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...
as well as yesterday's Part One of the interview, where we discuss the 1-4 person co-op, discovery and exploration in the 20 km x 20 km environment, and game scope: 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. The KS: https://www.kickstarter.com...
With all the relevant links out of the way, here's Part Two of my interview with Ryan Lamb, Shadowforge Programmer. We talk about his background in the Army, weapons customization, the role of loot and....platforms.
Cat: In our first correspondence, you introduced yourself as a former Army Special Operations soldier. That’s not a small life experience. How does that inform your game design?
Ryan Lamb: Both Devon and I are combat veterans and Josh is a former police officer so I think our experiences with the darker side of humanity have really influenced the way we see the world and interact with people. The way we all think because of how we interacted with insurgents and criminals gives us a bit of insight into some interesting psychology and pathology. We've been exposed to violence, corruption, amorality and some political intrigue which definitely informs our storytelling. On the other hand, we've worked with people who we call brothers and sisters and formed bonds that people outside of that community can't really understand. And we've also had exposure to many different cultures around the world and that gives us some ideas we wouldn't have had without that exposure. Most of all, I think that we scrutinize the world and humanity through a lens of skepticism that only comes from dealing with people who are constantly lying to you or trying to kill or harm you in some way and that gives us some different perspective to develop our characters.
Cat: My brother is in the Marines, so I know video games are a strong presence across the armed forces. How do you view the role of video games in the military?
RL: Video games are so important in the military in my opinion, especially as my generation, really the first generation to grow up our whole lives with video games, take leadership roles. Gamers used to be kind of a sub-culture and you wouldn't typically think that the type-A, athletic personalities you find in the military would be drawn to the culture but it's a normal part of the military culture now. You can find probably 80% of the guys and gals overseas playing Call of Duty or Halo in their downtime. I think that this partially stems from the need to decompress and put your mind on something outside of the stressful, day to day life that the military provides. It's kind of a form of therapy really if you think about it and it's effective in my opinion.
Cat: Making a game is not a small undertaking. What keeps you up at night?
RL: Reddit. Lol. Honestly gamers are some of the most critical, demanding, trolling people in the world... and I love it. But it's scary to think that our team and our game will be the target of this community, not because I'll get my feelings hurt. We're all past that kind of thought. But because I don't like to do things half-cocked. Devon, Josh and I have always put 110% into the things we commit to. We all take pride in the things we do and when we set out to accomplish something we like to win at what we do. A phrase military and athletic folks will recognize is "Second place is just the first loser". Ironically I think that the main motivation that drives most strong personalities, particularly type-A's is the fear of failure. It's what get's you through long rucks, tough schools and ultimately combat and it's what drives you to always be the best. That being said, criticism and review are something we also value which is why we want our fan base to be involved in the development process early on. We want to hear what needs to be fixed and we want to know what needs to be adjusted so that we can provide the best game we're capable of making.
Cat: You described the customization and crafting of weapons, what types of weapons will possible be in game - and what types will not?
RL: There will be a wide spectrum of weapons available in the game. Swords, staves, spears, knives, maces, fist weapons, axes, bows, crossbows... pretty much anything you would expect to find in a fantasy game. We're also working on integrating throwing into the system so that you can use any weapon you have as a ranged weapon in a pinch. ;)
Cat: Some gamers love their loot, others avoid loot-driven games like an incurable itching disease. Where does Blood and Snow fall on the spectrum?
RL: While Blood and Snow isn't a loot-driven game like Diablo or Torchlight, it does have plenty of loot for those who are enthusiastic about finding it. The properties of the loot are more important than the looks, name, type etc because players will be able to break down any item above a certain level and use it's properties/stats to augment their own crafted weapons. This will enable players to keep the loot they like the look of instead of constantly worrying about upgrading items that have better stats but don't look as good to them.
Cat: Real time combat may scare off some gamers - I have a gaming friend (whose identity I am honor bound to protect) that struggled with Dragon Age on Easy. Is difficulty a concern?
RL: As they say: You can't please everyone. Real time combat is something we really wanted to do with Blood and Snow and while I wouldn't say you have to be an amazing gamer to play it well, it does come with some challenges. We are trying to make the combat systems as intuitive as possible and because they adhere as closely as possible to real-world physics as we can manage, the things that you can accomplish and invent during combat should be accessible to players from varying skill levels.
Cat: Platforms. We're a greedy people, gamers, and PC, Mac and Linux apparently aren't enough. Can you talk about the possibility and process of bringing Blood and Snow to consoles?
RL: We are definitely exploring the idea of bringing this game to consoles. PS4 is making huge bounds toward making development on their consoles friendly for indie developers so that's the first console we're pursuing. We don't know all the details yet because the process for becoming a developer on a console is involved and tons of the information we need is hidden behind NDA's we haven't seen/signed yet but we're pursuing it.
[At this point I pressed Ryan a bit more, as site OnlySp recently ran a story with the headline "Shadowforge Plan to Bring Their Open World RPG, Blood and Snow, to the Xbox One and PS4"]
RL: Oh. Well I wouldn't say we're confirming at this point. We're actively exploring our options but we still haven't been approved by MS or Sony for distribution on their console networks.
Thanks to Ryan, and thanks for reading! You can check out the Blood and Snow Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com...