I had the honor to interview Norbert Varga from Digital Arrow who are now developing their cRPG game named “Dilogus – The Winds of War”.
And although it’s still in the early stages of development, Norbert Varga promises it NOT to be DNF
1. Please tell me about your company, how did you started/formed the company ? how many people are you ? are you all working via the internet as FOSS projects tend to do, or do you have an HQ in which all your staff is located ? what systems and programs do you use ?
My name is Norbert Varga and I’m currently one of the co-owners of Digital Arrow. Ferenc Giric and myself founded the company about two months ago but I’ve led a modding team working on Dilogus before. Currently, I’m handling production and game design on Dilogus – The Winds of War. I’m probably most capable as marketings and production person, but have been involved with engine developments, modding and game development from various aspects covering some programming (especially physics simulation), scripting, writing, game design, music and level design. Only thing that’s really alien to me is animation as I’m only familiar with animation theory. But again, I think it’s important for a producer to be at least remotely familiar with all aspects of game development.
I’m an easy going patient person with strong passion for gaming. Next to that, I feel joy and sensation working on projects that are very community friendly, because the whole interaction just feels so great. Creating something for others to enjoy. Nothing better than that. Game Development is fun, but not easy. But heck, who can’t handle the fire, should stay away from it. Teamwork divides the task but multiplies the success!
Our company, Digital Arrow Games was formed a while ago, and we’ve recently expanded to become a more serious game developer. Before, the group behind Dilogus – The Winds of War was named FusionSoft, but due to multiple reasons, we had to change the name as well. Currently our team consists of 16 core people, an additional group of twelve 3D artists/animators, a few people through Symphony of Specters that does all of our audio and SFX and an additional four media/promotional personal from Quit Boredom – Germany.
While we do have a HQ set up, not everyone works on board but that is the final goal down the road. Currently, only a few of us are here, but the leadership is in one office which is probably the most important. We are still a young company, but we certainly plan to expand.
2. I understand that Dilogus was supposed to be a Crysis mod using Cryengine 2 at first, then you moved to UDK engine, and finally you switched to the GNU/Linux friendly Unigine.
Why have you decided to move to a different engine and create a full game as oppose to a mod ?
Since when Dilogus is in development and is there any estimated release date ?
The actual production of Dilogus into some sort of a computer media started out as a mod called Rise of the Asher and it was planned to be an action adventure (much alike the Prince of Persia series in style). After our mod team teamed up with another group of passionate modders, we’ve decided we’ll implement more RPG elements. That’s when Dilogus – The Winds of War as a concept was born. However, from about late 2008 not much development has happened as we ran into various technical problems.
Recently we teamed up and planned to recreate the game on UDK. We were on the way of producing the game when a friend of mine pointed out Unigine. Considering wanted to find a good way to release to Linux as well, we’ve immediately grabbed onto Unigine. Previously, due to mainly technical limitations we didn’t plan beyond Windows, but seeing the capabilities of Unigine we really wanted to dive more into the Linux gaming and provide a quality Co-Op Multiplayer / Single Player Fantasy RPG for those that prefer Linux over Windows. Flexibility is key. This of course does not mean we are neglecting the Windows platform, as that was a definite before. We see a great future for the Linux platform as a gaming environment as well, and we would like to prove this by delivering a top quality game through Unigine.
3. Tell me about Dilogus, what “world” does it take place ? what creatures can we expect to see ? what landscape and cities/towns will we visit ? are there alliances between races/clans/creatures ? politics ? Are there guides/clans or “sides” you can join ?
Ah, the world! We could be stuck here for ever and a day if I try to explain everything. But! Here are some highlights.
Dilogus actually started out as a CYOA/game (choose your own adventure) book way back in 2003. Ever since then, I’ve been developing the universe and polishing it to be interesting and unique. For instance, I made sure that elements that appear are not just there because “it would be cool to have”. Every single element of the world has a reason behind it. That includes things from the smallest details, like dish decoration to big and important things like gods.
The game takes place in the fantasy universe of Dilogus. Some find this name odd, but I can give a quick explanation. The name comes from the main god, Dhil’Aeghas being pronounced wrong by the inhabitants of the world, thus creating a slang name. Dhil’Aeghas is a god that supposedly ‘forged’ the world, therefore the name corresponds to him.
There are a multitude of various creatures and races but we certainly strive away from your usual orc and elf when it comes to races, and also try to keep it minimum with all the cliché creatures you can see in fantasy games such is undeads, goblins and alike.
As for landscapes, we are also trying to present a more unique fantasy world. The game will take place in the time after a major war that occurred as a result of power struggle between the main gods, thus the environment (especially the surface) is rather ravaged and cut up into pieces – creating some sort of floating landscapes scenery. In addition to that, we are aiming to create the contrast of beautiful open environments and dark, mystical and horror-like caves. A lot of fantasy games are just all about walking in the woods, go into a dungeon, loot, go into the woods, walk around the green woods, etc. Our game spreads out evenly when it comes to variety in environments, even things such are underground cities are in plan.
4. Please tell me about the characters/classes you can choose to play (please describe each character).
Will they be “strict” classes like in Diablo (warrior, rouge, mage etc…) or could you have a multi-class character like in NWN or the Eschalon series ?
The characters will have their own strengths and weaknesses at the beginning, yes, but there will be all sorts of opportunities to teach your old dog new tricks. There are all sorts of tropes one comes to expect from fantasy games, of course, like stealthy, combat and mystic magic. We want to avoid most of the generic class structures hwoever, so we’ve been working on new ways to present each skill and strength by providing the fixed character archetype with multiple disciplines to pick from as the game unfolds. As to how exactly will each character function shall remain behind the curtains until the time comes for them to be revealed. Keep an eye out in the future for trailers outlining each character.
5. I understand you will have several characters/classes – will it be party based when you could play all of them at the same time (NWN) or you will have to choose only one character and finish the campaign with him (Diablo) ?
The player will have the choice to select one character at the game start (much like Diablo), which is a set character archetype with multiple specialization trees to customize to a given playstyle. The single player will not have AI companions nor the choice of switching between them (like NWN). The reason for this is because we want the player to focus solely on one character, providing enough space for choices and decisions.
6. What quests can we expect from the single and co-op/mmorpg (depends on the 1st question) modes ?
Kill 10 orcs and come back for a reword ? or find a way to get that magic sword (and you will have several ways to do so, and each with their own consequences (Fallout style for example) ? (I’m a die hard deep cRPG fan which involves a LOT more then just killing).
We want to place an emphasis on choice, so each character will have a variety of ways (including some character-dependent ways as well) to solve parts of the main story and some side quests. One of our plans is to have character-based options present in the multiplayer mode as well, giving the “adventure group” the ability to approach the quest from multiple perspectives. We will aim to make our quests interesting and entertaining while minimizing the quantity of typical “slay ten monsters for an arbitrary reason” style quests and allow the players more room to think for themselves and use their characters to the fullest. Lets face it, your average barbarian wont delicately pick locks they are far more likely to but their boots through it, but the choice is there. As for the consequences, say for the previous example, the likelihood of being caught is much greater and that may have certain ramifications especially if crown jewels are involved for example.
7. You are planing on making a single player and a multiplayer modes ? how will that work out ? is the multi player mode is like a co-op single player (campaign) or it’s like a MMORPG game ?
We’re planning to make Dilogus playable both in single-player and co-op modes, but we’re not aiming to create another MMORPG. The multiplayer component in both the Left 4 Dead series and Borderlands is a good example of what we’re trying to achieve, as you’ll be able to play the game in single-player mode for a while, then call upon your friends when you need a hand. The game will adjust its difficulty accordingly.
We’re also toying with different quests and challenges that will change themselves based upon the makeup of your party, so each unique group will have its own unique quest experience. You won’t NEED to play co-op to beat the game, but there will be some parts, though, that’ll be virtually impossible to complete without some help. Besides, we find that games like Oblivion get pretty boring after hours and hours by yourself, so playing Dilogus with a couple of good friends is something we want to encourage.
8. Will there be several endings to the game ? (and if so, will they be “last minute” choices as in Fable1 which I didn’t like (like playing the bad guy all the game and then redeem yourself by a single choice)).
We certainly wish to present several endings in the game,yes. But each ending will be set in stone, but the way you get there will be up to you. Various changes will occur, depending on player choices through the main storyline. There will be no redeeming final choices for sure, as that entirely conflicts with the concept of choices through the actual game. We plan to create something that will make the player feel he is in there, and that his actions will have impact to how certain parts of the story unfold.
9. Can you play an “evil” or “good” character ? how will NPC’s react to you for being evil or good ? will there be “gray” choices/quest solutions ?
There is no distinctive line between evil and good. Such thing does not exist in life either, right? Every action is good for someone, bad for someone else. Something that may seem good at the beginning could affect your character in a negative way further down the road. Likewise, a choice that may seem cruel or evil at first may bring good to you or others at a later time. Some things are very good, some are very bad, and there are a bunch of things between these two. We are trying to find the best solution between what is good and fun to play with, and what is possible for us to create. We do not wish to take off a bite that we can’t chew. Artificial Intelligence is a tricky subject, and different “paths” usually depend on it.
10. Thanks for the great interview, is there anything I forgot to ask and you want to add ? please feel free to do so.
Nothing, really. Thank you as well for your interest. Just a heads up – starting from January, we will be releasing weekly development videos and updates. You can as well visit our forums and share your thoughts, opinions and ideas or just stick around to keep yourself up to date.
Extra Chat ! (non interview conversation)
LGN : have you read the “lets play AOD” thread at Iron Tower Forums ?
it’s a MUST and as you can see it’s 72 pages long.
Norbert: it’s very hard to compare a game such is AoD to Dilogus
but I will most certainly read it when I have a bit more time
LGN : it’s not only good read for the dialogs, but for any cRPG developer.
what the developer plans is not what the user expects in many cases and that thread lead to fixing some AOD stuff.
Norbert: AOD is way more of an RPG thou :] we have a tad bit less RPG elements in there, and a bit more elements of interaction than most RPGs
but yup, thanks
LGN : elements of interaction ?
Things such are social things and world interaction
LGN : mmmm….you haven’t told me abut those…
Norbert: because it’s still in experimental phase
But an example to this would be, you can use your environment pretty well in a multitude of cases, including combat, sneaking or alike…
Kicking someone down the stairs is fun
LGN : ok…so it’s more action oriented game than quest ?
It’s hard to explain
But it mostly depends on your character, you ‘CAN’ play as a full action
But you can as well sneak around a lot and avoid a lot of fights.
LGN : I suck as sneaking
LGN : can I “convince” them not to attack me or something ?
Norbert: that’s a very ridiculous thing in a lot of games
Why would a bandit want to even consider talking to you, in the first place?
He can just beat you up and take your stuff
Diplomacy is very relative and oddly transfered in a lot of games
LGN :depends on your looks, if you are big then he “might” consider running away himself
Norbert: most quests will also have a talking solution thou – but that’s a different case
LGN : I mean , there is a skill in many RPG games just for that – to make your opponents fear of you and run away or reveal secrets …
That’s intimidation, we have that in plan
But generally, when someone is already attacking you, you can’t hold him off for a talk
But we plan to experiment a lot with AI feelings, we’ll see
LGN : depends on how the script works , if he talks to you first…
RPG’s are the hardest games to make imo
It’s not really hard to make, it’s mostly a lot of work
Current technology also helps in a lot of things
LGN : when it comes to dialogs and quests, making them feel right and logical – it’s hard
Norbert: it’s all about planning
Thank You Norbert Varga For Spending Your Valuable Time And Giving Us This Wonderful Interview.
Don’t forget to visit the Dilogus blog, and get updates on new game features, characters, world and more…
Also the Dilogus Forum has an interesting Q&A section in which there will be weekly polls of questions to ask the developers and off course answers from the developers on the “winning question”.