We're big fans of RPG's here at Gaming Nexus and when we heard about the new Ancient Greek RPG from Akella and CINEMAX we wanted to know more. Here's our interview with the folks behind the title.
Can you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project? How did you get into game development and what's one thing that you love about the industry?
My name is Aleš Ulm and I’m the lead designer for Numen: Contest of Heroes. I’ve been addicted to computer games ever since I became the proud owner of 8 bit C64. The first game I worked on was Daemonica, which was basically a two-man project - I was responsible for all the design, writing and programming. It came out rather well so here I am, still learning and trying to make games that are fun to play.
The one thing one definitely has to love about the industry is the people. In my experience, most of the people who make computer games are very bright, incredibly creative and very passionate about their work.
Can you talk about the story behind the game and what exactly is a "Numen"?
The player starts the game as a child living on a remote island in Mediteranian. By the twist of fate he becomes a favorite of one of the Olympian gods, gets additional training and then sets off with eight other heroes like himself to look for a stolen artifact. "Numen“ means power or presence of god or a spirit. Because our game is centered around nine gods and their heroes we saw it as a fitting name.
One of the core components of the game is picking a god to be a champion for. How many gods do we have to choose from and is it possible to switch back and forth between gods during the game?
There are nine gods to choose from – each of them can teach his or her hero several unique abilities. Once you pick your god (or, more precisely, he or she picks you) there’s no way back – you have to be the first one to find the artifact and beat all the other heroes and their gods.
Could you talk about how the combat in the game works?
The combat is not hack’n’slash like in Diablo or Titan Quest. It’s more like offline World of Warcraft. There are over 80 unique abilities in the game - many of them are very specific and have to be used in special ways to maximize their potential. The player has to inspect his opponents and pick his fights.
What kind of monsters can we expect to slay in the game? Are you putting your own twists on some of the ancient greek mythological monsters or are you lifting straight from the standard mythos?
We surely wouldn’t dare to omit some of the monsters one would expect to find in a game like this but we’ve also managed to smoothly blend in some creatures that were not present in any other games and may surprise the player.
Can you talk about some of the RPG elements in the game? Are you using the traditional elements or are you changing things up a bit?
The character you play has a basic set of common stats such as intellect, strength or dexterity. As you level up you those are raised automatically but you also get several points to allocate as you see fit. By using weapons or spells you get more proficient at it – if, for example, you keep casting fire spells, your fire magic skill will go up and when it’s high enough it can trigger Fire magic mastery which gives you additional bonuses.Each god can bestow powers and gifts, can you talk about some of the specifics and do you have a personal favorite?
Some of the gifts are obvious – for example Poseidon can teach his hero spells that are of water or healing nature; while, on the other hand, those who follow Hades will be able to resurrect themselves or even drain energy from dead bodies. My favorite would probably be Water Affinity which makes your spell stronger when casting from water, Brilliancy which allows you to draw magic power from light, Reopen wounds which does exactly what it says or Luck of the brave – you sacrifice a large part of your hit points but get very high chance of finding great loot.
What was the biggest lesson you learned while developing the game?
Well, for me it would definitely be - if something really doesn’t work, throw it away as soon as possible. No matter how much effort you put into it. There were several times when some of features didn’t feel like we expected. We’ve tried to tweak it here and there but still were not satisfied with the result. In the end we had to completely redesign some of them. Although it cost us additional time, it think it was really worth it.
Numen has a very interesting art style, can you talk about some of the influences behind the art direction of the game?
Right from the start we wanted the game to look a bit different from all the mainstream RPGs but didn’t want to go as far as cartoon or similar technique. Also, because the Numen takes place mostly in Mediterranean areas which are rather arid with no deep green forests so common in RPGs we had to find a way to stay as much accurate as possible while keeping the visuals interesting.
Downloadable content (DLC) has become an important part of the game industry. What are your thoughts on this trend and will Numen have post release DLC?
I think that DLC is a really great thing. Once a game is finished you have the know-how, the tools and the feedback so you can develop a great expansion in a relatively short time and the players who liked your game are happy to spend some more time in the world you made – so it’s a win-win situation.
There are some really interesting places that didn’t make it to the game so there’s definitely enough material to release DLC. Whether we’ll actually do it depends on how good Numen sells.
We'd like to thank Aleš for taking the time to answer our questions as well as Tony for coordinating the interview.