Game Producer Marcin Kruczkiewicz speaks to GamingBolt on all things Hellraid.
Techland’s Hellraid was supposed to be a last gen title, in fact in our last interview with the game’s producer, Techland made it clear that they had no plans to release it on the new consoles given the large install base of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A few weeks ago Techland announced that Hellraid will now release on the PS4, Xbox One and PC, with last gen versions cancelled.
GamingBolt caught up with Game Producer Marcin Kruczkiewicz to talk about the inspiration behind bringing the game to the new consoles and the various gameplay/graphical changes this will bring to the title. Marcin’s response is below.
Rashid Sayed: Last July, you stated to us that one of the big reasons why Hellraid will be skipping the PS4 and Xbox One is the lack of install base. Given that the install based of PS4 and Xbox One is not that big when compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360, why did you guys decided to ditch last gen consoles all together? Was there no way Hellraid could have been cross generation especially after the long development time it has seen?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: The install base of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is growing rapidly and I’m sure it will be even bigger in 2015 when the game is released. On the other hand, there are still rather few games for these platforms, especially games like Hellraid,so we see a perfect niche for us over there.
Yet, it wasn’t just a business decision. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions would mean too many compromises in terms of graphics and gameplay. Compromises we weren’t willing to make, because they were against our top principle: making a game we would like to play ourselves. The time needed for scaling down and optimizing past-gen versions was also a factor. We have around 30 people in our team and prefer to use these resources to polish up the final product.
"Another major change was dividing the game into three game modes: Story, Mission, and Arena. The last one is a completely new concept in our game,featuring a set of smaller levels designed with a survival gameplay and repelling growing hordes of enemies in mind."
Rashid Sayed: Can you tell us about the plot of Hellraid? Who is the main character and what is he doing here?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: Hellraid takes players to a dangerous world where magic took dominance over religion. This caused the boundary between dimensions to fade away, which demons used to invade Earth. In Hellraid, you are the last descendant of a cursed kin and only person that can help an old archmage halt the infernal forces and stop evil rituals before they open a passage for the lord of Hell.
We will be talking more about the plot and the main hero at a later date, closer to the full game’s release.
Rashid Sayed: There has been hardly any news about Hellraid until today. Can you tell us what kind of gameplay changes have you implemented in these past few months and what can fans expect when the game hits retail next year?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: Basically, we’ve developed our melee combat system from scratch using actual medieval fencing techniques as a reference. We’ve also added new attacks for different types of weapons, improved blocking and parrying, as well as added the dashing ability, which allows you to move quicker on the battlefield. And that’s just talking about the melee combat, while we also have magic and ranged weapons available for use against enemies.
Another major change was dividing the game into three game modes: Story, Mission, and Arena. The last one is a completely new concept in our game,featuring a set of smaller levels designed with a survival gameplay and repelling growing hordes of enemies in mind.
On top of that,we’removing the game from Chrome Engine 5 to Chrome Engine 6, which will allow us to publish the game on the next-gen platforms. So, as you can see, we’ve been pretty busy the last few months 🙂
Rashid Sayed: Hellraid seems to integrate certain role playing elements like a skill tree, character customization and an in-depth combat system. Can you please explain the changes in each of them?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: We’ve decided to abandon the idea of four character classes and instead offer one class-free skill tree with various paths of specialization, which can be unlockedin whatever order the player pleases. This way,they will have necessary means to create a hero suited for their playstyle. It will also make co-op gameplay more varied and fun.
As for character customization, at the beginning of the game players will create their heroes and choose their appearance, which later they’ll be able to modify by equippingvarious types of armors, clothes, and special items like talismans and pendants.
Rashid Sayed: The original title was supposed to have “Game Master”. Is this still present in Hellraid?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: As we played and tested the game, we decided that we want to have a bigger impact on the final experience players have, instead of leaving it only to random parameters.
Still, parts of this system – such aspartial randomness in terms of enemy types, numbers, and spawning places – arestill present in the Mission Mode. In this mode, players will revisit levels unlocked in the Story Mode with the objective to achieve highest possible scores.For example,to create longest combos against enemies, score most points in a mission, and take highest positions in leaderboards.
"We’re designing the Mission Mode and the Arena Mode in a way that players will enjoy replaying them over and over again. That’s one of the reasons why we decided to do a Steam Early Access: so players can have a say in polishing the gameplay that should entertain them for tens of hours."
Rashid Sayed: Tell us about the co-op elements. How do you plan to make it a more rewarding experience? Furthermore, are there plans to have offline co-op?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: We believe that pairing up with other players and their custom characters will always deliver a nice thrill to the game.We’ve also introduced a co-op combo that promotes working together instead of running away in different directions. The higher a combo, the more points you get in the Mission and the Arena modes. On the other hand, we wanted to avoid excessive competition between teammates, so we’ve decided loot will be dropped locally for each player.
Rashid Sayed: What kind of improvements have you done to the AI system of Hellraid? In this regard how has the Chrome Engine 6 helped matters?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: The AI will constantly analyze player’s movements. It will combine the data with an analysis of immediate environment to plan out the best combat strategy: frontal attack, flanking, or perhaps “wearing down” the player with weaker units until a stronger group or a boss can strike with full force.
Chrome Engine 6 helps us with many new tools supporting the AI on a development level, as well as with more complex algorithms that players will be able to see in action during the game.
Rashid Sayed: Roughly speaking, how many hours gameplay are we looking at in Hellraid?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: The Story Mode will offer about 8hours of gameplay but that’s only one of three game modes in Hellraid.
We’re designing the Mission Mode and the Arena Mode in a way that players will enjoy replaying them over and over again. That’s one of the reasons why we decided to do a Steam Early Access: so players can have a say in polishing the gameplay that should entertain them for tens of hours.
"Without the constraints of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, we can offer PC gamers a better looking game, while the complexity of our combat system should give them a lot of fun on a gamepad or keyboard and mouse alike."
Rashid Sayed: I wanted to shift the interview focus on new consoles now. How long have you been working on them for Hellraid?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: Right now, we’re in the middle of transferring the code and content from our previous engine to the Chrome Engine 6. For example, the game already runs on PlayStation 4, but there’s still a long road of optimization and bug fixing ahead of us.
The transition itself should take us about three more months and after that we’ll be on a simple way to launching our Early Access.
Rashid Sayed: In our interview with the development team working on Dying Light, we were told that Dying Light will be targeting 1080p/60fps on PS4 and Xbox One. Given that you share the same technology, is Hellraid targeting to run 1080p/60fps on both the consoles?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: Both games are using the same engine now, so this is the goal for both development teams as well as the engine team.
Rashid Sayed: I am eager to know how will the PC version of the game is shaping up. How will you satisfy the hardcore PC gamer?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: Without the constraints of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, we can offer PC gamers a better looking game, while the complexity of our combat system should give them a lot of fun on a gamepad or keyboard and mouse alike.
Rashid Sayed: With the game out in 2015, what any plans to support DirectX12 for the PC and Xbox One versions? Furthermore, how do you think DirectX12 could potentially help the game development scene?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: This is a question to our engine team, which is a separate division of Techland. We as developers always welcome new technologies that we can utilize to make more advanced gameplay and better graphics.
Rashid Sayed: Are you guys at E3? What can we expect?
Marcin Kruczkiewicz: We will be meeting with the press at E3 to show the game but I don’t want to spoil the surprise 🙂