Whatcha got for Christmas?
Hello, hello, hello! Guido here once more with the word for you.
As you probably recall, Larian Studios gave us a shout-out just before the weekend, resulting in a nice influx of new backers that brought us very close to the 3,500 backer goal we have before our eyes currently.
A “Thank you” also goes out to the guys from The Mandate, who mentioned us also in their update before the weekend.
Christmas is Coming!
Trying to get new backers is hard work. I am sure you can tell by now, but with Christmas approaching fast, there is something you can do nonetheless to help our campaign.
Did you ever think of giving a Kickstarter pledge as a gift?
I am not kidding. It is a serious thought. Instead of purchasing a traditional gift this year, why not purchase a “Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore” pledge for someone? We will even create a beautiful gift certificate for you that you can put under the Christmas tree.
Naturally, this will work also for your friends, even if they do not play games themselves. Surely, however, they have friends or family members who do enjoy computer games and for whom "Deathfire" would make a fantastic Christmas gift. Or just go the extra mile and specifically ask your friends and family members for a "Deathfire" gift for Christmas. :)
The possibilities are endless, so go out there, shout it out, tell the world about it! It's Christmas time… the time of Giving… and we can use all the help we can get! :)
Think of it. It’s the gift certificate that keeps on giving, as the recipient will receive the game, bonus items and all sorts of things, and in addition the gift would further help and support our project.
Isn’t that much better than buying a retail game somewhere, that has no frills, no bells, no whistles and most likely comes with copy-protection on top of it?
Thank you in advance for considering it.
Non-Linear Gameplay in Stories?
Because we are not creating an open world in “Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore,” the question often comes up how linear the gameplay of the game will be, and I’d like to take a moment to talk to you about that.
The term linear gameplay is often thrown around all-too quickly, I feel, because it seems to mean different things to different people. For some people it’s the mere existence of a story that makes a game linear, for others its a little more complex than that.
I am defining linearity by the number of options the player has to go through the game, and how player actions affect the game as a whole. Many games, even though they are vast in scope, are still linear, in my opinion, because they offer very little gameplay alternatives, channel the player down a particular path and almost inevitably lead him to the same conclusion every time.
That is not what we are trying to do. While our world scope may be more limited, our flexibility will not. If you’ve ever played any of the “Realms of Arkania” games we made during the 90s, you will remember that these games always provided alternatives to what seemed to be the most obvious choice. Even in combat, the player could try to avoid a battle altogether by attempting to run from one side of the battlefield to the other, without ever engaging the opponent. Try is the operative word here, of course, because the odds were that the monsters had other plans for you. But long before a battle ensued, particularly in events surrounding the story of the game itself, the player had a wide variety of choices leading up to certain confrontations.
“Ruins of Nethermore” will follow in that mold that we defined back then. Depending on the argumentative skills of the party members, situations will arise where the player can avoid combat altogether by talking to the opposing party or by bribing them. Sometimes a simple show of force–also known as intimidation—may be necessary to get your opponent to back down. It all depends on the moment and the balance between the two groups.
As the story unfolds, some events will be avoidable, while others are not, but it will be important for the player to understand that actions have reactions. Even if you avoid combat, something that is an honorable intention for sure, it can have consequences. Imagine a scenario where the players need access to say, oh, a dungeon. It is guarded and your heroes just bribed the guards to get inside. Dumb as they are, the guards shove off to the next tavern where, in their drunken stupor, they tell everyone about a bunch of fellows throwing their money around while walking into certain death. What do you think should happen next?
Well, in our game, the odds are that a bunch of villagers become very interested in your money and will follow you into the dungeon. Will they become a threat to you?
That once again depends on your party’s abilities to pick up distant noises. If your characters can hear them coming, they can prepare themselves, perhaps place traps, perhaps create an ambush or perhaps simply wait for them, stealing their element of surprise as they try to sneak up.
But perhaps they aren’t even trying to sneak up. Perhaps these villagers are, in fact, so noisy that they will alarm everyone, including a group of Grim Tarks patrolling the tunnels. They get tangled up in a skirmish and get out alive only because of the helping hand you lent them. What then? Will they still want to steal your money, or will they rather have you for allies? Will you take the survivors on as NPCs? What if it’s a facade and the stab you in the back later?
More importantly, however, what about that one guy from their party who got dragged away into a side corridor and is now on his way to being tortured for questioning by the Tark? What if he repeats what the drunken guards told him? That you are on a quest to find the Orb of Fury?
Ahhh, what am I saying? Perhaps you should have just killed those guards, after all…
I think it is easy to see from an example such as this, how even a story-driven game can very quickly become very unpredictable — non-linear. In fact, in many ways, it is typically much easier and tempting to create complex situations that interact with each other in a story-driven environment, where every element and plot device hinges upon others - unlike an open world, where most events are entirely unrelated to each other.
It is also the reason, of course, why we provide multiple different endings in the game, each one with different varieties, because the player will have an effect on so many things within the game world and the story, that the story should never lead up to one universal outcome.
Team Q&A: Steven Savile
Over the last decade you’ve done a fair bit of game related writing, perhaps you’d like to introduce yourself to the backers?
Sure, it’d be a pleasure. It’s always difficult to know where to begin, or where people might know me from—or at least vaguely recognise the name. Some guys might be “Warhammer” fans, for instance, and remember me from the “Vampire Wars” trilogy where I got to wreak havoc and mayhem across Sylvania for a couple of years, others might remember my stint on “Torchwood,” where I wrote Hidden, one of the first original audios for the show (read by Naoko Mori who played Tosh) as well as the “Torchwood Year Book” and a serial in the magazine, “Gordian.”
If you’re British or based in the UK you’re most likely to have come across “Silver,” my debut thriller which was one of the top 30 bestsellers of 2011. The one thing people here will most likely recognise but not recognise my name in association with, is “Battlefield 3” from DICE. I was one of the team who wrote the first person storyline for the game, bringing to the table stuff like the suitcase bomb in Paris, the attack on the Euronex Stock Exchange playing level and all of that fun stuff.
How did you get into game writing?
In part it was probably by accident. I’d just walked out of a well-paying job and phoned a friend and basically said ‘Ack! I can’t believe what I’ve just done… I need to get a gig sharpish!’ which lead to an introduction at Games Workshop, where a writer had just gone dark and left a hole they needed filling fast. It was purely down to luck and timing. I loved my time there, and it led to some wonderful opportunities, like getting to write half a dozen short stories for “Doctor Who,” writing the first novel for the TV series “Primeval” (Shadow of the Jaguar), and getting to fulfil a dream of my youth, getting to write a couple of “Slaine” novels.
It was always a case of bartering one thing into another and suddenly I was doing it full time. I’ve been writing this kind of stuff for eight years, full time, now.
What sort of challenges do you face bringing someone else’s ideas to life like that?
It’s always tough, especially with something beloved with a strong fan base because the thing is we all imagine things our own way. The hardest one of my life-and the most painful-was “Stargate.”
I wrote a novel for them which MGM loved. The people handling the franchise thought it was the best novel they’d put out to-date. The fans hated it and thought it was the worst book ever and that I’d never watched the show. The sad thing is I’d watched every single episode, immersing myself in the series for a month before writing a word, and come up with a staggeringly ambitious storyline which would spread over three novels, that involved the team going back to Belsen in Germany through a freak worm hole and being stuck in the worst of World War II. At the very last minute people freaked out and forced a change to an alien planet which just mirrored Germany.
This of course made me look like an idiot who’d just copied history, where the reality was supposed to be that because of SG1’s meddling Russians had become the dominant force post WWII, and had the active Stargate, and SG1 had done the whole butterfly/back-to-the-future thing where they’d wiped out our past so the series would have been a fight to bring back today. Alas, it didn’t go according to plan because of horrible delays and such.
It always struck me as funny how MGM loved the characters in the novel, writing about how perfectly they’d been realised and the fans would say ‘he’s obviously never seen an episode’. There’s a lesson there, what you love about something is often internalised and may well never have happened.
I mean, one of my favourite scenes in any book is in David Gemmell’s “Legend,” when Druss the hero meets a guy in a bar early on who is an absolute arse and provokes a fight. Druss kills him, despite trying hard not to be drawn into a fight. The irony, we learn, is that Druss was this guy’s hero. Gemmell kills him with two words: he died. Now in my head this is so vivid and brilliantly portrayed. I was talking to friends about it a while back and pulled the book down from the shelf to show them… and when I read it back I realised I’d added all of the great memories myself and they were all the result of reading between the lines. As a writer, it’s a great skill to give the reader space enough for their imagination to fill in the blanks. Those are the books we often remember as the best.
What draws you to a project like “Deathfire?”
I need to feel excited. It needs to be fun. I remember when Guido first sent me the concept for the game, running a few lines by me, and I knew from the moment I read that email I wanted to write the novel for “Deathfire”—I’ll admit I like my fantasy a little grim, a little dark, with a real haunting quality to it, and that’s exactly what “Deathfire” was offering me as a writer, plus I’ll be honest, the fanboy in me adored “Realms of Arkania,” which I played when I was fresh out of University, and the idea of being part of one of Guido’s creations was too good to refuse.
Do you have any rules for writing?
Not many hard and fast ones, but I always think: is this cool? I want every chapter to earn its place in a book, so not a 20 page ramble about walking from one place to another. I want the focus in tight on the action, the kind of thing that keeps you turning the page and makes you think ‘just one more chapter’. To do that, I like to give you questions that’ll wrack your brain and leave you thinking ‘I need to know…’
Shout-Out to our Friends
Today, I would like to direct your attention towards Bloom: Memories, an interesting concept that looks very pretty on top of it. Stop over on their campaign page and take a look for yourself.
What the Press has to Say
Media coverage has been quiet over the past days - not unexpectedly so, because of Thanksgiving and the weekend.