After yesterday introduction, we invite you to read a second part of our interview with Peter Ohlmann, Managing Director of Ceres Games, who talks about newest project of his team - Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen.
EN: Let's talk a bit about main character from narrative perspective. Who is he/she? What does drive him/her through the story of Realms Beyond?
PO: Actually, we don't have a main character. There is no single hero - in our game - the whole party is the protagonist.
The player will enter a world that has been plagued by a global catastrophe about fifty years ago. This so-called cataclysm is of unknown origin and devastated many parts of the world. The player needs to find out what actually happened and to achieve that, he or she needs to travel the whole world.
EN: That being said, it feels like a typical story from zero to hero.
PO: It's a very open story, very player-driven. You start out as an inexperienced party and end up as veteran adventurers. Whether you are heroes or villains, saviors or destroyers, that's up to you. We don't force you into any specific role but let you decide which path to follow.
EN: Most of D&D-based RPGs were designed in the way, that being good was way too beneficial. How is it in Realms Beyond? Can we excel as a guy bad to the bone?
PO: Freedom of choice is the main pillar of our game design. You can decide whether you want to help some poor villagers against goblins raiders or if you want to plunder the village by yourself. It’s up to you but every action has consequences you'll have to deal with. Our comprehensive faction system will take of that.
EN: Speaking of factions, how many of them can we encounter/join? Is it possible to become a master of all factions or joining one of them can shut the door of the other(s)?
PO: There will be plenty of factions in the game, some of which are mutually exclusive. Becoming the master of a faction is very rare, while some factions will allow you to rise high in the ranks, it's a bit unrealistic for someone who just joined the guild to become its leader in just a few months time! You might become the right hand of the faction leader, but not the leader himself. In most regions of our world there will also be political factions with opposing goals, for example the Wildlands where three pretender kings are fighting over who gets to rule. Of course you can only help one of them to become king, so there is plenty of replay value in the game with mutually exclusive paths.
EN: The game isn't placed in Faerûn, Greyhawk or any other known universe. Can you introduce us to the world of Realms Beyond? Is there anything special in its fantasy theme?
PO: Since we always wanted to create a classically inspired party-based cRPG, we don’t aim to fully reinterpret traditional high fantasy themes like the ones of LotR and D&D. But we have been influenced by other fantasy settings as well, scenarios like Conan, Dark Sun or the lesser known Tékumel.
The world of Realms Beyond, Argea, offers quite a variety of regions and cultures. From the ancient desert kingdoms like Sabâg-Hirar in the south to the subarctic tribes of Kvenland in the north.
We put a lot of effort in creating a believable world with rich history and lore. To achieve that, we even created our own version of Wikipedia to describe and manage the world as whole.
EN: Do you mean an in-game codex or something you’re going to put online? Or maybe even as a hard cover book for collectors?
PO: We have our own internal wiki that our team uses to develop the world. It's a useful development tool that helps us keep a good overview of the world we're creating, with everything neatly structured. For the modding community, we’ll release a wiki with all the content related to the SRD 3.5e.
EN: It looks like you really put a great of effort into world-building. I mean, it's the kind of effort you don't take without a long-term plan. Do you have such plan for Argea and Realms Beyond?
PO: Yes, we do have a long-term plan for Realms Beyond. If it is successful enough, we'd like to create expansions - big additions to the game that add entire new regions to explore and new stories to take part in. The world is much larger than the part you can visit in Realms Beyond. Think of Baldur's Gate, it's a large game but the Forgotten Realms are much larger. Now imagine Baldur's Gate had released several expansion packs adding new regions of the world to the game. That's what we would like to do.
EN: A bit of modes at the end: Story Mode or Ironman Mode seem like a standard for gamers now. Are you going to develop any such modes?
PO: There will be a heroic mode but we haven't decided about the actual implementation yet. This mode will be for veteran players only, because you don't have helpful features like the indication of hostile Attack of Opportunities fields. Also, saving will be limited to specific, secure places like villages or camps. But the design of that mode is far from being finished yet.
EN: But outside of heroic mode you can save wherever and whenever you want? Unless you're in battle, obviously.
PO: Yes, we don't want to unfairly restrict the player's ability to save the game.
EN: Ok, we're closing soon, so tell me what do you think about modding and sharing tools with community?
PO: It's quite important for us to enable the community to create their own adventures, campaigns or even complete new worlds from the beginning. Therefore, we will release all our tools at release, most notable, the Level Editor and the NPC Dialogue Tool. Most of the rule based mechanisms are available as script code which can be modified and enhanced. With services such as Steam Workshop, you can easily share your adventures and mods with others.
EN: Can you give us at least rough estimations regarding launch of the game?
PO: We plan to release in Early Access in the end of 2019 and full version in early 2020, but that actually depends on the outcome of our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
EN: Thank you for your time and good luck with the development!
Remember, that you can still back Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen on Kickstarter.