranny Interview at GameBanshee

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 15 August 2016, 00:53:34

Tags: Brian Heins; Obsidian Entertainment; Tyranny

Shortly after posting about the interview with the Tyranny writing team yesterday, I discovered that GameBanshee had posted their own interview with game director Brian Heins. It's pretty good, four pages long and with many questions about the game's more interesting and/or controversial aspects (although Brian's answers aren't always very satisfying). So to wrap up this weekend of Torment and Tyranny, I've decided to give it its own newspost. Here's a small excerpt:

GB: Tyranny is set in the transitional era between the bronze and the iron age of its fictional setting. How much will the setting be influenced by that period of our own planet's history, and how much will the presence of powerful magical forces and fantastical creatures make it diverge? How will that influence the plotlines and mechanics of the game?

Brian: Tyranny is a fantasy RPG rather than an historical RPG, so it’s influenced by this period in our history but doesn’t try to emulate it. I decided to set the game at this transition point for a couple of reasons.

First, it creates a plausible reason to explain why Kyros was able to conquer. Creating bronze weapons and armor was expensive. Often you had to trade with neighbors to get the metals needed to alloy bronze. It took skilled smiths to reliably mix the metals in the proper ratio to create bronze hard enough to serve as weapons and armor. Both of these meant that most nations could only afford to outfit a small number of soldiers with bronze weapons or armor.

Iron weapons had the advantage of only needing a single source of metal to create. Once people figured out how to smelt iron ore, it became much cheaper to outfit a larger number of soldiers. Early iron weapons weren’t better than bronze – they were often heavy and brittle. A bronze sword might bend or grow dull in combat, but it wouldn’t shatter. However, when you can outfit ten soldiers in iron for the cost of one soldier in bronze, you’re able to bring a much larger force to the field.

This was one of the things that allowed Kyros to conquer. The Overlord controls the secret of smelting iron ore, so has access to a cheaper source of weapons and armor, and can outfit a much larger army than any other nation that tried to resist.

Secondly, Bronze Age warfare was more up-close and brutal. There weren’t guns or firearms that allowed you to kill enemies from a distance. You fought at sword or spear-length, or hurled javelins from a shorter distance. For a world where evil won, I wanted to capture some of that feel in our combat.

GB: Will Tyranny feature random encounters with enemies, or will most combat encounters be deliberately placed within the game? Random or not, will enemies be static in regard to their level/power or have you incorporated level scaling into the game?

Brian: Combat will occur with placed enemies, as with Pillars of Eternity. Some combats can be avoided or modified through dialogue options, but we don’t have any random encounter systems in place. We had ideas for systems along those lines during development, but ended up cutting them when we didn’t have the time to bring them to an acceptable level of polish.

There is level scaling in the game. Tyranny has a more open, branching structure than Pillars of Eternity did, which means that there are many different ways for players to travel through the world. The same area needs to support players arriving at level 5 or level 10, and provide them with interesting and engaging combat when they do so.

Enemies will scale within a level range, and their level becomes fixed when they are revealed by fog of war. So if you see an enemy and they are level 5, then leave the area, gain several levels and come back, they won’t suddenly increase in level. They’ll still be at level 5. On a different playthrough, if you went to that same area for the first time at level 8, the enemies would be a higher level.

The goal with this scaling is to keep combat interesting and not something you can just ignore on difficulty settings beyond Story mode. So far from our playtests its working out very well.
Of note is that this interview confirms for the first time that Obsidian have upgraded to Unity 5 for Tyranny. Hopefully that will help with the loading times.

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