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Grotesque - an exclusive interview

Released: 20.8.2008
Author: Gaspy

1. Hi Rayk. Could you please introduce yourself? What exactly is your job at Silent Dreams? (I know, tiring question)
Hi! My name is Rayk "DeadPoet" Kerstan and I'm the Creative Director of Silent Dreams. I'm responsible for the story & dialogues, gamedesign and producing. In cause of having much work to do there are many vantages to share the responsibility with the team.
2. Tell me please something more about the beginnings of SD and your past projects or experiences.
Our company was established in 2006 officially. Firsttime that was a big problem for us, because the publisher underrated us mercilessly even though we already had some really nice prototypes. Mostly they are not able to assess the technique by the right way so that they only can trust in some references.

In 2008 we began to do some remittance work which allowed us to become financial independent. Our remittance work is for the publisher Ascaron and Tivola – titles are still under NDA.

3. And now to your new RPG game Grotesque: Heroes Hunted. When did you start with the development and where did you get the main inspiration?
Everything began with the mod "AlwaysSummer Days" for Neverwinter Nights 1. There, on hot summer days, I've tested my first ideas of Grotesque. At that time it was my dream to unite the feeling of a Monkey Island with a RPG to get more entertaiment in the story, more riddles, more humor. This mixture was very popular, so popular that it was clear to me that someday we want to do that on a professionel way. Well, and years later we're close to our goal. :)
4. The story of Grotesque doesn't seem like another genre cliché. Could you describe and specify the story line for us?
Remember, some day you will open your eyes and find yourself in a foreign place. Exactly this happens to Roger. His mind isn't able to remember much but as a true RPG-fan he directly notices: "HEY! I'm in a fantasy world, I've got amnesia, that can only mean one thing... – I must be a coosen one!". Therefore he joyfully goes his way, planning to save the world... or a beautiful princess... or anything else.

He wants to become a real hero like he's remembering of some RPGs, but he have to notice that it's pretty more difficult as he ever thought.

The mercenaries and highelves which he's meetins are taking him not very seriously. He is being tricked and robbed. And as being told that he is going to die this very day, he's got a real problem.
5. Roger isn't a typical fantasy hero...What can we expect from him?
Roger is an everyday joe. He's from the present, musician and has played numerous RPG's. With his experience from RPG's he tries to survive in this world. Because of this, he is always quick with a one-liner. I think the players will develop a really intense connection to him, because he will remind them of themselves.
7. Roger is a guitarist in the heavy metal band...Will we listen some of his songs in the game?
Definitely there will be some metal-elements in the soundtrack, but also chorous etc. Sometimes in the game Roger will play his guitar, not full sounds but some shot parts. His guitar will be used as a weapon – in cause of the jump in the other world it's magical charged.
8. In contemporary RPG games is very important the audio-visual processing. Is the game, built on Trinigy (Vision) engine, able to be competitive in release date?
With the newest version of the Vision Engine are many important technical details integrated. Meanwhile famous companys like Bluebyte or Firefly are using the Trinigy engine, too. So I think we don't have to hide, like our newest screenshots shows.

The good part of an engine is, generally known, its constantly advancement.

9. What can you tell me about the world of Grotesque? Is it huge, epic and free? :)
It's rather the complete opposite therefrom. ;)

It was important for us that the story is the basic component of Grotesque. A good story does not always need a huge world. I'm remembering some movies which are only playing in one single room. That should not meen that we're going to limit the world of only a few meters. ;) At last it means more to us to know the world very well than to make it as big as possible. Every NPC will have its own meaning in the game and so the player will be able to to immerse into the world more easily.

It's a completly different way and I think that this way is pleasing players for which modern RPG's and MMORPG's are too monotonously.
10. Can you disclose some game features and RPG elements...?
Grotesque is going to create a new RPG subgenre which is called "SRPG". "S" for "social" and "story". Adventure elements will make it possible that quests can be solved without pure fighting and killing. Dialogue riddles and the relationships system between the charakters will bring a deeper feeling into the gameplay, it gives every NPC a meaning and you'll be able to love or even hate them.

On the other hand the s stands for story, today in most of the games the story is too much in the background and sometimes it doesn't even exist.
11. How does the combat system look like? And what about the magic?
Our combat system is comparable with the World of Warcraft and Guild Wars systems, but some features are redesigned to fit solo combat. The combat system has many comboattacks and different skills which makes tactic and strategy more important in fight. The key to magic will come with Roger's guitar. It makes it possible for Roger to keep enemies at distance.

12. When I mentioned the combat system. Who are our enemies and what monsters can we expect?
There are monsters and animals which are fitting in a clichéd fantasy world like humongous mosquitos, skeletons and spiders. At this point I must say that I've refused to let wild boars appear in the game – my Gothic 3 trauma is still there. ;)

There will also be special types of monsters. One specific feature will be that you can talk with many humanoid races such as goblins. At one hand you'll have to fight them with tooth and nail on the other hand later you will be able to deal with some of them. Communication is one of our most important elements so that also standart creatures like goblins will become more interesting with their own personality.
13. I am very curious about the age rating of the game. Is it funny RPG for kids or for advanced hardcore players? Is there actually any violence?
Violence is less important in Grotesque like in other games as The Witcher, where realism is in the foreground. Metres high spinning martial arts skills and other viewy things which can't really be done in reality are more in our nature.

Grotesque will be a game for the whole family – well, let's say for sarcastic families. ;)
14. How does it seem with the dialogues and cooperation with NPC's? Have they an own day regime too?
Dialogues and riddles are some of the most important parts of the game. The dialogues should come across lively and the adventure system makes them definitly more interactive. Sometimes there will be riddles in the dialogues which you won't solve by skills but rather in an interactive way. You can show NPCs items out of your inventory what leads to some interesting possibilities in quests.

NPCs should be party members and there will be the relationship system for factions and single charakters so that you could only raise one specific skill or start a special quest when you're having narrower contact with someone.

Many charakters would have their day routines and sometimes also there will be a little, hidden riddle. If you're stalking a NPC iit could happen that he leads you to a secret place... or into a pitfall - depending on his motive. ;)

Very important ist that the NPCs are not placed haphazardly in the world, you'll feel that there are specific connections between them and they'll be much more authentic – also some of them are kind of crazy. In games such things are used too less, we would change this.
15. How many people are working on the game and how far are you? What do you have still to improve?
The number of people changed in the last years some times. In the end there will be around 20 names in the credits, I guess.

This fall we would reach our alpha state. At the moment the pathfining still needs some improvement, also the AI and above a lot of fine-tuning and bug searching, so that you won't have many things to complain about. ;)
16. Your game should be full of jokes. Tell me one of them... :)
We're still trying to tell the proble and the press out there that the game isn't too funny, but they aren't listen to us. ;)

Let's take a look at Roger for example, like he's living through obligatory roleplayaspects in the beginning. After he killed his first enemy he should plunder it.

If you're doing this "in real" it's much more disgusting as you think. :)

17. What about the language versions especially Czech localization?
In cause of texts and dialogues will be very important in Grotesque we are trying to get a good translation for as many languages as possible all over the world. Naturally we've the best control here by us in germany. In other countries we have to depend on our partners. Logically we're looking for people with a positive history in this kind of work.
18. Maybe that was a question for the developer. Did you already find someone?
The alpha sould be finished at the end of this year, mostly the developers are snapping at the chance at this time where the game is nearly finished so that they won't have to pre-finance it.

As I mentioned before we're self-financing at the moment, so we've the possibility to wait for a god offer. In the foreground it's most important for us to save the future of our Grotesque universe. It's having a lot of capability.
19. I don't doubt that you have already played the Gothic Trilogy, but some of you were the members of Piranha Bytes. Please, name them. Will be feel their influence in the game?
The most famous person ist Carsten Edenfeld, Lead Programmer of Gothic 1-3 and now Lead Programmer of Grotesque and CoManaging Director of Silent Dreams. He's having a lot of experience which is important for a high quality. His pessimism is always a nice contrast to my radiating optimism. :)

Of course every staff member is having some kind of influence on the project, also if I'm having the last word in gamedesign questions. I'm a kind of constructive working guy – so there are always some controversy in the team.

Besides we're having also some good contact to other gothic staff members. Sometimes we're exchanging experiences like we're one big roleplay developer family.

20. How do you see the on-coming battle between Gothic 4 (Spellbound) vs. Project RPB (PB)? Maybe Grotesque will beat both of them, who knows... :)
CAs impassioned RPG fan I'm looking forward to both projects. I've lived some months in Gothik 2 and it's also partly our example. Both teams are working completly different. It'll be very interesting to see how different both games will be. We don't have to beat this RPG's for achieve success. We've our own way, our own ideas and we'll push our thing through.

Certainly is could happen that we build some side blows to Gothik in, it would be appropriate. ;)
21. Could you describe for us the development process from the beginning to the actual form? What advices can you give to young hopeful developers?
Often the biggest problems for developers is the commercial apprenticeship, the strategies for budgeting and all the stuff which developers normally won't be interested in, because they would only live their creativity out and nothing else...

We've directly startet with a big project. It's not really advisable unless you're directly having many people in your team which you can count on.

The remittance work was also very important for us, so we're able to show that we can work together with publishers and taht we're competent.

It's so extremly important for developers to become financially independent, otherwise it could happen what happend to so many studios... they have been closed.

It would be craftily to begin with a small projekt which will be makeable with own money or a small credit and to grow little by little. We've reached the point where we won't have to do this any longer, but therefore you need people who are so extremly crazy and push it through for many years...
22. Do you have any interesting information for your fans yet?
As mentioned some times we're reaching the alpha state this year. It's an important step for us and the game and we would make sure that you'll get more material and information from us. Also if our community is still in its infancy you're hearty invited and talk to us directly.

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© Kamil Krásný & Paulie 2007