World of Risen posted an English translation of an interview German site Gamona made with Piranha Bytes' project lead Björn Pankratz.
The piece is well worth reading. A lot of interesting topics are covered and the interviewer keeps things flowing nicely. Here's a small excerpt:
gamona: In the times of the four-people-developer rat shop, would you have thought that “Gothic” would still be used as an example for good character behaviour ten years later?
BP: Yes. Because even back then, much was possible. Think about “Ultima Underworld” where you could do anything that is still usual today: Shoot a bow, magic, look up and down, jump around, pull a lever, summon a monster and let it fight. Everything that's typical for RPGs you could already do back then.
Now you could say: “Make a game like Ultima Underworld, it was soooo cool back then!”. Everything looks good today but the gaming part gets left behind somewhere. And that is the core of your critic, too. But not only for me as game designer but the entire business, other things are also important. Like the narrative presentation of the story. There are much more cut scenes implemented, many things are chewed for the player.
gamona: Chewed for? As in: You don't have to think for yourself?
BP: Yes, that is a trend which we as developers observe. And to find a middle way through it is the important thing. Between the stuff that is chewed for you and that where the game pulls me in, where I can explore it freely and live in it. With “Risen”, we often received the critic: “I arrive at the beach, the game starts and shortly after, I somehow lost the thread and just run around the landscape.”
To find a mixture in that matter is an art. And it is in the perception of the player whether the arc of suspense takes effect or whether he is annoyed somewhere so much that he stops playing. It is a very complex topic.
"Between the stuff that is chewed for you and that where the game pulls me in, where I can explore it freely and live in it. With “Risen”, we often received the critic: “I arrive at the beach, the game starts and shortly after, I somehow lost the thread and just run around the landscape.”"
Nooooo. Please don't change this.
That's the beauty of it all… Figuring out what the hell is happening…