|Q&A on RuneSword 3: Worlds Apart|
A: Well, we're not making any modifications to those games, but I'm still happy to respond to questions. You're more likely to get a speedy response from posting on the message board, however.
Q: Why make another RuneSword game? I thought you were working on something else.
A: I'm always working on something else ;). But CRPGs hold a special place in my heart. I can never really get away from them. No matter what other game I design, it always ends up being like an RPG. So I just threw in the towel and began work on RS3 in earnest. And the fans of RS2 keep pushing for more features which is great. So I'm thrilled to be on track again.
Q: When can we expect to see Worlds Apart in the store?
A: Given my past games, it'll probably take anywhere from 3-4 years to complete. Sounds like a very long time I know. But I'm trying to be realistic. And I'll try to go faster!
Q: What is the story behind Worlds Apart?
A: Thousands of years after RS2, Eternium is now the energy powering hyper stellar flight and the galaxy is open to a thriving economy, ruled by the Council, an oligarchy of the races. However, as your character enters the universe, the effectiveness of Eternium is fading, threatening to throw the galaxy into a technology dark age. Traders scramble to snap up the last bits of eternium, travelers make plans to visit their final planet, and politicians struggle to maintain their power. Out of this chaos, you're approached by a most unusual visitor, the last of the living giants. He wants you to take him home, back to the planet from which all races came. Back to Eternia. The problem is: nobody believes that place exists.
Q: How many classes will there be? What are their differences?
A: As with RS2, there are several races, now all updated for a sci-fi setting. Thousands of years have past and lots of things have changed. Jafra is still the race of politicians and pretty much controls the Council. Giants are all but extinct. Gaul and Zur are now serving under the Andorians, forming the Star Traders Corporation. Argosians have evolved into these weird, fat blue psychics. Kyparisians are science and technology experts - power hungry, cold thinkers. The Xal are still the favorite tool of royalty - assassins and thieves, rouges really. The Northlanders now live on an ice planet and are often hired as planet terra-formers and space pioneers. Skandars are the historians of the galaxy, masters of myth and legend and some of the best pilots in the galaxy. The Myth Walkers are a sect of Jedi-like warriors - some are even trustworthy. And the Moreans are nomads, wandering the stars - mostly regarded as a disease on the galaxy.
But having said all that, Worlds Apart is not based on a class sytem. As with RS2, experience points are awarded for completing tasks and skill points are awarded when levels are achieved. Then skill points can be spent on increasing skills or gaining new skills while playing the game.
Q: Are you using the same system as RuneSword 2?
A: We're keeping everything that was good out of RS2 and leaving behind all that was not so good. I'm paying special attention to character development and the story line this time. The adventure will be in several short 2-3 hour bursts rather than a single drawn out super quest. As for character creation, even though we'll now have skills applicable to a sci-fi setting, I'm working to make them more distinct and specialized than before.
But more than that, the game engine is completely new. Totally rewritten with DirectX. Fully animated, 3D effects, lighting, large multi-screen areas, and combat is now on the map where you move. There will be destructable objects too. And the editor is built-in to the engine. You can literally stop playing for a moment and edit - all without leaving the game - then continue on or roll back to a save and try it again with your changes. And we're updating the randomizer in some really amazing ways. Plus multi-player. Whew! Lots to do!
Q: How are you planning to separate each player without a class system? Can you change mid-game? Or can you specialize in everything?
A: You can probably specialize in around 2 or 3 skills and there will be dozens to choose from. You can buy any skill at any time provided you have the skill points to do so. Unlike RS2, you'll be able to change in mid-game. The only thing that cannot be changed is your race.
Q: How will characters level and advance in the game?
A: As with RS2, you level as you acquire Experience Points through combat and completing quests. I'll be looking closely at level advancement balancing, so how many points per level is still up in the air.
Q: Are there spells in the game? Can you make your own spells? For example combining previously acquired spells.
A: In the sci-fi setting, energy can be manipulated in ways that resemble spells. And there's a skill needed to master this ability. There's another skill for creating the technology patterns. These two together result in the ability to use and create "spells".
Q: Will Worlds Apart be totally 3D? Or is it a 2D world with 3D effects/characters? Why did you opt for that?
A: It's a 2D world with 3D effects. We opt'd for that in order to keep the graphic assets accessible to your average gamer. If you want to add maps, items and creatures, you have to be able to do it with *any* painting package, not just the elite 3DS Max or the like. We have 3D effects because they're cool. And I think we can provide enough possible combinations to satisfy your average module maker.
Q: How many players can you have in your party during a single player game?
A: As with RS2, there will be no limit to party size. There are practical limits to how many characters you can manage in a party, however. I just don't want to impose what those limits are.
Q: How many multiplayer options are you planning on? How will you deal with saving during a multiplayer CO-OP mode?
A: Right now we're only planning on a single multiplayer option: multiple players with multiple Creators running at the same time. Beyond that, not sure about the options during multiplay. The game saves continuously, so there's no "saving" needed really. You *can* save if you want to, however, and so sorta turn back the clock on a game if things go south.
Q: And how about replay value? Will there be quests only certain characters can complete?
A: The adventure dynamics remain to be seen. As with RS2, the races are not overly fond of each other and there are outcasts that aren't welcome anywhere. But the true replay value in Worlds Apart is the editor and randomizer. Both will be very tightly integrated into the game so you can switch them on at any time.
Q: Will there be any kind of laws? Or can you do pretty much anything you want?
A: During the adventure that is Worlds Apart, there are all kinds of laws and other obsticles. Going against the Jafra empire will be met with a unique brand of swift justice. Or you'll just be on the run for your life. The danger is: who do you trust? You'll always be wondering what exactly is going on.
Q: How many items, weapons, and armor will be available to the player? How many weapons can a player carry at once? Can you make your own weapons and armor?
A: There will be nearly an endless number of items. Weapons will certainly be in the dozens. Armor will be more limited, but there will likely be dozens of combinations. As with RS2, the amount of inventory a character can hold depends only on size and weight, not some fixed number. And yes, you'll be able to make your own weapons and armor while playing the game. With the editor, you'll be able to make *much* more than that too.
Q: Will combat be turn-based or real-time?
A: RS2 had what I feel was a pretty decent turn-based system. But now that we're including multi-player and graphical action in combat, it has to change. First and foremost, it needs to be interactive with a sense of tension. That means minimizing downtime when you don't interact with the game. At the same time, I want to keep tactics and a party-based feel to the game (especially while playing in single player mode). So I'm considering a hybrid method that allows for *three* different, adjustable combat speeds: real-time, turn-based and phase-based.
When the game is playing, but you can dial in how much of a delay there is between combat rounds from a low of none (real-time) to infinite (turn based). Additionally you can switch on pause at the end of a complete combat turn. So it pans out like this:
Real-Time: Delay = Off, Pause = Off. Runs all the time. Delay is a dial that can be adjusted to slow things down, giving a slight hesitation between each creature's turn (Real-Turn-Based?). Turn sequence is simulated. When you click on Bruno the Bullhead to zap the robot, he'll do so on his next turn.
Turn-Based: Delay = On, Pause = Off. After every creature's turn, there is an unlimited time to make a decision on the next course of action.
Phase-Based: Delay = Off, Pause = On. *All* creatures complete their turn in sequence then the game pauses. You give commands to all creatures in your control. Then all creatures take a turn again in sequence.
Obviously, real-time and phase-based require some helper AI for creatures. Even your party members will need brains when you don't click quite fast enough.
So lots of choices for how you interact with combat. And all are changable during a single combat - you can move from real-time to turn-based to phase-based any number of times even in the middle of combat.
One last point: to reduce the deadly dull combats where the outcome is obvious, you can adjust animation speed down to bullet-time ("check this blaster effect!") or up to hyper-speed ("Die you cosmic chickens!").
Q: Is it based on a classic dice roll or some other system?
A: One thing I like about classic dice roll systems is always knowing how powerful you are in combat and how well you're doing on any given attack. In Worlds Apart, bonuses (attack and defense) will float up in color like spent shells from the attacker/defender and penalties will float down.
Q: Will Worlds Apart be mod friendly? Any chance of an editor, so people can create extra maps/quests?
A: Absolutely! I can't make a game without an editor and Worlds Apart will have our best editor yet. As with our past games, a creator can change anything: maps, creatures, spells, weapons, items, quests, conversations, character creation, sound effects --- everything. One of the key features with the editor this time out is it will be tightly integrated with the game. No longer will it be a seperate application. You can edit while you play the game. How cool is that? Also, we're going to expose everything possible in the game to encourage total conversions. Although I'm focusing on sci-fi this time out, others can go completely back to a fantasty theme. Or gothic. Or modern times. It's all up to the creator. We're trying to make it easier to use in every way with stream-lined editors, a more focused scripting syntax, and saving as much as possible in simple editable text files.
Q: What would you say is the average game play time it will take to complete the game?
A: I recognize that many people just buy a game to play and not to build their own adventures so they deserve a high quality storyline with a variety of ways to play. This time around we're developing a compelling story broken down into smaller chunks, more episodic in nature. As for how long it will take to complete, it's way to early to tell.
Q: Will we see a demo prior to the game appearing on store shelves?
A: Certainly! In fact, it's likely there will be demos before the demo. So stay tuned!
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: Those who have followed CrossCut Games over the years know how much we love CRPGs and how we deliver to the best of our ability. We listen to the fans first and they truly influence what we do. Worlds Aparts is the culmination of years of experience building and playing CRPGs. You won't be disappointed!