As the next generation draws closer and Sony and Microsoft announce more and more exclusives for the consoles, the number of multiplatform titles that will be available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are more precious than ever. Of the current generation titles, Techland’s Hellraid is certainly one of the more intriguing additions, seeking to capture a Dungeons and Dragons-esque feel to things with the Game Master feature. But rest assured there is a lot more to the game than that.
We recently spoke to Game Producer Marcin Kruczkiewicz about Hellraid, including the lack of next generation releases (currently), talk of the game evolving on formulas brought about by classics like Hexen, information on how the Game Master works and more.
Ravi Sinha: Hellraid has been described as a “spiritual successor to Hexen and Witchaven”. How far did those games inspire it, whether in tone or content? Will you be going back to the roots of the series when it was still associated with id Software, or will there be a bent to experiment more?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: It’s important to mention that we didn’t called Hellraid like this – gamers did. Most of the people in our team played those titles and others such as Heretic or the first Quake in the past and those titles shaped them as gamers. Now when people call our game a spiritual successor of these classics we feel privileged but also obliged because we know that it won’t be easy to meet those expectations.
In Hellraid we’re trying to achieve a similar level of fun and challenge which those classics had but we want to do this with modern gameplay mechanics like for example a strong emphasis on co-operation and competition between team members.
"Sure, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are behind modern PC’s hardware capabilities but they have one big advantage over Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – a huge base of players that already own those platforms and crave for new games. "
Ravi Sinha: The most obvious question is to the lack of next gen platforms for Hellraid.
At this stage, what is it like to choose between the more established current gen platforms, as against the extra power that the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 bring to the table?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: Hellraid is being made by a small team of about dozen people and as such you need to pick your priorities very carefully.
Sure, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are behind modern PC’s hardware capabilities but they have one big advantage over Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – a huge base of players that already own those platforms and crave for new games.
Ravi Sinha: For that matter, will we be seeing any next gen console versions of Hellraid?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: We’re not ruling out next-gen platforms for Hellraid in the future but at the moment we’re focusing on PC, X360 and PS3.
"In co-op Game Master also generates competitive challenges for you and your friends which escalates the rivalry for points, rewards and leaderboards at the end of each level. "
4. The game utilizes a “Game Master” in online play to assign random challenges to players. This is compounded by the co-op challenges which hold their own rewards. How far was this mechanic inspired by Dungeons & Dragons? Three players in a co-op party, with the fourth being the “Game Master” seems to make sense in that regard.
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: We support up to four human players in co-opand Game Master isn’t one of them. It’s an advanced AI system inspired by popular pen and paper role-playing games that works not only in co-op but in single-player as well. It’s also not a separate game mode but we see that a lot of people would appreciate the type of play you mentioned so it’s worth considering in the future, after Hellraid is released.
Ravi Sinha: Can you give us some specific examples as to how the “Game Master” will make things different, as opposed to just regular randomly generated content? If it is entirely AI driven, will there be different levels of challenges that the “Game Master” provides?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: Game Master scales difficulty level, spawns different types and numbers of enemies in various parts oflevels and generates loot each time a player travels back to a location to complete side quests or compete with friends. In co-op Game Master also generates competitive challenges for you and your friends which escalates the rivalry for points, rewards and leaderboards at the end of each level.
Ravi Sinha: The game has been described as a mix of the “best aspects of Dead Island and The Elder Scrolls”. Which one of those influenced the combat most?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: Hellraid grew from an internal weapon mod for Dead Island so it’s natural that we used some basic gameplay and fighting mechanics from that game but we advanced them significantly and added new ones like blocking to them. We want combat in Hellraid to be realistic (with the exception of magic of course) but at the same time enjoyable and impressive.
"What we can say right now is that our main campaign can be experienced both in single-player and co-op. "
Ravi Sinha: Will the game emphasize the standard array of blocks, parries, hacking and slashing seen in The Elder Scrolls, or will there be a more strategic bent of combat? In terms of gore, will there be decapitations, gibs or limbs flying all over the place?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: It’s hard to compare it to any other game because of its complex nature and we wouldn’t want to oversimplify. Hopefully gamers will see this for themselves very soon. They will also find our game very mature in terms of violence with a lot of blood and flying limbs. We have no doubtsthat Hellraid will be rated PEGI 18/Mature.
Ravi Sinha: What is the level of importance given the campaign versus the amount of time and resources spent on the “Game Master” mode and randomly generated content? How far does this influence the replay value when it comes to “hundreds of hours of unique content” versus “hundreds of hours of slight modified content here and there”?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: We’re not revealing any details about our story yet. What we can say right now is that our main campaign can be experienced both in single-player and co-op. We want players to be able to replay the story with different heroes from our set of four character classes as well as play it again with a more advanced hero. We also strongly focuson competing with friends for points and rewards in co-op and we’re building the replay value of the game mostly around this type of gameplay.
Ravi Sinha: Which engine is Hellraid being built on? What advantages does it bring?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: Hellraid is built on an advanced version of Techland’s proprietary Chrome Engine 5.
Special thanks to Marcin Traczyk from Techland for setting this interview up.