Children of War: Blood and Snow Q&A
Children of War: Blood and Snow is one of the new kickstarter RPGs that went live this month. The developer describes their game as the following.
An open world, 1-4 player cooperative fantasy RPG with real-time combat system and heavy emphasis on exploration and discovery.
Sounds interesting right? The game has my attention, and a few others on site. So a few days ago I got in contact with COO/Program Director Ryan Lamb of Shadowforge.
He was kind enough to agree to the interview, and provided us with some new images. So without wasting any more time here are the questions, and answers.
RPGWatch: Can you give a short description about your game company Shadowforge?
Ryan Lamb: The Shadowforge core team consists of me (Ryan Lamb), Devon Burnett and Josh Lamb (Ryan’s brother). We founded the company about 2 years ago because creating mods and our own little proprietary add-ons has been a lifelong hobby and we wanted to turn our dreams into a career. Josh is the CEO and runs the business side of things as well as contributes concept art, models, story and game design. Devon is the main writer and lore guru, which as you can imagine on a game like this is a full time job. Ryan is the lead programmer and modeler and contributes code and models/animation. Our favorite games are mostly steeped in deep lore and engaging story and we want to bring back that rich, story-telling tradition to create worlds where players can be fully immersed.
RPGWatch: What are your top five favorite RPGs?
Ryan Lamb: Bioforge is my all-time favorite although that’s probably one of the more obscure games out there. It was one of the very first true 3d, third person adventure survival game and I consider it to be an RPG because of the very strong character development that pulls you in and makes you a part of the story. Although it doesn’t have many of the normal RPG elements like stats, character traits etc., it’s about finding out who you are placed me in the role of the character in a more immersive way than I’ve ever experienced.
My other 4 favorites are Baulder’s Gate, the Mass Effect series, Elder Scrolls series and the Bioshock series.
RPGWatch: Can you share a few details about the games setting?
Ryan Lamb: The world of Cyrn was created by a powerful magical race called the Spyri. The world was formed as they lie asleep, dreaming and when they awoke they woke up and ruled their creation. Lesser Spyri became the spirits of rocks, trees and animals while the more intelligent Spyri ruled and shaped it and in this way the innate magic of these beings became a part of Cyrn. They created everything on the earth, even humanity. After hundreds, maybe thousands of years, the Spyri wished to return to their realm and devised a sacrificial ritual that would allow them to do so. They sacrificed many of their own in this ritual but some were able to return to their own worlds. The ritual created a huge arcane explosion on Cyrn and left the remaining Spyri without their sanity. Humanity became weaker and weaker with each new generation. They break into several feudal kingdoms and all but a few regard the Spyri as nothing but legend. The Spyri eventually return to claim what is theirs and this is the point at which the player enters the game.
The geographical setting of the game ranges from what we are calling a pacific northwest rainforest to an alpine setting and then farther north into a very arctic/glacial setting.
RPGWatch: Where did the idea or inspiration for the game come from?
Ryan Lamb: I don’t really think the influence for this game can be attributed to any one source. All of us, including our writer Devon have been lifelong gamers, book and film fanatics and our ideas are influenced by a combination of those things we’ve read, watched and played over the course of our lives and the perspectives through which we’ve absorbed that entire collection of media. There are probably parallels that can be found with other games or stories and that’s ok, but I can’t really pin our inspiration to any single source honestly.
RPGWatch: So why Kickstarter, and is $50,000 was enough to fund your game?
Ryan Lamb: We went with Kickstarter because we think that crowdfunding allows teams to put passion back into this industry. It takes away the pressure of being beholden to people who don’t understand games and just want to watch their bottom line rise. We like the idea of being held accountable only by our fellow gamers and customers.
We’ve always had the attitude that we’re going to make this game no matter what happens. Crowd-funding will allow us to accelerate the development cycle and reward dedicated players and the budget we set for the project is to allow us to get a bit of help and support ourselves while we dive in full time. We’ve also already built a significant number of game assets so $50,000 will be enough.
RPGWatch: How long will the games campaign be, and will it allow multiple playhrough's?
Ryan Lamb: It’s early enough in the development process that we don’t have any figures on how many playable hours the main quest line will provide but it’s likely going to represent a significant amount of time especially considering that there are branching options for the player to choose from. This will allow for multiple playthrough’s even if a player only partakes in the main quest line and doesn’t explore the world outside of it. We are constantly adding side-quests and additional content to be discovered as the player wanders off of the beaten path so this will significantly expand the replayability and game time. The goal is also to provide the player with a sense of real discovery as he or she will undoubtedly stumble upon events, relics and landmarks that other players may not find or encounter.
RPGWatch: How will the single-player, and Co-Op side of the game be different? I know most Co-Op RPGs tend to be story-lite, and suffer due to multi-player.
Ryan Lamb: The game is being designed to scale with party size so that a player who prefers to play solo can have just as good of an experience as the team-oriented players and also so that anyone can jump back into their game without having to worry about whether or not their friends can play. Rewards will be scaled too and this will factor fairly for both types of players because of how we handle statistics. Gear can be deconstructed and the points in that gear redistributed to other gear. This allows the player to keep any gear they like the look of while upgrading stats to keep up with level. It also means that even with slightly lesser rewards for solo players that it takes them a bit longer but that they can obtain the same level of gear as team-based players. Fair for all! As far as questing together goes, we're all about freedom and chaos and so as the dialogue system currently sits, whenever a choice has to be made in quest dialogue, the engine makes a virtual dice role to determine who gets to make the decision and everyone in the party has to live with that decision. This stems from our background playing tabletop RPGs like D&D and the amazing, frustrating, humorous and exciting experience of having to live with the decisions of your party members, whether you like them or not.
RPGWatch: Do you have any plans for DLCs, or expansions?
Ryan Lamb: We would love to continue expanding the game and have the story and lore to support expansion in many directions so depending on what players want, we may indeed do so. As it is now, we intend to allow for player expansion and are collaborating with some folks to figure out an intuitive way to allow player created content.
RPGWatch: Will there be an Alpha, or Beta version of the game to test?
Ryan Lamb: There will be traditional alpha and beta versions of the game as well as early releases of certain isolated game systems like character customization, crafting modules and combat testing arenas. Backers who contribute $35 or more to the Kickstarter will receive all these early access benefits. We want to start this process as early as possible so we plan on releasing a module, based on what the backers want within a few months of successfully funding the project.
RPGWatch: Can you share details about your stretch goals, and game add-ons?
Ryan Lamb: Here are the banners we’re using that show the stretch goals and reward tiers. We have a lot of cool rewards planned, many of them in-game or digital but we also have physical copies of maps, boxed copies of the game, even 3d printed figurines of main game characters. We also have a really cool group of reward tiers that allow backers to become part of our “developer backer” team where they’ll be a part of multiple creative design sessions where they’ll be able to help us design mobs, bosses, dungeons and mounts.
RPGWatch: I know this is a touchy subject for many developers, but what about DRM? I know many gamers ask for kickstarters to release on GOG and Steam.
Ryan Lamb: We’re going with the DRM free model. Hackers are smart and hackers who are also gamers are some of the most determined bunch on the planet. They are finding ways into games with DRM anyway and we’re big proprietors of freedom. Of course we’d rather everyone buy our game and play in the right way but we don’t want to implement features into a game that will negatively affect the legitimate player base. That’s why coop play will be hosted locally. Players will have to have accounts they can log into to download the game client and verify unlocks but they won’t have to be logged into that account to play.
RPGWatch: Do you have any advice for other developers who want to develop their first game, and decide they want to use crowd-funding?
Ryan Lamb: Marketing is incredible hard and frustrating at times so start establishing a fan base as early as possible. Foster and grow that fan base and do everything you can to develop a good relationship with them. Reach out and talk to other indie teams to get advice and help. I’ve found the community to be really friendly and willing to share experience and advice. Make sure you do some honest and in-depth planning for your budget and try to stay as low as realistically possible. Remember that you’re responsible to provide everything you promise in rewards tiers so be careful when planning your rewards.
RPGWatch: Can you guarantee a complete game, and the money earned wont be wasted? I only ask this question because some kickstarters get cancelled due to lack of funds.
Ryan Lamb: We take our commitment to the Kickstarter community very seriously. It’s a binding contract and we’re going to give backers the product they deserve. We’ve planned this out in detail and barring any major setbacks we’re going to be able to build this thing, module by module, keeping our backers in the loop during the whole process resulting in the full, promised game.
RPGWatch: If funding fails for the kickstarter do you have a backup plan?
Ryan Lamb: We have a few plans outside of traditional funding models and we will definitely be producing this game one way or another. Our ultimate goals extend past this game and we are the types of people who don’t stop working until our goals are accomplished and our expectations met.
RPGWatch:Thank you for the interview Ryan do you have anything you want say before we finish?
Ryan Lamb: Just that we really appreciate this opportunity to talk about our game. Come check out the Kickstarter and read about all the amazing things we have planned for the game. We think that the technology and systems we’re putting into ‘Blood and Snow’ are going to set some new standards for the industry and change gamer’s expectations about what they should have in an RPG.
The game could use our help, and it has twenty three days left to get funded. So I hope you found the interview informative. I would hate to see another failed kickstarter.
Information aboutChildren of War: Blood and Snow
SP/MP: Single + MP
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Publisher: Unknown