We interviewed Daniel Dolui from SolarFall Games about Umbra, an action RPG, which is currently on Kickstarter.
RPGWatch: Let's start with an introduction. Who are you, what do you do and please explain how Solarfall Games came to where it is now?
Daniel Dolui: SolarFall Games was established to create the game we're currently developing, called Umbra. Umbra's development started about 4 years ago, when I was a modder on Crysis. At the time, it was designed to be an open-source project for people who wanted to develop RPG modifications on CryEngine. As the project evolved, I really oriented the development towards a Hack&Slash system, and slowly, the project became a game in its own right.
At the same time that I was working alone on Umbra, I was also working for a company using CryEngine to create city and industrial simulations, and that's where I met two friends and colleagues who became interested in the game. It became a project we worked on in our free time, and finally we formed SolarFall Games and we decided to develop the game as our main occupation.
RPGWatch: We can read on the Kickstarter page what Umbra is about, but what is the game about in your own words?
Daniel: Umbra is a game I want to play. The main focus for me was the unicity of character building that every player could have and I thought of many different systems to get to the point where Umbra is today.
Umbra is a work of passion and commitment and we are really trying to create a game we will enjoy, and we hope players will too.
RPGWatch: You mention on the Kickstarter page, Umbra being the mix of elements from Skyrim, Diablo 1, Diablo 3 and Crysis, to which your own features are added. That raises quite some expectations. How will you make sure you can deliver on them?
Daniel: About the graphical quality, lighting, particle FX and action quality we are really quite confident. What we have already achieved gives us good hope to achieve our vision of the game.
We are taking the features that we enjoyed the most from various game we've played, and implement them with our indie point of view. As you can see in our video, for an indie studio point of view, I think we are doing pretty well, and we want to keep going that way.
RPGWatch: Hoe does crafting work? The Kickstarter page mentions a crafting minigame. simulating the hammer of a smith. Is this some sort of QTE?
Daniel: Our crafting system may look like a QTE system at the first look, but is actually much more complex than that! Our crafting system is actually a rhythm mini-game, very rewarding, but also very punishing. In our crafting mini-game, you will actually need to manage several parameters in order to get your crafted gears.
Let's say the basic idea is a rhythm game. But on top of it, several parameters needs to be taken into consideration.
First, you will have to manage the heat of your weapon. The heat always needs to be high to get a good crafting result, but any mistakes done at high heat can really damage your weapon. If your weapon is too damaged, you will simply lose the crafted item and all its components.
Second, the durability of your weapon always needs to be higher than zero. Durability varies all the time, according to the precision of your strike. You need to strike your item very precisely, because any offset of time can damage the weapon.
If you choose to reinforce the durability of your item, then the main stat (armor or damage) will be reduced if you don't strike perfectly.
In order to create great gear, you will have to generate magic effects on the item. To do that, you will need a series of 3 perfect hits, and a new magic effect will be generated. Every time you fail to hit perfectly, your perfect hit counter is reset to zero.
As you can see, this system is much, much more complex and difficult than classic QTE!
All this system is actually explained in the following video!
RPGWatch: In what way plays the ability to shape shift into the apocalyptic form, a role in the game?
Daniel: The Apocalyptic Form is designed for high level gameplay, and you turn into it for a limited amount of time. The idea of the game is that you will regularly face a very dangerous threat - enemies way more powerful than the usual ones you will find in the game. Apocalyptic forms are here to give you a burst of power to face these threats and you will need to use them at the right time if you don't want to remain defenceless in front of powerful enemies.
RPGWatch: In Umbra the dungeons are generated randomly. How do you make sure that the dungeons remain interesting and aren't just variations on the same theme?
Daniel: Dungeons are randomly generated, but it won't be only about room switching. In the final game, we aim to include various gameplay mechanics in it too that will change the way you will need to play, in each of them.
For example, some special area roof element may fall on the ground and require quick reaction from your character. Other levels may be burning so your character will have to move away from fire, other levels may have a limited countdown to be terminated, and we will combine these variations for more replayability.
RPGWatch: What in your opinion are the best features of Umbra?
Daniel: My favourite is the Apocalyptic Form and the possibility to have a build without any class restrictions. It allows me to play some archetype I always dreamed about, like a "Necro Barabarian" - a big barbarian with a two handed sword fighting in the middle of his undead minions - and add to it the apocalyptic form, a really nice feature I enjoyed in a pen and paper RPG game I played in the past.
The ability to craft your weapon with our very special crafting system and the possibility to create your house from elements gathered in the world is a very nice addition to the game.
Also, our particle effects are really nice, and it looks really cool in the middle of the action.
RPGWatch: Are you considering the option to create mods for Umbra?
Daniel: Yes! I am coming from the modding world, so I would love to see people modding Umbra!
Changing simple things will be quite easy to do for anyone, our game parameters are mostly based on XML files so it is pretty straightforward to understand how our file system work and bring modifications to it.
Now, about more complex things, like new levels, or new randomly generated level assets, modders will need to access CryEngine Sandbox. We won't be able to distribute it, since it is a Crytek product.
RPGWatch: If we follow the story of Umbra, what playing time are we looking at to take us through once?
Daniel: We aim to have a total playing time of 12 / 15 hours for the main quest, that will require you to move in various places of our open world and perform various mission. However, after this time, you will have the ability to play randomly generated levels and other secondary missions to keep playing for a very long time.
RPGWatch: How is the Kickstarter experience so far? Is it what you expected?
Daniel: Really nice so far! For an unknown indie studio developing a new title, the campaign is doing really well and we've had so much positive feedback and comments from press and backers alike!
RPGWatch: Is $225K sufficient to bring the game into a released state?
Daniel: Yes, we sat down and crunched the numbers. It's quite literally the lowest amount we can create Umbra for, minus various bells and whistles.
As I said, Umbra's development started about 4 years ago, and we built a lot of tools and established some partnerships that really ease our workload today.
Now, if we can get more than our initial target, there are a lot of additional features that we would love to develop that will really make the game richer, Like multiplayer, or a female character for example.
RPGWatch: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Daniel: Our Kickstarter provides really nice exclusive items to the backers and we're effectively selling the game at a very low price. We want to remain a 100% independent studio and we want to thank people who want to help us doing so. That's the reason we are offering really nice rewards on the Kickstarter!
A huge thank you to everyone reading our answers, your support on our Kickstarter and help with spreading the word.
Please, if you like the look of our game, pledge on our campaign. Every dollar helps us getting closer to our goal.
Information aboutWolcen: Lords of Mayhem
Developer: Solarfall Games
SP/MP: Single + MP
Genre: Hack & Slash
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Expected at 2020-01-31
· Publisher: Unknown