Using classic PC and table top RPG’s as its influence, Dungeons of Aledorn is an RPG currently in development for PC aimed at the hardcore role playing fanatic. It is indie developer Team 21’s first game, and so they, like many others before, have turned to Kickstarter for the funding to really get the project off the ground.
Boasting “a balanced combination of puzzles, branched dialogue options, tactical turn-based combat, quest-solving and an intriguing and complex RPG-system” Dungeons of Aledorn certainly sounds like a game people will want to play. But what makes it so special?
I had the opportunity to ask the game’s designer, Ladislav ‘Nefarit’ Štojdl a few questions about the team’s fledgling project, and get some exclusive information on what else we can expect.
With the Kickstarter only a few short weeks from launching, how excited/nervous is everybody at Team 21?
The deadline is approaching and the nervousness is rising. We are still fine tuning a lot of the materials. The closer we get, the more we realise that nothing is ready. That’s obviously not completely true; all of the basic components are ready, but there is still a lot of things we need to recreate and improve. I would compare it the period before graduation or a major exam. As much as you prepare, study and sweat, you always feel as though you could do more.
I would say that individual members of the team are full of expectations rather than nerves. The majority of the team are working on materials that are required and are full of expectation and anticipation!
Overall, we can say that Team 21 is “healthily nervous“!
With such a focus on hardcore gameplay, are you worried you might alienate or put off potential players?
This is a question that’s based on the overall concept of the game. In life, you simply cannot please everyone and if you attempt to, then you will become a target of mockery. We really want to make a game for hard-core gamers, and that’s our primary target group.
If we talk about the players who are somewhere on the border between these two groups, we‘re planning an option to select a slightly lower difficulty. A mode that will ultimately make the game a little easier and more accessible and hopefully attract a wider range of players.
Dungeons of Aledorn sounds like a complex first game for a studio. What are your backgrounds in games, and what is everyone bringing to DoA to make it the best it can be?
That’s true; Dungeons of Aledorn is a really complex and big game for Team 21’s first project. However, the members of our team have great experience. For me, I have over 20 years experience with making games and mechanics. A lot of the key principles in video games are very similar to board games, as you can see today with a lot of revamped board games for PC and vice versa.
Furthermore, we have a programmer that has brought several board games to life on PC, including artificial intelligence. We also have a Graphic designer that is well known from their work on the game Heroes of Newerth; they were actually behind most of the 2D designs and graphics. The rest of the team comes from the movie industry like from VFX departments. They’ve worked on numerous movies, the latest being the new Scorpion King, which is being released soon. These animators are awesome motion capture specialists.
It is a large and complex game, but for myself I can say I would not enjoy doing something small at all. We’re ambitious, but we also have the talent to pull off something really quite special.
How big can we expect the dungeons to be, and how will the difficulty in each be scaled?
The main story can be finished in around 20 hours, but that is if the player wins all battles in the main quest line on the first attempt. However, I don’t think that will ever happen. The player would have more of a chance of getting a royal flush in poker. We hope that the player will attempt most of the side quests which will increase game time several times over. With the hardcore difficulty, you can spend hours trying to figure out the best way to win some of the battles.
There will be small and medium-sized dungeons rather than one enormous complex, and the difficulty of these dungeons is on a case by case basis. Within Dungeons of Aledorn, I can say that we are planning several extreme difficulty dungeons as side quests.
As for the difficulty of the entire game, it will be optional. On the hardest difficulty we will not simply increase the monsters‘ strength, we will only increase theirs numbers. So “munchkins” players will be happy. Playing on the hardest difficulty will give players the opportunity to increase their avatars to a higher level to finish up with.
What made you decide to have exploration in first person, but the combat in isometric third person, and how smooth is the transition between perspectives?
The initial decision was that I wanted to do ‘Dungeon’, which means the view from the first person. In this view, the player can better scan the environment and generally be better at spotting the little details and revealing the various secrets and hidden objects. Simply exploring in first-person mode is more immersive, and offers the best gameplay experience from the game.
Which brings me to the tactical fights. If you imagine the vast majority of dungeons, you have more or less two types of duelling mechanics. The first is in real time, when the player clicks on objects to attack, and dodges all the different oncoming attacks with their party, like the old classic game Dungeon Master for example. Or the other way, where the game is in turn-based mode, and each character you select is kind of programmed what they will do, or you directly engage depending on the initiative of the avatars, like in Wizardry for example.
The second method is more or less the basis for enhanced tactical combat. This is actually a simplified version of what Dungeons of Aledorn will be. In this system we will be adding space so the player can strategise more with the environment and the positions of individual fighting candidates. And since I wanted the most credible, realistic game in a fantasy world, I chose this particular road. Here is probably where you can most feel of the inspiration in role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons.
The transition between the GUI’s is handled smoothly in 2 seconds once its triggered by using the aggro zones of the enemies, which can be indicated with an aggrometer provided to the player. When filled, the game will switch automatically and starts a fight, or you can decide and switch in to battle mode by clicking the switch button yourself at any time.
Will the various dialogue and quest options have an effect on the overall story, or are you aiming for a more focused narrative?
Dialogue is almost exclusively branched. In the main quest line there are several points where the player, through various dialogue options, can move the story in another direction. However, the overall process will keep the main story the same. The issue is more about how the matter is resolved by one way or another, than if it resolves the main line farther forward.
The side quests will be slightly different. Some of the complex ones will often affect the following events: When finishing a quest, the player will decide whether it was actually completed as expected, or if due to some trick the quest could then potentially be finished another way. The game will react different to both possible quest ends, which will take effect in the next part of the game. I don’t want to reveal anymore more than at the moment because of spoilers.
Have you created any races and classes unique to the world of DoA?
It’s almost impossible to create a unique profession or race these days. In the context of playable characters we follow more or less the usual golden standard rules of classic roleplaying games, like Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Where enemies are concerned, the player will encounter several unidentified and unknown unique creatures.
With the games characters, you can look forward to these races: Human, Forest Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Hobbit, Dark Elf, Savage, Half-giant, and Fairy. Additionally we have the following professions: Warrior, Rogue, Cleric, Mage, Ranger and Alchemist. With the professions, you will be able to make changes and decide how to advance them, for example, with Clerics we plan to give the player the chance to convert to a Paladin or Inquisitor.
Part of the fun of pen and paper RPG’s is that they’re played with friends, will there be a multiplayer option in DoA, or is it purely a single player experience?
This is obviously true, I think the most important part of these games. However, for Dungeons of Aledorn we decided to embrace the fight mechanics rather than the interaction between players. Multiplayer is definitely not planned. The game is not suitable for it. Maybe with a few large modifications it could be done, but then it would be a totally different game.
To players who want to play something similar in multiplayer I can only recommend one thing. Get up from the computer and go play a game at the table. In my opinion no computer game is better than most RPG desktop variations.
When are you hoping to launch DoA?
Ideally we’d like to finish by 2016. However, if we come out in the spring of 2017 we will also be satisfied. It’s a broad target, I know, but as you can imagine, creating an RPG is a broad project. The development process isn’t a simple one.
Is there anything else you’d like to reveal to our readers about DoA?
Personally, I don’t think there is a game like Dungeons of Aledorn currently on the market. There are already several dungeons which are inspired by various older games, but what DoA brings to players is unique at the moment. In the future, of course, I cannot guarantee the won’t be any similar game released, but as far as I can tell the closest game to ours was Shadows of Riva, which came out in 1997.
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The Kickstarter for Dungeons of Aledorn launches on March 11th 2015.