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Interview

Armalion Interview

A little while back we were pointed in the direction of a website called Armallion.de, Intrigued we dropped over and took a look only to be amazed at a game that has had relatively little coverage online. Armalion is an up and coming RPG/RTS title from German developers Ikarion and we caught up with Ralph Roder one of the artists working on the title to find out more.Can you tell us a little about the developers creating Armalion?Ikarion Software was founded in 1996. In this period, we never really concentrated on just one genre. Although our preferences are fantasy games, we released a soccer manager, a boardgame compilation and serveral other, non-fantasy games. However, all those earlier games were developed for the German market exclusively. By now, Ikarion has become one of germany´s traditional software companies in the gaming sector.
Currently, there are 30 persons working at Ikarion Software. 10 of which are bulding the core team, which is working on Armalion. Can you tell us a little bit about the game’s story?We don’t want to share too much of the story yet, since this would spoil too much of the fun. The core story is, that a magic ritual, casted by a powerful mage, failed. The powers of the unleashed magic forces created a hole to another dimension. Three demons found their way through this hole, killed the mage and are now trying to establish a permanent gate into this dimension.
This is, where the game starts. The player’s prime goal is, to destroy the dimensional hole and kill the demons, which isn’t exactly simple, because the entire region is ruled by an evil Necromancer and the player has to operate under cover most of the time.

How long has Armalion been in development?Armalion has been in development for two years now.How will the player control the different skills? Are they easy to access quickly during gameplay?It’s possible to activate all skills pretty quickly via icons in the GUI.How is the game structured? There are mentions of quests that make up the game but how exactly do they fit into the overall picture allowing the game to flow?Besides the main storyline, there is another, secondary storyline, which shows up frequently over the course of the game. This secondary storyline is linked to the main storyline on several occasions. There is no right or wrong way to solve this secondary storyline. However, the way how the player plays it has an influence on the main storyline in the later stages of the game. Besides this, there are a number of side quests, which the player can use to gain experience and equipment.When will NPC players become available the the player, will it only be at the start of certain quests?NPC´s are always in the world. However, NPC´s for the party are only available when a mass battle is ahead and unavoidable. In this case, the player can hire from a pool of mercenaries.How will the NPC charatcers function in the game? You mention the NPC ‘disappearing’ after a quest has been completed. Exactly. When the battle is over, the mercenaries will leave the party again. We want to leave the traditional path of RPG´s here, since we think, that a party in a RPG isn’t exactly realistic, especially when the party has to operate under cover. The player shall always have the impression, that he’s on his own and identify himself with his character.As we understand it Armalion will have RTS features. Can you explain a bit more about the the RTS features in the game?Armalion – originally – is a tabletop game, which was invented to simulate mass (10+ units) battles in pen&paper RPG´s. By using the normal system, those battles would take too long. That´s where Armalion comes into play.
Now, in the computer game, occasionally the player has to solve a problem by fighting a small battle. That´s where the RTS part hits. The player may hire mercenaries and has now a small army to fight with. He has full control over his troops, can give special orders and distribute equipment between his men at arms.How will characters’ actions be controlled? There seems to be many different actions a character can execute.The characters actions are either controlled by the icons (walk, stalk, run etc.) or, when the situation allows it, via the mouse cursor. Whenever something special is possible in a given situation, the mouse-over cursor shows it.How are you going about balancing all the different characters?Armalion is based upon the German p&p RPG “Das Schwarze Auge”. Since this system is already pretty balanced, we´re just gonna use the rules and restrictions of this system. However, there´s still some fine-tuning left to be done, but the main part is an already established and tested RPG system.Can you explain how the ‘dynamic plot’ works.The storyline of Armalion changes, depending on a. the character class and b. the decisions the character makes during the game. Especially the secondary storyline has some influence on the main storyline. Point a. means, that different character classes will face different obstacles during the game. A fighting character will encounter more battles than a thief for example.How many creatures/monsters will appear in Armalion?It’s too early to say. Many monsters are variations of this monster class. The total number of different monsters 50-70. The real interesting thing about the monsters is, that there are large monsters in the game. And by large, I mean monsters as large as dragons! :DThe multiplayer seems pretty complex, how exactly will it work especially when other players join a game?The entire multiplayer section is still under construction. The confirmed features so far are:Up to three players can play a multiplayer session in Armalion, either via internet, or LAN. They can chose to either play the campaign (with all quests and monsters etc. upgraded according to the combined level of the party) or a RTS scenario. When they chose to play a RTS scenario, all additional npc mercenaries will be distributed amongst them, so everybody will have to control at least one npc in addition to his character.How many spells will appear in the game and are there a set amount for each character type?There are about 70 spells in total, up to 20 for one character class. When we were playtesting other games in this genre, we realised, that many of them are offering ridiculous amounts of different spells, but in the actually game, you end up using no more than 5 maybe 10 of them. That´s why we decided to keep the number small and concentrated on making ALL spells useful.How far down the line are you with the game’s development? Have you a set release date yet?The landscape is about 40% done and new graphics are in line waiting to be added to the editor, while the engine is running quite smoothly already. So, I think it´s safe to say, that we´re close to 50%.Will you be running a beta?We´re definitely going to beta test Armalion (of course…), but probably only internally. A game like Armalion, which is not designed for mass-online players, doesn´t need a stress test. Have you secured a publisher for Europe, Asia and the US?A couple of international publishers expressed their interest in Armalion. We´re currently in negotiations with them. However, at this stage, I can´t tell you any names.Thanks Ralph, we look forward to hearing more about the game in the near future.

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