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Piranha Byte are hoping its third time lucky for Gothic in the UK and N America...
If you read through a list of most wanted games, especially throughout Europe, there is one name constantly appearing. Itâ??s not one of those blockbuster games but one that is a growing brand that has a fanatical fan base, especially in Germany, one that is a sleeper, slow grower, in Europe.
Gothic, RPG, may be on itâ??s third instalment but there are plenty of surprises in store as Derek dela Fuente found out when he spoke with both Stefan Berger, Brand Manager for Gothic 3, and Kai Rosenkranz, from the development team Piranha Byteâ??s, who is the in-house composer and sound designer. In addition to his main area of responsibility, he's also in charge of visual effects, 2D graphics and the official website.
Would it be fair to say that in terms of sales and expectations so far Gothic has not fared as well as youâ??d hoped, particularly outside of Germany? The UK and USA market are ones you wish to crack so how will this be achieved with Gothic 3?
Kai: In contrast to the German market, the Gothic series could admittedly not grow beyond the â??sleeper hitâ?? status in the UK/US. When Gothic 2 hit stores in the USA, it was already more than one year old and could hardly compete with visually impressive state-of-the-art-titles. Due to the poor marketing and the significant trouble we had with our distribution partners, only a small group of players knew the game existed at all, whereas in Germany we have a loyal and devoted fan community. They enthusiastically spread the word about the game and thus make up for the little marketing budget. Even though the Gothic series is still not exactly widely known and popular in the US/UK, the international fan community keeps growing. We support this development as much as we can. Gothic compilations such as the â??Collectors editionâ?? (which contains all the previous Gothic products) will be available worldwide before the third part's release. Apart from that, the mere product quality will rise considerably and thus enable the game to compete with the international market.
For those not particularly au-fait with Gothic can you bring us up to date with the aspirations and inspirations for the series, along with some of the fundamental changes and new ideas for Gothic 3?
Kai: From the very beginning, it was our goal to establish a unique and fresh game world. We focused on our very own vision rather than rehashing stereotypes and clichées. But still we cannot fully steer clear of indirect influence, particularly from pen-and-paper-RPGs and fantasy movies. For Gothic 3 we tried to maintain the original look-and-feel and at the same time add some innovative features where it makes sense. For those game players who are familiar with the predecessors, the third part will feel like home, but with some fresh and appropriate changes. One of the most significant alterations will be the reinvented combat/skills-system. We have overhauled the original approach and replaced the handful of skills from Gothic 2 with a huge amount of mini-talents. While the game players could do nothing but increase the numerical value of their skill up to 100% back then, they will now be able to form their very own talents by combining their preferred mini-talents.
Please tell us about the Piranha Bytes team, what they have worked on before and what do you feel the team have to bring to the RPG genre?
Stefan: Until yet Piranha Bytes made Gothic 1, Gothic 2 and the Gothic 2 Add On â??Night of the Ravenâ??. Piranha Bytes was founded in the year 1998. The office of Piranha Bytes is in a small house (not an officeâ?¦ itâ??s a real one-family-house) in Essen, Germany. With the Gothic series the team is developing a huge game with a believable world. So during the game the NPCs will hear stories from you (do you work together with the Orcs, are you a friend of person xyzâ?¦). Then they will decide if they want to work / speak with you or notâ?¦ So when you kill some guys from the militia you will get problems with them during the whole game (in other RPG games they will forget the happenings). Also they will speak with other characters about you. So when they speak in a good way about you it may help youâ?¦
What makes the Gothic world unique and compelling and can you give the backdrop story to the game and how pivotal throughout the game the story is?
Stefan Story: Gothic 1 and 2 played on the island around the city Khorinis. Mankind is at war with the Orcs. On the island around Khorinis there are a lot of ore mines which are needed for the war against the Orcs. Without them victory is impossible. At the end of the 2nd part you see the hero going on the ship back to the mainland. In the intro of Gothic 3 you will see the ship shortly before the arrival on the mainland. You see burning cities and humans which are running away from the Orcs. Then you know: The Orc army has won the war against humankind. Humans are now slaves of the Orcsâ?¦
Unique Elements: The unique elements of Gothic 3 are the believable world and the different solutions for the different adventures (freedom during the whole game).
What kind of technology focus does the team have and can you tell us a little about the gameâ??s 3D engine and one feature they are proud of so far?
Stefan: For Gothic 3 we are using a complete new game engine called Genome Engine. We will support all new graphic features but we are focusing NVIDIA graphic chips as they have a lot of opportunities for us. For the trees we will use speed tree. As you can see we are using the newest technique to create the most fascinating RPG world ever. Gothic is well known for the unique graphic setting (Gothic is not just the game title). So in the third part of the game we will have much more possibilities for the characters, animations and buildings. In Gothic 2 a character had around 1.200 polygons. In Gothic 3 a character has 12.000 polygons.
Negative feedback from the fans has centered around the fact that the games interface and controls have been somewhat clunky. So how will this be changed/rectified for Gothic 3?
Stefan: I can promise there will be a lot of changes for the interface and the controls. The interface of Gothic 1 and Gothic 2 focused for a console version. But as we all know we never released a console version of the game. We made a lot of control improvements from the 1st to the 2nd part of the game. For part 3 we will again make the controls much easier. So we will have a drag and drop inventory (inventory was one of the most criticized things from G1 and G2).
How impressed should we be with the gameâ??s AI? Will actions and the way you interact have a real effect on the way people respond and regard you?
Stefan: That is one of the biggest strengths of Gothic: the believable world. Here the AI is very important. In the Gothic series every action has its reaction. Also the people will remember your action during the whole game AND they will tell stories of you to other charactersâ?¦ Short example: When you kill a sheep and a farmer watches you he will tell anyone that you have killed one of the sheepâ?¦ So no farmer would help you until you clear the situation out with the farmers (pay them money, fulfill a mission for him)â?¦ P.S.: If you would kill the farmer after you have killed the sheep no one would know that you killed themâ?¦ Except another person has seen youâ?¦
Another example is the whole storyâ?¦ As the Orcs have won the war against humankind the player can decide on which side he would like to playâ?¦ Would he like to help the humankind against the Orcs or stay on the side of the Orcs?? Maybe a gamer would like to stay in the middleâ?¦ When you help the Orcs the humans will not be happy with youâ?¦ When you help the humans and you kill some Orcs the Orcs will pay bounty for youâ?¦
Actions and the way you interact will not be a part of a small missionâ?¦ It will be part of the full gameâ?¦ and you have to decide which way you want to goâ?¦
Tell our readers about some of the creatures/enemy players will confront and the types of quests involved in the game.
Stefan: There will be around 30 different monsters and dozens of human enemies in the game. As you play now on the mainland and not on the island anymore there are newer, bigger enemies like the huge T-Rex - check out these links who will attack you when they can. But there are also peaceful creatures in the world of Gothic 3 like the horn rammers. But be aware: When you attack them they will also attack youâ?¦ And then you might have huge problems.
What cross over/continuation does the game have from say Gothic 2? Will it have the same characters, what is new and can you import previous characters?
Stefan: Again you play the nameless hero from the first and second parts. Also you will meet some of your friends again. Maybe they will be able to help you on your wayâ?¦ We will see the people from the mainland and the Orcs will also remember youâ?¦ They heard a lot of stories about the nameless heroâ?¦ So you are not an unknown person anymoreâ?¦
Final comments please on the size of the game and anything gamers should know.
Stefan: The world in Gothic 3 will be 3 to 4 times bigger then the world in Gothic 2. We will have around 20 cities in the gameâ?¦ most of them occupied by the Orcs. Gamer has also to fight against around 30 different monsters and dozens of human enemies. Over 50 different powerful spells will help him on his way.
TVG would like to thank for sharing some of the wisdom that has made Gothic a popular brand across Europe; whether or not success is finally recognized in the UK and North America remains to be seen however weâ??ll have further coverage of the title soonâ?¦