CivCraft - Legends of Ellaria Interview
We interviewed Larkon Studios' Arik Helman about CivCraft - Legends of Ellaria, which is currently on Kickstarter.
RPGwatch: What led to the founding of Larkon Studios and CivCraft?
Arik Helnman: Me and Adrian worked together in a Digital Art company. We are good friends and developed all sorts of video games (and played even more). The idea for CivCraft came in a discussion about video games where we shared opinions about Skyrim, Total War series and other games. Eventually we reached the conclusion that you can combine several genres into one just as long as you focus on the things that makes a video game fun to play.
This idea came at around 2012 and developed into a full game design. Since then our team grew in size as other developers joined CivCraft's concept. Today we're past the technical difficulties and have reached the Early Access with a gameplay that rose beyond our expectations.
RPGWatch: What is it like for you to be an indie developer?
Arik: Since indie companies have limited resources, it's a demanding job. However, developing video games is our dream and we're very excited to be an indie company, as we're working on designing games, art, story and gameplay styles. We wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
RPGWatch: What do you think of the current state of RPGs?
Arik: RPG games have always been our favorite genre as it gives the best connection between the game and the player. Over the years, we noticed a shift from the complexed RPG classical games, such as Never Winter Nights, to the more casual RPG's, such as Skyrim. However, todays RPG offer superb graphics, lore, and are usually played in open worlds which let players focus on their own gameplay.
RPGWatch: Civcraft is mentioned to be a RTS/FPS/RPG Sandbox. Why so many genres? And how do you make sure that the game is good in all those elements and prevent it from just being OKish in most?
Arik: We're focusing on the first person and RPG elements of CivCraft, and are adding the RTS elements as a way to do things that you can't do in first person. This means that we're not compromising on the depth, graphics and gameplay of CivCraft when it comes to first person. Naturally, an attempt to combine all genres into one is nearly impossible, so the RPG element is the main focus.
With that being said, the concept of CivCraft is to add kingdom management on top of an excellent RPG sandbox. Your environment changes depending on your actions, and there's no such thing as a single purpose area. Once cleared, a dungeon can become a mining complex, a haunted forest can become a profitable lumber area and you can expand your kingdom and attack factions thought your adventures.
RPGWatch: As we are a RPG site, lets focus on what makes the RPG label sticked to Civcraft valid. What makes it a RPG in your opinion?
Arik: CivCraft is primarily an RPG game, and role playing is heavily integrated into our concept. Other than customizing your character, you can chose to focus on one or several classes. The more you practice on your class, the more skill points and experience points you will gain. As you rank your character to a higher level, you will be able to invest in skill points and higher abilities, until ultimately rising your character into a one man army.
On top of that, we've added kingdom management skills and crafting skills, which will allow you to play as the wise king with an army at your back.
RPGWatch: You decided for both RTS and FPS views. How does combat differ in these modes?
Arik: When in FPS view, you can command your army to attack, defend or rally to your position, while on the RTS view, you can command individual companies and take a more strategical approach.
From the combat point of view, both of these views allows you to conduct a successful battle, and you can also ask a hero to command the army while you participate the battle in an FPS mode
RPGWatch: Can I finish the story by just sticking to one of the views?
Arik: For the most part, yes. You can play the entire game on FPS and let your advisors develop your kingdom. You can fight battles, take quests and focus on your character while your kingdom grows by itself. On the other hand you can play the entire game on RTS and build your kingdom while conquering other kingdoms. As part of your RTS gameplay, you can hire heroes and send them to quests on your behalf. These heroes can be killed or captured, so you'll have to be sure to send the right ones.
Except for switching from RTS to FPS so that you will move between locations, you can very much finish the game in either mode. We assume that type of gameplay will be a rare thing to do since CivCraft's concept was to include the best from both worlds.
RPGWatch: Just suppose I don't like playing with others. What does the game have to offer me in single player mode? Is it just as challenging?
Arik: Yes it will. CivCraft is designed as a single player and involves a strong lore and adventures. We've also included plans for underground cities, multiple dimensions and main story campaigns which involves major battles between factions. Some of these features will not be included in the multiplayer, since multiplayer involves players creating their own stories.
RPGWatch: What can I do in multiplayer mode that I can't do in single player mode (besides playing with others, that is)?
Arik: In multiplayer, each faction can be owned by a player and has its own political affiliations. This means that a player can join another player and go on adventures together. Players can share quests, solve problems on another player's kingdom, and of course, wage war against another player. Add that to the fact that each player can own armies and cities, and you'll get a very dynamic gameplay in CivCraft's persistent sandbox servers.
RPGWatch: You mention a very large world. How do you keep that world interesting? Will there be sufficient motivations for exploration, combat, character development, etc.?
Arik: CivCraft's world, Ellaria, is not a procedurally generated terrain. This means that we design the land and the factions you will meet. This also means that the further you go from your starting point, the more exotic creatures, quest and items you will find. Since CivCraft has a main story and multiple cultures and races, you will find yourself moving between places and exploring the different parts of Ellaria.
RPGWatch: Will you have a unified interface for PC/Mac and console versions or do you provide different user interfaces to match the platform best?
Arik: We've developed CivCraft by using the Unity 5 engine, so our PC and Mac versions are basically the same Cross Platform version. The interfaces between PC and Mac will be almost identical, except for some differences in keyboard and mouse functions.
RPGWatch: What in your opinion are the best features of Civcraft?
Arik: Our most prominent feature is the ability to switch between FPS and RTS modes at any time, without being forced to focus on one or the other. However, since you rule a kingdom in an open world (Sandbox), there are many other features in CivCraft, such as Arch Mages that can challenge an entire army, quests that affect your kingdom, day and night cycle with a weather system and seasons, mini games, controllable armies and much more.
RPGWatch: Are you thinking of making it possible to mod the game?
Arik: CivCraft is built to support Modding and Multiplayer, and we value the ability for other people to add their own artwork and gameplay into CivCraft. The Modding support will be published sometime during the Early Access.
RPGWatch: You explained the Espionage pack in one of the updates. What about the stretch goal following that the Arch-Mage pack. Can you shed more light on that goal?
Arik: The Arch Mage pack adds a whole new mechanism to CivCraft's magic abilities. This package allows you to develop one of the three mage type, to the point that you can destroy entire armies.
The Arch Mage pack introduces the Green Mage, who can summon monsters, heal soldiers in battle and create his own golem army out of rocks or iron.
Another class is the blue mage, who can shield entire cities against siege weapons, harness the power of gravity to stop armies at their tracks, or teleport himself between key locations.
The most destructive class is the Red Mage. This class is the least versatile but the most powerful one, as a red mage can light entire fields on fire, summon meteorites and destroy a battalion with a single spell.
An Arch mage is not easy to master, as you will need special minerals, buildings and spell books to level yourself or your heroes. However, a high level Arch Mage can be more dangerous than the army that follows him
RPGWatch: What will be your plans after the Kickstarter, besides spending your 2% on Pizzas and beers?
Arik: Hot Pockets and more beer :-)
After that, we will make fine tunings to our Pre-Alpha, and send it to our Kickstarter backers. This Early Access version will be published several weeks after our Kickstarter campaign and will receive constant updates and features. Once we reach the Alpha, we'll publish on Steam as an Early Access, until eventually we'll publish the official version.
Depending on our Kickstarter stretch goal achievements, we will improve graphics, sound, animations and add features during these Early Access versions, as well as Modding and multiplayer.
RPGWatch: What features will the game have on release and what is scheduled to be implemented following the release?
The initial Early Access release will have full RTS\FPS switching system, Building system, the Ability to control armies in RTS mode, Quests, indoors, locations to explore and day & night cycle. After this initial release we will add other planed features and unlock areas in Ellaria for CivCraft's players to explore. Later versions will also include other rifts (dimensions), a main story, and improvements to the Early Access features.
RPGWatch: Is there anything you would like to add?
Arik: We want to give special thanks to RPGWatch readers for your interest in CivCraft. Your support and feedbacks encouraged us to reach the Early Access. Also don't forget to check out our Kickstarter Campaign updates for more features and artwork.
Information aboutLegends of Ellaria
Developer: Larkon Studio
Play-time: 40-60 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2021-04-02
· Publisher: Larkon Studio