Destructoid has posted a quick Q&A with BioWare programmer Brook Bakay about their soon-to-be-released DS RPG, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood.
Destructoid: Was it a challenge to transport the world of Sonic into an RPG? What were the toughest obstacles in turning a fast-paced platformer into a roleplaying game?
BB: The biggest thing is to recognize what you are good at and what you aren't good at. We set out to make as good an RPG as we could make -- that is what BioWare does. It is challenging to put Sonic into that genre. If you ask people to name one characteristic of Sonic games, they'll tell you that Sonic has to be fast. People often think of RPGs as slow paced games. We've done a lot to speed up the game. Combat, for example, is very fast paced. Rather than the traditional "Choose your move, watch it happen" approach, we let you plan out how a round will go with multiple attacks per character. You are then rewarded with a very fluid combat vignette as you watch your plans in action. At the same time you are frantically trying to keep up with the real-time elements.
Additionally, when a player solves a puzzle in a game they are rewarded with a "Sonic-y moment" which usually consists of Sonic tearing up some elaborate Rube Goldberg track.
All game development is just a series of choices, and like the manager for a football team you sometimes make decisions based on the people you have. We have two of the best 2D artists in the game industry working on Sonic. We decided to feature their artwork as much as possible and this led to the gorgeous hand painted backgrounds that Sonic and friends are running around. This was a great decision, but it led to other challenges. Those paintings are too large to hold in memory, so they need to be broken into smaller pieces and streamed in as necessary. This is not one of the strengths of the DS. Thus there is a hard limit to how fast we can draw the world in front of Sonic as he runs around. I am really proud of the technical achievements the team made in that area. It seems simple: "Make Sonic run around fast," but a lot of hard work went into making that happen.
Sorry to ramble on about technical details, but you guys drew the short straw for the interview.