Tim Cain Interview

For his latest industry interview, Will Ooi decided to talk with Tim Cain, veteran RPG designer and one of the founders of Troika Games, touching subjects such as his views on the industry today, how and why his job at Obsidian may just be a temporary position, his work at Troika, Carbine Studios and Obsidian, and much more. The interview is available both on Gamasutra and on Will's personal blog.

Without further ado, here's a couple of snips to give you an idea of what you can expect from this interesting read:
WO: For you, what are the essential criteria in what really makes an RPG an RPG? What do feel about the real time, action-RPG titles that are becoming more and more popular these days?

TC: I think an RPG should be about creating and playing a "role". First, an RPG should always include some kind of character creation system, to let the player choose what kind of character to play, and I prefer that the game let me name my character, although I can see why some games don't allow that so that they can include voice overs that talk about the character.

Second, I think RPG's should be about choice, and that choice should matter in some way. The player should be able to decide how to play their character and the game should react to that choice in some way. NPC's should change their behavior, or vendors should change their prices, or the storyline should change and the game should offer a different ending.

I play a large variety of games, not just RPG's, so I enjoy many of the action titles that are released. I think that including RPG-like systems improves many of these games, but there will always be a soft spot in my heart for true RPG's.

WO: Is there still a place for turn-based and/or isometric RPGs these days?

TC: I think so. I am still seeing games of both types being made. Magicka is an isometric RPG, as is Titan Quest, and I am enjoying playing both of them immensely. Diablo 3 is isometric as well. And you can find lots of turn-based games on STEAM and the iPhone app store, so there is obviously still a strong demand for them.


WO: Even though the studio was relatively short-lived, Troika produced some really memorable titles. When I was playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution recently, the city hubs and side-quest designs reminded me a lot of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. What are your views on the legacies of these games you and your team created?

TC: I think it's wonderful if our games inspired anyone working on other games. However, many times those similarities are just examples of parallel evolution in action. Two different groups sometimes arrive at the same solution.