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Greyhawk: The Temple of Elemental Evil Interview, Part 1 (07/04/2003)
by Taluntain

SP: Will you be implementing any subraces?

Tim Cain: We plan to implement several, at least the ones that are not ECL, like drow. I like the idea of adding variation, primarily through stat adjustment. It gives the player more choices.

SP: How many feats & skills are you implementing? We know jumping, climbing and riding are out. What about swimming or diving?

Tim Cain: We have implemented 55 feats and 22 skills. They are:

Feats:

Alertness
Ambidexterity
Armor Proficency
Blind-Fight
Brew Potion
Cleave
Combat Casting
Combat Reflexes
Craft Magic Arms and Armor
Craft Rod
Craft Wand
Craft Wonderous Item
Deflect Arrows
Dodge
Empower Spell
Exotic Weapon Prof.
Expertise
Extra Turning
Great Cleave
Great Fortitude
Heighten Spell
Improved Bull Rush
Improved Critical
Improved Initiative
Improved Trip
Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
Improved Unarmed Strike
Iron Will
Lightning Reflexes
Martial Weapon Prof.
Maximize Spell
Mobility
Point Blank Shot
Power Attack
Precise Shot
Quick Draw
Quicken Spell
Rapid Shot
Running
Scribe Scroll
Shield Prof
Shot on the Run
Simple Weapon Prof.
Skill Focus
Spell Focus
Spell Penetration
Spring Attack
Stunning Fist
Toughness
Track
Two-Weapon Fighting
Weapon Finesse
Weapon Focus
Weapon Specializiation
Whirlwind Attack

Skills:

Alchemy
Appraise
Bluff
Concentration
Diplomacy
Disable Device
Gather Information
Heal
Hide
Intimidate
Listen
Move Silently
Open Lock
Perform
Pick Pocket
Search
Sense Motive
Spellcraft
Spot
Tumble
Use Magic Device
Wilderness Lore

We have removed all of the feats and skills that are not possible in the game, either due to interface or engine constraints.

SP: Will gameplay differ significantly (aside from it being turn-based) from previous D&D CRPGs, like the Baldur's Gate series, for example?

Tim Cain: Well, just by being 3rd edition, we should differ quite a bit. The addition of several talk skills (like Diplomacy and Bluff) makes our dialogs much richer. And we are adding quite a bit of non-linearity, to make the game as varied as the kinds of parties you can make.

SP: Will our characters be given a past or will they be free to make their own histories? How about the henchmen's histories and motives for joining you?

Tim Cain: Your player characters are your own, although your choice of party alignment will determine the exact reason that you are in Hommlet, the starting village. Henchmen, on the other hand, often have their own motives, and may choose to disobey, leave or even attack the party, as the case may warrant.

SP: How hard a time are good vs. evil players going to have playing ToEE? Is either path more difficult or rewarding, or are they equally balanced?

Tim Cain: I like to think that evil is easier but less rewarding, compared to good. But that's only because choosing to kill is always the simplest, most direct route to completion. Therefore, some of the evil endings are easier to get, but not quite as satisfying.

SP: How does the party creation work in ToEE? How many followers will be able to join us?

Tim Cain: You can create up to five player characters, and when you return to the inn, you can remove them and replace them with new ones. However, you can never pick up more than three followers at any given time. Additional followers will either not be given the chance to join or will ask you to come back when you are less crowded.

SP: Are the followers going to be a set level, or will they adjust to the level of the party they will be joining? How much is alignment going to affect the possibility of a certain follower joining our party?

Tim Cain: Followers are a set level, but they will gain xp after they join the group. The way experience works, lower level NPC's will gain experience faster, and eventually they will catch up to your level. Some followers will refuse to join based on your alignment, and you will also refuse to work with some NPC's because of their alignment. But some are secretive, and will join your group regardless of alignment, and may turn on you later.

SP: About the music and atmosphere... Who is doing the music? Are you working closely with the musician?

Tim Cain: We are using a musician selected by the Infogrames music director. He has been down to our offices several times to see the game, and I have given him samples from my music library as examples of what I like to hear. I am pleased with the music we have received so far - it's very dark and ambient. And when Steve Moret (the lead programmer) wasn't looking, I recoded the sound engine to let us play different combat music based on location, so combat will have a different feel in the depths of the temple, as compared to say, a random encounter.

SP: How is item creation going to work? Similarly, will we be able to recharge wands we already own?

Tim Cain: When you use an item creation feat, an interface opens that shows all of the items you can potentially make with that feat. Any item you currently cannot make, due to level or money restrictions, will be greyed out. You can pick any non-greyed item on the list, and you've made it. Money and xp costs will be paid by the character.

Weapons and armor work a little differently, since you can add magical enhancements to existing magic weapons and armor. So if you find a +1 longsword, for example, you can make it a flaming longsword and only pay for the flaming enhancement.

Wands cannot be recharged in 3rd edition. They are charged at the time of creation.

SP: Will there be a level cap?

Tim Cain: Yes, the game is capped at level 10. Part of this is to balance the game (it's not much of a challenge to level 20 characters) and part is due to the development time limitations. We didn't have time to add all of the class abilities and spells available above level 10.

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Thanks for your time Tim, and we're eagerly expecting the second part of this interview! (Update: now available here.)

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