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Interview From beyond the moons of Saturn, something turn-based this way comes.

DarkUnderlord

Professional Throne Sitter
Staff Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2002
Messages
28,314
Tags: Dropship; Laidback Gaming; Michael Sean McCarthy

Remember Troika Games? You know, that small development studio founded by some former members of Interplay Entertainment which collapsed in financial ruin this past Christmas? Well, someone survived. Michael McCarthy, probably best described as an all-round art guy and part of the Troika team, got in touch with us recently and told us about something new he's planning. It's an RPG. An Action-RPG actually. With turn-based combat... and it's set in that good old 3/4 top-down "isometric" view. We've dubbed it Project T-BAR 3/4 and he's setup his own studio called Laid Back Gaming to get the game developed. We decided to ask Michael all about it.
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<a href="http://www.rpgcodex.com/content.php?id=130">So all right then, here are the questions...</a>
 

Llyranor

Liturgist
Joined
Jun 13, 2004
Messages
348
Erm, just in case he didn't know, you don't need to use Source to be on Steam. There are plenty of games on it right now made from different engines.

I've had a pretty positive experience with Steam. It should really help with publicity as well. For example, the Red Orchestra (a game currently on Steam) team was unable to find a publisher to finance their game, so they decided to do it out of pocket and release it on Steam. After all the publicity, a publisher suddenly shows up. Better yet, the team was able to turn a profit BEFORE THE GAME WAS EVEN RELEASED. The number of preorders they got was enough to make them happy fun fun fun (Steam likes to promote preordering by offering a 10% discount).
 

Volourn

Pretty Princess
Pretty Princess Glory to Ukraine
Joined
Mar 10, 2003
Messages
24,924
I hope he does well. The game he plans sound slike it has potential despite some pitfalls like a squad of 'robots"; but some good stuff like these robots have stress levels. Space games for the most part tunr me off; but I'll overlook that...

His insight into publisher-developer relationships is logical. I do tend to think he seems to wash over mistakes that Troika mad eby saying their games are 'complicated' and that's why they're 'buggy'.

I have been playing TOEE as of late. And, while character creation/character level up is coll (the only reasons the game is wortwhile) there's nothing complicated in the role-playing side. definitely less than many other CRPGs, that's for sure.

Still, a good TB RPG is always a good thing.
 

glasnost

Augur
Joined
Mar 14, 2006
Messages
202
Location
spurious messiah camp
Wow, someone who gets it and is worth cheering for. I hope things work out for him.

The only thing I don't like about online distribution is that it means I don't get any fancy maps and reading material to go with my games. This could become a total nonissue by simply mailing that kind of thing out to the people who want it (if the designers wanted to create something of that nature) for whatever fee (say postage) is needed. You wouldn't need to make an excess of them, the people who don't care won't be bothered, and the people who like to create/partake of 'feelies' are sated.

...and 'moons of saturn'. 'lethal vacuum', he's pressing the right imaginal buttons. Good news.
 
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glasnost said:
Wow, someone who gets it and is worth cheering for. I hope things work out for him.

The only thing I don't like about online distribution is that it means I don't get any fancy maps and reading material to go with my games. This could become a total nonissue by simply mailing that kind of thing out to the people who want it (if the designers wanted to create something of that nature) for whatever fee (say postage) is needed. You wouldn't need to make an excess of them, the people who don't care won't be bothered, and the people who like to create/partake of 'feelies' are sated.

...and 'moons of saturn'. 'lethal vacuum', he's pressing the right imaginal buttons. Good news.

I have to say I'm very sceptical of Steam and this is the sole reason why I didn't buy Half Life 2 yet.
On the other hand, damn it maybe online distribution is the only way how small developers will be able to sell niche games to smaller audiences now and in the future.

It still hurts my collectors side. I'm a game collector, and I love manuals, maps, well looking boxes and all the stuff they put into these games.
I love good manuals like this 200 pages thing from arcanum (if it only had an index :8) which give you background information about the game lore aswell as a detailed descritpion of game mechanics.

Hovewer, whom are we kidding? These times are definatly over. With small exceptions, todays manuals consinst of 15 pages booklets put in that shity dvd boxes. If you want a map of the game world you have to buy an overpriced special edition which these day come with extras that would have been standard a few years ago.

So in face of the actual situation, having no ugly dvd ammaray, no 15 b/w pages "manual" and no 30 pages coloured product catalog doesnt seem to be THAT a big loss for me.
 

Jason

chasing a bee
Joined
Jun 30, 2005
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baby arm fantasy island
This part gave me a big ol chubby:

I never really considered doing any other type of combat than turn-based. For me, there is far more tension in turn based games than in real time (unless you're playing with other humans). When your guy has 3 hit points left, and just enough action points left to take one last aimed shot at your wounded opponent, you are PRAYING it hits... hesitant to hit the button... you fire and miss and it's his turn.... You are PRAYING he misses.... He does by some miracle!! You fire back and kill him! HAHAHA Man, I'm getting tense just type this. Turn based isn't for everyone, but I betting there's plenty of people who read this and know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. Turn based combat is exceptional and I believe there is a great market there.

But all the Steam talk killed it. I really don't want that invasive shit on my computer. And I really do love printed manuals. But this project sounds so right.
 

Llyranor

Liturgist
Joined
Jun 13, 2004
Messages
348
Haha, I'm the complete opposite. I'd take Steam any day over sending money to morons like EA or Interplay.
 

Roqua

Prospernaut
Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual In My Safe Space
Joined
Apr 28, 2004
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YES!
Thats hands-down the best interview I've read, mainly due to I like what this guy says, he was very open to truthful talking without a bunch of hype, and he gave a lot of good inside information (with numbers even).
 

Zomg

Arbiter
Joined
Oct 21, 2005
Messages
6,984
I don't get people's problems with Steam. My problem with it, which no one else usually brings up, is that there's no method of transferring your license for a game to another Steam account, which means you can't resell without a huge pain in the ass. Given how difficult Steam can make piracy, it might actually allow a secondary market for PC games which currently is near-nonexistent. But it's not like I can resell PC games now with any efficiency.

Speaking of PC games, Steam might be the ace in the hole - Steam with no secondary market vs. the Gamestop used game secondary market bleed for console games, not to mention the enormous developer advantage.
 

Dhruin

Liturgist
Joined
Aug 15, 2003
Messages
758
Certainly interesting and I wish them luck. I didn't come away with much of a picture of the game itself, unfortunately.

On DU's editorial, STEAM is a partial answer for some indie developers, but all it really provides is a bigger marketing platform than selling through your own website -- but not as big as retail exposure. We also don't really know how successful STEAM is for a broad range of genres.

The real problem remains, as it always has, one of obtaining funding.
 

POOPERSCOOPER

Prophet
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
2,714
Location
California
Sounds cool.


I like Steam type online distributions, its hella of a lot easier to download the game instead of going to the mall of faggot paradise. Just fucking wait for the patch to finish for christs sakes u little bitch.
 

Slylandro

Scholar
Joined
Nov 27, 2005
Messages
705
Zomg said:
I don't get people's problems with Steam. My problem with it, which no one else usually brings up, is that there's no method of transferring your license for a game to another Steam account, which means you can't resell without a huge pain in the ass. Given how difficult Steam can make piracy, it might actually allow a secondary market for PC games which currently is near-nonexistent. But it's not like I can resell PC games now with any efficiency.

Well if it's a good game, you probably wouldn't resell it anyway. If it isn't good, you (presumably) wouldn't even bother buying it in the first place.
 

fizzelopeguss

Arcane
Joined
Oct 1, 2004
Messages
752
Location
Equality Street.
Meh, i've had no problems with steam, hell sometimes i just load it up and download HL\HL2 etc for a quick blast, more convenient than searching around the house for the old disks.
 
Self-Ejected

dojoteef

Self-Ejected
Joined
Oct 26, 2004
Messages
970
Hey Michael, where's your studio located? I'd love to intern for you. I'm currently a grad student at the Guildhall@SMU learning game programming and I'm looking for a studio to intern with for the summer.

Alright enough of the shameless plug. Another Troika-like turn-based RPG is great news.
 

LlamaGod

Cipher
Joined
Oct 21, 2004
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Yes
Steam bugs me because I dont remember the secret answer to my account and it's locked all my cd-keys on that account.

It's irritating.
 

Section8

Cipher
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Oct 23, 2002
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Location
Wardenclyffe
Fucking awesome. I really wish Michael and his crew all the best, because just about everything he said, from the "making games we enjoy" and "turn-based is filled with tension" to "3/4 view leaves room for imagination and doesn't place unreasonable demands on art assets," really resonated with me.

I don't really have a clear idea of the game itself yet, but it's pushing all the right buttons for me.

--

Oh, and good work with the series of interviews you guys have got together this year. It's been some good reading.
 

roguefrog

Liturgist
Joined
Aug 6, 2003
Messages
527
Location
Tokyo, Japan
Sounds promising. I'm pro-steam for the most part. Never had a real problem with it, although I wish I didn't have to run it just to play a game that is offline.
 

Jon

Scholar
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
105
Sounds very promising. Turn based and isometric are much underused words in the game dev world.

Another excellent interview as well. I am curious as to how big a team Michael hopes to assemble/ the expected cost of development. I don't mind Steam per se but if every developer decided to ditch their publisher and use their own equivalent I would be less happy.
 

Ryuken

Liturgist
Joined
Feb 28, 2005
Messages
606
Location
Belgium
baby arm said:
But all the Steam talk killed it. I really don't want that invasive shit on my computer. And I really do love printed manuals. But this project sounds so right.
Aye, not to mention that people without a CC are left behind (maybe not too much of an issue in the States but in Europe credit cards aren't standard everywhere nor do many people even want to use them).

Concept of the game definitely sounds cool though. Neat interview.
 

Bobbin

Novice
Joined
May 29, 2004
Messages
22
Llyranor said:
Erm, just in case he didn't know, you don't need to use Source to be on Steam. There are plenty of games on it right now made from different engines.

As he said, only when you Source you get 100% of the revenues which sounds pretty nice for a developer. You get a state-of-the-art engine and all the money. This one interview really made me change my mind about Steam, although I'll miss my boxed copies.

This is what I would prefer: The possibility to burn the game assets to a DVD (maybe encrypted so they can only be used via Steam) and an online shop where you can order a box and a manual for 10$. I could live with that.
 

mathboy

Liturgist
Joined
Feb 21, 2004
Messages
666
WOW!

I almost cried when I read that. Twice.

First when he talked about dedicating it to Tim Leonard and Jason, because it reminded me of a dream I had a couple of weeks back in which Troika was still alive and I met them at some gaming show. I don't think it involved sex, but you never now.

Then again when he mentioned that with Steam, Troika might have been alive, because then I realized that they were really dead. :(

They're faces never look quite right to me.
:(

And it was funny that saint_proverbius has been playing communist games.
 

Nightjed

Liturgist
Joined
Jan 27, 2004
Messages
675
Location
Wasteland
i hate steam, the only way im going to buy a steam game is if they release a patch once they decide to release support for the game so that i can install and play the game independently from steam, i bought the damn game and i want to be able to play it long after steam dies (as it will in a few years, no question about it) without asking anyone for permission

i understand the whole problem with publishers and fully support any attempt to bypass them but i really dont like the idea that once i bought the game i still have to ask a third party "can i play the game?" each time i fire it up, specially when the third party can and probably will go bankrupt/lose interest in the game/whatever preventing me of using my stuff.
 

FrancoTAU

Cipher
Joined
Oct 21, 2005
Messages
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Location
Brooklyn, NY
Holy Shit is that great news. I've never personally used Steam so I don't know how much of a pain in the ass it is. If it results in more niche games being made that are falling through the big publisher's cracks than it certainly can't be that bad. Hopefully they do offer some hard copies that you can purchase directly from them for the collectors and the anti-Steam users.
 

Gwendo

Augur
Joined
Aug 22, 2004
Messages
989
So why choose Steam? I have chosen Steam because if you buy Valves engine to make your game with, you get to keep 100% of what you sell on Steam. That's right 100%.

So, Steam/Valve won't charge a dime to host and distribute the game? Bandwidth costs money.
Or they just ask an unique fee?
 

denizsi

Arcane
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
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Location
bosphorus
I hope he does well. The game he plans sound slike it has potential despite some pitfalls like a squad of 'robots"; but some good stuff like these robots have stress levels.

From the interview:

NOW... having said that... your team is human

No squad of robots is ever mentioned.
 

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