IGM Interviews: Team 21 (Dungeons of Aledorn)
Dungeons of Aledorn is a turn-based RPG that we first heard about in the IGM Forums. Its ambitious style and combat system, including motion capture for nearly every character movement in-game, is a sort of revolution in the way we normally think of RPGs (outside of LARPing, of course). With so much of gaming focused on graphics and story, having such a comprehensive blend of those with the added detail of realistic character animation is a very exciting concept. With the upcoming Kickstarter campaign just 12 days away, IGM decided to find out more about the nitty gritty details that make Dungeons of Aledorn so unique.
[Writer’s Note: Interview answers were typed via email by Ladislav Štojdl. Only occasional edits were made for clarity.]
Indie Game Magazine: First, I’d like to thank you for participating in this interview – the RPG genre is pretty extensive, but the project you guys are working on looks like it has the potential to be a standout, and I’m really excited to learn more about it.
Tell us about yourself. Who are you, why did you get into game dev, what’s your favorite game, etc. What should our readers know about you?
Ladislav Štojdl: Hello there! My name is Ladislav Štojdl. I studied at the Technical University Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, where I successfully graduated two years ago. I’d actually started working on the game at the school, in parallel with the writing of the thesis!
How I got into game development? That’s a good question, especially if we take into account that I have studied mechanical engineering, nothing really related to games such as programming or graphics . It is fair to say that even though I studied one thing, in my spare time I dealt with something else entirely. I played the games of course, but I mean table RPG games (D&D, GURPS, Shadowrun, and many others). In these games, I was almost exclusively GM. What does it mean GM to do? You must create a world, story, characters and plot – essentially the whole game. You may have a small advantage in that you do not have to deal with mechanics (at least the base, there are rules of the game written), but everything else is up to you.
The initial idea, to make a game, was born inside me a long time ago. Probably sometime in 2006, I said that “Dungeon” type of games are doing terribly and that there was a real lack of them on the market. Legends of Grimrock showed me that there’s an appetite for the genre, which was actually the last such impulse I needed to play really and so, I started planning on making DoA [Dungeons of Aledorn]. For more information on the very start of the project, you can read in my blog which you will find on our site.
I have a lot favorite games. More or less across all genres, except simulators and sports games. I will name couple of them here: Dungeon Master, Fallout, Gothic, Jagged Alliance, Starcraft, DOTA, X-COM series, Baldur’s Gate, Might and Magic, Deus Ex, Civilization and many more!
IGM: This is a very ambitious venture, making an RPG in video game format with the potential for so many choices. What are some of the difficulties you’ve encountered when trying to account for as many of the possible choices a person might make?
Štojdl: Oh, this is one element that I want to transfer from desktop RPG games to those playing our game on computers. If you think about the table game, your feedback is the GM, so they can respond to virtually anything. In the game, of course, everything has to be programmed and the system of how we do it is actually quite simple. We just wrote a comprehensive list of what we should be able to do and achieve and scratched what would have minimal or no benefit to the game. After that, there still remained a very large list of options. From it we then selected the “core” ones and those we started to expand and bring to life. Gradually adding more and more features.
Of course, very often we encountered various problems. One we solved, for example, was the inaccuracy of the shooting. If the figure shoots through other targets there is slight possibility to hit someone else. The feedback of the game showed to the player includes a percentage of these options and trajectory of the shot. One problem was overcoming characters with invisibility (stealth mode) in the trajectory. We had to allow the game to actually reveal the hidden character as a possible target, and that the player could detect and reveal invisible characters. So, we have created an exception for invisible characters that the probability is still there, but the players are not able to see it. So actually due to an inaccurate shot, a player can still detect invisible characters. He is, however, not able detect them with just by moving the cursor.
We can say that the realism that we promise, the game certainly will have. Just please realize that it is a PC game and it will always [have limitations].
IGM: The graphics so far are gorgeous! Did you have any inspiration for them?
Štojdl: For me it’s definitely the Gothic series. It has a beautiful dark atmosphere, which is exactly my idea of fantasy! Unfortunately, it is not always possible to follow the same graphical style, because very often we work with assets made by different people – so some of the locations may act differently.
IGM: The main character is described as an alcoholic bastard son – there’s a back story to that introduction, right? Can you tell us a bit more about him?
Štojdl: This binds one interesting story, back when we (Daniel, the producer and level designer of the game and I) were discussing in the pub. At the time, Daniel still wasn’t too clear about the story, so he asked to have more on the background of the player. Like the majority of old-school dungeon RPGs, I wanted to have, more or less, an anonymous party of adventurers. Daniel liked the anonymous idea, but protested that in the present time, there has to be the main character – the player will somehow be incorporated into the plot – basically so that the player could identify with the character. Well, as part of the main story of saving the country, it would be good to have them develop a deeper relationship with the country land. For example, if you were the son of an Earl, this is because it would be boring for the players – to have money for everything within the game, and have the advantage of having the very best in weaponry and armor from the start.
That is why we created this alcoholic-bastard 🙂
IGM: Your Kickstarter launches on March 11, but is there anything you can tell potential backers about possible rewards and stretch goals?
Štojdl: Sure, I see no reason why we should hide the info. Within the rewards you can enjoy a cheaper version of the game for those faster backers – Early Bird Skeleton Tier. It also will have a small advantage in the game or soundtrack, for which I can now guarantee that it will be really very, very good. I’m really proud of our composer. Likewise, if someone loves our art, Yeve (our 2D artist) is preparing an art book printed on paper at around an A3 size.
For the bigger rewards, we’re planning hand-painted oil paintings or the possibility of creating your own monsters – which includes a visit to our studio. The potential backer can use our motion capture system to capture his movements for their monster or character.
In the goals you can look forward to more side quests, possibility to enchant the items and so you can create your own magical objects, fully narrated spoken dialogues, language mutations [slang], and, last but not least, the campaign for the other side – the orcs 🙂 Meaning that you can play against the humans as an evil ORC!
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