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Interview with TSI's David Klein at

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Interview with TSI's David Klein at

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 15 September 2014, 00:57:15

Tags: David Klein; Seven Dragon Saga; Tactical Simulations Interactive

There's a new interview with Tactical Simulations Interactive president David Klein over at Swiss gaming site The interview was conducted by none other than the Codex's own SophosTheWise, who helpfully provided a link to the original English version. Here's an excerpt:

What does «updating for the modern audience» mean in terms of gameplay? Are you going for a Grimrock-style game?

Since turn-based provides the player the more complex and cerebral experience, we chose that option. Legend of Grimrock is a terrific game- but for Seven Dragon Saga we're using a 3D based world, so we will also have the option to move the camera angle and add to the visual excitement, setting the scene, and player preference. Although we like the retro pixel art style, so that might be something we'd consider for future titles.

Gold Box RPGs were not only old-school but also quite hardcore – is it at all possible to bring a new generation to that kind of games?

Hardcore can also imply a barrier to entry for people not familiar with the rules, or having a lot of die rolls. If the rules are getting in the way of fun, that's a bit tedious. So, spending a lot of time re-rolling characters to get the stats you want for a party of six characters is too grueling an experience. Seven Dragon Saga uses a skill based system (i.e. Divinity: Original Sin, Skyrim, etc...) but the gameplay will be accessible to players that enjoy games like Baldur's Gate or Wasteland 2.

The Gold Box series was highly popular back in the day, now it’s widely regarded as dusty niche-titles. Are you aiming for a broad audience and do you think you can build upon the success of old times?

The Lord of the Rings used to be fairly niche until the effects were good enough to produce some terrific movies for a broad audience. TSI is building a RPG where you create your whole party. NPC's are great to interact with, but we want to give the player more freedom in terms of making strategic choices and tailor the experience to their own play style. You'll never have to drag that one rogue with you simply because there wasn't a better option. That means TSI is aiming for gamers that want control over multiple characters and tactical combat.

Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures in 1993 was the last game in the Gold Box series. That was 20 years ago. How have your design priorities changed over the years?

With today's systems and tools, we are able to streamline many of the more awkward elements of the Gold Box games. Play should flow easily and the game should present the player appropriate choices for the situation. Our primary goals for Seven Dragon Saga are tactical choice; an open, explorable world; and strategic impact. If the player does not feel he is leaving a mark on the world, beyond swatting monsters and killing end-game bosses, then we believe he is not being well served.

Pillars of Eternity, Legend of Grimrock, Tides of Numenera, Divinity: Original Sin, Might & Magic X, Wasteland 2 – That’s big competition. How can you set yourselves apart?

So far, there seems to be a place for each of those games (and speaking as a consumer, I'm looking forward to playing the titles you've mentioned). Each game puts an emphasis on different aspects of the experience and brings something different to the table- be that a setting, a type of unfolding narrative with companions, or a good old dungeon crawl. TSI is making an effort to give the player meaningful choices from start to finish. Position, maneuver, weapon and spell choice all factor into tactical combat, allowing players a wide choice in approach. The party represents the greatest power in the world, and the player must decide how to wield this in social and political situations, and there is a wide world to explore and leave a mark.

The community, as well as, other developers have been extremely supportive. The only thing we would want to avoid is a releasing right at the same time so that each has an opportunity to shine.

Are we going to see a Kickstarter campaign? Seems to suggest it.

A crowdfunding campaign is certainly something that's been proven successful in the past so we're definitely looking at that type of opportunity very closely. We've also had some contact with publishers so that's a possibility as well. We're working very hard to establish Tactical Simulations Interactive as a company you can depend upon to consistently deliver a certain type of game experience. How to do we best position ourselves to create a series of games in the Gold Box tradition? That's what we're still trying to determine. Seven Dragon Saga is our first foray into creating an original, tactical RPG.

Since you’re not going for the D&D license, how would you describe your own ruleset and world design?

Working with an established license has it's pros and cons. Ultimately, we decided we wanted to work without those type of constraints on our first project and have the freedom to explore mature themes. Seven Dragon Saga begins the players with mid-level capabilities, rather than as reluctant proto-heroes. They are already effective in combat (no running from rats), and represent the Empire of the Seven Dragons, the preeminent power in the world. How the player uses this power is a major theme of the game. Will he be dismissive and cruel, obedient and fair, or a rabble rouser? The races are international, with concepts drawn from Europe, Asia and Africa, representing the great reach of the Empire.

Although, working with a license is something we'd certainly like to revisit further down the road.
Well, it definitely sounds like they mean to live up to the "Tactical" in Tactical Simulations Interactive. I think David might be confused about Grimrock, though.

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