The Temple of Elemental Evil Interview, Part 1 (07/04/2003)
we had the chance to talk about the upcoming Troika D&D CRPG
Greyhawk: The Temple of Elemental Evil with the game's Project Leader,
Tim Cain. What first started as a moderately sized interview soon
grew into a small monster of 42 questions which we will be posting
in two installments. Enjoy the first 20 questions, and make sure
to come back again for the rest, which will follow shortly.
those of our readers who are not familiar with the world of Greyhawk,
please describe the setting and its major characteristics in comparison
to other D&D settings.
The Greyhawk setting was one of the original, if not the first, D&D
settings, being invented by Gary Gygax himself. It is a very rich and
complex world, filled with many nation states and various political alliances.
Unlike most other D&D settings, the Greyhawk world is very dynamic,
with these political alliances shifting constantly and, with the Greyhawk
Wars, changing dramatically. It's a world in which it's easy to become
a hero and even easier to become dead.
short, what will Greyhawk: The Temple of Elemental Evil be about, and
what role does the Temple of Elemental Evil play in it?
is about a group of adventurers coming to a small village, for various
specific reasons, but generally to seek their fortune. Their foray into
a small local bandit camp uncovers something bigger and more mysterious
going on, and they eventually discover that the previously defeated temple
is not quite abandoned, and its leaders are not dead. How they respond
to this threat is, of course, up to the player.
intricate is the game's plot going to be?
have provided multiple ways to advance the plot as the game progresses.
Unlike the original module, which assumed the party was of a good alignment,
we make no such assumption. There will be ways to complete the game that
are dependent on how you handled yourself earlier.
will the ratio between questing and fighting be like?
hard to say. We have added a lot of side quests that do not depend on
fighting, but fighting can always be used as a solution. D&D is a
very combat-oriented game, and we don't intend to change its nature. But
we do provide alternatives when we can.
the game going to be very linear?
don't think so, but of course we don't prevent the player characters from
taking the obvious main path though the module. My guess is that during
the first game, people will stick fairly close to the main story arc.
On subsequent games, and especially with different party alignments, I
expect people will experiment more and discover that they don't always
have to go the same way through the game.
kind of graphics can we expect to see in ToEE? Has the graphic engine
been developed from scratch for ToEE? Which resolutions will be supported?
are using an existing game engine (from Arcanum) with a lot of modifications,
especially to the graphics engine on top of it. We use pre-rendered backgrounds
with 3D objects rendered on top. We store a clipping geometry for the
background, so we can have creatures pass behind walls and scenery, so
the map appears three-dimensional. The game runs at 800x600 by default,
but you can increase resolution up to 1280x1024.
would you say makes your implementation of the 3rd edition D&D rules
better from the 3e games that preceded ToEE? Will you be implementing
the upcoming revised 3.5 rules?
think our implementations of the D&D rules are as close to the PnP
rules as any CRPG has ever done them. Our use of turn-based combat makes
us different than almost any other modern D&D game, and I think people
will find our game to be a refreshing take on the whole D&D dungeon
crawl experience. We are more than hack-slash-loot.
I have no
comment on the revised 3.5 rules... yet.
closely are you following the pen & paper rules in regards to spellcasting?
Will mages need spell components and have to undergo XP or money loss
with certain spells?
spells follow the rules VERY closely. In fact, both the programmers and
the artists sat with the Player's Handbook open on their desks, using
each spell description as a guideline for the looks and effect of the
spell. Any effects we could not reproduce due to engine or interface limitations
we are carefully documenting in an appendix in the manual, so you can
quickly see how we had to change some spells from their PnP versions.
Adn while we don't require components, we do charge gold and XP from the
mages if the spell calls for such costs.
have been many complaints that the turn-based rules implementation in
Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor really bogged down the game. How
is your turn-based implementation going to avoid the kind of pitfalls
PoR: RoMD had? Will the game have a time limit for the turns? How quickly
are the opponents going to make their moves?
things should speed up our turn-based combat. We are looking at settings
to control the movement speed of monsters in combat, so you don't have
to wait for them to walk over and start beating you. We are also experimenting
with letting monsters with similar (i.e. adjacent) initiatives take their
turns simultaneously. So if you are fighting two zombies who both go last
in the round, they will both strike at the same time. You can also relinquish
control of your PC's voluntarily and let the AI take their turn, which
can relieve the drudgery of finishing up a simple combat that you know
you can win. Finally, we have added some ways for your party to avoid
combat, by using skills and feats already present in the game. For example,
one use of Wilderness Lore will be to avoid low CR encounters while traveling
on the world map.
classes are you implementing, and will we be able to pick any prestige
classes? If so, how many prestige classes will there be to pick from?
have implemented all of the basic classes, barbarian to wizard, but we
decided not to put in prestige classes in this game. We have the hooks
to add them, but we did not have the time. Perhaps in the sequel we can