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Q&A: Blood and Snow, a New Open-World RPG (Part One)

Cat | 145d ago
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As a teaser to this July's Month of Indies at N4G ( http://n4g.com/user/blogpos... ) we're taking a look at a new indie, Shadowforge, and their launch title, Blood and Snow. If you haven't already, you might want to check out the first feature where Ryan Lamb talks about the studio, game, and crowdfunding: http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...

An open-world fantasy RPG with real-time combat, Blood and Snow currently has a Kickstarter in its final days. I'm a bit taken with the game and want to share with you guys more details about Blood and Snow and its development.

The KS: https://www.kickstarter.com...

Each of the featured 31 Indies of July will answer a Mini Q&A, and to give you a peek at what that will look like here's Ryan Lamb, Programmer, on Blood and Snow:

1. Why do you make games?

Ryan Lamb: Games to us are the highest form of entertainment.  There's so much potential in games to create amazing art, music, story and to share ideas and thoughts in a way that the player feels like they are discovering something for themselves instead of being spoon fed.  It's a very powerful medium and we want to tell our stories. 

2. Why should people play Blood and Snow?

RL: People should play Blood and Snow because it tells an epic story and allows players to create their own stories and legends along with what we have written out.  The combat is unique, the level of customization is amazing and the crafting is being taken to a place that hasn't been seen in games before.

3. What element of game design do you hold above all others?

RL: The most important element of game design from our perspective at Shadowforge is immersion.  To us that's more than just good sound and visuals (although those things are very important) it's also about making the player feel like they aren't just watching something but experiencing something.  Especially in this game, we want players to put themselves in the shoes of the avatars they create and contemplate humanity as they play. 

___________________________
In addition to the Mini Q&A's, most developers are subjecting themselves to full-length interviews. Ryan dutifully complied, and what follows is Part One:

Cat: The title, "Blood and Snow", makes me think of Game of Thrones - coincidence or influence?

RL: Well, it definitely wasn't a conscious decision that the title reminds people of Game of Thrones (you aren't the first to say that lol) but all of our team are huge and long-time fans of the books and show, so it’s entirely possible that there is some influence.  Our writer definitely writes with a similar sensitivity to the grey areas and characters found in real life and we most certainly like exposing the dark side of humanity in order to contrast it with the good.  Our stories don't necessarily have happy endings.  There are similarities if you look at it that way but I wouldn't say that Game of Thrones influenced the story directly.

Cat: You got me with some keywords: discovery and exploration. Tell me more about this 20km x 20km of environment, what can we expect? 

RL: We love story line and character development but we also love player freedom.  We figured, why not combine the two into one experience?  While our story line quests are definitely a guided experience, designed to tell a story, describe lore and give a cinematic experience, we didn't want the whole game to be scripted.  We certainly didn't want the players to feel suffocated by our constraints and so we decided to allow players to wander from the main story line and create their own stories through their own unique experiences.  As mentioned above, that  20 km x 20 km space is filled with caves, dungeons, wandering characters, relics and landmarks that all tell their own stories, disconnected from the main story.  This will allow the player to have epic experiences that other players may or may not ever see!  It sets the conditions for individualized adventure.  We think that's pretty awesome.

Cat: Talk a bit about single player vs co-op.

RL: The game is being designed to scale with party size so that a player who prefers to play solo can have just as good of an experience as the team-oriented players and also so that anyone can jump back into their game without having to worry about whether or not their friends can play.  Rewards will be scaled too and this will factor fairly for both types of players because of how we handle statistics.  Gear can be deconstructed and the points in that gear redistributed to other gear.  This allows the player to keep any gear they like the look of while upgrading stats to keep up with level.  It also means that even with slightly lesser rewards for solo players, that it takes them a bit longer but that they can obtain the same level of gear as team-based players.  Fair for all!  As far as questing together goes, we're all about freedom and chaos and so as the dialogue system currently sits, whenever a choice has to be made in quest dialogue, the engine makes a virtual dice role to determine who gets to make the decision and everyone in the party has to live with that decision.  This stems from our background playing tabletop RPGs like D&D and the amazing, frustrating, humorous and exciting experience of having to live with the decisions of your party members, whether you like them or not.

Cat: Blood and Snow is a class-less system with a flat ability tree, can you explain your vision?

RL: We want players to be able to access all abilities from the start of play.  Progression trees make sense in some games and they can work well but with our overall philosophy of choice and experimentation we didn't want to constrain the player to our pre-determined set of skills.  We built the system instead so that a player can mix melee, ranged, buffing, healing or whatever types of abilities they want and then level and change those individual skills within their own trees.  Skills are contextually leveled so the more you use them, the more power they gain.  And you won't be stuck at a certain level with the skills if you choose not to evolve them.  The points that you put into your abilities determine the way they work rather than how much damage they do.  

Cat: The world of Blood and Snow is rooted in demons, and the traces of demons left behind clinging to souls. Where did that come from?

RL: I think that came from the idea that everything in the world has a life force or energy and this was a really interesting way to implement that idea and explain the way our magic works.  It also plays nicely into giving life to the idea of spiritual beings influencing humanity without playing into the typical devil and angel archetype.  While the Spyri who come back to take over Cyrn are evil and are similar to what most lore calls a demon, they weren't innately evil.  When they created Cyrn in a dream, they were just curious and aloof.  Power corrupted some of them and this corruption shaped the eventual widespread insanity in the Spyric race.

Cat: Game scope is important to you. How does this affect questing and story?

RL: The main story line isn't very affected by scope.  We already know the dimensions of the world and have written the main story quests to progress through that geography in a predetermined way.  Where scope really affects questing is in the exploration and discovery aspect of the game.  As we craft the world grid by grid, there are alot of things that we are building in according to our predetermined ideas and lore and other things that pop into our minds and subsequently become part of the game as we create it.  In this way this game is really an adventure of exploration and discovery for us as well.

Cat: In a podcast interview I watched, you compared the games writer, Devon, to Tolkien. Would Tolkien play games?

RL:Lol, I think that Tolkien would play games if they had a good story.  I've always wondered what he'd think about the movies and games that have come from his wonderful universe.  

Cat:...Would he play your game?

Well, that's hard to say since I think the learning curve for the combat system might be a bit much for someone in his generation, but I think he'd enjoy watching his grand kids play!

Thanks to Ryan, and thanks for reading! Look for Part Two of the interview tomorrow!
Part Two: http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...

FogLight  +   145d ago
That is an interesting portion of the interview. I am sure the second part will be as interesting :3

Also...This is indeed just a tease! July is gonna be awesome ;)
#1 (Edited 145d ago ) | Agree(5) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Cat  +   145d ago
Any interview where there's a natural Tolkein segue is a win for me.
coolbeans  +   144d ago
Looks pretty interesting. I'll have to keep an eye on this one. Nice write-up.

And thanks for booting my blog off front page, sassy cat. >:(
BitbyDeath  +   144d ago
Awesome, i'd be interested to know about the loot you can find. Will it be all restricted to your level like in Oblivion or will it allow for some treasures (really powerful weapons) to be found like Morrowind, or somewhere in between like Skyrim?

Really looking forward to seeing more of this game.
shadowforge  +   144d ago
Loot doesn't have level restrictions in the current build since the properties of loot scale down to the player's level but never past it's intended cap. There is a range for properties set for each player level and the loot will scale to the minimum for each level if it's a normal item and with augmented stats if it's a magical, relic or daemon-forged item. So for example, let's say you are a level 10 and get a sword intended for a level 50 player. The weapon will never go above it's level 50 stats but it will scale itself down to the level 10 equivalent in order to keep things balanced and still allow players to use whatever they find. This also plays into forging your own items as any loot that is magical or above can be broken down and the stats can be placed into another item's stat pool and redistributed however the player sees fit. There's a penalty so that stats don't transfer 1 for 1, we're still working out the exact ratio and that will change as we build until we find a good balance but for an example, if you find a sword with +10 strength and +10 stamina but you want to use those stats for the sword you have, you can deconstruct the sword and those 20 total stat points turn into, let's say, 4 generic stat points and you can add them to another item in whatever category you want, up to that item's current level stat cap. I hope that makes sense. It's going to make item stats and creating your own items a very powerful and viable tool and will allow players to continue upgrading their character's power without having to compromise on looks.
BitbyDeath  +   143d ago
Cool, thankyou for the reply.

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