RPGWatch Indie Showcase/ Forged of Blood
RPGWatch Indie Showcase is presenting the newly released tactical game Forged of Blood this time around. Thanks goes out to our member lackblogger for suggesting I do an interview with the game's developers. Thanks also goes out to CritiestBunny for his swiftly written and very detailed answers to my questions and also for taking time to answer individual member's questions in the various news threads about Forged of Blood we've had on our site.
RPGWatch: Tell us a little about your background and experience?
My background is primarily film (directing and editing mostly) and advertising (copywriting and art direction). I spent some time working in New York at an agency and doing the whole startup thing on the side until my visa ran out. After returning home to Jakarta, I picked up a job at a local game studio as the marketing manager, before partnering with my former bosses there to start Critical Forge in early 2016.
RPGWatch: How long did it take you to develop your game?
As of our launch day on August 1st, 2019. It had been three years, five months, and seventeen days since Joe, Milo, Pandu, Fathur, Fauzan and I started dusting off an empty room above a small warehouse in Jakarta. It was just the six of us in those early prototyping days, and it would take a few more months before we expanded the team to start working on the main game proper.
RPGWatch: Forged of Blood was a failed Kickstarter. What inspired you to continue despite that disappointment? What would you have done differently if the Kickstarter had been successful?
An old mentor of mine once said to me: "the only way out is through." Those words stuck with me and have been my guiding mantra for whenever things just start to feel too much. For us, failure and shutting down was just not an option, we had invested too much time and effort into the project that the only way out was indeed getting through to the launch. So we took the Kickstarter failure and planned around it.
Going into Kickstarter we had a few big goals. The first massive one was voice-acting. Right now Forged of Blood has 3 faction story arcs and something over 72 side quests, bringing all that to life with actors would have been an absolute dream for me. The funds from kickstarter would have also been used to increase the work into our visual effects, hire an additional writer, and pad out our programming power.
Had the campaign been successful, I would have liked to tick those boxes, and we wouldn't have had to carry on for the next couple years with a skeleton crew.
RPGWatch: What games inspired your game?
The two biggest influences on our game would have to be X-Com and Dungeons and Dragons, especially in the tactical combat layer. The strategic layer started out being inspired by X-Com's geoscape but quickly outgrew that to resemble more of a Total War map. From there, we have a litany of games whose influences have affected our designs as gamers and developers that include games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, Front Mission, Dragon Age, Crusader Kings, heck even Mount and Blade to a certain degree.
RPGWatch: What's the target audience for your game?
We only had to look in the mirror to see our target audience. We're pretty hardcore gamers, though we still approached games very different at times. With the game's roots so deep in D&D, Pathfinder and X-Com, our core audience will be the veteran tactical gamers who love to min-max and agonize over tactical decisions on the battlefield. If you've enjoyed games like tabletop Dungeons and Dragons and Crusader Kings, then you're likely pretty at home with all the management and character building stuff. If not, you're likely in for a bit of a shock when it's all placed in front of you.
RPGWatch: How would you describe your game to an interested player?
Patience is a virtue. Forged of Blood will not give you an immediate jolt of adrenaline, but will instead ease you into massive and complex world that will reward your patience with the freedom to have some really fantastic tactical fun where character builds, tactics, and magic all combine together.
RPGWatch: I remember thinking when I saw your Kickstarter that Forged of Blood seemed to have a distinctively Roman influence. Is this true? If so to what degree was Roman history an inspiration for your game.
I'm a lover of military history. Ancient Rome, World War II, and Ancient China being the topics I'm most familiar with and have spent much of my youth reading about. So when I got the chance to worldbuild a fantasy world, I went almost full on Roman - I'd say 75% Roman. Particularly late-Republican / early-Imperial era. For the story I initially drew a lot of inspiration from the Roman Civil War following Julius Caesar's death - Anthony, Octavian, Brutus and Cassius fighting it out, but I eventually phased that story out into one of the early events in Attiran world history that dealt more with the politics. For the events in Forged of Blood, it is more accurately a mix of the Roman Civil War and a little touch of the Chinese Three Kingdoms era, plus a dose of fantasy with magic and ancient races and extraplanar creatures.
I used history as a starting point of the world and the stories that could be told within it, and used the fantasy elements as a veneer of sorts for the politics and racial tension that I wanted to inject into the game. My initial drafts were extremely dark, and as we developed the mechanics and the overworld for the game more, the story was further refined, lightened and shaped to the one we tell in Forged of Blood today.
It's really easy to look at the basic intro and dialogue in the first act and write off the story as just playing a race of powerful oppressors taking back a world from some downtrodden people, because that is at sort of the root of it all, but there is definitely a lot more to it. Also from the storytelling perspective I really did want to present the events in Forged of Blood from the particular perspective of the neshalan race. When it came to exploring the themes of race and bloodlines and the right to rule, the inspiration there was really a hodgepodge of that Roman Civil War and Three Kingdoms sort of political intrigue, mixed in with my own pretty heavy experiences and musings with race, culture and rights. I grew up in two different countries before going to another for my degrees and the start of my career; raised in two polar opposite cultures, and have wrestled with a sense of racial belonging my entire life. I kinda just put all that onto the page and let those tensions grow into the things that started to motivate the different characters in the world.
Ok, I think I went overboard there so, TLDR: 75% ish Roman in terms of world. 25% my own musings on history, culture, politics, and other things I fancy.
RPGWatch: Obviously the focus in Forged of Blood is on the tactical combat. The game also has strategic elements. Does Forged in Blood feature any classic crpg elements such as choice and consequences, branching dialogue, in depth character development, or exploration?
Choice and consequence is a pretty big feature that we tout, and it permeates throughout the game. Permadeath and the insta-loss on the protagonist's death, means that character building is pretty darn important. In the game's narrative, we have branching dialogue and branching story arcs for each of the main factions, and the side quests can have standalone stories with particularly special rewards as well. In all, we have over 64 ending combinations that are derived from the player's choices in their campaign and are directly tied to the tri-axis philosophical index feature we have in Forged of Blood.
As for character development, your character Tavias will develop by your choices, and the world of Attiras will too as a direct result of your actions. The recruits you will hire and the special characters you will meet are yours to customize when you get them under your command as well.
In terms of exploration, there isn't the traditional exploration in this game as it's more about conquest, however going to the various regions will spawn various quests in the world and there are many standalone special quests hidden throughout the land.
RPGWatch: In a huge RPG market, why should players give your game a chance?
I think we're a breath of fresh air, I really do. Where the current trends have been to simplify and hand hold the player to go on this or that adventure, we present our players with a deep and complex system they can explore and master. If you're a hardcore RPG gamer or tactical player and you're longing for challenging and cerebral experience, Forged of Blood is a good place to start.
RPGWatch: You're game has gotten some positive feedback. Is there any player comments you found especially noteworthy?
Hah, we have so many dissenting views I kinda like seeing the outliers from the discussion boards and reviews:
The two people who found it easy:
"Played through the tutorial mission. Apparently the game told me I was too good so I have to start all over again." - First recorded person to beat the unwinnable tutorial fight.
"Completed the game. Is fun however it's a bit easy." - Time played 27 hours. That is an efficient run.
The veteran gamer:
"... it would be nice to create a unique character. Although, I'm no stranger to the old JRPGS and quite like the linear approach. *breathes in the nostalgia, exhales satisfaction."
"We play the elven oppressors?
Neat. change from the usual fantasy story. I'm gonna like this game."
Of course, we're really grateful to everyone who have been reporting bugs and posing the hard questions for the team and I to think over. The last few days has been incredible and the feedback is humbling and incredibly helpful.
RPGWatch: Do you have future plans to support your game? If not, do you have plans for another project?
Yes, absolutely! Our immediate plans are to hammer through our backlog of refinements for the game and react to ongoing player feedback. It's going to be a tightrope we'll have to balance on for awhile as we go through our goal fixes while making sure that the player's needs are met in a timely manner. Any plans beyond that really comes down the commercial success of the game and the demand for whatever could come next. We definitely have plans beyond Forged of Blood, but the degree to which those plans can be realized is contingent on the success of this game.
RPGWatch: Thanks for the time to answer our questions. Do you have any final words for players who consider starting this game? any words of advice maybe?
Forged of Blood is a marathon, not a sprint, and you will have a long, long war ahead of you. If you're new to the genre or find yourself a little unsure as to what is going on, the tutorial is there to arm you for the very long war that lies ahead. At the end of the day, I really hope that they take into consideration that for a game of that size, the team behind it for the last two years has only been 8 people. We will watch and listen to your feedback and try to implement as many reasonable requests as possible, but certain things will be beyond our capabilities.
Thank you so much for this opportunity to share our views and our game. For the team and I, this wasn't just a job - in fact my partners and I all have taken other jobs to sustain the studio and ourselves - this was a true passion project. This is basically what happens when hardcore gamers make a game designed to scratch their own itches.
Information aboutForged of Blood
Developer: Critical Forge
Genre: Tactical RPG
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2019-08-01
· Publisher: Critical Forge