Drakensang: The Dark Eye Interview

bit-tech.net had the opportunity to interview Radon Labs' Boris Arendt and dtp's Class Wolter about the upcoming European release of Drakensang: The Dark Eye.
bt: So, what are your expectations in Britain where The Dark Eye brand isn't as well known?

CW: Well, when we started making the game we wanted it to be able to stand on its own because we know that The Dark Eye RPG system the game is based on is only really well known in Germany. On the other hand, there have been other games based on it like The Realms of Arkania series which were published in nineties and were very successful internationally. They won all sorts of '˜Best RPG' awards.

So, Drakensang is made to stand on its own and you don't really need to know anything about the background or RPG or lore. All that you need to know is already in the game if you like fantasy RPGs then you'll enjoy it.
CW: No, no. For us, we think it's an opportunity as there's still a big demand for classic fantasy games. Gamers have been in love with these types of games for a long time and they are still in love with them. BioWare has moved elsewhere, but there's still a demand for fantasy RPGs and we see that in the sales figures and comments.

BA: There's a demand for linear, story-led RPGs too. The problem with the open-world RPG approach that BioWare has been toying with is that you can't really tell as dense or as good a story as you have to spread the content very thinly if you have a large world.

Most of the time you have this feeling, or at least I do when I play these games, that there's not enough diversity in the environments. We can use our game to explore all manner of different areas, cultures, quests, side-stories and that's something you can't do as well if you have just one big, giant sandbox because the game starts to look like a patchwork or have huge areas of emptiness. I had this with Fallout 3, for example. I liked it and I was very excited about it but I was sometimes wandering around going '˜Hello? Is anyone there?' and the next quest-giver was miles and miles away. It was a lot of grind and meaningless combat to get over to there a lot of the time.

I think the open, sandbox RPG style will work someday when the budget is big enough and you can properly fill the space you have. Right now that isn't going to happen with this financial situation though. So, I think sticking to this linear and story-led concept is a better path for us and something that gamers can appreciate.

bt: How does the combat in Drakensang work then? You mentioned in the presentation that I was a round-based mechanic displayed in real-time. Why approach it in that way?

BA: We didn't want to cater just to that one type of player who likes just turn-based or just real-time games. In the end, if you're honest, all gamers like the chance to be strategic if it's all getting a bit too much and tell their squad to go here, do that, shoot him and so on. At the same time though, the action shouldn't just be all strategic. It isn't Battle Chess, you want the chance to be spontaneous with some enemies.

That was always a pain with some of the old turn-based games. Fallout is a game I really love to play, but it isn't fun when you have some stupid rat creeping along three squares a turn. So, we chose to combine both options and let players tackle it as they want.
Spotted on RPGWatch.