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Luckily, we came into contact with Garrett Graham, producer for Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor, and were able to ask him several questions:
GB: Can you describe for the fans out there what your responsibility is, and what a normal day looks like for you?
Garrett: My job is to coordinate all the departments on the Publisher's side (QA, Marketing, Sales, Localization and Finance), and to be the Publisher's voice when dealing with the Developer (Stormfront). Each of the departments on my side needs a constant flow of information and assets from Stormfront. I spend my day meeting with all these groups to make sure they're getting what they need and make sure that they're not asking for conflicting items or that they're using too much of Stormfront's time. I also mediate between our QA and Stormfront and between TSR/WOTC and Stormfront. I make sure Stormfront gets paid when they make their milestones. A lot of people think that a Producer dictates everything that happens on a game, but that's not true. My job involves finding the middle ground and building a consensus. I am helped in all aspects of my job by my Associate Producer, Chuck Yager.
GB: How far are you in the development process of the game?
Garrett: We are at Alpha. Right now most of the Art and Sound assets are in the game and we are tweaking maps and text.
GB: What do you think is going to make Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor stand out from games such as Arcanum, BG2, and Neverwinter Nights?
Garrett: Well, first off the introduction of the 3rd Edition rules will be a big sell point for many people. Also, the fact that the characters are larger than life and fully 3D rendered, with beautifully done animations for different weapons and attack styles, will draw people into the game play. Our story is, of course, very different than the others, but maintains the standard of an epic quest that most role-playing games include. Lastly, the fact that we have an engaging single player game that differs from the multiplayer hack fest, will appeal give players a strong sense of re-playability and allow them to advance their characters up to the highest levels possible.
GB: What steps have been undertaken to make sure that the game is interesting for completely new gamers to both the CRPG and the P&P role playing genre, experienced role playing gamers, and hardcore D&D fans?
Garrett: We're using the 3rd Edition rules, which are balanced, consistent and easy to learn. The interface is simple and intuitive, and all movement and basic combat can be done with the mouse. Now that most of the game is in, we're fleshing out the encounters and the journal.
GB: If it is accurate that the release date has been moved to spring 2001, does this give you the ability to further polish up the game? Could we potentially see the gnome race enter the game?
Garrett: No new Character Races will be added to the game, as the time and money necessary for that are staggering. What we are doing is pulling together all the story elements and lots and lots of balancing.
GB: Do you think that Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor has the potential to have the same impact on the RPG community as the original Pool of Radiance game?
Garrett: Yes, it will be the first CRPG to introduce the 3rd Edition Rules and its minimal interface and large 3D units are a stark contrast to our competitors.
GB: What steps, if any, have been taken to enhance the re-playability of the game? Are the drops for magical items and artifacts static or are some randomly allocated?
Garrett: In the single player game, the map and encounters are static. We've put in a lot of quests, however and expect that most players will play through a second time with a different party to do all the things they missed the first time around. Most of the re-playability comes from Multi-Play, which has random dungeons, random encounters and a few powerful magic items, which aren't in the single player game. Any player can play the Multi-Play game by themselves, if they want to.
GB: How is the interaction between the player party and possible characters that the party meets? Is there a party leader? Will the reaction of NPC's depend upon the race and class of the different party members and / or the possible party leader?
Garrett: The party speaks as one voice. The NPC's react only to how you choose to respond. As you take actions in the game that affect that NPC, they take note of it and offer you different dialogue choices.
GB: Can we expect to see any class and / or race specific magic items in the game? (Such as a Holy Avenger)
Garrett: Each class will have roughly one class specific magic item.
GB: Assuming that you have play-tested the game, what is your favorite character and why?
Garrett: My Barbarian, Kaiya, has 22 Str. and a +2 spear that does double damage. I love the sight of my enemies' limp body slumping to the floor after she hits it for 30+ damage. Same thing for my ½ Orc Cleric, Uttoxxitter. They both hate enemy spell casters and their Entangle and Hold Person spells.
GB: Will players that are familiar with Myth Drannor, either through the Myth Drannor module for the P&P 2nd Edition game or through other older games such as Eye of the Beholder part III, recognize any of the places that they will come across in Myth Drannor?
Garrett: The map was designed by an Architect, from floor plans supplied by TSR.
GB: Can we expect to run into any familiar people in Myth Drannor such as the fabled knights of Myth Drannor?
Garrett: The story line revolves around a group of bad guys who have driven out most of Myth Drannor's regular denizens.
GB: To conclude, can you explain why fans should get excited about Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor?
Garrett: Well Myth Drannor in and of itself is a great place for an adventure to be set in. With ruined temples, lost wizard guilds, miles upon miles of catacombs and dungeons, and a three leveled castle to explore, your adventurers will have tons of things to keep them busy while they are attempting to destroy the plans of the Cult of the Dragon. Aside from this backdrop, the game will feature a host of NPCS with their own agendas, the machinations of the Cult, and the ultimate quest of retrieving the Gauntlets of Moander, which can destroy the pool of radiance. Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor will present you with 3D rendered models, the first look at the 3rd Edition, and an adventure that will harken back to the good old days of the original in feel and scope.
In conclusion, I'd like to issue a sincere thank you to Garrett Graham, SSI, Stormfront Studios, and the people at Mattel Interactive for making this interview possible. We hope all of you enjoy reading about Pool of Radiance as much as we do =).