For those of you who aren't familiar with Iron Tower Studios, you'll want to pay close attention to the following interview. While mainstream developers are focusing on action-heavy console RPGs, Iron Tower Studio has taken it upon themselves to develop an ambitious turn-based, isometric, dialogue-heavy CRPG influenced by such classics as Fallout, Arcanum, and Planescape: Torment. If that sounds good to you, then you'll want to read on as lead designer Vince D. Weller answers our questions about The Age of Decadence:
GB: First of all, how is development coming along on The Age of Decadence? Is the game still on track for a fall release?
Vince: We are doing fine. The game will be completely playable in a few months, but it’s hard to estimate how long tweaking and polishing would take. Being a small first-time developer we can’t afford to release anything less than a quality game, so if we have to take more time, we will.
GB: Tell us about the engine powering the game and what specific goals you had for its capabilities. What sort of system requirements are you shooting for?
Vince: We are using Torque Game Engine that we had licensed from Garage Games, a huge indie hub founded by the ex-Dynamix people. Torque is an aging, but decent and well-supported 3D engine with a large and active community, so it’s a good choice for any indie developer.
If I have to name a specific feature, that would be TorqueScript. For a game like AoD, a powerful scripting language is a must. As for the requirements, the game should run well on P3 500 with 128 megs of RAM. A working monitor will greatly enhance your experience.
GB: The game will feature 22 specific locations. Can you give us some background information for a few of these locations?
Vince: Sure, here’s one. An arcane tower was buried under sands during the war. Protective energies still emanating from the tower attracted people crossing the desert, and soon a small village was built around the broken top of the tower – the holy place. The village, being isolated from what’s left from the society, regressed to an almost tribal state, worshipping he-who-dwells-in-the-darkness, and sacrificing visitors and occasional villagers by dropping them into the aforementioned darkness below.
Why visit such a friendly place? Other than the obvious “loot the tower” (good luck with that) idea, the tribe, being a closed group, has preserved the knowledge of the early post-war days in their myths, which may conflict with several official versions of the events.
You can see the concept art for this location here. And here is the full view of a similar tower, just to give you an idea of what to expect.
GB: How diverse will the overall "look" and surrounding environment be for each unique area?
Vince: Reasonably diverse: desert and forests, old crumbling towns of various styles and new outposts, tribal villages and pre-war facilities, devastated areas where the fabric of reality has been broken, dead towns and ruins, etc.
GB: Tell us about the dialogue system in The Age of Decadence. How will skills, factions, or even previous actions play a role in what dialogue is available to a character?
Vince: The 3 conversation skills need no explanation. As for the other skills, here is an example: you are asked to find a stolen ore shipment (I think we gave these dialogue screens to RPG Dot, you can find the link on our site – the Press section). You start inquiring about ore, and suddenly someone asks you a question only a character with some Crafting skills would be able to answer. Should you fail, people may start wondering why someone who doesn’t have a clue about ore is asking so many questions in the wrong area of the town where accidents happen so often.
Your standing with the factions determines whom you may ask for help or “list as a reference”. For example, you can either convince someone that helping you is a great idea or you can remind people “who you are with” Godfather-style.
As for the previous actions, here is another example. One of the solutions to a certain smuggling quest is to help the town guards’ captain, who would gratefully let you smuggle anything you want in return. That establishes your relationship with the very open-minded captain, which would open up some solutions (new dialogue options) to several other quests, including the one mentioned below.
GB: Can combat take place anywhere in the gameworld? For example, could we find ourselves battling it out in the middle of a town where buildings and other obstacles could be used as cover? How large of an area will a typical battle take place in?
Vince: Combat can take place anywhere: wilderness, town, rooftop, ruins, etc. There is no limit to the size of the combat area. You and your allies / opponents can freely move anywhere. You can pursue someone across a town if you care.