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Default Afterfall - Interview @ RPG Codex

January 10th, 2008, 14:37
RPG Codex has scored an interview with the developers of the Polish post-apoc project, Afterfall. Here's the opening question to set the scene:
What will be the focus of the game? A strong story with an interesting main quest, or a more free-roaming game with lots of different side quests?

The top priority is of course the plot, however, its structure is unlike the established standards. On the one hand, we have a rich story put in a repeatedly branching main quest with multiple endings. On the other hand, there are dozens of side-quests scattered throughout the game world, the most important of which are career quest chains in various organizations and extensive major quests regarding the most important events and processes happening in the game. An innovation in this area are bypasses, thanks to which while traveling, exploring and performing tasks, you may find new approaches to major quests, careers, or even the main plot.

Let me give an example which has been already used to illustrate this idea: you have a quest requiring you to infiltrate the structures of one of Warsaw's gangs. The employer will usually suggest 2 or 3 methods of achieving that. However, if at some point the hero becomes the champion of the Warsaw combat arena, the boss of that gang will come to him on his own, with a proposition of membership and high status. That is going to create a shortcut, bypassing a dozen or so tasks that you would otherwise have to perform for the group before you got close enough to the boss. Discovering all of them will be very difficult even with several passings of the game. Thanks to this method, the more important a quest, the more ways there will be to complete it, both obvious ones and ones scattered across the world as bypasses.

I think a relevant, though still a bit distant analogy is a certain moment in the plot of Baldur's Gate 2, when you had to get money for a sea voyage, but at the same time no one imposed a method to reaching that goal. The player had to explore the world and perform quests in order to collect the necessary funds. In Afterfall, many such moments are intertwined with periods of almost unbounded freedom, and short times when the player is swept away by the unfolding events.
The second priority is our system, which we intend to develop with time and employ not only with add-ons and a sequel to the game, but also with some of our later productions.
Thanks, Elwro.
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January 10th, 2008, 14:37
I'm looking foreward to this game. It sounds like it will be my cure my Fallout 3 blues and the best thing is it doesn't sound like its too far off from being released. They just set up their paypal account

Any dev that says their first prioty is the plot is ok in my books.
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January 10th, 2008, 23:35
The devs are still looking for a publisher, so I guess we should take every fantastic list of features they present with a grain of salt. But hey, at least they're good potential features :-)
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January 11th, 2008, 00:40
Originally Posted by Elwro View Post
The devs are still looking for a publisher, so I guess we should take every fantastic list of features they present with a grain of salt. But hey, at least they're good potential features :-)
They said they wouldn't take just any publisher and that they want to include every planned feature, and that they'll not settle with a publisher that wants to change the project for the worse…
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January 11th, 2008, 10:06
Online distribution instead of publisher?
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January 11th, 2008, 14:06
I don't want to sound too negative, but I'm pretty sure it's impossible to develop such a game with no funding, hoping just for sales revenue. This isn't Eschalon.
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January 11th, 2008, 22:25
…and it's pretty much impossible for an unproven Polish developer to find a publisher for a post-apoc project if they won't compromise the feature list as the publisher demands. Regrettably, they just won't get signed by any western publisher as it stands.
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January 12th, 2008, 10:58
But didn't CD Projekt start this way? They had this grand dream, got angel funding, and built most of the game as they wanted to build it before Atari came on board?
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January 12th, 2008, 13:22
Originally Posted by aboyd View Post
But didn't CD Projekt start this way? They had this grand dream, got angel funding, and built most of the game as they wanted to build it before Atari came on board?
I am not sure but I think Atari did not any funding. I heared about some devs from atari helping CDPR but it was just polishing the game. Atari was just a publisher for parts of the world where CDP wasn't. CDP is quite a big company and didn't need any funding, they just were keen on just publishing games earlier.

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January 12th, 2008, 14:19
Anyone got a few million to spare to help these guys out? I swear the first thing I do if I ever win the lottery is start my own publishing company

As for the game I have no idea on their financials but I would think that ACE has the right idea with online downloads. The market is growing in that area, just look at the writers guild strikes going on in America. That is all about digital downloads, but like everyone pretty much is saying it's close to impossible to develop a game with no funds. Oh well, we always have Fallout 3 to look forward to
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January 13th, 2008, 09:53
Originally Posted by aboyd View Post
But didn't CD Projekt start this way? They had this grand dream, got angel funding, and built most of the game as they wanted to build it before Atari came on board?
No. CD Projekt spent over 10 years becoming one of the largest publishers in Eastern Europe. They built their financial resources through publishing and localisation until they were ready to start a development studio; in other words, after a decade leadup, they paid for it themselves.

Atari was for distribution outside Eastern Europe.

Anyway, I'm not trying to shit on their dream and I wish them every luck. I just know experienced studios who have successfully shipped previous games who can't get publishers to sign up for CRPGs. Hell, one of them is headed by a respected consultant who successfully works on other games. Remember, Troika couldn't get their post-apoc project signed. Silver Style couldn't get their completed post-apoc game to English markets.

But even so, I'm not trying to say they should give up but rather that the attitude that they won't accept any changes to an extremely ambitious design just isn't realistic.
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January 13th, 2008, 13:34
I agree with everyone that says that getting publisher funding with the no compromise to game design attitude is very unlikely. I haven't really read up on Afterfall, so I am unsure of the game is intended to be technically up to date/state of the art. Or if it is aiming for a more moderate graphical/technical niche with a focus on innovative design. Do you guys know?

Anyway one of the things that have been irritating me for a long time is that there are no B games so to speak. There are high profile commercial games that cost 10+ miljon to make and there are basement indy games that cost next to nothing to make. But very little in between. Does anyone have any thoughts on possible economic solutions for making games in between so to speak?

If there are possible solutions for the midrange projects so to speak. Then those might work for a project like Afterfall, but otherwise I think the odds of this kind of game getting made are pretty bad. Which is a bloody shame as it sounds really nice.
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January 13th, 2008, 14:03
Originally Posted by Loof View Post
Anyway one of the things that have been irritating me for a long time is that there are no B games so to speak. There are high profile commercial games that cost 10+ miljon to make and there are basement indy games that cost next to nothing to make. But very little in between. Does anyone have any thoughts on possible economic solutions for making games in between so to speak?
There are midrange games too, you know. Much of the adventure game genre would qualify, for example -- I recently played one where Sherlock Holmes meets the Cthulhu Mythos. It wasn't half bad for what it is.

I always like to trot out the motion picture industry parallel. Chronologically, computer games today are where motion pictures were around 1910. IOW, if you wanted to make a film, you pretty much have to start by building your own camera and making your own film stock; getting some moving pictures projected on a blanket is hard enough that stuff like narrative and characterization necessarily take a back seat.

Try this on for size:

To see the future of midrange games, look at the Planescape Trilogy.

What we have here is an enthusiastic team working on near-zero budget, creating exciting, new content… on a platform that's robust, well-tested, very, very easy to build on, and allows for quite respectable production values.

The only problem lies in the choice of platform: as a NWN2 mod, licensing prevents them from distributing the game commercially.

Now, imagine that the NWN2 engine, toolkit, and basic object libraries were maintained as open-source projects, licensed under a business-friendly license like BSD, Apache, or Academic.

That would permit a cluster of small studios to create games in a way that the majority of costs would go into creating content rather than maintaining, developing, or licensing a platform. They could then distribute these games commercially, over the Net or as boxed goods.

Any takers?
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January 14th, 2008, 01:25
Isn't that what is happening with AoD? The engine they're using isn't Open Source, but is cheap -- something like $200 for the right to sell your game commercially. There are lots & lots of games that have sprung up around that engine. The only reason we don't hear more about it is because 90% of the games are not RPGs.
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