Since we at NMA saw (and showed the world) the screenshots of the new PA RPG hopefully coming from Troika, we've were curious about this game, so we decided to ask Leonard Boyarsky a few questions about this game and it's engine..
- What are you calling this new engine ?
We’re still deciding on that one. I’m in favor of “Troika’s super fantastic extra cool ultimate 3d RPG engine”.
- What kind of features does this engine hold ?
Well, it’s full 3d, and it supports all the bells and whistles a next generation 3d engine should have – bump mapping, displacement mapping, normal mapping, real time lighting effects, etc. The way we’re planning on using it is in a 3d version of an isometric game (as you can see in the screens) where you can zoom in and out, but the angle is locked. However, the engine is capable of going to first or third person as well.
- What are the minimum specs a computer would need to run a game using this engine?
It’s way too early to give any kind of definitive answer to this question, but we’re planning on structuring our projects using this engine in such a way that a lot of the flash can be toggled off to enable it to run well on lower end machines.
- This new engine is a 3D one, what kind of zoom levels, rotations with the camera can we expect?
As I said above, we can pretty much do anything with the camera that we feel like with this engine, but our plan for our hypothetical Post Apocalyptic RPG was to lock the camera angle but allow you to zoom in and out and rotate the camera 360 degrees.
- Does this engine support destructable terrain/buildings/items ala Silent Storm ?
It can, but we haven’t put that into it yet. Not sure if that’s something we’d concentrate on, it really depends on the type of game we end up making. Game development is all about trade offs in determining what features you will focus on and which will have to remain on the drawing board. At least if you’re a developer without unlimited financing that’s the way it goes.
- Why did you guys start on another post apocalyptic RPG rather then something else?
We love the genre. I mean, when we were given completely free reign on the first game any of us had been in charge of making, we chose post apocalyptic over any other setting. That should tell you something right there.
- There's been alot of talk on the internet after these shots, have they produced any buzz amongs the publishers?
We’ve had a few promising meetings as a result of the screens being posted. Nothing solid, yet, but hopefully soon. . .
- You recently had an interview with hardwired and in that interview said that selling a turn based PA RPG to publishers are hard these days, why do you think it's hard selling a game like this to a publisher? Especially looking at the recent success of for instance Silent Storm.
Publishers are looking for successful titles in terms of sales and not just positive reviews. They are averse to taking any risks which they can possibly avoid, which is why real-time action is favored over turn-based, and fantasy genres are favored over non-fantasy. This doesn't guarantee success, of course (there have been plenty of real-time, fantasy CRPG flops), but most, if not all, of the successful CRPG's have been in a fairly narrow category. For better or worse, it's what the mainstream public buys. Of course, this ignores the fact that most if not all of the hugest games are innovative and original, not just more of the same. But being original is risky, and with games costing huge amounts of money to make, everyone is looking for a guaranteed return on their investment.
- Do you think the hardcore Fallout fans will rejoice when faced with a RT/RT with pause PA RPG ? How will you sell it to them?
Speaking as a hardcore Fallout fan myself (if I’m allowed to put myself in that category), I’d rather see a real time with pause post apocalyptic RPG than not seeing a new post apocalyptic RPG at all. The way Troika tries to “sell” stuff usually is to just tell people what we’re thinking and why we’re making the choices we’re making. I’d be fired up to make an in depth RPG whether it was turn based or real time with pause because I love making RPGs. It’s just part of developing games that you’re given boundaries to work within, whether they’re budgetary or design related. If we were never able to make another turn based RPG I wouldn’t like it, but if a paused real time system is what it takes to get a game made that we want to make, we’ll make that the best paused real time system we can – and we’ll be 100% behind it as well. We would never develop anything begrudgingly. Another aspect to all this that needs to be considered is that we like challenging ourselves. I mean, we’re making a real time first person RPG right now which is completely different from Temple, which was different from Arcanum, which was different from Fallout.
- Troika has evidently decided on the traditional isometric viewpoint rather than something else, why is that ? And can you change the angle or is it locked by the game?
For the Post Apocalyptic rpg we’ve been pitching, the camera angle would be locked, but you could zoom in and out and rotate 360 degrees. This is a design choice, not a limitation of the engine. The engine could easily be third or first person as well.
As far as why “isometric”, we feel that view/feel is what we want for the gameplay. Certain types of games/combat just feel different depending on the view, and we wanted to bring that feeling and view into a next generation engine. We don’t believe to be cutting edge you need to be first or third person (chase cam, as it’s also known), though we like making those style of games as well.
- What do you think are the benefits of having a traditional isometric viewpoint rather then something else in a cRPG?
I think the most important aspect of the traditional isometric view is the overview you get for combat and the “lay of the land”.
- Since you are planning on having the combat RT with pause, are you thinking about adding TB combat as an option? if so why and if not why ?
We’ve definitely discussed this as an option, and it seems to me that it would be much easier to balance paused real time with turn based combat than it was to try to balance turn based with full real time. I’m not a system designer, though, so maybe I’m high. I like the idea, but some other people here have said that they think it would be a bit redundant to have both turn based and paused real time. What do you guys think? Would that be redundant?
- This is the only planned title that Troika is working on? or do you have something else up your sleave ?
We actually have four completely different projects we’re talking to publishers about right now. I’ll keep you guys updated…
- Who is most like to be on the development team for this PA title and who will lead it ?
We’ve yet to schedule the knife fights to determine who will be in charge. That’s how we like to do it around here, if you’re not ready to throw down with knives, you’re not committed to your ideas. You probably think I’m kidding…
I don’t know who would be the project lead or who would be on the team. It all depends on what else we’re working on when we start it.
- How did you feel when you knew that you lost the race for the Fallout license ?
Like someone kicked me in the nuts and then kidnapped one of my daughters. Okay, maybe that’s a bit too harsh, but I was upset. As I said in a previous interview (on DAC), we always felt like Fallout was ours, and it was just a technicality that Interplay owned it. I always thought we’d end up working on it again, and when the opportunity seemed to present itself again, I got overexcited and figured the universe was realigning itself to deliver Fallout back to us. Sadly for us, it looks like we won’t be getting the opportunity to further the Fallout universe in line with our original vision.
- Did you guys have a story ready for a Fallout 3? Or what was your plan?
We had a few different things we were tossing back and forth, but nothing concrete. We were thinking more along the lines of overall gameplay, functionality, etc. than story at this point.
- Would you have made Fallout 3 isometric and with Turn Based combat or would you have followed the same principle that you're using on this PA title ?
I don’t know how I would have felt about making FO3 anything but isometric and turn based. We did have an extremely high budget idea for another approach, but even in that scenario combat was isometric and turn based. Of course, it’s easy for me to say I wouldn’t have done a paused real time FO3 now, but I don’t know what I would have said if the offer was made.
As far as the new game, I feel there’s a little more leeway in how it’s handled, as what the game “is” has yet to be established.
- Any tips for Bethesda ?
Sure. They should call us and we can discuss them (somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen).