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Codex Interview RPG Codex Interview: Blackguards 2

Crooked Bee

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Tags: Blackguards 2; Daedalic Entertainment; Kai Fiebig

As you may recall, we quite enjoyed Daedalic's tactical RPG Blackguards. Its unique combat design and difficulty have already earned it a prominent place among this year's released or to-be-released oldschool RPGs (which also include Might and Magic X, Divinity: Original Sin, Wasteland 2 and Pillars of Eternity). Next year is promising to be interesting too, and not only thanks to Torment: Tides of Numenera's release, but also because Daedalic has recently announced a sequel to Blackguards, Blackguards 2, to come out in 2015 as well.

For this interview, we reached out to Kai Fiebig, producer on Blackguards and Blackguards 2. Have a snippet:

Could you talk a bit about the inspirations behind the first game, and how they have changed (if they have) for the sequel? One of our reviewers compared Blackguards to "a European version of Final Fantasy Tactics" - to what extent was that one of your inspirations, and to what extent do you intend to keep your inspirations the same for Blackguards 2?

My personal inspiration for Blackguards was mainly good old pen & paper combat, with the ambition to put as much of the diversity of tactical options and creative use of the environment pen & paper combat can offer into a video game.

Ideally, every single battle fought should tell a small story in itself, with the player „writing“ the part of his heroes. The game presents only the challenges and a huge variety of abilities, spells and environmental interactions the player can choose from, combine and improvise with, to overcome those challenges.

This ideal remains an ideal, as video games cannot accomplish the same level of interactivity as pen & paper games. But getting as close as possible is a great motor for making these kind of games.​

The press release talks about "faction-based" gameplay and the need to conquer lands and defend them. It sounds like a big change from the first game. Could you elaborate on how that is going to work, exactly? Is Blackguards 2 going to be more open-ended, or do you prefer to continue focusing on tactical turn-based battles at the expense of non-linearity?

Yes, in Blackguards 2 the goal is to conquer a small province in the south of Aventuria. We are not operating on a military scale with huge armies, though; more like clans or war bands. The main goal is to capture the capital of the province. How many and what kind of fortifications, cities or other strategic points the player conquers before attacking the capital is all up to them. Every conquered point on the map gives the player certain bonuses, so it's a good idea to choose a route that grants bonuses matching the personal play-style and preferred tactics. Once the walls of the capital have been breached, there are multiple endings with different outcomes for each of the heroes, depending on player's choices.​

The press release also mentions some "revisions and simplifications" to the RPG system. Understandably, many of our readers (who were quite happy with the first game) are worried that you might remove complexity instead of adding or iterating on it. Could you go into some detail on the "simplification" part?

Like already mentioned above - we have absolutely zero intentions to lower the level of complexity. We love complex turn based combat. We are just going to simplify the character sheet so players know which knobs to turn to improve in which discipline of combat.

In fact, we even increase the complexity a bit by introducing Stamina, which basically works like Astral Points, only for warriors and their special abilities. There will be attacks and spells that drain Stamina, and of course Special Abilities that increase the Stamina regeneration.​

Although Blackguards was about scoundrels and anti-heroes, the storyline was quite heroic and featured some pretty altruistic moments. What are your own thoughts on the original game's balance between the heroic and the non-heroic stuff? How dark of a journey can we expect this time?

Blackguards 2 will be darker. And the player will be presented with some really fucked up moral choices.​​

Read the full interview: RPG Codex Interview: Blackguards 2
 

Niektory

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Very interesting. Blackguards + Jagged Alliance 2 = HEAVAN?

You forgot one important question though: Will there be an option to speed up animations?
Seriously, I think it's the biggest flaw of the first game.
I timed how much enemy movement took in a turn in one particularly annoying battle. 80 seconds. This should be illegal.
 

Grunker

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Looking goooood.

character development turned out to be unnecessarily complicated in some parts.

fuuuuuuuuuuucking hell

Character development was actually pretty simple in Blackguards. If they simplify it even more, wtf will be left?

The focus on tactical combat was an early design decision, and I still think it's a good one. [...] The story supports the combat scenarios, not the other way around.

:salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute:

One lesson we learned is that freedom has its price. To give players a whole bunch of options is a nice idea and they will get some more of them in Blackguards 2. But to present this within the game in a way everyone will notice is a whole different story. So we will keep an eye on this as well.

If what they're trying to say with "less complexity" is actually "more complex but with better documentation" then FUCK YEAH MOTHER MY BODY IS READY :bounce: :yeah:

Are you going to have more places that the player can infiltrate non-violently, like the Goblin Tower or using Aurelia to enter a certain gate without a fight in the original game?

No. Blackguards 2 sucks as an educational game. Just as in the first part, battles and therefore violence are the key. You won’t be able to solve the battle maps without using violence of one sort or another.

:thumbsup:

They know what works, and they stick to it. Approve.

we have absolutely zero intensions to lower the level of complexity. We love complex turn based combat. We are just going to simplify the character sheetWe are just going to simplify the character sheet so players know which knobs to turn to improve in which discipline of combat.

So that was what they meant. AWESOME.

We hope with the changes to the character sheets and leveling systems we won't need as much explanation text as in the first part

WAT-Bulb.jpg


First game had almost no documentation. They're going to implement less? I am confuse.

Blackguards 2 will be darker. And the player will be presented some really fucked up moral choices.

Sounds good.


i c wut u did thar

Hell yeah! The same core team of level designers is working on Blackguards 2, and we became more experienced and more insane. In Blackguards 2, simple 'kill all enemies' battle scenarios will be the exception.

:fuyeah:

All in all, interview left me with 50% wat and 50% awesooooooooooooomecan'twait.
 
Last edited:

Infinitron

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First game had almost no documentation. They're going to implement less? I am confuse.

It had a huge wall of text written by felipepepe. They probably don't want to have something like that again.
 

Infinitron

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Only because they wrote nearly nothing themselves. Like, almost none at all.

Nevertheless, it was documentation. Also...

Character development was actually pretty simple in Blackguards.

I'm not sure that's an assessment most people would agree with.
 

Crooked Bee

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My take on this, is that they want to make it intuitive enough that people don't need additiona/external documentation. We'll see about this tho.
 

Crooked Bee

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Any system worth its salt needs documentation, IMO.

Well, obviously, but by "intuitive" I mean that it would tell you in-game how it all works, and won't need anything more. That's the way I understand their goal, tho' certainly I'm not saying it's as easy as they make it sound.
 

imweasel

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They aren't planning on dumbing the game down. Sounds good to me.

Still a day one respectively early access buy for me. :)
 

felipepepe

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It had a huge wall of text written by felipepepe. They probably don't want to have something like that again.
Take that wall of text and divide it into tooltips... you'll see it was extremely short, an that most of it was explaining things that could be easily shown otherwise.

I.e., I had to make a table for encumbrance effects entirely by piling up armor and checking the effects, because the game gave you no feedback at all of what it did, just showed "Encumbrance 1" at your inventory screen. If you could simply mouse-over it and see "At Enc 1 you lose 1 Attack, Initiative and Dodge Value", it would reduce like 1/6 of the wall of text I wrote.

Yeah, I agree that listing "At Encumbrance 4 you get -2 Attack Value, -2 Parry Value, -4 Dodge Value, -4 Ranged Combat and -4 Initiative" is a pain, but they should have used icons then.
 

Castanova

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I wanted to like this game but the battle gimmicks got the best of me. It almost felt like the RPG aspect was of secondary importance to the battle outcomes.
 

Niektory

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I wanted to like this game but the battle gimmicks got the best of me. It almost felt like the RPG aspect was of secondary importance to the battle outcomes.
It might feel that way in some early battles, but later on you need to make good use of the RPG system or you won't survive. On the hard difficulty at least. Gimmicks won't save you. In fact, they often work against you, and you need to overcome them with character skills.
 

Doctor Sbaitso

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Not too excited about upping the puzzle aspects in encounter design, or about their belief that they don't need feedback in combat. They are going to repeat their mistakes there.
 

thesheeep

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I must say I haven't played Blackguards 1 so far (yeah, I know, don't worry, it's on my list), but if they did the full DSA ruleset, then the character development was not simple if you are not very experienced with PnP rulesets in general.
 

34scell

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I'd like to see an RPG with large scale battles resolved abstractly on a strategic layer, with the player fighting small scale tactical battles just to push the larger battle in their favour, rather than a handful of characters representing an entire army like in most games.
 

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Thanks for the interview, it's really good and interesting to read.

I have some mixed feelings tho, I don't like everything they said but well. Also I'm still curious how this simplified character sheet will turn out, I personally didn't think Blackguards was overly complicated.
 

Darth Roxor

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I like that their principles seem to be "let's do more of the same".

Conquering shit and getting benefits from taken areas sounds coolio, though. As well as adding stamina and overwatch.

Lasca was inspired by our creative lead Florian's mother, unfortunately we didn't accomplish to make him exactly as badass as her.

urmom's so crazy she's a rolemodel for psychotic bailiffs
 

ColCol

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Blackguards needs to be simplified, don't you want to see them capture that elusive casual audience?
 

Doctor Sbaitso

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Who said anything about feedback

During the beta, you received some criticism from our users because the game lacked proper documentation and textual feedback on what was happening "under the hood". Eventually, you included Felipepepe's fan-made guide as part of the game, but are you going to improve on that aspect in the sequel? Would you consider adding something like Temple of Elemental Evil's combat feedback, or a contextual "Player's Handbook" like the one in Knights of the Chalice?

We hope with the changes to the character sheets and leveling systems we won't need as much explanation text as in the first part. Also the first three levels of the game will be tutorial levels but in a different way than in BG1.
 

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