Graal Seeker Interview
Graal Seeker is a new Tactical RPG being developed by a small French developer called Lugludum. I was contacted from Thibaut Trampont who is in charge of the PR side of the project. After a few e-mails we setup a short interview to ask a few questions.
Graal Seeker is an RPG with tactical battles. You are an unknown adventurer seeking for the Graal in medieval Britain during Saxon invasions. Find your Graal based on the choices you make. Build a team and choose how to evolve your character.
From celtic origins to the christian's or esoteric texts, the quest for the Grail is a true initiatory and introspective quest matching with the whole player's game experience. So, it is you who makes the story!
Also as a reminder the game is now on Indiegogo asking for €10,000, and has twenty three days left to get fully funded. So after reading the interview please check it out.
Couchpotato: I would like to start the interview with a simple question. Can you give our site a short history lesson about your studio Lugludum?
Lugludum: Hi, first I would like to thank you for this interview. I really appreciate, that's a special one because it's my first one.I founded Lugludum last January to work on Graal Seeker and to begin some gamedev/webdev freelance work. Technically it's a one-man studio but I don't work alone and have set up a great team for the game we are working on. The studio is called Lugludum, it's a wordplay with the ancient Latin name of LYON, Lugdunum, with a different meaning. So basically, it means Games of Lug (which can be the same Lugh in the Irish deities or a crow).
Couchpotato: Looking at the information available the game is based in medieval Britain during the Saxon invasions. Can you give more details about the games setting, and maybe a short spoiler of the story? Also why did you choose to make a game in that time period?
Lugludum: While many stories about the Graal take place in the high middle ages, we chose to go back to the original early middle ages. So, after Roman retreat from Britain, the Britons faced Saxon invasion and Pictish raids. We chose this time period because it's a quite unexplored period for the Arthurian cycle. It breaks the image of the knight locked in his complete suit of plate armor! It allows to incorpore easily anachronism and fantasy because it was a rather unknown time! Also, remember there wasn't chivalry code at this time and everybody weren't Christians, so the Round Table and adding a Pagan Graal become meaningful.
Couchpotato: I see the game will use Procedurally generated events and maps, and I was wondering how this will work? Will each game be different every time we replay the game? Does the game have a fixed set of quests, and events it randomly assign?
Lugludum: First, the player will have a kind of welcome event that helps the player to imagine his background. Then an event will be triggered in every places on the map according to his type. So, basically it means that there are events designed to be triggered only on castles, only on forest, etc. But some of them can be triggered in any places. Sometimes an event can lead to a quest, so it will add a quest marker on your map and you can continue your quest there.
Couchpotato: To go along the last question what would you say to the gamers who hate procedurally generated events, and maps? I'll also add What sets your game apart form the others that use it?
Lugludum: Using procedurally generated events mimics the way events occur in the Matter of Britain books. Indeed, sometimes events and places pop up from nowhere in the books, the world lives and evolves with the main character. Additionally, we use it to determine the profile of the player and to offer him the most suitable Graal quest. It would not make sense otherwise because the player could predict how to reach a Graal from its second playthrough.
Couchpotato: The website mentions the game will have choice and consequences how will they work? I'm also curious if they will alter the game world as you proceed through the campaign?
Lugludum: As mentioned before, all choices made in the game are analysed to make a profile of the player and lead him to a specific Graal quest. Indeed, the Graal can take different forms depending on the Graal Seeker's choices. So he could be redirected to a Christian story, Pagan story, or even something esoteric. For example, if the player always helps Christians and kills Pagans, we will definitely propose to him a Christian quest for the Grail. And of course, if he encounters Morgan, she will be his enemy and vice versa.
Couchpotato: How long will the games campaign be, and will it have multiple playthroughs? Any estimate is fine since the game is still in development, and is not finished yet?
Lugludum: Well it's hard to estimate yet but you can expect multiple short campaigns and replayability. Keep in mind that you have different Graals in the game, so it means different endings We are working on 5 different Graals. Even if you play a Graal quest you already have finished, it will be not easy to succeed again.
Couchpotato: Will your game allow you to customize your hero, and his/her party? Can you also talk about how stats will work?
Lugludum: Your hero and your team mates can level up. You will have to select new skills in a skill-tree and handle a shared inventory. There is a close-combat tree, archery tree, magic tree and a kind of artisanal tree. All classes do not have access to all the trees.
Couchpotato: How many companions will be allowed to join you on your quest, and I'm curious to know how they will interact with your Character?
Lugludum: You can have up to 3 companions. They don't have any predetermined backgrounds but they may surprise you in the game. How will they react if you have to face their friends?
Couchpotato: Lets talk about the games combat as I see your website says fast tactical battles can you share any information on it works in the game? Also will the game be turn-based, or more action based?
Lugludum: When I mean fast tactical battles, I mean real-time tactical battles. But do not worry there is a pause option. I know that the grid is a little confusing and we are working on a different layer. All fighters will automatically attack when in range, but you will have the responsibility to move your team and to select their skills that can block, stun or overturn opponents, make more damage, or even interrupt opponent's skills. Stay tuned, we will show you more very soon.
Couchpotato: I also see you mention the game will use permadeath so does that mean your not allowed to save your game? Can you share an example of how this game mechanic will also work in the game?
Lugludum: Well, if a team mate dies, you will not be able to have him in your team again. And if you die, you will have to restart the game. There are only autosave. There is permadeath because of two main reasons. It's hard to find the Graal and there is a persistent feature that only works until you find a Graal. For example, the Bard has a great feature that allows you to create a poem or a song that will help your next seeker if you don't find the Graal in this game.
Couchpotato: The website has information you will allow players to mod can you share some details? Also what are your feelings on mods in general?
Lugludum: The great advantage of the tales of the Holy Graal is how it has spread, with a spirit of continuation. Some authors like Chrétien de Troyes (the guy who chose the name of Graal without giving any explanation of what is it really) didn't finish their book and hoped some other writers continue the story. And it has always happened! We are setting up the game in the same spirit and will provide a moddable story to the players as well to let them bring their own contribution.Giving the player the possibility to mod is a good way to let him appropriate the game and it is exactly what we want.We will provide a wiki to help modders write their own stories on xml-based files. If we have a lot of requests for mods after the game release, we will evaluate the possibility to create a dedicated tool for this. But modifying xml files is pretty easy to learn.
Couchpotato: Now lets talk about why you guys chose to crowd-fund the game instead of seeking a publisher? And I have to ask why Indiegogo instead of Kickstarter?
Lugludum: When you are a new studio, it's pretty hard to find a publisher. A crowdfunding campaign is a good way to draw attention and maybe if we don't reach our goal we will find one. But the main reason we chose to crowd-fund the game is because we have already invest in the project and it came naturally to us. And about Kickstarter, it's not available in France and it makes things difficult for a small team.
Couchpotato: What type of DRM will the game use, and do you any plans for DLC or content packs if your game is funded?
Lugludum: I plan to release Graal Seeker on as much as possible platforms. So, if there is a DRM on the platform, the game will use this DRM. But, the game will be available DRM-free on graalseeker.com probably with the help of the Humble widget. The crowdfunding gives also the opportunity to backers to have a DRM-free copy of the game right now to a lower price. I have no plan of DLC but I will push some free updates to add new stories and content to keep the community feed.
Couchpotato: I have to ask in-case the game doesn't get funded do you have a backup plan in place? I also have to ask can you guarantee a complete game, and the money earned won't be wasted?
Lugludum: If we don't reach our crowdfunding goal, the game will be still released. But it will be a hard road to finish it and it will be delayed (I don't know how many months). I will have to work simultaneously for other companies in order to raise the missing budget for the project and it can be long. Every dollar from the crowdfunding campaign will save us some time and spare some stress. I have already put my soul and my money in this project, so be sure that I don't like to waste my money and we will finished the game no matter the difficulties we encounter.
Couchpotato: That's all for now and I want to thank you once again for taking the time to answer my questions. So before we end the interview do you have anything you want say?
Lugludum: Thank you for asking for this interview, that was a real pleasure. And yes I do want to add something. I saw on your website the comments about the word Graal. So I just wanted to say that I prefer the word Graal than Grail since it's the oldest word used in English for this without being attached to the classic Christian Holy Grail. I really wanted to have an open word. Remember that in Graal Seeker, you can find a Christian Graal, a Pagan Graal or an esoteric Graal as well. Pre-orders available in the Indiegogo page guys! See you soon.