Exclusive – Interview With Kickstarter Funded RPG CONSORTIUM Developer iDGi
Over the past four weeks iGR has been featuring Kickstarter projects that we were especially excited for in our Kickstarter Spotlight. A project we’ve been more than happy to highlight for the past month is CONSORTIUM. Vancouver, Canada based Interdimensional Games Inc. was nice enough to take time out of their busy schedule to answer some of the questions we had about their Kickstarter-campaign, the fourth wall, and CONSORTIUM proper. This interview was conducted the day iDGi succeeded in their initial funding goal on Kickstarter. iDGi Founder and CEO Gregory MacMartin provided us with some very insightful A’s to our Q’s:
1. What made the development team transition the A.R.G. into a fully fledged RPG?
Interesting question. The best answer to this is that we ALWAYS envisioned CONSORTIUM as a full fledged RPG from the get-go. The A.R.G. was simply our way to begin conveying our extensive back-story to the world. Rather than simply reading pages of boring text, we wanted potential CONSORTIUM players to get a real taste of the *interactive* nature of the story as we envisioned it, so the A.R.G. naturally emerged from that. It also gave us a chance to start working directly with people out there (the A.R.G. players) to help us flesh out the depth of the world we were creating. Extreme depth and believability are goals that are best achieved with as many contributing writers as possible, not just a small team.
2. There’s two different modes the player has the option of choosing at the outset of their journey (story or action). Is there an inherent difference with the way friendly and enemy AI will react based on the mode you select?
The core differences between those modes lie in damage and energy values. By choosing the action mode, you are committing to a real challenge if you engage in combat. Careful management of your gear, energy, ammo and health will become an important factor. By choosing the story mode, those elements will be far less difficult, but the AI itself will remain the same. Story mode is for those folks that want to play CONSORTIUM to experience the world, characters, narrative – the “adventure” of it all, and don’t care so much about getting involved in challenging and blood pumping firefights.
3. Define the term “micro-scale open world” that’s used to describe CONSORTIUM’s world design in more detail.
Essentially it means that our gameworld is very small compared to other RPGs, BUT to compensate for that it is extremely detailed, interactive and “alive”. By alive, we mean that it is full of human beings with jobs and hobbies that you can interact with, if you so choose. It is also an “open world” game, in that players are often able to “go anywhere and do anything” on-board Zenlil.
4. The “fourth wall” is described as the separation of the spectator to the events that are unfolding before them. In what ways are you planning on breaking the fourth wall in CONSORTIUM?
Our fiction actually takes into account the player sitting in front of a computer, using a mouse and keyboard to play the game. We have a large layer of what you could call “meta-fiction”; at a fundamental level, the game is about using an artificial satellite called “iDGi-1″ to connect to a parallel universe, via your desktop computer.
5. The RPG elements are wide open in CONSORTIUM. Most of the time gamers nowadays attribute RPG to character leveling and customization, forgetting many of the aspects that make the genre great. What was the motivation for iDGi to focus so heavily on the more in-depth aspects of the RPG?
Yeah, we’re getting a little tired of those very old and overused game mechanics, to be honest (levels, experience points, skills and attributes, etc). They certainly work, and they do create a sense of ownership and value towards player characters. However, we are creating an RPG that focuses largely on ROLE PLAYING. We do also have elaborate and unique inventory and resource management systems as well that will allow players to customize themselves. But yeah, one of our principal goals with CONSORTIUM is to attempt to bring to a CRPG the one key element where table-top RPGs have always had the edge: real human interaction.
6. You mention that your NPC cast is more than the typical robots that inhabit many game worlds. What kinds of personalities did you draw upon to create so many unique characters? Family? Friends? Pop Culture Icons?
All of the above. We’ve certainly been avid consumers of everything sci-fi, fantasy, action and everything in-between created since the late 70s, so we had a lot to draw from. We started with wanting to make sure that everyone on Zenlil was unique and different in some way. In addition, we wanted the crew to truly feel “international”. The Consortium is a wholly international entity, bound to no single ideology, religion or country, and we wanted the crew to reflect this.
7. “Bishop Six Alignment” is a great concept, we’ve only seen this a few times in past RPG’s. What types of actions will affect alignment? Is there a certain amount of weight given to specific actions?
B6 Alignment is all about your relationships with others. It is a way for players to gauge how their actions and words are being perceived by everyone around them. So, first and foremost, B6 Alignment affects what people say to you. It affects whether people will go out of their way to help you, or not. It affects whether certain events in the story happen or not, and it effectively allows NPCs to *remember* all sorts of things that you said or did, for future reference.
8. Interdimensional Games are a huge supporter of the Oculus Rift. In what way would you LIKE to incorporate the Rift in CONSORTIUM if possible?
This is a tough question to properly answer, as we’re still waiting for our dev kit to arrive. But we’re very interested in exploring ways to use the Rift to increase the sense of freedom and immersion of the player into the gameworld.
9. The story of CONSORTIUM has the player inhabiting an “avatar” of sorts named Bishop Six in the parallel universe the game inhabits. It’s mentioned that not everyone is ignorant to your presence. Did the development team draw from stories told in The Matrix or Inception when you implemented this aspect to the story?
Indirectly, yes, for sure. We love both of those films. Another film that came out during CONSORTIUM pre-production was “Source Code”, which I would say has become an inspiration for us as well.
10. The first of the Kickstarter-campaigns stretch goals refers to environmental destruction being added. What additional work will need to be done to implement this game play aspect?
There are a LOT of things that should be breakable in the Zenlil environment, and in order to further increase the sense of immersion, we want to painstakingly set up particle systems, damaged materials, sound FX, etc for all of those things. This includes being able to shoot out lights and having parts of the environment go dark – all fully simulated. The engine supports this stuff, it’s just a lot of work to implement.
11. How does it feel to have a successful Kickstarter-campaign, and what does this mean for Interdimensional Games?
It feels spectacular! We’re a brand new video-game development company with no brand power at all, making a brand new I.P. We just decided to basically hold nothing back and show the world what we’re doing with CONSORTIUM. As a result, we are overjoyed that, despite being so new and unknown, almost three thousand people have managed to find us AND truly understand and love what we’re doing enough for them to want to actually help fund the rest of production!
What this means is that we are now able to finish this game by this Summer, and that we now have a great initial fan-base of players that are eager to play it! What is also means is that we now have a community of gamers that are eager to join us in these final months of development to help us shape this interactive experience into something unforgettable for the world at large.
We wanted to sincerely thank Gregory for his time, and congratulate himself, and his team for their success! We’re proud to have contributed to the project in a meaningful way. As mentioned countless times before, we here at iGR will always endorse ambitious endeavors. Kickstarter is creating a revolution of sorts in the gaming industry. It’s a form of consumer freedom. We, as consumers can choose the projects we’d like to play, and help make them a reality. Crowd funding is helping more developers free themselves from large publishers, and their hesitations to back unique projects. Look out for another edition of our Kickstarter Spotlight tomorrow!
iDGi still has right around 2 days remaining on their Kickstarter-campaign. So head on over to back this fantastic project.