Sacred 2: Fallen Angel Interview (PC)

Mike Bowden: Although it enjoyed massive success, Sacred was described as a ‘Diablo Clone’ how did this affect the team and how much does this play on you now that a sequel is on the way?

Alan Wild: When you’re producing a new game in an existing genre, it’s inevitable that your game will be compared to the leading titles of that genre. It doesn’t really play on the team as such, but it does provide a drive and a motivation and a real sense of pride in your work. As a result, Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel can only benefit from the positive atmosphere and enthusiasm.

Mike Bowden: The game description on your website is rather vague. Apart from the Gore Feedback which I’ll ask about later, what can we expect to see from Sacred 2 that we haven’t seen before?

Alan Wild: Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel is a 3D, sumptuously detailed, vast continent of living, breathing, genuine Action-RPG gameplay, all seamlessly blended into a fluid, massively rewarding gaming experience.

There is a wealth of gaming to be had in the single player and multiplayer modes, including a really cool feature which we’re working on that will allow players to cross between single player and multiplayer games (quite literally turning your single player game into a multiplayer campaign, simply by inviting your friends to join you in your existing game).

Mike Bowden: Tell us more about this realistic game world. What exactly is it that makes it realistic from the team’s point of view?

Alan Wild: We’ve got wildlife running around in their natural habitats, weather effects which are accurately reflected in the environments (for example, rain causes water to ripple), grass and trees that sway according to the strength of the wind, NPCs who continue about their daily tasks (such as farming, visiting church, chatting in the town square, children running around, etc) depending upon the time of day in the day/night cycle, enemies with an impressive AI that determines their actions… it’s a world beset with an incredible amount of detail, crafted upon layers of other detail, and finished with even finer detail. In a 3D world of this size it is imperative that areas are visibly different and alive, generating a game world that is rich in quality, in content, in variety and in player stimulation – and this is precisely what we have created for the lands of Ancaria.

Mike Bowden: Your ‘innovative emotional system’ sounds very interesting. Can you elaborate on it for us?

Alan Wild: The 3D models in the game all have various animations, and depending upon their AI controlled responses to the current situation, this will be displayed visually through a relative emotive animation from that particular model’s animation library.

Mike Bowden: The Gore Feedback is linked to the overall graphic presentation. Can you tell us more about this? How does this work exactly?

Alan Wild: The gore feedback will be, quite literally, a visual display of the amount of damage you’re dishing out. There is a lot more to it than that, but that sums it up in a nutshell. There’s some balancing to do in this respect, as we don’t want extreme gore, but we do want a real feeling of the action. Once we’re satisfied with the overall look and feel we’ll be able to show exactly what we mean!

Mike Bowden: Will the game be set in Ancaria again this time or is there a whole new setting this time around?

Alan Wild: Yes, as mentioned briefly before, Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel is set in Ancaria, but not as you once knew it. The story takes place approximately 2000 years before the original Sacred adventures, with an entire backstory created purely for Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel. This lets existing Sacred fans identify with the growing Sacred universe, while players who are new to the Sacred games can grab a copy of Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel and jump straight in without any disadvantage.

Mike Bowden: Will we see any new race of playable characters or will the old characters such as Seraphim, Gladiator etc. be upgraded?

Alan Wild: The only character who remains from the original Sacred game is the Seraphim, and rather than an “being upgraded” she has received a whole new 3D makeover, complete with new skills, aspects, animations, armour sets, and so on. She will be recognisable in style, but everything else about her is new. Alongside the Seraphim players will find 5 completely new characters, namely: Inquisitor, Shadow Warrior, High Elf, Dryad and Temple Guardian, all of whom have their own unique aspects and combat arts with which to customise and personalise your chosen character.

Mike Bowden: Story played a big part in immersing gamers in the first instalment of Sacred. Is it also as prevalent this time round?

Alan Wild: In Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel story is an even bigger element than before. We now have 2 parallel campaigns (Light and Shadow), with individual and intertwining main quest story lines along both paths. Additionally, there are quests which are specific to each character, as well as standalone side quests and chain-linked side quests, all with their own stories which bring more depth and realism to the world and your adventure.

The story and background has all been written by Bob Bates, a professional game designer and game author. Bates is enjoying a long and successful history in the games industry (over 20 years of game design experience), having worked on titles such as Spiderman 3 and Unreal II. He has also produced two hugely popular industry handbooks, “Game Design: The Art & Business of Creating Games” (used as a textbook by many colleges and universities) and “Game Developer’s Market Guide”.

Storytelling is a major part of any game, particularly within the Action-RPG genre. A solid and engrossing story helps players to care about their characters, and also promotes the action and believability of the world you’re playing in.

Mike Bowden: Every character in Sacred had their own set of skills and moves. Will any of these return for Sacred 2 or have you wiped the slate clean as it were? What were your favourites first time round?

Alan Wild: With the new characters there is of course a huge arsenal of complementary skills and combat arts, which are in keeping with the class of the character, but also deliver something new and different.

Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel sees the introduction of ‘Aspects’. Each character’s combat arts are grouped into three aspects, with each aspect being a certain way of playing. For example, the Shadow Warrior could specialise in one aspect and be played as a ‘tank’, or if he focuses on his second aspect he could become a more tactical warrior, whilst the third aspect is more necromantic in nature. The freedom to choose your aspects and combat arts allows players to truly create the character they want to play, and to continue to develop in their chosen direction.

Mike Bowden: Multiplayer played a huge role in Sacred. How much emphasis has the team put on it this time around?

Alan Wild: Multiplayer is a vital element of Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel. In fact, the game is built entirely on a network engine. In basic terms, this effectively means that if you are playing single player you are actually within a potential multiplayer environment (assuming you are on a LAN or are connected to the internet). The exciting part of this is that, for example, if you’re playing single player and decide you want to play multiplayer, you can very simply invite your friends to join your current single player game. When your friends accept, they will immediately join your game, at the point where you are at that time, thus turning your SP experience into an MP one within seconds. In the same breath, if your friends leave you, then your game reverts back to SP and you can continue playing from the point at which they left, whilst keeping all quests and rewards received during the MP phase. This opens up a whole new world of MP, and allows for some interesting and unrestrictive co-operative gameplay throughout the campaigns!

On top of this we will also have numerous multiplayer modes, but you’ll have to wait for the official announcement of those.

Mike Bowden: Staying on the online aspect of the game, are there any plans to port the game to the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3? The PSN and Xbox Live would make great platforms for multi player would it not?

Alan Wild: We currently have 2 teams developing Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel for the Xbox 360 and PC. Whilst the main game content is common across the formats, there is a lot of cross over between features developed on Xbox 360 and PC. This means that when we develop a cool feature on the Xbox 360, we can take it to PC (and vice versa)

Mike Bowden: Staying with the next gen consoles. I see Ascaron have been a PC only developer. Is there a reason for this or is console gaming something you’re keen to try your hand at?

Alan Wild: Ascaron has historically been a PC developer, producing games that were not really geared towards a console audience. However, during the last few years we have been busy putting a console infrastructure and toolbase together, with the view to bringing out Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel on both console and PC. We wanted our first nextgen development to be one that makes a huge impact on console gamers, and Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel has been designed and developed for that exact purpose! We are very happy with the stage we’re at development-wise, and are confident that Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel will gain a massive following of fans across both PC and console alike.

Mike Bowden: How far is Sacred 2 from being in our homes and do you think we’ll see a demo before release?

Alan Wild: You’ll be sat playing Sacred 2 – Fallen Angel in 2008. And yes, the playable demo is planned to appear before the full version hits the shelves.

Mike Bowden: Finally, what is your favourite new feature in the game so far and what do think needs the most work?

Alan Wild: For me, it’s two-fold… the detailed 3D world and the realism of it is incredible. To be able to travel so freely, and for the regions to be so varied, yet so well blended together is superb. The real beauty, however, is in the quality and the detail. No one region is the same, and the smaller details contribute to the whole and give you something new and interesting at every turn.

Then it has to be the characters and the ease of how you can really develop as suits your own style (increasing your attributes, learning news skills, and selecting and enhancing the combat arts according to personal preference). It’s great how you can take one character and develop along so many varied routes and combinations. For example, you could have multiple, vastly different Shadow Warrior characters, all with different attributes, specialising in alternate skills and weapons, and boasting different varieties of combat arts (a definite boon for multiplayer and player-character identity!).

Plus, with each character comes a unique mount, and I love the tiger! The texturing of the fur is beautiful, and the movement, combat and idle animations are absolutely spot-on. Given the present stage of development, it’s the enemy AI which needs most work. We have various responses and actions for enemies, but some need fine-tuning and modifying is still required, and we also need to be happy that the AI accurately reflect how you would expect each enemy to act. Incidentally, have you ever tried to motion capture a tiger? Almost as difficult as the mo-cap of the dragon… ;-)

PS. Did I mention that you can ride tigers?!

PPS. And fight from the back of ‘em!