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Enderal: Shards Of Order Interview

by Joost "Myrthos" Mans, 2013-10-07

Being a big fan of Nehrim, I recently thought it would be a good idea to reach out to SureAI, the creators of Nehrim, and see if they would answer some questions about their new project, Enderal: Shards Of Order. Thankfully, they obliged (thanks, fellas!), so I typed out a few questions and sent them off.  Here is what they had to say.

RPGWatch: What is a typical day like for SureAI on the production of Enderal: Shards Of Order?

SureAI: That really depends on the team member. A small core of our team works up to 8 hours or more each day, if our job/studies allow for it. Some of us contribute on a less regularly basis or only from time to time - However, we try to make sure that we work every day possible since discipline has been the key to completing our projects since Arktwend.

RPGWatch: I think Nehrim is easily one of the best, if not the best mod ever created for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. How do you plan to top it with Enderal?

SureAI: Well, mainly through improving what was already good in Nehrim and through learning from its mistakes. The gameplay-changes such as the EP-system is improved with our class-system, and the story will be less linear. We're also trying to implement more side quests and both the lore and the characters will be a lot more detailed and relatable.

RPGWatch: Your mods for Bethesda's games have been out for years now. Has anyone from Bethesda contacted you about any of them? Have you ever gotten any positive or negative feedback from Bethesda on your work?

SureAI: Bethesda featured most of our projects on their official blog, but that's about it. Maybe because we are a German team, and probably because they are a very busy lot! However, we didn't expect them to give us feedback in the first place, so that's not a problem for us.

RPGWatch: Nehrim had a high degree of "hand-crafted" game design. Everything from hand-placed loot to a hand-crafted game world became apparent to anyone who played the mod. Can we expect the same level of attention to detail in Enderal?

SureAI: Simple answer: Yes, you can.

RPGWatch: Nehrim had a very compelling main story, with lots of interesting lore and intriguing twists that changed the course of the plot. Is story going to be focused on as heavily for Enderal? Can we expect many twists and turns?

SureAI: Yes, you can expect twists and turns!

Enderal's plot deals with a topic which will hopefully make players think about what's happening rather than just being about self-empowerment. You could say that we're really trying to get something across rather than to merely entertain. So yes, story is going to be focused on heavily. And while we can't promise that everyone will like it, you can rest assured: We're trying our best to make it relatable, epic, and most importantly: enjoyable.

RPGWatch: Nehrim got easier as the game progressed. That is to say, as long as you explored and did the optional content to gain experience, your character became very powerful. What are you doing in Enderal to make sure the game doesn't become a pushover at higher levels? How will you balance the game between the "explorers" who explore the entire terrain and those who just want to progress the main story?

SureAI: Good question. We'll probably make a small amount of exploration and side-questing - and the experience and items gained from it - necessary in order to progress without having to save and reload too often. Players who explore a lot will win the battles of the main quest a lot easier than those who don't, but those who just follow the main quest without exploration will also be able to complete it, maybe also by adjusting the difficulty. It's all about balancing the two extremes.

RPGWatch: All your mod projects are phenomenal, and in a sense they can be considered their own games, but have you thought about developing your own engine and assets to create an entirely new game, rather than a mod for an already existing game?

SureAI: Yes, we actually have. A part of our team is currently studying informatics or Game-Design and some of us have already gathered industry experience - after 10 years of modding, we really want to do what we do for a living. So yes, there are plans to make our own game and we're already working on it - but we also know that this is an immense challenge. While we will profit a lot from what we learnt about Game-Design, level-design, writing, music, and most importantly endurance and discipline from our completed projects, creating a completely independent game (especially an Open-World RPG) poses a lot of additional obstacles and we're not naive. We do think, however, that we have come up with a decent battle plan.

RPGWatch: Nehrim had some great side quests, but not many in number (if you don't count the wanted board and arena). Will side quests play a bigger role in Enderal?

SureAI: We are definitely aware of that issue, so yes, we're trying to create more high-quality side-quests in Enderal. But we do not want to make any promises that we can't keep - The lack of side-quests in Nehrim was due to the immense amount of work that "simply" creating and implementing the main quest was. So while we'll try to offer more and better/well-distributed side-quests in Enderal, we cannot say for sure if we can really do it in the end.

RPGWatch: Nehrim featured some great characters who were fleshed out. It's obvious that a very thoughtful approach was taken in this regard. However, your basic NPCs in towns really didn't have much to say. Can we expect NPCs in Enderal to be a bit more talkative?

SureAI: Within our boundaries, yes. Just like we mentioned before, that depends on how good we advance and how many unexpected problems we encounter during the development. And, most importantly, it depends on the amount of talented professional and non-professional English and German voice actors who are willing to contribute to Enderal.

RPGWatch: Will crafting be in the game? If so, what types, and can you talk about them a bit? And other than crafting, will there be any other non-combat diversions in the game?

SureAI: Unfortunately, we haven't yet tackled the topic crafting ourselves, so we can't say anything about that. As for other non-combat diversions, they will be there. First of all, the player will have to cook and hunt since food has become more important in Enderal. There are a lot of treasures (and we're not talking about the loot at the end of a dungeon) to be found and even some non-combat oriented side-missions. Furthermore, Enderal will feature two companions whose personality the player can unravel with time (in non-obligatory conversations, for example) and whose relationship to the player depends upon his or her actions and decisions.

RPGWatch: Without spoiling anything, will there be any content to play through after the main quest has been completed, as is the case with Nehrim? That bonus content is some of the most imaginative and interesting content I've played in an RPG. You have very talented contributors on your team!

SureAI: Thanks for the compliment! However, we can't answer this question for reasons we can't elaborate here.

RPGWatch: Thank you for your time answering my questions. Finally, when can we all expect to play Enderal?

SureAI: We wish we could satisfy your appetite for with a fixed date - But since we had to postpone the release of Nehrim several times due to unforeseeable difficulties and problems (such as losing very important team members) we don't want to make the same mistake all over again. In that sense: You can play it when it's done! We're developing quicker than we did in Nehrim, and we are working hard.

We know that this might not be the most satisfying answer, but it's probably the most honest one we can give you.

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Information about

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Developer: Bethesda Softworks

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Combat: Real-time
Play-time: Over 60 hours
Voice-acting: Full

Regions & platforms
World
· Homepage
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2011-11-11
· Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

World
· Homepage
· Platform: PS3
· Released at 2011-11-11
· Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

World
· Homepage
· Platform: PS3
· Released at 2011-11-11
· Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

More information