By Al Giovetti
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Q&A with Chris Longpre, producer of Lands of Lore III
Alfred C. Giovetti (AG): Thanks for being with us and sharing with us this great information on a brand new game Chris Longpre, producer of Lands of Lore III (CL): Thanks for having me
AG: Why did you decide to create another installment in the Lands of Lore series just a year after you released Lands II?
CL: Lands of Lore III truly began a year before we shipped LOL Guardians of Destiny. That is not to say that we had programmers coding on it, or artists doing specific art for it, but it was a topic frequently in the minds and upon the lips of the designers and producers here at Westwood. So, once Lore II shipped, we already knew a lot about what we wanted to do with Lore III.
AG: What is new in Lore III?
CL:We're introducing a new interface, new character interaction, new character and monster representation. By improving on Lore II's engine, we can build fantasy worlds with amazing detail, which helps us develop the epic storyline.
We've added traditional RPG elements like guilds, money, familiars, a city and an open level system. Once the design was put on paper, the launch date fell into place and things have gone smoothly because we knew what we wanted to do from day one.
AG:What can you tell us about the team currently working on LOL III?
CL:The LOL III team is greatly varied and rather large. Some of us are hard-core RPGers while others are gamers and non-gamers of several varieties. But, all of us are consumed with passion for making great games. The long hours that sometimes happen come from a love of the craft that attracts us all together. We all believe in the vision of making fun, beautiful and entertaining games.
During this year we saw amazing amounts of other RPGs in development. What are your comments on sudden revival of RPG gaming genre and how do you expect Lands III to rival those games?
Certain acclaimed titles have brought new interest from publishers to the CRPG genre. CRPGs however take huge amounts of resources to make properly. For many small publishers, a missed launch date is very painful and going over-budget on products is equally painful.
This has led to a yo-yo cycle in RPGs over the past 15 years. A few successful RPGs get released, and everybody is rushing off to join into the 'rebirth' and hope to capture similar sales. But after a few years of missed launches, over budget titles and just general pain they become disillusioned with the genre and leave it alone again. Until the next big hit comes out...and it starts anew.
This time through, however, there are some promising signs. With the recent consolidation of the industry and its rapid maturing in terms of sales, marketing & production of games, many very strong publishers are bringing proven, well-branded RPGs to the market. Many of these same publishers are well versed in the pitfalls of the genre and are moving carefully yet deliberately. This only spells good news and a bright future for RPGers everywhere!
AG:Will Lore III run on computers that are not 3D accelerated?
CL:Lands of Lore III runs on both accelerated and non-accelerated video cards. This time through, we have paid special attention to 3D enhancements and have considered 3D from day one. Gamers have been screaming for 3D enhancements for RPGs over the past year, and we plan on delivering. However, we realize that special effects are not what make games fun. We have focused our gameplay innovations on areas that do not require special hardware of any type. In fact, our designers design the LOLIII levels on systems that simultaneously render in 3D accelerated and software 3D. We are committed to making the non-accelerated experience as immersive & compelling as the 3D.
AG:What do you think which game will be the biggest competitor to LOL III?
CL:Land of Lore IV! Seriously though, Lands of Lore is taking a unique approach to RPGs. We wish our games to be played by die-hard gamers and neophytes alike. It's a tough order to fill, but we feel we have done it. By simplifying the presentation of character development and interface, and taking an epic story-telling approach to characters and story, we have created a game that is easy to pick up and get right to the fun stuff. By providing high feedback and carefully managed complexity within the game, the hard-core RPGers will also have a blast with their romp through Gladstone!
AG: Are you using video actors again? Are you using in-game text for dialogue or voice recorded actors?
CL: In LOLIII, we are not using video actors as we did in Guardians. This time, all our characters and monsters are computer generated. By using advanced tools like 3D Studio-Max and our own motion-capture studio, we can create extremely lifelike characters. In addition, our proprietary voxel technology allows us to represent every monster and character in 3D. With over 20,000 polygons per creature, you can walk around them smoothly and see all their fine details and angles. This allows our characters to fit seamlessly into the world. We don't want you noticing the technology we are using. We just want you to get lost in the convincing fantasy role-playing world of Lands of Lore.
AG: Who writes the script, and are you using in-game text for dialogue or voice recorded actors?
CL: Our script is written by our staff writers and reviewed by published external writers as well. From those edits, we craft a final script and then go on to record talented voice actors. We have Clancy Brown (from ER, Earth2, Highlander), Stuart Pankin (Not Necessarily the News), Jenna von Oy (Blossom), Paxton Whitehead (Back to School), Mark Rolston (Aliens, Eraser, Shawshank Redemption), Jon Polito (Homicide), Jane Wiedlin (The Go-Go's), Michael Hagerty (Speed 2, Wayne's World) and slew of others. With over 70 speaking roles, on-screen text would have been extremely tedious and breaks the immersion of the world. All our actors speak in game though dialogue and important information is automatically recording in your in-game journal for later reference. AG: Well thats all the time we have for now, tune in next time for The Computer Show.