I maj skrev jag en recension av Warlock: Master of the Arcane från Ino-Co Plus, ett ”fantasy turn-based strategy game” som jag snabbt fattade tycke för. Dock insåg jag att det saknades ett par saker som kunde ha gjort spelet lite bättre i sin helhet. Ett spel som vid första överblick är ganska likt Warlock är Eador: Masters of the Broken World, ännu ett ”fantasy turn-based strategy game” men denna gången från Snowbird Games. Men Eador lovar att ha ett betydligt djupare system var det gäller ekonomi och politik vilket inte kommer ge samma känsla av att bli ledd i handen som Warlock hade. En sak till som är tydlig skillnad här är att Eador även har en halv hög roleplaying-element som ska få spelet att sticka ut lite mer.

När en trailer lades upp på Vimeo för ett par veckor sedan tog jag kontakt med Vladimir Tortsov för att ställa ett par frågor om hur utvecklingen har gått efter vi senast var i kontakt med Snowbird. Ett par dagar efter E3-hysterin hade lagt sig fick jag svar på alla mina frågor och har nu mer koll på ett spel som jag är intresserad av. Här tänker jag bjuda på frågor och svar som kom upp under min konversation med Vladimir, allt är helt i hans ord så ingenting blir ”lost in translation”. Nedanför har ni intervjun tillsammans med lite screenshots och trailern som de släppte. Och om det är någon som känner igen Eador så kan det vara för att Varg hade ett litet snack med utvecklarna under GamesCom förra året, ni kan hitta hela den artikeln här.

Last week you released a trailer on Vimeo showing some footage of Eador. It feels like the game is one step closer to release, are you still aiming for the game to be released during this fall?

 Yes, we are. Although the trailer could really give you an impression that the game is almost complete, there are many things we need to improve still, such as interface, unit animations and AI behavior. We also hope to launch the closed beta during the summer.

It’s hard to talk about fantasy turn-based strategy without mentioning Master of Magic or Heroes of Might and Magic. In what ways will Eador be better then those two?

Oh, yes, we totally agree – those games are the golden standards for the genre and every new game has to face this competition.

HoMM III is considered a perfect game by many strategy fans, and for a reason too. Nevertheless, the series isn’t doing so well nowadays as it did in the glorious past, and the last releases demonstrate the triumph of the graphics, not the triumph of complexity and tactical depth. Eador is a true strategy game in this sense – there is a serious challenge inside it for those who like thorough planning and tactical puzzles.

Master of Magic was released back in 1994. Seems almost like a century ago! Yet it still has a plenty of devoted fans, and every once in a while there is another attempt to reinvent the spirit of the original MOM in some modern ‘spiritual successor’. Most of them have failed so far. With Eador: Masters of the Broken World we’re trying to do the same thing (not to fail, obviously, but to imprint the ancient greatness of MoM in our game J ).

The main difference separating Eador from them both, and many other fantasy TBS’es alike, is the unique mix of turn-based mode, grand strategy features and deep role-playing. We don’t know any other game where all of these elements were combined together and it actually worked.

How many people do you have working on the Masters of the Broken World project? And how long have the game been under development?

The story goes back to 2010, when the 2D prototype of Eador was released in Russia and CIS. The game looked cute and the press ratings were great, but the sales weren’t really exciting – it was next to impossible to sell a game in 2D and without any animations (think HoMM 2), when there are way more graphically superior games on the market already. Thus, out of desire to present Eador properly to the modern audience, Snowbird Game Studios was founded in 2011. Since that time the game is in development.

There are 10 people working on the game at the moment. Our head office is in Moscow, but we have employees working for us distantly from Kiev and St Petersburg as well.

During the singleplayer mode your character will have rival masters, as the world is randomly generated will the rivals be randomized as well?

The game universe is generated randomly each time, but the Masters are key characters in the storyline, so their number and personalities are constant. During the single-player campaign, the player will encounter all the Masters in the game, but as the shards of Eador are randomly generated, you’ll never know in advance who lives where. Imagine you’re playing Civilization on a huge map with all nations present and each national leader unique in terms of his personality and goals.

I’m personally very happy that you are gonna include hotseat multiplayer into the game, but your site also mention other types of mutliplayer. Do you have any more specific information you are willing to share about that?

I’m sorry that I can’t be too specific about that yet – the multiplayer is still in the active phase of development. We’re pretty certain that there will be no global multiplayer campaign, because it becomes really complicated in turn-bases mode, and a single session could last forever.

When I look at the trailer I can see a lot of variation in the lands, monsters, buildings and so on. What inspired the team’s aesthetic choices?

I like to see Eador as sort of an ultimate distillate of the fantasy genre. The most staple characters and monsters, philosophies and cosmologic concepts, races and social constructs; from the idealized medievalism of mortal life on the shards down to the creator gods roaming the Astral and the ever-hungry Chaos slowly devouring the Universe. Many developers of fantasy games live by the motto of “more is better”, bloating their game worlds with thousands of peoples, cultures, species and ideas which are little different from one another and ultimately very forgettable. We opted to go for the content that is archetypal, highly recognizable and unique in its role in the game. For some, many of these choices would be seen as “cliché”… for us, it is “classics”.

It’s stated that the game will have a complex economic and political system, is this something inspired from games such as Hearts of Iron and Crusader Kings?

Yes, these grand strategy games from Paradox Interactive and Eador definitely have many things in common when it comes to the economic and political system. First of all – we have provinces in Eador as well. Gameplay-wise it means that the conquest of each new shard becomes a complex task involving diplomatic negotiations with neighbors, building strong economy in your provinces (because you need to pay your army’s upkeep cost) and, of course, some cunning maneuvers to catch your enemies off guard and capture their citadels in a surprise attack (across the sea, for example).

The population of your provinces has their own needs and every race in the game will have their specific attitude to your rule according to your evil or heroic deeds.

As you seem to be aiming for a more complex strategy game, are you worried that the game might be too deep and turn some people off because of that?

Not really. I mean there is always a chance that your game will be rejected by some people for all kinds of reasons, but we aren’t afraid that the game could be too difficult for an average strategy gamer. This is all a question of the informative interface and in-game help for the players anyway, and we’re paying a lot of attention to it.

We were also told during Gamescom that there are 7 different ways to win, are all 7 still in the game or have something changed?

There are 12 different game endings in total, but some of them aren’t exactly optimistic. It is possible to destroy all life in the Universe or surrender the entire Creation to demons, and depending on our Master’s alignment, it could be counted as “victory” of sorts. For a mortal denizen of the world it would be something very different, though. By the way, if the player is idle and he’s not trying to conquer other shards on the Astral level, he may reach one of the possible game endings pretty quick.

You have implemented an element that I would say is taken from RPG style games, a karma system. By my understanding the players karma will change depending on actions, does this mean that for example your character will have severe repercussions for having really bad karma?

A karma system in Eador is one of the cornerstones of gameplay. What we’re trying to achieve by implementing this “choices & consequences” approach into the game is a true role-playing feeling. Most modern RPGs aren’t about role-playing anymore – they are about loot, dramatic dialogues, epic battles, etc. Eador: Masters of the Broken World is all about the role every player can create for himself during the game.

Let me give you an example of some random event that could happen anytime in any of your provinces. The way player reacts to these events will affect his karma and can even affect the game’s finale.

An outbreak of black plague has happened in the province of Raven steppes. Many have died, the lives of the rest are in danger. What are your orders?

– Hire more healers (pay 20 crystals)
– It’s normal, the mortals tend to die…
– Sell their fresh bodies to necromancers.
Each decision will have its own consequences. In this case, the ‘evil’ choice will allow us to turn a bad event to our advantage – with some side effects, of course. In general, it is better to be good than evil, because your army will be stronger and your people will love you. However, the attraction of the dark side lies in its economical efficiency – the player can make money almost in every situation! ‘Evil’ units are weaker than the ‘Good’, true, but they are much cheaper to hire. For instance, you don’t need to pay the upkeep costs for your undead hordes and you can save a lot of money this way. But you have to be ready for the rebellions and severe resistance from the ‘good races’ of Eador (such as elves, dwarves, halflings), if you’re walking down the dark path.

How does the future look for Eador: Masters of the Broken World? Will there be any DLCs or Expansions to the game?

There will be no ‘zero day DLCs’ for sure, as we aren’t fans of this practice. We’ll try to add to the final version of the game as much additional content as possible without cutting some parts of the game off in order to use them for DLCs.

As for any add-ons or expansion for Eador in the future – it is definitely possible, but right now, we are 100% focused on the delivering the flawless release version, so we’ll be able to relax and start to plan our future releases only after the game is out. One thing for sure – we do have a lot of ideas already.