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Toby Guard takes one retrospective look at the development of Galleon; it’s nearly here, we assure you…
Galleon has been in development with a number of publishers for longer than most care to remember but is still eagerly anticipated. From recent viewing, the game still looks polished and full of ideas and the development team, Confounding Factors, is headed by Toby Gard (the man responsible for the creation of one of the most tangible video game characters ever- Lara Croft). Galleonâ??s story encompasses a timeless age of vast sea voyages, magic and swashbuckling adventure, and puts you at the helm of the streamlined clipper Endeavour. You control Captain Rhama Sabrier - Buccaneer, Merchant, and an explorer of uncharted oceans. Rhama will lead you into a stunning 3D adventure game set in a mysterious world which bustles with invincible skeleton warriors, spooky shipwrecks, breathtaking pirate battles and epic legends of Gods and folklore. Derek dela Fuente spoke with Toby about some of the gameâ??s history as the final touches are completed before its release in a few months time.
TVG: Galleon was conceived in 1998 and was intended for PC. Firstly, what have been the main changes throughout this period â?“ especially to keep up with technology developments - and what have been the real positives in the 6-year wait? Could we also still see a PC release?
Galleon was never really designed for the PC, but at the time the PS2, Xbox and GameCube had no development systems yet so we used the PC to begin prototyping the game. We reworked the graphics at the beginning of last year. That included remaking all the characters and remodelling the external areas of the game in order to stay current in terms of graphics. The game took much longer to make than expected, simply because there is a lot of adventure in there, a lot of gameplay and a lot of fun. We simply had too small a team to get it done any faster. At the end of the day it is the game we set out to make.
TVG: There have been 14 people working on Galleon. Has the work been continuous throughout this period, and how have various publisher problems affected the team?
There were initially only 4 people working on the game. At our highest we had 14, but for most of the development time there has been less than 10 of us. Over the period of the development we have had all sorts of difficult times, culminating in Interplay essentially running out of money and therefore having to sell the project on, even though they didnâ??t really want to. The team has had to deal with being paid months late on several occasions, which I wish theyâ??d never been subjected to. However they carried on and we have seen it through despite the difficulties.
TVG: Have you also been working on other ideas and games for the future?
Yes a few.
TVG: as the constant reference to Tomb Raider and the fact that this has been a very eagerly anticipated game had negative or even positive knock on effects and how do you feel about the constant quotes of this being the â?? spiritual followâ?? up to Tomb Raider?
I have no problem with any comparison between Tomb Raider and Galleon. Galleon was originally designed to be a Tomb Raider beater in every conceivable way, and as I said, we have made the game we set out to make.
TVG: Would you encapsulate the essence of Galleon for our readers, and what you believe it offers in terms of gameplay and new ideas? What also do you believe are the gameâ??s most innovative qualities?
Galleon is an exploration game; you are an explorer who has unprecedented physical abilities. You have amazing freedom to move, fight and interact. The control system is very different from other 3rd person games and the fluidity of movement you can achieve when you are used to it is unlike anything you can do in other games. A strong exciting adventure story unfolds as you travel from island to island, meeting new characters and becoming embroiled in new adventures.
TVG: What are the main tasks and objectives for the player and how varied will the locations and tasks be?
Each island holds its own unique story, its own specific tasks. So each island feels quite different from the last. Perhaps one island will be heavily combat orientated, or another will have strong puzzle elements, yet another will push your acrobatic skills to the limit. Additionally each island has specific set pieces that are unique from any other.
TVG: Can you tell us a little about the main character you control, Rhama, what are his strengths and traits and how essential are the support characters (how many are there) to Rhama to help assist him with his tasks? Does Rhamaâ??s expertise get better as you progress and what also are his actions?
Rhama is a sea captain, a strong martial artist with good â??Qing Gongâ?? skills. He can jump higher, run faster and fall further than a normal person could. His martial art training makes him a feared swordsman, and his fair and honest demeanour makes him a well respected man. He meets Faith (a scholar and healer) and Mihoko (an assassin, and martial arts master) during his adventure and they both have skills and advice that help him during his adventure. Rhama does not gain new skills as you progress, but he is so capable, has so many moves, so many actions that you will still be discovering new tricks that he can do even by the very end of the game.
TVG: Will you please give us an example of one exciting event/puzzle within the game that really conjures up the essence of the game?
What, like telling people there was a T-Rex in the original Tomb Raider? No. I donâ??t think I want to spoil any of the set pieces, but there are plenty of them and they are much more impressive than that.
TVG: Is the game story or puzzles driven and are there many ways to complete the game?
The story is linear, but the way you tackle many of the gameplay elements is not.
TVG: Your vision of a free-flowing action/adventure is certainly what the genre has needed, however titles such as â??Prince of Persia: Sands of Timeâ?? have beaten â??Galleonâ?? to the market; firstly what do you think of this game and secondly do you think it will affect the impact of â??Galleonâ???
I liked Sands of Time very much. Itâ??s no secret that Tomb Raiderâ??s control system was basically based on the original 2D Prince of Persia game by Jordan Mechner. However the gameplay in Sands of Time is totally different from Galleon. Where in PoP (and indeed in Tomb Raider) you must basically discover the one â??trueâ?? way through an area, in Galleon you are given a completely flexible control system and are given the opportunity to discover your own ways though the level, much like a climber chooses his route up a cliff face.
TVG: What next for Confounding Factor; do you think weâ??ll have to wait as long to see your next title?
I hope not this long again!
TVG would like to thank Toby for taking the time to answer our question, and wish Confounding Factor all the luck in the future.