• The Age of Decadence: exclusive interview @Vince D. Weller

The Age of Decadence: exclusive interview @Vince D. Weller

In collaboration with The IndieShelter site, RPG Italia presents an exclusive interview with the creator of this awaited “pure RPG”:

How long have you been working on Age of Decadence? How many people is the team composed of?
We started putting some concepts together (the pre-production phase) in March 2004. We played a bit with a homemade 2D engine, ran into some issues, switched to Torque Game Engine in 2005. Took us about a year to learn the new engine; “full scale” development since 2006.
There are 4 people on the team: programmer, artist, animator, writer; plus a couple of talented guys who help us with music, portraits, interface, and such.

Where does it come from, the idea of developing an old style RPG oriented to a “Niche” Audience?
We’re a part of this niche audience, so making a game for this audience is the natural, logical choice. AoD is a game that we ourselves would like to play. If it sells – great, we’ll make more. If it doesn’t, well, I’m sure there will be some kind of valuable lesson to learn there.

The graphic engine has been created by you or did you used an external one?
We’re using Torque – the finest RPG engine $100 can buy – It’s rough around the edge, but it works and comes with a robust scripting engine. What more can you really ask for?

You choose to adopt a classic turn-based battle system, a choice surley brave and against the flow. How much the character’s statistics will influence the battle in the final version. And will there be puzzle or quest that which the resolution will be influenced by character’s statistics?
If you haven’t played the combat demo (we put it together to test the combat system), then I’d suggest giving it a try: the demo (150MB) – a handy guide to the combat mechanics.To answer your question, every aspect of the game, combat and non-combat, is influenced by the character’s stats, skills, and reputation.

Will there be multiple difficulty settings? will they influence even the i.a. of the enemy?
No. If combat is too challenging, do your best to avoid it. You can finish the game without ever fighting anyone (which require high non-combat skills, obviously).

Another choice surely against the flow is that of utilizing a classic isometric camera. Has it been only a functional choice or even a nostalgic recall to the classic Black Isle/Troika RPG’s? Have you been inspired yourself to other title in the development of Age of Decadence? And by some other non-videoludic source (books, films, etc…)?
It’s a personal preference. Someone like first/third person, we like isometric. For me, nothing beats the combination of isometric and turn-based. It’s an instant attention and interest grabber.
As for the influences, I’d say Fallout’s great overall design and game flow, Planescape: Torment’s brilliant dialogues, Prelude to Darkness’ very interesting and original game design, fantastic factions’ dynamics in Glen Cook’s The Tower of Fear, and Quarzhasaat’s atmosphere of a decadent, corrupted city, kept alive by scheming and memories of the glorious past that’s long gone in Michael Moorcock’s Fortress of the Pearl, Cook’s The Black Company’s series overall atmosphere and the link to the past, and China Mieville’s approach to the arcane in The Scar.

The decadence quoted in the title seems to refer to the one of the Roman Empire. Can you anticipate us something about the lore and about the general plot?
From our site:
The empire that once occupied one third of the known world is gone; its cities destroyed, its land scorched, its link with the civilization of old severed. Noble Houses that lorded over provinces and commanded vast armies have withdrawn to rule from their broken city-states. Once seduced by the prospect of power, constantly fighting for affluence and influence, now they fear losing what little they have. An endless, silent struggle for dominance ensues both within and without. The Imperial Guard, remnants of the Imperial Army, bound together under a common cause, act as a deterrent to open warfare.
Immeasurable damage was done to scientific and arcane research during the war and as a result the world has become stagnant. Where mistrust, prudence and petty plays at power are common, progress is solely reliant on the rediscovery of long forgotten libraries, forges and arcane facilities. The Noble Houses lack the resources and the will to re-establish the structures and societies of knowledge, and technological and societal advancement have become a commodity to be traded, sabotaged or stolen. Hucksters peddle ancient wares of no value to the ignorant, while the Lords seek and hoard artifacts they barely understand.
Ideas of chivalry, honour, and valour are long since dead, cast aside as just another currency. Loyalty is transitory and the rule of law is easily bought. Alliance and reputation are sometimes the difference between life and death – a misspoken word or an unpaid tribute can pose dire consequences. This deceit and corruption presents a unique circumstance of opportunity for the individual, particularly among Noble Houses. Their idle disquiet that the centuries of inertia and decadence are about to change is rapidly descending into desperation. A fanatical mysticism is slowly gaining favour and long held resentments are rising to the surface. Some speculate that another war approaches, others actively encourage it.
While such a situation offers nothing but dark times for many common folks, it offers a once in a lifetime opportunity for an individual determined to seize the moment and follow it to riches, power, glory, and, most likely, an untimely death.
The main quest revolves around locating a pre-war temple and dealing with a remnant of another age, exploring events of the past, and dealing with various factions affected by your quest.
In the main plot will there be some “major” choices that will influence the ending? will It have some textuale resuming slides in the style of dragon age/fallout: new vegas or will it be something more simple (or more complex)?
There are seven very different endings. There will be proper slides explaining your actions (or inactions) and their short and long term impact.

Will the choice focus more on the approach side (diplomatic/brutal/stealth/etc…) or on the moral side? The moral choice? for that second case will it be a classic good/neutral/evil system or a more ambigous one?
The game features both multiple quest solutions (i.e. different ways to approach and complete your objectives) and different choices affecting the gameworld, factions, and NPCs.
I’m not putting any labels on the latter choices, which is why there is no good/evil system in the game. These things are very subjective and the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions.
Our approach is to provide motivations, show you things from different angles, avoiding clichés like good guys and bad guys (whatever side you pick is the good guys, the other side is the bad guys), and adding some reactivity. I don’t think you’d feel bad if you double-cross an NPC and earn 5 evil points. You would, however, regret your choice greatly, if the double-crossed NPC ambush you with his rough looking buddies and chop your outnumbered character to pieces to teach him a valuable lesson about morals and values.

The aspect in wich the major expectations are focused it’s the choice-consequence system. How much will the world of the game, the quests development and the relation with the npcs be influenced by the player actions?
Quite a lot. You decide who your friends and enemies are, you decide what to do, when, and how. Your actions and choices will affect your relationship with factions and NPCs, and options down the road.
Can you anticipate us a little about the character creation? What method will be used to determine experience point and/or to make grow the main character.
Again, I’d like to refer you to the combat demo  you start by creating your character. There are 6 stats and a number of skills. You assign stat points, then skill points, pick your background, and we’re done. There are no levels, so when you get skill points after completing quests and objectives, you can use them to increase your skills right away.

Will there be a crafting system?
Yes. We have both crafting and alchemy systems.
With Crafting, you’ll be able to forge your own weapons & armor from metal ingots. Higher skills and in-game knowledge will let you further improve your equipment. Alchemy gives you access to healing salve, poison, acid, liquid fire, and black powder (gunpowder).

Will there be some investigation quest? or some quest based solely on the mediation/dialoge skill of the character?
Most quests can be solved without resorting to violence, via dialogues or text adventures. Combat is usually the hardest, and unless you’re a combat specialist, often impossible way of dealing with obstacles.


Will it be possible to utilize magic? If yes there will there be even not-combat spells (for exemple to utilize in “social” context or to resolve determinate quest)?
No spells.
The magic in the game is a form of energy. You can’t cast fireballs or summon monsters, but you can use it to power up some relics of the past, ranging from “power” armor to entire locations. Something like:
You carefully insert the power tube into the opening. For a long time nothing happens, but then the console lights up and a low humming sound spreads through the cave.

[lore] Recite an appropriate mantra.
You put your hands on the controls and recite “commanding fire elementals to bless ore” mantra, performing the rite as you speak the ancient words.
The mantra doesn’t require you to understand what you are doing, but it does a good job leading you through a series of steps grouped into chapters. Some chapters require you watching the dials and adjusting the valves to achieve divine harmony; other chapters warn about dangers of overheating and tell you how to keep the fire elementals under control.
1. Complete the ritual.
2. Overheat the machine
– will there be complete freedom on where to go in the world map? how will the travels and the world map work?
Yes, the game is non-linear, so you’ll be free to go anywhere you please. You do need to know where you’re going though (the destination location should be added to your map), but it’s not a huge issue. You’ll start the game with the knowledge of where the three main towns are and will be able to depart the starting town immediately, if you choose to do so. There are no artificial ways to keep you in a location and force you to do certain quests.

Will the game be still be distributed in a retail version? What extra physical contents will it contain? what type of delivery will you offer for european countries?
Whether or not the game will be distributed retail remains to be seen. We have a few offers but this distribution model isn’t a priority for us. You will be able to buy the game online (download and play it instantly, which is probably the best way to get games). We’ll also be offering a collector’s edition for the gaming enthusiasts, which will include a professionally done box, a glossy map with all locations, and a CD in a standard jewel case.

Thank you for your time, one last question: How would you describe this game?
A role-playing game.

A special thanks to Davide Alexandro Fiandra (xdavid).