Marco Rosenberg | THE DWARVES

PrintE-mail Written by Callum Shephard

Following several previously successful crowd funding projects, KING Art Games has returned to adapt The Dwarves novels to PC and gaming consoles. Having launched the Kickstarter with considerable support and fanfare, STARBURST took the opportunity to sit down and speak with Narrative Designer Marco Rosenberg about their plans for the game.

STARBURST: Being based around a series of novels, will The Dwarves be sticking entirely to the main storyline, or will opportunities appear to diverge at all from the books? With author Markus Heitz involved as a project consultant, has he given blessing at all to alter how certain events played out?

Marco Rosenberg: The main story of our game is based on the first book, but there are also many additional adventures and side-quests. Markus is involved in the development. He gives us the necessary freedom to turn his book into a great game, and will even write some quests for it himself.

Most in-game footage thus far has depicted the heroes fighting hordes of orcs armed with short swords and very little else.  Can you tell us much more about the enemy variety The Dwarves will offer, and will we see much of the series’ other foes such as the Älfs?

All the enemies that appear in the book will also appear in the game: So there is a great variety, from the sinister Älfars to savage ogres. Among the orcs there are three different basic types: light, medium and heavy. Each of these types also has a couple of different classes like berserker, archer, etc.

You have cited Fire Emblem as a source of inspiration for some of the combat present in the game, featuring twelve varied main characters. Will this directly influence how the heroes operate in battle or how they will gradually progress throughout the story?

Fire Emblem is not the inspiration for our combat system, but for the idea of a huge group of heroes that you chose a few of prior to each battle. Each hero in The Dwarves has a unique backstory, opinions about the world and other characters, as well as unique skills.

What of the combat system itself? The footage shown so far seemed akin of Diablo or Dynasty Warriors in terms of scope, with a handful of heroes battling hundreds of foes at a time. What level of strategy and skill can players expect? Something akin to Dragon Age: Origins’ ability to pause and co-ordinate attacks, or something more fast paced and visceral?

Our combat system resembles DA:O more closely than Diablo or Dynasty Warriors. At the moment we’re experimenting with stop-and-play or bullet time mechanisms. Similar to Warcraft 3, our game features heroes with a limited amount of powerful special abilities and huge amounts of enemies.

One element of the game you mentioned was the way in which enemies physically reacted to certain attacks. Notably how heavy blows could drive hordes backwards and throwing them from your path. Can you express how this will alter the flow of battle or how levels have been built to make use of this combined with the flocking AI?

The physical reactions of enemies are not restricted to certain actions, but enemy and environment behaviour is constantly influenced by physics. Every action the player takes influences all of the enemies and by clever positioning of your character you can deal extra damage.

In the novel the characters visit a fair number of extremely varied locations as they travel across Girdlegard. Were there any challenges in adapting the novel’s descriptions into a video game, or favourites to work on?

All of the important locations that Tungdil visits and characters that he meets in the book made it into the game. It was a big challenge to scan all five Dwarves books for info about the huge world they take place in. Then we collaborated with Markus to fill the gaps. In the end we combined all the spread bites of info into one complete world map.

Given the diverse group of characters and their various abilities, will we see certain bonuses in pairing up certain characters in battle? Will players also be given the opportunity to speak with them between battles or learn more about their specific traits between combatting orcs?

The characters will definitely talk between battles and you’ll learn more about them and their backstory. The different characters have different relationships to each other and we’re planning on that having an influence on battles too.

You were quite successful in prior Kickstarter funded games, notably Battle Worlds: Kronos, which received more than double its required goal. If you see such overwhelming support again, what sort of stretch goals do you have planned?

We have four different stretch goals planned. This time we added a twist though: We pre-defined the stretch goals and the pledged sum at which they are unlocked, but each time we reach one of those “milestones” we let the backers choose which of the four stretch goals they want to unlock.

And finally, as a more general question, is KING Art planning to return to The Book of Unwritten Tales any time in the future?

Of course we are planning to return to The Book of Unwritten Tales, since we want to bring the story to an end, but currently we’re focusing all our attention on The Dwarves.

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The Dwarves is currently active on Kickstarter, to support KING Art Games in their efforts or discover more information about their game, please click here.

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