Founder and Lead Developer at Soldak Entertainment -- Developers
of the Action/RPG Depths of Peril, the Hack ní Slash Kiviís
Underworld and the up coming non-linear Action/RPG Dinís Curse.
Interview by Peter Koerner (AKA
Q: How did you start in game
development and what were your motivations in founding Soldak
A: I've been in game
development one way or another for a long time now. I programmed games as
a hobby in high school and college, and even had my own startup shortly
after college for a time. I didn't really get into game development full
time until I started working for Ritual Entertainment though. I worked at
Ritual for a little over 6 years and was their technical director when I
I started Soldak for many
reasons, but it really boils down to I wanted to do my own thing. For
example, I really wanted to create an RPG. I was never going to be able to
do that at Ritual and even if Ritual had made an RPG, I would probably not
have been the lead designer. Starting Soldak allowed me to work on games I
want to play. I also will no longer hear excuses like your company doesn't
know how to make that type of game, there are already too many RPGs, we
should make a clone of last years best seller, no one has done that
before, no one likes Sci-Fi, and many other terrible reasons not to make a
Q: Would you consider Depths of Peril
a traditional RPG and Kiviís Underworld more along the lines of the
ďHack and SlashĒ? Will Dinís Curse come closer to a traditional
A: Personally I wouldn't use the word
traditional for Depths of Peril. It was an action RPG, but
intertwined with warring, rival factions so there were also a lot of
strategy elements. Kivi's Underworld was very different and much
more of a laid back, casual type of hack and slash game. Between the two
though, Din's Curse will be much more similar to Depths of Peril
(depth wise not the factions part).
Q: Tell us about the development leveling
and your hybrid class system used in Dinís Curse.
A: The leveling itself is fairly typical
with experience, levels, attribute points, and skill points. I'm pretty
excited about the class system. We have six main classes in the game which
each have three specialties (18 total specialties). However, the
interesting twist is that we also allow hybrid classes. You can either
choose a full class and get access to all three of its specialties or a
hybrid class with ANY two specialties. This comes out to a whopping 141
class combinations you can choose from.
Picking a full class or a hybrid is a matter of
choosing which weapons and armor you want to be able to use, which skills
you want access to, which attribute/stat bonuses you want, and the type of
mana regeneration that fits your play style the best.
You can read more about our hybrid class system
on my blog at:
Q: How do foes and boss characters level
in comparison with your character and can we expect some particularly
A: Monsters will of course get
progressively tougher as you progress through the game. They don't auto
scale with the player though which is what this question reminds me of.
Oh, there will be plenty of challenges. To me,
the interesting part is that each game's challenges will be different. In
one game, the undead might get out of control and infect the entire town.
In another game, after preparing for a tough boss fight, the boss might
get overthrown by a different, harder boss. In another game, you might run
into an entire group of unique monsters at the same time.
Q: What style (turn-based or real-time) of
battle between player and foe is used in Dinís Curse?
A: Like Depths of Peril and
Kivi's Underworld, Din's Curse is a real-time action RPG.
However, for an action game there are a lot of things going on in the
background. In Din's Curse you are adventuring in a very dynamic
world, so don't expect mindless clicking like some games.
One of these days I do hope to do a turn-based
Q: In reading the summary of Dinís
Curse, it sounds like the gameís environments are randomly generated
and your interaction impacts the game as you progress; Iíve always found
that style of gaming fascinating. Can you tell us something about the
creative process that goes into building such a game world?
A: Yes, the environment is randomly
created and randomly populated with items, monsters, quests, and objects
that are appropriate for that particular area. You will never see the same
setup multiple times.
Once setup though, your actions, NPCs' actions,
and the monsters' actions are what progresses the game. If war is brewing
and you are asked to stop it before it breaks out, your actions really
will impact what happens. If you are successful, you will save the area
from becoming a war zone. If you fail, the area will be ravaged by a war.
Players need to remember that lack of action is also an action. If you
don't stamp out an uprising in time, they will likely find something
interesting to do, like raid the town.
From the creative side of things, this type of
game is a bit different from creating a linear game. In a linear game, you
have full placement control and you are explicitly setting up
interactions, so you know what to expect. In a game like ours, just about
anything can happen. I have to think about all of the pieces individually
and collectively. Is this going to be fun and cool? How is this going to
impact everything else? If these two objects are placed next to each other
will they interact like the player expects? What happens if the player
ignores this quest for too long? What happens when they succeed? What
happens if they fail a quest? Can they fail this quest? In general, how
does this quest lead to other quests?
Q: Will we be able to save game progress
at any time or are check/save points involved?
A: I understand why save point systems
exist, but I can't stand them. All of our games use a save on exit scheme.
You can save and quit whenever you want and you don't have to manage your
save games. The game also saves in the background automatically so the
player never has to worry about when the last time they saved was.
Q: How long has Dinís Curse been in
A: Officially we started developing
Din's Curse in June of this year. However the multiplayer expansion
pack for Kivi's Underworld was really an excuse to get multiplayer
into Din's Curse. J
That started in January. So it depends on how you want to count.
Q: How many developers are involved in the
game creation process for Dinís Curse?
A: Soldak is a very small indie developer.
I'm the only full time developer, but we also have contractors for the
writing, sound, and several for art. All together, there are currently
nine people on the team.
Q: What is your favorite game genre?
A: I don't know about a single genre, but
my favorite two these days are the RPG and strategy genres. I tend to like
longer games with actual depth.
Q: Have there been any particular games,
computer or otherwise, that have influenced or inspired you?
A: I'm sure there a ton of games that have
influenced me over the years. Some of the big names I can think of off the
top of my head are the Diablo series, Civilization series,
Master of Orion, D&D, World of Warcraft, and the Gold Box
Notice only one of those is some what recent. For
inspiration, I turn more towards indie games these days because they are
much more likely to do something new or something old that has been lost,
games like Eschalon, Braid, Mount & Blade, and Gratuitous Space
Q: Is the release date for Dinís Curse
still on track for later this year?
A: So far yes. I'm shooting for December
some time, although that's not the best of time of year to ship a game.
Thank you for the interesting and informative
interview Steven. Iím sure the character development and non-linear game
play of the upcoming Dinís Curse will wet the appetite of many
gamers. I for one am definitely looking forward to its release.
Games from Soldak Entertainment:
Depths of Peril is a unique action RPG
with warring factions and a dynamic world. Barbarians choose their leaders
by fighting to the death! More info at:
Depths of Peril
Kivi's Underworld is a casual hack and
slash game with 20+ classes. Can you save the lumen people? More info at:
Din's Curse is our upcoming single player
and co-op multiplayer action RPG with 141 class combinations, infinite
number of dynamically generated towns, real consequences, and a dynamic,
evolving world. More info at: