For the first time I heard about Pillars of History a few months ago. A Bulgarian developer called Tritan Studios caught my attention with a concept of action RPG based in times of First Bugarian State, which puts a lot of pressure on historical accuracy and education of history. Currently Pillars of Eternity is trying to raise funds on Kickstarter, so it's a great time to learn more about this promising game. Bozhidar Bakev, one of co-founders of Tritan Studios, agreed to answer some questions about this promising game.
Michal Mroz: As of now Pillars of History is fairly unknown to our readers. For a smooth start, can you describe your game in a few sentences?
Bozhidar Bakev: Pillars of History is a RPG game, based on the early Medieval History of Europe and the Balkans in the 8th century. The game is a next-generation type of hybrid between entertainment and education. While enjoying the game, the player will learn a lot of interesting historical facts. Of course the action, that is a major feature of every RPG will be strongly represented.
Pillars of History offers a realistic journey through the lands of the Eastern Roman Empire (known as the Byzantine Empire), the First Bulgarian State, The Avar Khaganate and numerous Slavic Tribes in the flesh of a full-scale RPG game.
The player will be able to embark on a fascinating journey by choosing one of the four unique characters, or he/she may create his/her own character. Each of the starting 4 characters has its own storyline, so the players are presented with plenty of replayability options.
MM: Your emphasis for 'educational' aspect of the game makes me very intrigued. It's always hard to translate historical figures and events to gameplay and it's even harder when it comes to RPG genre, because player wants to feel his choices matter - basically, he wants to change history. I guess it's a bit tricky to let player choosing his own path while staying historically accurate? How are you going to handle this?
BB: That is correct, it is hard to put education and the RPG aspects into one game. In order to do so we have formed a team of historians to help us with the authenticity of the facts. By having the support of the specialists, we are more secure as far as the information that we provide.
When the player starts his/her adventure he/she will come upon many historical monuments and events and so he/she will be able to explore them and learn interesting facts about them. This information will be very useful in the in-game adventures. For example while playing you might come upon a wise old man that offers you a wonderful weapon or reward, but he would like to test your knowledge. So he will ask you questions that will test your knowledge and the players will be provoked to learn more and more.
The players will be able to take part of important historical events as acting figures, but they won’t be able to change the course of history. Maybe this won’t appeal to everyone, but we insist on realism, and we believe that this approach is specific, but also beneficial for those who would like to enjoy a modern RPG without any fantasy elements.
The players should not feel limited, because they will be able to accept or cancel some quests and to explore ancient historical places.
MM: As you mentioned earlier, player's going to start the game with choosing one of the four pre-defined characters or creating his/her own hero. But can other characters join him/her later in the game?
BB: No. The four preset characters will have some quests and adventures that are specific only to them. But later on as the game develops they will do content that will be available to any other character. There are important historical events that should be available to everyone in order to experience them well and to learn all about them if the players desire.
MM: Can you tell us a bit about a main plot and how is it connected with individual storylines of each character? A small example (without spoiling too much) would be really helpful.
BB: Every one of the preset characters will have their own personal storyline deeply rooted into historical reality of course. For example one of those characters, named Chranovolk, will be a representative of a Slavic tribe and his story revolves around the fact that he was captured and sold as a slave to a Byzantine merchant.
MM: Ok, I think we've got covered the preset characters, but what about the story of the character created by player? Will we define his/her past during process of creation or do you have something else in mind?
BB: Every player-created character will follow a storyline deeply associated with real historical events and people. Of course there will be such basic RPG quest as helping a shepherd by killing a pack of wolves. The adventures will end with a very important historical event that will wrap up the story. We are still considering the options for the final major event.
MM: How can you develop your character along the way? What customization options are you going to enable for players?
BB: The character development in Pillars of History is based on gaining levels. Your character will have basic statistics, that will be defined by its class. The basic statistics will indicate you major forte and weakness. For example the warrior will possess solid amount of strength that will allow him/her to overcome his/her enemies with sheer physical power in melee combat. On the other hand the warrior’s wisdom will be his downfall.
The other layer of character customization will be realized through our skill system. Every character will have a set of specializations with unique passive and active skills. When you gain a level you will receive a specific amount of skill points that you can allocate as you see fit. Your choices will define the capabilities of your character, so choose wisely!
MM: It's hard to imagine RPG without a combat system. What's your approach in Pillars of History to this aspect of the game?
BB: Like all action RPGs the combat system will be fast paced, but it will be much more strategy orientated. You won’t be fighting 10, 50 or 100 enemies at once, you will face maximum 3 to 4 enemies, but they will be hard to overcome. Every class in the game will have its own unique skills, but they have to be used wisely and at the right moments. One important and specific thing about Pillars of History combat system is the stamina attribute. As we like to say a tired warrior is as good as dead! You have to manage your stamina in every battle, and you should try to recover before going on you next mission, because if you are low on stamina it is likely that you will be defeated. Stamina can be recovered by eating, drinking and taking a rest. Character's combat skills also exhaust your stamina, so you have to keep that in mind, too.
MM: Can we heal our hero during battles? In most of the RPGs it's as easy as drinking a magical potion. However, Pillars of History puts so much pressure on historical accuracy, that it just can't be possible. So, how are you going to handle it?
BB: There will be no combat healing, it just doesn’t fit reality. Every class will have a specific ways of avoiding damage and some of them will have the option to escape from battle. Healing will be possible only when the character is out of combat. The process of healing will be achieved through visiting a medic or, if the wounds are minor, the hero can treat them himself/herself. Eating and drinking will also help the healing process.
MM: Nowadays it seems every modern RPG has to have some sort of crafting system. Are you going to implement such mechanics in Pillars of History?
BB: There will be a crafting system in Pillars of History. The player will be able to master some of the crafts that was available at that time. Crafting will be very important, because it will be a major source of food supplies, without which you cannot survive in Pillars of History.
MM: Are you going to add some co-op mechanics?
BB: The game will be single player, there will be no multiplayer. But we hope that in the future we will have the opportunity to develop the game further and make it more than single player.
MM: Thank you for your time and good luck with your Kickstarter campaign!