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Alaloth: Champions of The Four Kingdoms Interview

by Couchpotato, 2023-07-15

Hello and welcome back to everyone! It's time for another interview, and boy, has it been a while. I apologize for being my lazy self.

For this new interview, I was lucky to get a chance to interview Alberto Belli, founder of Gamera Interactive and game director of Alaloth: Champions of The Four Kingdoms.

Now as you know, I've been critical of Early Access over the years since sometimes it was justified, but sometimes not so much. So we'll talk about Early Access and even get an answer about what happened with development.

RPGWatch: Welcome to RPGWatch! Can you share a few details for the readers who might not know about your studio and the game Alaloth: Champions of The Four Kingdoms?

Alberto Belli: Hey there! Gamera Interactive is a small Italian indie studio from Italy, formed in 2017 by industry veterans coming from publishing and development.

Alaloth is an iso game envisioned as something in between old school [world building, visuals, narrative] and modern action RPG [combat].

RPGWatch: How did the idea to develop an isometric Souls-like RPG come from? Years back, before Early Access, I read quite a few comments that were sceptical.

Alberto Belli:  Always been a huge fan of old-school RPGs, so developing an RPG has always been a thing. It was simply not possible 10 years ago, and then things changed, so we sat down and thought about something doable and unique at the same time. We always pitched a "Baldur's Gate meets Dark Souls" game, and we are happy that players gave us the validation for this with EA out. Given that, working on the concept has been very difficult. It's way easier to play it instead of trying to explain how the mix of old and new works.

RPGWatch: On the topic of Souls-clones and Souls-likes: is the team a huge fan of the genre? Also, what are some of your favourite RPGs?

Alberto Belli: We have a couple of guys that really love the DS series and From games. Personally, coming from the '80s, I'm way more old school. Hard to tell about a fav RPG.

I mean that I perfectly remember when Daggerfall was released, and I remember feeling the sense of an endless adventure in which I've poured around 4000 hours or such.

But I have to mention all the TSR stuff on Amiga, Baldur's Gate, of course, and Temple of Elemental Evil, but even more aRPGs like Dark Alliance or Champions of Norrath and many others.

I've spent a lot of time playing pretty unknown games because there are many hidden gems around and even "bad" games that had amazing ideas but the worst execution.

Being a dev is like being a doctor: it's all about being up-to-date and studying. My benchmark studios are not the huge ones, coming from a different era. The benchmarks to be inspired by are studios like Spiders, Arrowhead, and Fatshark - step by step, they raised the bar for their products. Releasing a hit is possible, but staying for years growing is what a dev should aim for.

RPGWatch: A few years back, you once had a publisher All in! Games, and at that time, there were rumours about a lack of updates.

I've read many posts claiming stalled development, but ultimately the publisher was dropped, and the game was released on Early Access. 

Can you share any details on the topic and tell us how the development was affected?

Alberto Belli: We can't comment on this, just point you to available public data. We've signed with our former publisher in 2020, we've got the publishing rights back for Alaloth in April 2022, and we've launched the game in June.

You can easily check all the updates we've released since then. In the meantime, you can check the web to gather data about the companies involved. AiG recently announced they are not going to publish games anymore, and they reported in their investors portal that the decision had been made back in March 2022. At the time, they'd already lost something like 90% at the stock exchange. Again, all public data; the only one I can point you to. Check to know more about them.

RPGWatch: Do you have any advice or lessons for future indie developers about game development and finding/working with a publisher?

Alberto Belli: Start small, survive your first game, and go step by step. Working with a publisher could be the best or the worst thing for a small indie. It really depends on many different factors.

A lot of things are changed in 20 years, but when you sit down with someone trying to get a deal, the questions still stay the same: "Are you able to do what you are pitching to us? Are you able to deliver on time? What you did before this?"

When you sit down with something released under your belt, things change but it's always hard to get a good deal. Make plans, and hire a Producer as soon as possible.

RPGWatch: What's your studio's opinion on Early Access? Has it worked out in the last year, and do you have any advice again for future developers?

Alberto Belli: Early Access IMHO is 80% of the time a useless process used just to get money in when you are not confident in your project anymore. But a proper Early Access could be a great thing, especially for an RPG. If you are working on something modular, expandable, it is the best way to move on, given that you have to reach a certain stage of development.

RPGs are community-based; I've always loved the idea of "participative design," and I'm happy to say that we've put in many different ideas coming from our fanbase. I can't think of a better genre to iterate, but of course, iteration has not to be confused with free paid QA from people buying the game. Alaloth has been released with a full campaign, 100+ hours of content, and no game-breaking bugs since day 1. We've never wiped a save.

We were basically missing polishing and loc that were supposed to be in with a full release, considering the original schedule. Since day 1, we've released more than 60 patches and 4 Major Updates, delivering all the content scheduled for the whole EA (which was supposed to last for one year) in just 6 months. So basically, since the Winter Update, we are releasing free content and we can say that we've delivered 3 times the content we originally had in mind.

We've worked night & day to give full mouse & keyboard support at first because we've launched with just partial support. But it was a choice we had to make at the time: releasing the game with just partial M&K support or not releasing to work on this and going bankrupt?

Easy choice.

RPGWatch: Alaloth: Champions of The Four Kingdoms has just passed its first year on Early Access. Is there a tentative date for a full release?

Alberto Belli: As I said, we initially thought to stay in EA for around a year, but it's always been about not rushing things. After the issues we had to face along the way, we've decided to take all the time to deliver the best game possible.

In the meantime, many different publishers approached us to release the game on consoles; we are in talks with platform holders and new investors, so to move on with the full release, we have to put all these things together to have the best 1.0 launch possible, marketing-wise. We didn't have the chance to do this on PC, so now it's about planning things wisely. We need to decide if we want to go self-publishing on consoles, too, or work with someone new.

We are not giving away PC SKUs [1] anymore, no matter what, so dealing with people willing to go on with consoles without getting money from PC is hard. Right now is more about fixing biz-related issues than production-related stuff. There is a number of updates already in the works — it's just about puzzling with all of this. My interest is to go on with the full release as soon as possible and plan the long term accordingly, but again, no rushes at this stage, even if the full release could probably bring money here, which is always great.

We have worked on the IP the proper way, I would say. There is a comic book already coming out to the US ASAP, two books to be announced, a TTRPG on its way, and much more.

Let's see. All of this is happening with a legal battle in progress

with our former Venture Capital, as we already explained in our latest update. Not easy. We've risked bankruptcy because of them, not having their backup when we decided to go self-publishing, and we are asking for money for missing sales, of course.

RPGWatch: And that's a wrap. Once again, thank you for your time and answers. Do you have anything to add before we finish?

Alberto Belli: Thanks to you. I would say, come join us on Discord. We are there 24/7 and we answer to any single topic raised. Also, the game is out for the Summer Sale at $ 9.99. We have people with more than 600 hours under their belt.

Take a look ;)


If the above interview made you interested in the game, you can still buy a copy on Early Access to help the developer.

[1] (StockKeeping Unit) The number of one specific product available for sale. If a software package comes in different versions (e.g., for PCs or consoles), there is an SKU for each one. — Ed.

Box Art

Information about

Alaloth: Champions of the Four Kingdoms

Developer: Gamera Interactive

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Action-RPG
Combat: Real-time
Play-time: Unknown
Voice-acting: Unknown

Regions & platforms
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· To be announced
· Publisher: Gamera Interactive

More information