RPGWatch: Hi, could you please introduce yourself to our readers.
Florian Kasper: My name is Florian Kasper, I live with my wife and kid in North Carolina and have been working on Corven with a small but dedicated team for several years now. I am very excited to finally let the world see and play what we created
RPGWatch: What is your gaming background?
Florian: I have been obsessed with gaming since I was 9 years old and got my C64. I moved on to the Amiga and played endless hours of Ultima 6 on it. I remember vividly how I explored Lord British's castle, being amazed by how interactive everything was. Putting a potion on the ground and move it wherever I want was mind blowing. Then I did the dungeon under the castle, had a ton of fun and finally looked at the map that was in the box and realized that this amazing experience I just had happened in that tiny area of the world. Once again my mind was blown.
Since then I played on every system out there, but especially on PC. I could list many many games I love, but I won't bore you with that.
Let's just say I love video games and the escape from this crazy world we live in they provide.
RPGWatch: How large is your team and what are their backgrounds?
Florian: Our team is quite small. I do most of the work directly on the game.
Then we have Patrig Droumaguet who is doing an amazing job creating our Soundtrack. We had long talks about what the music should sound like and the summary of my wishes would be: Fantasy theme music with 80s synths inspired by the Ultima VI soundtrack :) I think Patrig pulled it off.
"Sir John" from the Ultima community is doing the German translation and is designing some of the side quests.
Max Haude is creating some of the 3D models.
I have some guys from the Unity community who are helping from time to time and one of them might join us soon full time.
Other than that I work with Freelancers for specific tasks.
I had a bigger team once, but having it distilled down to what we have now actually made huge progress possible. A few reliable people are way better than many unreliable ones.
RPGWatch : Why were you keen to make a game in the style of the old Ultima series?
Florian: Because I absolutely love Ultima and we still to this day did not get a new game like it. Some came close, but in my opinion none of them managed to capture the soul of those games.
In my opinion, Ultima, especially my favorites V, VI, VII, SI and in parts VIII, were all about interesting storylines and NPCs in a beautiful, interactive world. While Ultima never had long dialogues rivalling books in length like for example Planescape Torment, it managed to tell fascinating stories through interesting NPCs. In many newer games NPCs seem like robotic story machines and even newest technology with fancy facial animations cannot make them feel alive. Those pixel people from the aforementioned Ultimas had way more soul. In part it's because Garriott and his team gave them background stories the player could find out if he or she wanted to. There were relationships, rivalries, drama, friendships, ... and most of the time it was told through just a few lines of text and it had nothing to do with the main quest-line. It made you feel like you are part of a living breathing world.
The interactive world with its many secrets to discover did the rest. Secrets which again, mostly had nothing to do with the main quest-line and so made them feel truly special.
RPGWatch : Which Ultima game has had the most influence on you and on Corven?
Florian: Definitely VII and VII Part 2 Serpent Isle. I think those two games perfected what was so great about Ultima. The dialogues were just right, not too short, not too long, the NPCs were interesting and the worlds were amazing.
Serpent Isle was more linear than Ultima VII, but did a better job in telling a compelling story.
RPGWatch : How did you manage to get Richard Garriott (Lord British) involved with the game development and how has he helped you?
Florian: Richard and I were in contact for years off and on because I was active in the Ultima community. When I asked him if he would let us use Lord British in Corven he agreed quickly after reading the story outline. It's important to him that the character is portrayed in a way that makes sense overall and so he was very interested in the part he plays in Corven. Richard even ended up coming up with story ideas and details for Corven which were really great. After a brainstorming session we integrated his ideas in the Corven script and I think it all turned out great.
Richard offered to work more on the story with me once the Kickstarter campaign is over.
RPGWatch : Are there any Ultima Easter eggs in the game and what can you tell us about them?
Florian: Yes many, but I think the fun of easter eggs is to find them, so I don't think I should talk about them now. I am sure in the course of development way more than we already have planned will end up in the game. What I will say is that the story of Corven is more interwoven with Ultima than some might think...
RPGWatch : What is the basic story of Corven and where did the idea come from?
Florian: The (very) basic storyline is that you, the protagonist, are an underachiever, plagued by inner demons, failing. You end up hitting a girl with your car while driving drunk and it eats you up inside. She is in a coma and you visit her every day until one day a crow shows up and ends up leading you through a portal into the world of Corven. There you will have a chance to save this strange new world you ended up in and in the process redeem yourself. There are many connections between the world of Corven and Earth and you will end up making a huge difference in both worlds... and in yourself.
The general idea of having a human from Earth ending up as hero in a "fantasy" world is of course from Ultima. The specific storyline is one which had been brooding in me for many, many years now. It was once the basic idea for a fan mod I wanted to make, called Ultima X, The New King.
RPGWatch : How is character creation handled and what, if any, choices do you have?
Florian: The character is set from the start. The story requires the character to be a male, but since we don't show the character's face up close, other than his eyes in one picture of the intro, and since we don't have a portrait for the character in the game, the players can identify with him however they want.
The player will find many types of armor in the game and will be able to customize their character this way. Each part of the armor is visible on the player character.
RPGWatch: Can you specialise as a particular character type such as Warrior, Thief, or Mage?
Florian: The player will have access to all types of skills and can modify the character however they want. You can specialize in magic, sword skills or bow and arrow for example, or all of it. It's up to you. There are no set classes.
RPGWatch: How is combat handled in the game?
Florian: We started out with turn based combat, but after I tested real time combat close to action RPGs like Diablo it just clicked. Combat was the weak point of Ultima VII and I wanted to make it fun, exciting but not the main attraction of the game. If you ever played an Action RPG, you know how combat basically works in Corven.
The difference is that while Corven has ARPG combat, it certainly is not an ARPG in any other way. Story and exploration are the main focus of the game.
Combat won't be too complex, but there is some strategy to it, like the spell combination you can test in the demo: If you freeze an enemy, the next fireball will 100% do critical damage. Such combinations are fun and we will have more of it in the final game.
RPGWatch: Are you able to avoid combat by using diplomacy, for example?
Florian: Yes, that is actually a big part of Corven. You will be able to talk your way out of many situations.
At the end of the demo you even get a little hint of that already. The lava monster you discover, which came from another island, can be killed or you can let it go. If you let it go it might even help you out later on.
Please note: The dialogue in that part of the demo is not final.
RPGWatch: Could you describe the magic system you are implementing?
Florian: The magic system is based on Fire, Water, Earth, Air and Spirit. You will have shrines which are connected to each of those aspects. The player will have to restore those shrines in order to access those magic schools.
Once you have unlocked a magic school you can learn spells from it. Spells can be found in the world or learned from mages. We are still discussing if we should have reagent requirements for the spells or not. It's a work in progress.
The Ultima fans among the readers will notice that those magic schools are not like in Ultima and I want to clarify, that while we try to create some sort of spiritual successor to Ultima, we won't blindly copy its systems. We are creating our own game, and hopefully game series.
The spells in the demo are there to demonstrate the system. In the final game the player won't have access to those right away.
RPGWatch: Do characters gain experience points, and/or level up in the game?
Florian: Yes we have an experience points and level system. Leveling up will raise attributes which also can be enhanced with armor and magic.
RPGWatch: How is experience gathered; through combat, quests, or both?
Florian: Both :)
RPGWatch: What type of quests are there?
Florian: We try to make quests a logical part of the story we are trying to tell. If we succeed the quests in the main quest-line won't even feel like tasks you have to work through. That's the goal at least. I think the demo shows the direction in which we are going quite well.
There are side quests as well of course but I doubt we will have many of the typical "kill 10 monsters" quests. Even though I don't think there is anything wrong with some quests like that. Killing monsters is fun.
But again, the main goal is to have quests be the tool to drive the story forward. You will do some things which are more typical for the Adventure game genre (puzzle solving), but then again, that's something Ultima players are used to.
It's funny, the one lever you have to use to unlock a trap door in the demo was a big hurdle for some of our testers, even though it's right there beside the trap door. It's just something many modern RPG's don't do anymore; at least not without lots of glowing markers.
RPGWatch: Do you play as a solo character, or do you form a party?
Florian: You will have up to 3 party members. We have not decided yet how much influence the player has over the party members (inventory management etc.). That's also somewhat of a budget question.
RPGWatch: What can you tell us about the NPC's you are planning for the game?
Like I mentioned before, NPCs play a huge role in Corven, since talking to them will tell the story we are trying to convey. We are doing our best to make them interesting and have characters make sense within the world. They will not just be static quest givers but have their own stories which in the end will make the world feel alive.
Warren Spector in an interview told a story about how fascinated he was that Richard Garriott wrote down back stories and relationships of all the NPCs in each town in Ultima. I think that shows. Even if some backstories or relationships are just mentioned within one line of dialogue, it gives the game soul.
Our characters range from typical human villagers to werewolves and other fantasy creatures you can interact with.
RPGWatch: Do you have many choices in dialogue based on how you see your character?
Florian: Our main goal is to tell a compelling storyline. We will do our best to implement many dialogue options to help the player play THEIR character, but then again I am also not a fan of imaginary choices which have no effect in the long run.
RPGWatch: Are there consequences in game based on the choices you make?
Florian: Yes, like the example with the lava monster I talked about earlier. Kill it and make the villagers happy or let it go and have an ally later on.
You will encounter many situations like this in Corven.
However, I don't like choices which pretend to have consequences, but in reality don't. There are many examples in many games like this. I'd rather have less of those, but have them actually make a big difference.
RPGWatch: How linear is the game?
Florian: Imagine a slightly less linear Serpent Isle. That's Corven.
RPGWatch: How does the economy of the land operate?
Florian: Corven will have very basic economy. Nothing special to report here.
RPGWatch: Is there much music in the game?
Florian: I think music plays a big part in story driven games and that's why it is a very important part of Corven. Yes we will have many different tracks in the game and while I might be biased, I think what we have so far is quite amazing. :)
RPGWatch: Will there be any voice acting?
Florian: We do not plan any voice acting. That's part of the charm of old school RPGs.
RPGWatch: Do you plan to have things like day/night cycles?
Florian: We can do day/night cycles and NPC schedules, the technical basis for that is already there. Implementing those cycles for each NPC however is a lot of work which takes a lot of time, which is why we have it as a stretch goal. Corven is already a big game to create for our small team and time / manpower is our biggest challenge.
RPGWatch: Will you use quest markers and other forms of 'hand holding'?
Florian: We have almost no handholding. Handholding begins and ends with the automatic quest log.
Not having shiny markers makes the world more believable and solved tasks more fulfilling. The player won't just have successfully clicked a marked object, they will have seen, for example, the locked trap door, discovered the lever and unlocked the trap door with it. That's completely different than having successfully seen a shiny thing to click.
RPGWatch: Will there be various difficulty levels available?
Florian: No, Corven will be designed exactly how it should play. Since it's not a combat focused game, the difficulty will be the problem solving skills of the player.
RPGWatch: Is there anything else you'd like everyone to know about Corven?
Florian: Corven is a passion project. We've put our heart and soul into this game and want to make it as awesome as possible. If you have been waiting for a new single player Ultima for a long time, just like us, then I think you have found it with Corven, at least the closest thing to it.
Yes, we are a small team and this is our first game, but it will be something special. Don't miss out and please support us on Kickstater to make this dream possible.
Information aboutCorven - Path of Redemption
Combat: Pausable Real-time
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· To be announced
· Publisher: Lycantic