Fatherdale - new king of the RPG genre

Today we bring you an interview with creators of the beautiful, mythological isometric RPG called Fathedale. Russian team Snowball Interactive promises lots of new features, exciting story and marvellous graphics. Will Fatherdale really become a new king of the RPG genre? Read this and make your own opinion! Exclusive screenshots are included.
Today we bring you an interview with creators of the beautiful, mythological isometric RPG called Fathedale. Russian team Snowball Interactive promises lots of new features, exciting story and marvellous graphics. Will Fatherdale really become a new king of the RPG genre? Read this and make your own opinion! Exclusive screenshots are included.

Fatherdale Fatherdale

Fatherdale Fatherdale

Fatherdale Fatherdale

Doupě: The Norse mythology theme is quite popular in these days, let`s mention awaited RTS Age of Mythology or MMORPG Midgard. Why did you choose this theme for your game as well?

Sergei Klimov: For us it wasn`t a clear and conscious choice as we started from the other side: we wanted to make a game set in early medieval world, a game that would allow a more developed personality for the player and for other characters in the game. Swords and bravery, I would say.

We opened the map of XI century and sought a place that would be the meeting point of several cultures, and our historical consultants suggested a small northern valley then populated by Slavs, often visited by Viking and right on the border of the Nomad steppes. We went there for a few days, looked around, and oved the valley -- since then the small bits of information started to accumulate.

The legend of Asgard, the city of gods sought by Viking konungs and rumoured to be in the forests of Gardariki. The wild and violent fights for control among the Nomads, and the tradition of all-defying, independent and self-destructive tribes of Wild Nomads. The story of the wooden Keeps of the Slavs, and the institution of Guardians -- mighty warrior brothers bend on protecting the valley. In about a year and a half of research, we had a precise picture of what actually happened to our heroes.

Overall, the mythology of Fatherdale as a game universe at large is not entirely norse: yes, Konung Olaf seeks advice from Father Odin, but Guardian Kozarin rather hopes for a sign from Peroon -- the thunder god of Slav warriors, and Khan Bolosh is more worried about Horseless Rider. The subtitle of the game, the Guardians of Asgard, reflects the major conflict that is about to happen within th storyline, but it`s not meant to cease all other beliefs that NPCs have.

Doupě: There`s a reference on your website that the game`s enviroment is based on extensive historical research. But won`t this be more likely restrictive for the development, rather than constructive?

S.K.: At the beginning of the design process, it was a blessing -- with every new project you go through a stage when everything is possible, and it`s a huge challenge to retain the integrity of the world you create. With the historical data and input from our consultants, we had a solid base for the universe, and the legends were our primary source of inspiration.

Down in the steppes, a warrior wakes up from a dream where his friend is asking for help -- in the dream, this friend was left behind the tribe, and he`s in pain. The warrior sets looking for this friend, whom he hasn`t seen since the last winter. As it turns out, he fell in a battle with the Guardians within one of their Keeps -- and he wasn`t properly buried. Meanwhile, he continues to come in the dreams and, speaking from the empty steppes of the dead, slowly retells his story: thrown in a pit without a weapon and without a fair horse, he can`t catch up with the other raiders in the steppes of the other side. A party is thus put together to venture to the Keep, the Keep is attacked and burned down -- the warrior reburied, this time with a sabre and a fair horse slain on the mound. In the night after the battle, he comes in a dream again -- happily riding with the other dead warriors to cross the dead steppes. Ever since, his friend has a protecting hand on the other side. Enemy arrows seem to miss him, and his horse never misses a step...

What you`ve just read is but one of the actual stories we came across during our research -- as I said, there is a lot of inspiration to be found once you get down to the sources.

Doupě: How much is Fatherdale`s story based on historical facts? Or is it clearly a fiction?

S.K.: Fatherdale as the valley, its characters and their customs is what we like to call a co-history -- the people and events that *could* have existed there, but not necessarily had so. The Prince of Fatherdale, for one, has a certain likehood with Prince Vsevolod of XII century -- a familiar gesture here, an attitude there... Reinar`s friend Snorri has the same merry spirit as did Snorri Sturlusson and Magnus One Eye is a reflection of the Viking konung from Novgorod -- but no more than a reflection, really. All of the Guardians, Vikings, Nomads and vermin in the game carry parts of the actual characters, share their beliefs, dream similar dreams... But neither of them can be found exactly in the chronicles. As for the valley, Fathertown and Fathedale still exist -- these days, the city is known as Dedoslavl and it`s one of the prime excavation areas for the Historical Museum.

Doupě: Will the players have opportunity to see the Norse Gods themselves, face to face?

S.K.: Neither Thor nor Odin had a habit of disclosing their true nature before ahieving their particular goals, so I wouldn`t expect a direct encounter. Yet Odin plays a part in the game, and given the proper approach can be communicated with. In Fatherdale, all magic is in the shadows, a matter of "if" and "could" rather than "here and now".

Doupě: Hero of your game should be so to say a demigod, a being between Gods and Humans. What will be his characteristics?

S.K.: He is a demigod, but the tragedy is that he knows little of his powers and of his true destiny: he is mortal and his body has no difference from the bodies of fellow warriors, the immortality lies with the spirit.

Doupě: Fatherdale is said to be a mix of RPG, RTS and adventure. What will be the main RTS features? Will it be possible to create groups of units? And if it will, how many members could such a group have?

S.K.: The main RTS features are formations and Battle Groups -- the ability to select a commander and assign to him fellow characters, then give order to this commander and have him manage the group on his own. The size of such groups is limited by the leadership of the chosen commanders.

Doupě: When did came the decision to develop Fatherdale for Xbox as well?

S.K.: We are in an advanced stage of discussing this format with our potential publishers as we reached the dicision to support it early in 2001 as a way to expand the universe. The Xbox version is diffreent from the PC version in terms of gameplay. While initially we thought it could limit the experience, we found that by dropping some of the features we can instead concentrate on developing the other ones and substantially increase the strategic aspect of the game.

Doupě: Your game uses many advanced technologies of these days, although it`s development began already in 1997. Did you have to rewrite the game many times or was it a slow progress?

S.K.: Nah, not really -- we started with a rather advanced engine for that time, and we kept up with the requirements of thegameplay along the dev cycle, so there was a continuous evolution rather than a series of revolutions :).

Doupě: How important is graphics for you, compared to other game elements?

S.K.: For me, graphics is one of the keys to believability. The game must be beautiful, it must fuel the imagination and present a consistent, rich world that you can relate to. My three kings are the story, the graphics and the interface.

Doupě: Almost all the items are hand-crafted. Do you know how many are they?

S.K.: The ones displayed on the game`s site are a selection of our character artist, in the game there is also a considerable amount of less advanced, common weapons. Overall, I would say that on top of the common weapons about 120-150 handcrafted weapons would make it into the final cut of the game.

Doupě: And finally, what is the estimated lenght of Fatherdale? How many hours will players spend with it?

S.K.: We target between one and two weeks of playing experience. Our tests so far show that less experienced players end up with roughly the same amount of playing time as hardcore RPG`ers as the latter chase additional story threads and seek better -- and harder -- ways to solve situations. It`s hard to translate it into exact hours as, for example, you can`t read a 1000-page book in one gulp :).

Release date: March 2002 (public demo), April 2002 (full version)

Interesting links: official game site - http://www.fatherdale.com/, developer`s site - http://www.snowball.ru/.

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