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Page 2 of 2GB: Firearms are an interesting new addition in Risen 2. What sort of challenges did you face in order to introduce firearms, and how difficult has it been to balance them so that they're not always the most powerful choice when making a weapon selection?
BP: Two-handed firearms work a lot like a crossbow. Unlike arrows, they have a direct line of fire, and they are indeed very strong in a fight. However, they can be unwieldy in melee combat, and as voodoo and melee weapons are also powerful and there can be different options depending on the situation, the weapons are quite well-balanced.
GB: How have you improved the companion system in the sequel? Will we have more control over our companions, particularly when it applies to their advancement options, equipment, and combat AI?
BP: First of all, in most situations players can choose whether to take a companion along, and which companion. The companions make comments, sometimes get involved in conversations, and have different skills. One may be a healer, while another collects items for me, etc. At any time during the game, players can tell the companions they have in their crew to wait, return to the ship, or give them healing potions.
GB: The protagonist's pet monkey is an important element in the game. Are there areas of the game that will require us to take control of the monkey? Beyond reaching otherwise inaccessible areas, what other function will the monkey serve?
BP: The monkey can climb to areas we can't reach in caves or houses, and not just collect items there, but also use switches and levers...
GB: Because Piranha Bytes is a smaller studio, we understand that you've contracted some of Risen 2's animations and other graphical assets out to third parties in order to elevate its overall presentation. What assets, in particular, have you contracted out to other companies and how challenging has it been to seamlessly integrate everything into the work you do in-house?
BP: In order to have a wider selection, we outsourced the creation of items, for example. They were defined in detail in advance, artwork was applied, and when they were finished, they were added to the game continuously. Because we determine their size and appearance ourselves, planning is the challenge here. By now we can say that this decision was worthwhile!
GB: The general consensus seems to be that the PC version of Risen provided a better game experience than the Xbox 360 port. What steps are you taking this time around to ensure that the console versions are on par with the PC version, and what roadblocks did you have to overcome in order to add a PlayStation 3 version to the mix?
BP: For Risen 2, we are developing the game for PC but it the console versions are also very important to us. We took the necessities of console development into consideration from the beginning of the development, and the time planning was a lot more generous than before. Also, we now have experience in that area and we are therefore confident that this will be reflected in the quality of the product.
GB: Was your decision not to develop any DLC or other expansion content for Risen based entirely on sales numbers? Would you consider creating add-ons for Risen 2 if its sales numbers meet your expectations, and if so, what sort of content would you like to include in potential DLC?
BP: DLC is just as important to us in terms of development as an add-on. The decision whether we provide DLC, and on what scale, will be made together with our publisher Deep Silver. As we have already been successful with an add-on in the past, we are definitely planning DLC this time.
GB: You've stated previously that once Risen 2 is finished, you'll be in a position to return to the Gothic franchise. Can you elaborate on that? Does the acquisition of JoWooD by Nordic Games impact when the Gothic franchise will open up to you again?
BP: The Gothic brand still belongs to us, so we are free to develop another edition. There is no new Gothic game planned at the moment though.
GB: Are you confident that there will be another Piranha Bytes-developed Gothic title? And if so, what does that mean for the future of the Risen franchise?
BP: What the future brings will be decided one project at a time.
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