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Rebell: Would please introduce yourself to our readers an tell us something about the story of Dungeon Lords for a quite conventional introduction?
David W. Bradley: "Okay, I’m D.W.Bradley and I’ve been creating computer RPGs for over 20 years – my RPG titles include Wizardry V – Heart of the Maelstrom, Wizardry VI – Bane of the Cosmic Forge, Wizardry VII – Crusaders of the Dark Savant, and Wizards&Warriors. My newest RPG is Dungeon Lords.
A brief introduction to the story setting in Dungeon Lords is as follows:
The great wizard, Galdryn of the Meadows, has been slain by a deadly conspiracy within the Circle of Mages. His chief ally, Lord Davenmor, now struggles to save his kingdom from the dark forces of the conspiracy and the onslaught of Lord Barrowgrim’s army of marauders. Lord Davenmor has promised his daughter’s hand in marriage to Lord Barrowgrim to quell the invasion, but her heart belongs to another and after learning of her father’s pledge, she has vanished. Sensing treachery, Lord Barrowgrim has dispatched his army once more to destroy Lord Davenmor and raze the kingdom.
Meanwhile, the wizard Volgar, leader of the conspiracy that felled the mighty Galdryn, has joined forces with Lord Barrowgrim. Volgar and his evil cohorts within the Circle of Mages seek the Relics of Power, ancient artifacts once safeguarded by the late Galdryn, for according to legend, the one who unlocks their secret will acquire the means to unleash hell on earth…
An aging Seer of the Celestial Order has divined from the stars that our hero is a youth of exceptional birthright, and has urgently summoned us to the town of Fargrove, bastion of Lord Davenmor, to reveal the nature of the grave matters facing the realm and persuade us to undertake a mission of dire consequences. Beyond the safe haven of Fargrove lies the savage lands of the wilderness, home of the sub-human demigoths, guardians of the ancient dungeons and castle ruins of kingdoms past. It is within these dark domains that the wise Galdryn concealed the great Relics of Power lest they fall into evil hands. And somewhere out there is the lost daughter of a crumbling Lord, now stalked by unseen treachery. Even she doesn’t yet suspect the secret she carries, a critical key harboring the destiny of all…
Thus begins Dungeon Lords, Cry of the Kingdom Cracked, a tale of Love, Hate, Betrayal, Revenge, Honor, and Evil…"
How much influence have your decisions in the game on the storyline?
"Player decisions directly affect progression and development of the player’s hero, the moment to moment ability of the player’s hero to deal with the many various challenges, and ultimately what kind of opportunities may become available to the hero during the game. Some of these choices determine specific game branching, which may open up certain new possibilities and eliminate others. However, while some choices the player makes can create subtle variation in the flow of the main plot, generally speaking the significant storyline events occur based upon the actions of the main storyline characters and are beyond the direct control of the player. Of course, since the game unfolds in a non-linear fashion, it is the player who ultimately determines how and when these events occur, based upon the player’s interactions with the many characters in the game and which quests and destinations they undertake first."
For what kind of gamer is Dungeon Lords reaching out? Is it more for the "I am so hardcore, I finished Baldur’s Gate blindfolded in less than 4 hours"-guy, or for the "Help! Diablo 2 is too complicated for me"-twit? Is it based on a pen & paper RPG?
"Dungeon Lords is uniquely my own creation and is not based upon any other games, p&p rpg or otherwise. As you might imagine, during the past several decades my approach to creating leading edge RPG and my computer game design philosophy has evolved quite a bit, and Dungeon Lords is a quantum leap, the crowning achievement of a lifetime’s worth of experience to create a new class of RPG that really takes you there. At the heart of the design for Dungeon Lords is a very basic tenet: Immerse the player in an epic fantasy RPG universe, make playing the game easy, fun and exciting at every moment, involve the player’s decisions and actions at every instant, eliminate all repetious and fatiguing gameplay elements that detract from a real RPG experience, and remain completely true to depth and detail of storyline and personal hero development that are the hallmarks of RPG. "
At least in the German-speaking RPG-community your project is compared with Gothic 2. I bet you heared about this great game, but how much influence did it really have on Dungeon Lords? And is it really comparable to it in the end?
"I am familiar of course with Gothic and Gothic 2, and well as most other notable RPGs. During the initial design of Dungeon Lords, I spent a great deal of time studying many other games in order to glean where RPG of the future was going, and how I might best take it there. However, I really learned more by listening and observing the players themselves – what was fun, and what was not, what makes great RPG and what fails to inspire. In the end, Dungeon Lords was born out of the desire to build a better RPG for gamers, to provide a great RPG experience that is fun for all. RPG’s are probably the most challenging computer games of all to develop, and any RPG that gains recognition is going to be quite deserving of it, Gothic included and a host of others as well. However, Dungeon Lords departs in so many ways with traditional RPGs, there’s really no purpose with comparsion."
What are some of the outstanding features of DL?
"There are many – certainly bringing real-time action to RPG that uniquely combines the skills of the player as well as their character hero at every moment of gameplay, the elimination of all point and click targeting and all interface clutter to provide a pristine and undisturbed view of all the action in beautiful full 3D, the magic system, inventory, and character hero development systems are to die for, and then we get into features like cooperative multiplayer design, up to 8 players campaigning together! Just a tremendous RPG experience…"
Will the player have any influence on the look of the main character or is there a named hero?
"Each player will create their own unique hero, choosing from 8 different character races, detailed attributes and stats, about 50 possible skills, a host of special properties, and a zillion combinations of armor and weaponry. The player’s hero may also choose to undertake multiple Class specializations (there are three different tiers of character Classes, about 20 Classes all together). Players also choose from a variety of face, skin and hair styles for their hero. Beyond this, gender plays a role as well, for example there is a secret sisterhood operating throughout the kingdom, and only female characters may join. Finally, political associations, guild memberships, etc., all play a part in how the game will unfold. Individual personal character hero development is one of the fundamental components in the design of Dungeon Lords, as in all true RPG. "
Let’s talk about the technical aspects. Your E3 trailer was one of the few I was downloading and I really liked it. But beside breathtaking woods and quite nice effects, there are also some less impressive textures. And some scenes and NPCs have quite a low poly-count (e.g. the voodoo-lady in the tent and the tent itself), compared to other games. How much efforts are you taking to present the game in state-of-art-visuals?
"While I’m always delighted to hear that someone enjoyed the pre-release materials, your comments regarding concern over some particular visual detail of the game at this stage, i.e. the prototype girl model in town, for example, is quite premature. Please remember that Dungeon Lords is still in development at this time, and as such still contains quite a few placeholder materials."
"…primarily between the warring kingdoms in Dungeon Lords and the player’s choice of race for their hero, as all the Dungeon Lords races inhabit the game world and tend to depise each other…"
What about the multiplayer-part of Dungeon Lords? We know there will be a coop-modus. What can we expect from that?
"Multiplayer cooperative is a delicious element for Dungeon Lords, it’s great fun to play with friends, very addicting. Of course, it’s a perfect single-player game as well, but multiplayer makes the experience, well, different. I certainly recommend everyone try to play at least some multiplayer, even if they are a dedicated "single-player". The game supports up to 8 players via LAN or Internet. For those who just can’t resist the temptation for test their mettle against other players, there is also a special deathmatch player vs. player mode. However, because you can import your evolved single-player character hero into your multiplayer sessions, be advised that death can have a price. Also of note is the fact that Dungeon Lords continually monitors the relative strength of the multiplayer party, and enemies and their number are balanced dynamically… "
Any specific ideas for an add-on or sequel yet?
"Of course, but for the time being I’m exclusively focused on finishing the first Dungeon Lords…"
What are the expected minimum hardware requirements and recommendations? When will the game be released?
"Minimum specs are a 1 ghz PC with 3D card (GeForce II or equivalent or better). Dungeon Lords adapts to the player’s hardware, and any advanced 3D card capabilities offer enhanced visuals (pixel-shaders, real-time shadows, water effects, etc.). Player’s may also configure rendering and performance optimizations and enhancements. "
Whatever else you want to say, here you get the chance to do it!
"Dungeon Lords will be released this Fall for PC. Now it’s back to the dungeons for me, I still have much to do!…"