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Codex Interview Restricted Area interview

Saint_Proverbius

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Tags: Jan Beuck; Master Creating; Restricted Area

Our interview with Jan Beuck of master creating about their upcoming cyberpunkish action CRPG, Restricted Area.


2.) Can you tell us a little bit about why you picked a Sci-Fi setting? What type of Sci-Fi are we going to be seeing in this game?

The scenario can be described as dark future, comparable to movies like "Bladerunner" and "Matrix". We choose this, because their have been so many fantasy games in the past that it has become boring to play always the same characters and kill always the same monsters for always the same treasures

We want something new. We are also fans of the dark future pen-and-paper RPGs "Shadowrun" and "Cyberpunk", and they have great influence on Restricted Area.​

Mmm.. Dark future!
 

Vault Dweller

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The Good:
...dark future...something new..."Shadowrun" and "Cyberpunk", and they have great influence on Restricted Area.

...there are no useless or nearly identical skills - we tried to find the perfect number of skills, not the highest

....There will be Cyberspace, a projection of networks....all forms of enemies (including) computer programs

The Bad:

It´s "action" as you will fights most of the time you play

it is theoretically possible to learn all 30 skills at level 10 with a single character

The archer in Diablo worked well ....In RA, however, you have a machine gun...

The Ugly:

There is more story than "go there and kill everybody"....there won't be as much text as in games like...Neverwinter Nights

oh-oh. When people say more story then "go and kill everybody" it usually means "the evil rising again. bad, bad evil. now go and kill everybody". I hope to be mistaken but how come there is no indication of what the hell the game is about (besides killing all types of monsters in efficient and creative ways).

It´s a "CRPG", as you play real characters with edges and flaws.....you develop the character into a direction of your choice while playing by choosing the equipment, skills and implants: Concentrate on fast John Woo stunts with two pistols or become a slow tank with a plasma gun

Well, dude, last time I checked the role-playing was not about playing a "real character with flaws" and I like to make decisions that go beyong what equipment or implants I pick.

Overview:

Overall the game sounds cool, unfortunately, for no other reason that it's a sci-fi game. It's obviously a D2 clone, not that anything wrong with it, although

Saint_Proverbius said:
I can't really name a Diablo clone that's sold really well. Most of them tank and tank badly
 

Saint_Proverbius

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I think the main interest for me in this game will be the hacking part of it. Killing is fine and all, but I really want something more. If I have a drone that kills things so I don't have to kill them, and can concentrate on other things, all the better.

The idea of thwarting security and sending in my mad robot killer to finish off the rest of the guards sounds pretty nifty. If the drone can be fully automated to where I just give it the occational order and don't have to control it.. All the better.

But yeah, most Diablo clones DO tank. I can't name one Diablo clone that's been successful, unless you want to call NWN one. Even calling something a Diablo clone seems to be a death warrent.
 

Jan

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Hi guys!

Well, I was really anxious to read your comments. The good: You don´t hate it. :wink:

I hope you don´t really think it´s "just another Diablo clone". These - well, "games" really damaged the face of crpgs in general. Believe me, I played them all, and 90% are so ugly that you really have to force yourself to play on even if you paid 40$ for it 15 minutes ago. And they haven´t been very succesful - it would be stupid to jump on this broken train. However, there have been succesful ones - Dungeon Siege for example. The 3D perspective can´t spoof over the very simple gameplay - Diablo 2 has much more of an RPG. However, like Dungeon Siege and Neverwinter Nights, Restricted Area has been under development long before (since summer 1999) Diablo 2 hit the shelves (summer 2000) and became a bestseller. Well, I guess it´s impossible to create an isometric RPG nowadays without being compared with Diablo 2 (that´s why we already did it ourselves before someone else does it) - but that´s ok. Of course there´s influence from Diablo, but only in minor ways (for example the controls) - the important thing is that it´s not the reason we develop RA, and that we don´t want to become the "new Diablo" or something.

Anyway, it was interesting to read your comments., and maybe they will have some impact on the game - at least it´s for you, not for me :wink:
 

Saint_Proverbius

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I'm not so sure Dungeon Siege would be considered a success though. It may have sold well initially, but that's a rather weak view of success. From the comments I've read about it, many people enjoyed it for a few days, then the shallow gameplay nailed them and then they stopped playing it. Now, marketting people may not care about that, since it made money. However, you're talking about a license that probably won't make it if they decided to make a commercial expansion or sequel, since many people didn't like what they got.

Honestly, though, I'm not sure why Dungeon Siege is compared to Diablo anyway, since it's more like the Infinity Engine with scripts than it is Diablo 2.

As for Restricted Area, I wouldn't be inclined to go for less dialogue, honestly. I'd shoot for more dialogue and give the player a choice about it. After all, most of the complaints of Divine Divinity was that it was too combat focused with little outlet for much else. Go for dialogue options, hype that, and follow through on it. Say that you'll allow the player to be verbal if they want, but they can just get their hands dirty with combat if they so choose to do that.
 

Jan

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RE

To name it: Dungeon Siege is not good at all. I think the best thing you can do with it is to use it as benchmark (some magazines do). I had high expections when I bought it, but I didn´t play very far until I was totally bored. However, it´s not nice to talk bad about others, so I won´t publish my personal "1000 things that make Diablo 2 better than Dungeon Siege" here - send me an e-mail if you are interested in it :wink:

BTW: There WILL be dialoge in RA (spoken and with multiple choices!). The only thing we don´t want is that you HAVE to talk all the time and to everybody, as a lot of people think that this is really annoying.
 

Vault Dweller

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Re: RE

Hello Jan,

I guess I was too quick to judge RA based on some questions-answers in the interview. What you said makes a lot of sense, D2 was a very well done game, while DS was an empty excuse to flash 3d graphics. In my opinion, the majoruty of D2 clones failed because they were trying to replicate the simplicity of the gameplay without understanding the complexity behind it.

the important thing is that it´s not the reason we develop RA, and that we don´t want to become the "new Diablo" or something.

Wish you luck then. I will be looking forward to play that archer of yours with a machine gun :wink:
 

Jan

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In my opinion, the majoruty of D2 clones failed because they were trying to replicate the simplicity of the gameplay without understanding the complexity behind it.

I think you are 100% right with this :D

Most are like Diablo 2 would be without skills, generated levels, generated items, storyline (which isn´t great in Diablo, but it´s okay), variety, details and style.

BTW: There´s also a close combat guy, which was introduced as "matrial arts specialist". Most seem to think it´s some kind of Kung Fu Bruce Lee (which in my opinion wouldn´t fit the scenario in any way). Instead he´s a Japanese ex-Yakuza which is inspired by John Woo films and movies like "Crying Freeman". He has tatoos all over his body and can use - for example - either Cyberclaws, a Katana or two pistols (or a shotgun, or...).
 

Saint_Proverbius

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Re: RE

Jan said:
To name it: Dungeon Siege is not good at all. I think the best thing you can do with it is to use it as benchmark (some magazines do). I had high expections when I bought it, but I didn´t play very far until I was totally bored. However, it´s not nice to talk bad about others, so I won´t publish my personal "1000 things that make Diablo 2 better than Dungeon Siege" here - send me an e-mail if you are interested in it :wink:

I'll save that for an interview question.. heh heh

I think it's rather obvious what makes Diablo 2 better. Diablo 2 is interactive and Dungeon Siege isn't. Of course, beyond that, Diablo 2 actually allows choices in character development, and Dungeon Siege doesn't.

BTW: There WILL be dialoge in RA (spoken and with multiple choices!). The only thing we don´t want is that you HAVE to talk all the time and to everybody, as a lot of people think that this is really annoying.

Well, I mean dialogue that's affected by character abilities and character actions. Divine Divinity started to add that, but it was a waste of a skill because combat was used way, way, way too much in that game.

Lionheart is supposed to have speech skill, charisma, and outlets for players to weasel their way out of things, but we'll see how well that works in the action CRPG genre.
 

Jan

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Skills

There are social skills in RA (mainly in the Misc skilltree which can be accessed by all characters), for example negotation, but to be honest not very much. In an action-RPG it´s hard - if not impossible - to make a skill like "speech" not a waste of skill points. Also, I like to decide for my character what he says, as I am part of my character - otherwise I would look a movie (no, I´m not talking about DS here :roll: ). I know answers can get unrealistic clever if you play a giant with intelligence 1, but I try to decide myself what´s reasonable. In the end, not everything which works well in pen-and-paper RPGs works good in CRPGs. One of our main design goals is to have a very high complexity, but don´t bother the player with it. A good example is our damage model: We developed a model that is based on FBI reports and the statistics of ballistic institutes. There are several factors that result in the chance to hit something:

-The weapon’s aiming accuracy
-Your character’s aiming accuracy
-The reflexes of your enemy
-The distance to the target
-The lighting conditions
-The weather conditions
-The movement speed of the target
-The height difference

If a character is hit, the impact area of the projectile is calculated so that damage can be distributed onto specific parts of the body. Therefore each character is divided into six body part areas with different chances to get hit, depending on their size:

Head (10%)
Torso (30%)
Right Arm (10%)
Left Arm (10%)
Right Leg (20%)
Left Leg (20%)

Hit points which are responsible for living or dying are independent of these areas (except that head shots deal two times their damage), but it affects which part of your internal equipment (cyberware and bioware) becomes damaged. We also differ between several types of damage, for example ballistic and impact. While impact damage deals more damage to bioware and less to cyberware, ballistic damage deals more damage to cyberware and less to bioware.

This is just a brief overview - detail is everything for us (for example shotguns have real choke).

However, if you don´t care about this you can just click at your enemies until they (or you) die. BUT if you want to take care about it, you can take advantage of these factors like attacking from higher points or running throu shadows when someone is shooting on you.
 

Vault Dweller

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Jan said:
There´s also a close combat guy, which was introduced as "matrial arts specialist"... and can use ... a Katana or two pistols (or a shotgun, or...).

Hmm, does not sound too bad. A martial artist with a shotgun. Now that's what I call a fresh twist :wink:

BUT if you want to take care about it, you can take advantage of these factors like attacking from higher points or running throu shadows when someone is shooting on you.

Hmm, sounds even better. I always wanted to play a play a character who can actually take advantage of situation, surroundings, etc.

When did you say it's gonna be released?
 

Jan

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Release date

Offically Q4 2003, but we hope to get it released in early autumn. However, it´s really tricky to guess the time we need for testing and balancing etc. If I wouldn´t know I´m wrong, I would say it can be done in less than 4 months - but the past shows that developers are always wrong about release dates :cry: .
 

Saint_Proverbius

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Re: Skills

Jan said:
There are social skills in RA (mainly in the Misc skilltree which can be accessed by all characters), for example negotation, but to be honest not very much. In an action-RPG it´s hard - if not impossible - to make a skill like "speech" not a waste of skill points.

Well, that depends on how things are scripted really. Basically, what I'd like to see are many, many options, especially for those old timers like me who have shot reflexes, pardon the pun. :)

Having diplomatic options in an Action CRPG are a damned fine way of doing this while still providing an interactive route as opposed to forcing automation in to the combat system.

Also, I like to decide for my character what he says, as I am part of my character - otherwise I would look a movie (no, I´m not talking about DS here :roll: ). I know answers can get unrealistic clever if you play a giant with intelligence 1, but I try to decide myself what´s reasonable. In the end, not everything which works well in pen-and-paper RPGs works good in CRPGs.

This is actually one area where CRPGs can actually top PnP RPGing. A CRPG can effectively limit a player to what his intelligence is via dumb dialogue. Since that character has a totally different dialogue tree, the designer can put a cap on how intelligent he is in the rest of the game. After all, if you have such a low intelligence, no one will give you a mission or quest to discover the cure for cancer. They'll most likely talk you in to getting cancer and being a lab rat for the guy who can discover the cure.

One of our main design goals is to have a very high complexity, but don´t bother the player with it. A good example is our damage model: We developed a model that is based on FBI reports and the statistics of ballistic institutes. There are several factors that result in the chance to hit something:

That sounds a lot like Fallout's system, minus the height thing.

If a character is hit, the impact area of the projectile is calculated so that damage can be distributed onto specific parts of the body. Therefore each character is divided into six body part areas with different chances to get hit, depending on their size:

With turn based, you could have aiming. ;)

Hit points which are responsible for living or dying are independent of these areas (except that head shots deal two times their damage), but it affects which part of your internal equipment (cyberware and bioware) becomes damaged. We also differ between several types of damage, for example ballistic and impact. While impact damage deals more damage to bioware and less to cyberware, ballistic damage deals more damage to cyberware and less to bioware.

So, basically, it's like BattleTech and MechWarrior? Sweet!

However, if you don´t care about this you can just click at your enemies until they (or you) die. BUT if you want to take care about it, you can take advantage of these factors like attacking from higher points or running throu shadows when someone is shooting on you.

Click and hold beats having to constantly click. Please tell me you mean click and hold. :)
 

Markman

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Serpent in the Staglands Codex USB, 2014 Shadorwun: Hong Kong
Here's a short question. :)
I see in the game there is gonna be lots of guns(ranged combat),so will the player be able to move while shooting?
 

ArcturusXIV

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Will there be an option to pause combat and issue orders like the system used in Baldur's Gate? *prays for a yes* This RPG definitely looks cool--it's on my "buy" list as long as the interface is done well. That's the main issue that seems to hold back many games from the success they deserve. Case in point: Gothic.
 

Jan

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RE

@Markman
Currently not. We thought about it, but it would make controls very difficult for the player. Going somewhere and shooting an enemy is on the same mouse button (like - for example - in Diablo 2) so it´s not possible.

@ArcturusXIV
You can pause at any time to spend learn points, organize your inventory, change your equipment or use health packs but as we have realtime action combat and you have to fight yourself you can´t give your character any orders - only your fellows (if you have them).

However, we are constantly working on controls and interface in general so there may be changes to the current state. We even think about keyboard controls for players that prefer this very direct method (I guess only a few but I think it would be interesting 8) ). Well, this feature maybe more interesting for the action fans, not for the strikt RPG players :wink:
 

ArcturusXIV

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Thanks for the quick reply. I just thought of a few new questions I would like to ask:

1) Are there any parts or features in the world which will be handcrafted besides the tilesets?

2) How will you ensure that the world has the intimate feel of a handcrafted area? Diablo did this with static quest areas such as the Chamber of Bone...but since your quests are randomly generated, you seem to have a much different take on this aspect of the game. Also, how will you add visual variety to the world's scenery so the whole quest doesn't feel like one gigantic romp through an industrial complex?

3) Will any of the biomods/implants add any special abilities such as spells/skills to the player character?

4) Will equipment be randomly generated in the manner of Diablo? Will there be "unique items" in the game?

5) How diverse are the random quests? Are they all of the "Fed Ex" variety, or do you have a method of making them interesting and unique?

6) Last question. Roughly how long will it take to completely explore an area? Will it be a short adventure for each new area such as in the original Unreal, or will it takes days on end to explore an area such as in Daggerfall? Is there any standardized size for the levels, or is level size also random?

Also, I would be interested in hearing which games have had the most influence on your design besides Diablo II and Deus Ex (obviously...). Have your team members worked on any games that I would know before they came together to work on this project?

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I appreciate the quick response, once again. Good luck with your game....currently it's topping my "to buy" list. I've been looking for a game with random generation like Diablo but with more complexity and emergent behavior like Deus Ex for quite some time. I hope everything works out and the game gets released soon. I'm slavering over the chance to play...
 

Jan

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RE

Huh, enough questions for an entire interview... :wink:

>1) Are there any parts or features in the world which will be handcrafted besides the >tilesets?

Yes, for example the downtown part of the city where you start a new life is entirely build with a map editor. There are also scripted events - some are "small" (like in Halflife) others nearly have the character of in-game cutscenes. I´m not sure in which way features can´t be handcrafted - maybe you can explain this a little?

>2) How will you ensure that the world has the intimate feel of a handcrafted area? >Diablo did this with static quest areas such as the Chamber of Bone...but since your >quests are randomly generated, you seem to have a much different take on this aspect >of the game. Also, how will you add visual variety to the world's scenery so the whole >quest doesn't feel like one gigantic romp through an industrial complex?

A very important point. The missions of the main storyline are more or less fixed as otherwise there couldn´t be a real storyline, but subquest are independent and can therefore be like they want. The parameters for one and the same main story mission are always the same, for example "it´s easy, the buidling is a large underground shelter, the quest objective is a prototype of a new plasma rifle". However, the game interprets this parameters always different - easy can mean a few strong enemies or a lot of weak ones, large can mean 3 large floors or 8 small ones and so on.

As it wouldn´t be very interesting to run always though more or less the same buildings the areas are very different. Some look like industrial buildings, others more like space stations, secret labs or neo-gothic with statues ("Quake 3"-style) etc. - and all areas have different special effects.

Of course it´s not easy, but otherwise it would be boring to create it :wink:

>3) Will any of the biomods/implants add any special abilities such as spells/skills to the >player character?

Yes, for example we have implantats called "Skillwire" which, if activated, override your own abilities in a certain skill. So if the "tinned" skill is better than your real skill it´s a good choice.

>4) Will equipment be randomly generated in the manner of Diablo? Will there be "unique >items" in the game?

Yes and yes. We call these unique items "protoytypes" and so most are very effective but some have also flaws. However, it´s fun to have red plasmaballs when all others have blue ones...

>5) How diverse are the random quests? Are they all of the "Fed Ex" variety, or do you >have a method of making them interesting and unique?

There are several sorts of quests but even I don´t know how diverse it will feel in the end. I guess it´s better to say this that to promise anything I really can´t be sure of yet. However, I am pretty sure that we will find a way to make them always interesting...

>6) Last question. Roughly how long will it take to completely explore an area? Will it be >a short adventure for each new area such as in the original Unreal, or will it takes days >on end to explore an area such as in Daggerfall? Is there any standardized size for the >levels, or is level size also random?

As I mentioned before the level size is also random - between certain limits of course. To be true I have no idea how long it will really take to explore one area, but if I shall guess I would say between 15 minutes and 2 hours - not days.

>Also, I would be interested in hearing which games have had the most influence on >your design besides Diablo II and Deus Ex (obviously...). Have your team members >worked on any games that I would know before they came together to work on this >project?

In fact I played not even though the first mission of Deus Ex although I like the concept of the game very much - the reason is I don´t like sneaky tactic shooters. :oops:

Most influence didn´t came from other PC Games, but from movies like Matrix and Bladerunner as well as pen-and-paper RPGs like Shadowrun and Cyberpunk. Howeverm technical Influence came from a very interesting source - I admire id software´s games for their graphical tricks, so even Quake 3 had some impact.

Our core team works together since 13 years which results in large experience and a good understanding of each other. However, in the past we worked as distributors, developed budget- and shareware games and most recently game technology for other developers so I guess there isn´t anything you might now. If you really want to go for an arcade shareware game check out 'Krakout Unlimited 2' (www.krakout.com). It already has random levels, but I guess that´s the only thing it has in common with RA... :wink: [/quote]
 

ArcturusXIV

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Once again, thanks for the quick reply.

I appreciate the feedback, and I am looking forward to the game. Yes, I almost have a complete interview for you there. Sorry, I meant to only ask a couple questions but I got carried away.

One quick suggestion--as you build the game, try to pay attention to the Z-Axis. Many isometric games neglect aspects of height. However, a game can be much more interesting if you can climb stairs and snipe people from above, etc. Being able to move north, south, east, and west is nice. However, adding the ability to move up and down REALLY contributes something to the game experience.

From what I've heard so far, the game sounds great. Once again, congratulations--you've made the top of my "buy" list for this year.
 

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