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[Codex Exclusive] Legend of Grimrock interview

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Angelo85, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. Angelo85 Arcane Patron

    Angelo85
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    I'm currently working on an article called 'upcoming Indie RPGs to keep an eye on'. Some commissioned work for a German magazine.
    Accompanying a basic run down of the games, it will also include a short interview for each game.

    Since the Codex gave me some nice inspirations in the past I decided to give something back.
    Almost Human Ltd. as well as my client were so kind to allow me to go ahead and publish the original English interview over here.
    All in all the article will cover five games (in form of a series), sadly three of those games are popamole but next week I'll ask the other games' contact if it's cool to publish their interview over here as well.

    Btw. I still have to translate all this into German and edit the questions so they incorporate the answers by tomorrow, for the editor-in-chief to pick the parts he actually wants included in the article. No social interactions for me tonight I guess :(
    Anyways, here's the untailored Interview I did with Olli Pelz for your reading pleasure:


    Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a bit about your background in the industry and what you did before you went down the Indie route?

    My name is Olli Pelz and I'm responsible for rigging and animation in our team. I have recently worked for Futuremark as Lead Graphics Designer on the popular benchmark software 3DMark11 and have also done the character animation for Futuremark Games Studio's innovative FPS game Shattered Horizon. Even thought I have worked on all aspects of 3D arts I still have always had a stronger interest towards rigging and animation. The vast selection of distinctively unique characters in Legend of Grimrock makes my work as a rigger and animator very interesting because every character requires a unique creative process.

    Petri Häkkinen is doing all the magic of the programming and is also the helmsman of the project. Before starting with Almost Human he held a key role at Remedy Entertainment working on Max Payne 2 and Alan Wake as a graphics programmer. You rarely run into a programmer of his skill level in the game industry. For that reason we built our own technology and it is a key reason for our lightspeed progress in the development of Legend of Grimrock.

    Juho Salila is an old colleague of mine from Futuremark. He worked on the visuals for Shattered Horizon and other projects. He also did a lot of stunning visual development as an Art Lead. In Legend of Grimrock he is responsible for creature and environment modeling among a myriad of other things of graphical nature. Juho's ability to crank out high quality characters in a fast phase made it possible for us to implement so many unique characters in the game.

    Antti Tiihonen used to work on 3D mobile games and after that he joined Remedy Entertainment to work on Alan Wake as an environment artist. In Legend of Grimrock, his duties are pretty much all over the place: graphics, audio, level design and scripting too. Antti is the kind of multitalent you need in every core team. Among all he is a very talented level designer and is working close with Petri to craft the spectacular levels of Legend of Grimrock.


    What made you decide to go ahead and found Almost Human Ltd.? With skills and work experience such as yours, it should be relatively easy to find a place at one of the major companies.

    OP: After working for known game studios for many years we felt that we would like to try our luck with our own project. Also the market situation in the game industry has changed quite a bit in recent years and now small indie studios seem to have a better chance for success. And we felt that a niche game like Legend of Grimrock is best suited for an indie developer.


    Let's talk about your upcoming game, Legend of Grimrock. From my understanding it's a realtime, party based Dungeon Crawler played from the 1st person perspective. In those respects, it resembles the old classics such as Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder quite a bit.
    Would you say this is a fitting assessment? What is the game about, could you give us a basic overview?


    OP: We feel that for many many years old-school dungeon crawler players of the games you have mentioned have not been provided an appropriate game that combines high quality modern graphics with good gameplay. In Legend of Grimrock we have an original strong backstory and visual style that shows in the world you see in the game. Even though it is old-school in spirit it could be a classic of it's own. The game is about survival in the long forgotten deeps of Mount Grimrock. It's a hostile place where prisoners are sent to absent their crimes. The only way to survive Mount Grimrock is to conquer it's ancient mysteries. Yet, none has ever returned from the deeps to live their lives in freedom.


    What was the main inspiration for the concept behind Legend of Grimrock?

    OP: We think the original Dungeon Master is probably the best game ever made and it is a huge inspiration for us. We seek to create a unique concept that would match the fresh flavor Dungeon Master had in the old days. We have got a lot of encouraging feedback that Legend of Grimrock indeed feels very fresh while at the same time captivating the precious essence of the old-school dungeon crawlers.


    The concept behind Legend of Grimrock is quite intriguing. And so is it's gorgeous art style. I would dare to say that it looks comparable to high budget titles. For a small Indie team of four people this is an impressive feat. How did you achieve such a high level of visual quality?

    OP: The visual quality feels quite natural for us. That's the way we do things. It all comes to proper planning and rock solid professional skills. Many years in the game industry have thought us a lesson or two. And it helps quite a bit when the game is based on a grid. For example, in animation I always know exactly from what positions the character will move and can customize the animation to perfectly fit the situation. In a nutshell, we keep care not to make things more complex than they need to be.


    Is Legend of Grimrock aimed towards the Casual Gamer or will the gameplay be more on the hardcore side of things?

    OP: The gameplay of Legend of Grimrock should appeal for the old-school dungeon crawler gamer, but we have had very positive feedback from newcomers to genre as well. The levels progress nicely and it is easy to learn into the gameplay from level to level. And ironically, it does feel like a fresh first person RPG in the never ending stream of simplified "button bashing" roleplaying games that overflow the market.


    Let's dive into the meat of things and talk about specific Dungeon Crawler mechanics for a bit.

    Classic Dungeon Crawlers often did without any kind of navigational help and expected the players to map the levels themselves. Will Legend of Grimrock feature a minimap, or a general map of sorts for that matter?


    OP: These days in the internet age it's only a matter of days before someone would spread to the public his hand drawn maps of the game. So it was a natural choice for us to implement a proper map feature in the game. The map is optional and should be useful for the less hardcore gamer. To be more clear, every level has a separate map that gradually reveals as you crawl through the dungeon. Hardcore gamers can choose not to use the map and maybe gain an achievement.


    Hunger and thirst play a big part in some of the famous Dungeon Crawlers of old. Does Legend of Grimrock feature a similar mechanic, or did you decide to go without this mechanic?

    OP: Hunger and thirst is indeed a core element of legendary dungeon crawlers. To keep things from being too complex we have implemented it in the form of food. You should have good fun eating bits of monsters you kill! You can also find eatable things like herbs that have a deeper functionality in the gameplay.


    What other classic Dungeon Crawler elements are incorporated into the game? E.g. will we see traps and teleporters for instance?

    OP: That's right! We have it all! Teleporters and traps play an important role in the puzzles and adds to the excitement of the game.


    Replayability is a big factor for many Dungeon Crawler and RPG fans alike. From my understanding the dungeon layout will stay the same in every playthrough. But are things like monster placement or item distribution randomized? While I'm sure trying out different party and class compositions will keep players occupied with the game, what additional features/mechanics do you think will make the players want to replay your title?

    OP: In addition to playing the game with many different party combinations and classes we have lots of hidden secrets that should keep the player coming back and trying to find ever more special rewards. Also you could play it without the automap or without resurrecting the characters.


    Following up on the RPG side: While we will see many classic CRPG elements like leveling up and finding better equipment for our characters, is the main challenge the players will be facing solely confined to finding the entrance to the next level, or will they also stumble upon different kind of side quests within the dungeon?

    OP: The setting we have does not offer a lot of opportunities for side quests in the traditional sense but there are plenty of detours available off the beaten path where the player can find more challenges and treasure or discover some hidden fragments of knowledge about the mysteries buried deep inside Mount Grimrock.


    While the game itself is played in real time, will the combat be more on the action side of the scale or does the combat incorporate strategic elements as well? Can you already elaborate on this topic at this point?

    OP: Yes, the game is in realtime and so is the combat, which In fact has a strong strategic characteristic because of the grid based movement. The combat involves careful timing and strategic movement on the grid. Standing still and bashing your buttons in front of a hostile monster wont keep you alive for long in Legend of Grimrock. You have to move and carefully consider your attacks in order to defeat the monsters. The spell system adds depth to the strategic aspect and it is by the way an fascinating feature by itself.


    Our German speaking readers would like to know if there are any plans for a localized version of Legend of Grimrock. If not at release, is a localization planned down the line?

    OP: Unfortunately we have no localization plans for the initial release. If we will consider localization later on it depends on the success of the game and what the localization will look like business wise.


    Please tell our readers which feature of Legend of Grimrock you are most proud of

    OP: We are probably most proud of the fact that the game is really fun to play both by hardcore players and newcomers as well. We are also very satisfied by how we merged modern 3D graphics with old-school grid based gameplay.


    When can we expect the release of Legend of Grimrock?

    OP: The plan is to get Legend of Grimrock ready for release before the end of this year.


    Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our readers' as well as my own questions. Is there anything you would like to add?

    OP: I would like to say that we are amazed by the wide attention the game has gathered during the few months we have developed it and we love the fans! The enthusiastic community in our blog and Facebook page is fantastic! We really appreciate your feedback and cheers. We are doing our best to create for you the dungeon crawler you have been waiting for all this years.
     
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  2. Peter Arcane

    Peter
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    Great job on the interview. Doesn't really go into too much stuff that we didn't know about, but then again, you made the interview for the readers of a magazine, not for us.

    Looking forward to this game more and more.

    :salute:
     
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  3. Excidium P. banal

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    P. cool. Thanks for posting it here. :thumbsup:
     
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  4. Satan Educated

    Satan
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    O.o
     
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  5. Excidium P. banal

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    I don't doubt it, they seem to be progressing p. fast. Guys are professionals.
     
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  6. jancobblepot Educated

    jancobblepot
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    But this is not Skyrim...
     
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  7. ortucis Prophet

    ortucis
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    Having never played this kind of RPG (maybe Ultima.. hated it though), this is the first time I actually want to play one of them. Mostly because of the graphics. :P
     
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  8. quasimodo Augur

    quasimodo
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    Because the world needs another FPP RT game.
     
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  9. Excidium P. banal

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    We're in no position to be picky. ;)
     
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  10. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    It is nothing like the regular Ultimas. It is more like Ultima Underworld, except UU was real 3D and single character.
     
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  11. ortucis Prophet

    ortucis
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    Yeah I don't even remember which Ultima I played but all I remember is being impressed by the top down visuals and exciting town (with horses and a gruesome murder) and then suddenly being thrown into a dungeon with shit visuals and FPS view. I quit. I wish it was all top-down..
     
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  12. 7hm Scholar

    7hm
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    Yeah, these real time blobbers are just all over the fucking place lately.

    Day 1 buy for me.
     
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  13. Crooked Bee (no longer) a wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    That's extremely good to hear! Otherwise the whole point of a real-time DM clone would be lost. I can only hope there will be a lot of traps.
     
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  14. Achilles Arcane

    Achilles
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    I will buy this because it seems like a quality dungeon crawler but... why can't we at least have a turn-based option :(
     
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  15. made Arcane

    made
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    Why indeed. Someone, preferably VoD, should conduct a true codexian interview with those guys, full of obligatory biting wit, and ask the really important questions such as "why isn't your Dungeon Master clone turn-based?" or "can I be a dragon?"
     
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  16. Shannow Waster of Time

    Shannow
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    Your post seeps bitterness. Considering that you are getting what you want (a RT blobber in the tradition of DM) and we aren't (a TB in the tradition of Wiz8) I find that very strange.

    Any info on whether LoG will have a demo?
     
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  17. made Arcane

    made
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    Does it? Not intentionally, I assure you.
     
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  18. Carlos' Bitch1 Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Carlos' Bitch1
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    Has it not crossed your mind that you sound quite similar to the people who always want TB games to be real time? You know, the idiots that used to whine and moan about 'why isn't Fallout real time?!?!'?

    This is a clone of a real time game. I am against all people that wish to change decent, turn based games into real time idiocy, and it has been done before, so many times. I won't be a spiteful hypocrite now and demand turn based combat in a game that has real time as its roots.

    This is not a Wizardry clone/genre game, it is a Dungeon Master clone/genre game. Two different subgenres altogether.
     
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  19. Shannow Waster of Time

    Shannow
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    No it hasn't. But then I'm not aware of any such people.

    Demand? Hypocrite? I've said before that I would have preferred DM to be TB. Stating my preferences is not demanding anything. Sticking to them with a DM-clone is the opposite of hypocrisy.

    And since those sub-genres are very close together a DM-clone could just as well ended up as a Wiz-clone, which I and obviously many others would have preferred.
    Made just convinced me that I failed my reading comprehension check with his post and now you come in with something that looks alot like butthurt again, though (one has to assume) you are getting what you want.

    Here some salve for your butt: I'll try a demo and if I like it despite being RT (I liked DM, too, after all) I'll buy it.
     
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  20. Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis

    Darth Roxor
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    Don't you dare say anything negative about any indie RPG, or Cpt Blackadder will instantly come to its rescue and use the powers of butthurt to smite you down.
     
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  21. PorkaMorka Arcane

    PorkaMorka
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    Because making a game turn based doesn't automatically make the combat fun, tactical or interesting. You have to design your combat system and encounters to do that. And designing your combat system and encounters to make turn based fun may well conflict with making a fun real time crawler.

    It probably makes sense to fight a single spider with few abilities in a narrow corridor in a real time crawler where you have to click for every single melee swing (assuming you're some kind of weirdo who likes doing that). But what the fuck would be the point in turn based? How is that encounter going to become tactical or engaging without massive modifications?

    Jesus man, combining real time with turn based is a good way to have both systems turn out shitty, especially if you didn't design it from the ground up that way.

    P.S. Not playing this shit.
     
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  22. Achilles Arcane

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    That's all understandable and Blackadder's point is also quite valid. The thing is, I am now 32 years old and my reflexes are not what they used to be. :(
     
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  23. quasimodo Augur

    quasimodo
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    I'm just grumpy cause I see a group of talented guys making a good looking indie game really fast and its going to be too much twitch for me.
     
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  24. ortucis Prophet

    ortucis
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    The power of awesome graphics.

    This game is getting so much attention in press (and see the comments on every post they make) compared to Frayed Knights. This pretty much answers the big question about graphics being important to most gamers or not.
     
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  25. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    To me it's the quality in artwork that is most dramatic. Frayed Knight looks almost as stupid as the average anime JRPG.
     
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