Although Troika is still putting the finishing touches on Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, they've also been working on another role-playing game that we've heard very little about up to this point. The unannounced project will take place in a post-apocalyptic setting similar to the Fallout series that many of Troika's own team members had a hand in creating years ago while working for Interplay. To get some initial information on exactly what to expect from the game, and to get an update on what else the studio has been working on, we spoke with one of the "troika" - Leonard Boyarsky. Our questions and his answers to follow:
GB: When did you first begin work on the new post-apocalyptic title, and where does it currently stand in the development cycle? Have you been tossing around any names for the game yet?
Leon: We’re very early in the dev cycle for the new game, and right now we’re just working on the engine basics that we’d need for any RPG we’d make with this engine, whether it be a traditional Fallout style RPG or a more action oriented title. We have a few ideas for the name, but until we secure the rights to it we can’t reveal what it is.
GB: Have you been speaking with any publishers about the game yet, or have you decided to keep things to yourselves for the time being?
Leon: We’ve talked to a lot of different publishers about the game, as well as other games using the same engine. We’ve got a few who are really interested in working with us on one of these projects using this tech. We’ll just have to wait to see what happens.
GB: Tell us a bit about the technology behind the game and how it compares to your three previous titles. Are you using any assets whatsoever from your previous games, or is this altogether new?
Leon: The tech is all brand new, as are all the assets. Basically, what we set out to do with this new engine is to make a next generation 3d pseudo isometric engine. This means that this engine is geared towards making the types of games we want to make with it, as well as having all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a next gen engine – deformable terrain, normal, displacement, bump, and specular mapping, etc.
GB: If you had to choose your top three design goals for the new game, what would they be?
Leon: Well, we really want to make a Troika style in depth RPG that is flashy enough to grab the attention of the press and the public. Vampire: Bloodlines has had a high profile in the press due to the engine we’re using for it and the ability that has given us to be cutting edge with our visuals. We also want to make games that are accessible to a lot more people than hardcore RPGers, without losing sight of the things that appeal to the hard core gamer. Finally, the overriding design goal would be the one that we always have: to make a fun game that tells a great story in a world that reacts to the player’s actions.
GB: Do you feel that multiplayer is of great importance when creating this type of RPG, or do you think that fans of this type of game are looking for a strong single player experience only? Also, would you rather see the player controlling an entire party or a solo character?
Leon: In RPG development, multiplayer is almost always a completely separate game (unless you just let people play the role of a “hero’s” followers). The only time I think it makes sense is if you’re making an action oriented RPG whose action stands on its own without the RPG aspects, as adding real RPG elements to a multiplayer game (story, the ability to change the world, etc) is a whole independent dev cycle of its own. So, if I have my choice, in a game like the hypothetical Post Apocalyptic game we’re talking about, I’d either want no multiplayer so we could simply concentrate on a great single player game, or an almost totally independent team developing the multiplayer alongside the single player game.
As far as the control of your party members, I think we’re leaning towards giving the player the control of his followers during combat, if he wants it. I personally like the Fallout style where your followers are independent entities, but a lot of fans (and people who work at Troika) prefer the ability to control their party members. This is all conjecture at this point, however.
GB: Although it's probably very early to be asking, have you put together any plans for how the character advancement or combat system will work? Have you decided whether or not you'll be using a custom rules system or an already existing one?
Leon: Well, all I really am prepared to discuss on this front is that we’d prefer to use our own custom built system for this game. As far as details on how that system will work, you’ll have to wait until after we’ve signed with someone and gotten into development on the game before we’ll be ready to talk about it.