In addition to some comments from Piranha Bytes co-founder Michael Hoge about the lackluster reception to JoWooD's Arcania: Gothic 4 and the fact that the Gothic rights revert back to them next year, Eurogamer has posted a three-page interview with both Michael Hoge and Daniel Oberlerchner about their work on Risen and how Risen 2: Dark Waters will improve upon the first title. Good reading:
Eurogamer: Was Risen 1 your best work?
Michael Hoge: No, absolutely not. Risen, especially the console version, was done quite poorly. It was our first console project. The PC version was all right, though. With Risen our main goal was to produce a role-playing game in time and in budget.
Daniel Oberlerchner: [Piranha Bytes] wanted to recover from the feedback they got for Gothic 3. Gothic 3 was their previous project before Risen 1. The feedback from the community and also the press was abysmal for Gothic 3 because the project lacked a lot of time and polish. It was a huge world but it wasn't really filled properly and there were many bugs.
We wanted to get rid of the bugs and polish it down for Risen 1. And I think we succeeded with that.
Eurogamer: What is that "completely different travelling system" - is it linked to the piratical theme?
Daniel Oberlerchner: Yes, but we can't really tell you the details. All we can tell you now is that you're going to travel by ship from island to island. But how the ship is going to work and what it entails - we're going to reserve that.
The whole story revolves around pirates. Our main goal when we started the project was to develop a pirate RPG with fantasy elements. We combined what we'd done before with a pirate setting. Yes, obviously you can become a pirate when you play the game.
Eurogamer: How do you feel about companions, romance and good and evil - are those ideas in your game?
Michael Hoge: Yeah, those are in our game. We enhanced the party system a bit...
Daniel Oberlerchner: We can't really go too much into the details! In Risen 1 you had quests where you accompany people, and that's the minimum level of companionship you'll have in the game. We're not going to have a Dragon Age II or Dungeon Siege party with four or five men - that's not our aim.
Michael Hoge: We have this party mechanic where you can only have one party member at a certain time. It's for balancing reasons. We have no round-based combat system; it's real-time, and it's no good to have five people around you hacking and slashing through the game when you can't control them.
It's very hard to do the balancing bit without auto-magic strength-levelling of creatures - we didn't want to do that.