Hunted: The Demon’s Forge Interview

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge Interview

Written by Charles Husemann on 5/31/2011 for 360   PC   PS3  
More On: Hunted: The Demon’s Forge
Hunted is a game that's been on our radar for a while as it's got a few things we like, co-op gameplay, decent action, and something that  you don't see in a lot of games, a sense of humor.  We pestered Bethesda PR for a while and they finally relented and answered the following questions.

Could you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project?
My name is David Clayman and I’m an Associate Brand Manager at Bethesda working on Hunted: The Demon’s Forge.

Can you give us a broad overview of what “Hunted: The Demon’s Forge” is and what it’s about? Could you talk about the inspirations behind the game?
Hunted is a dark fantasy, third-person action game that focuses on great co-op gameplay. Hunted can be played single-player with the AI, splitscreen, or using online co-op. The game is based around two characters, Caddoc and E’lara, who start as mercenaries looking to make some quick gold but who become entangled in this much larger story of corruption, addiction, and blight that is spreading across the land. Caddoc is a fearsome warrior and expert at close quarters combat while E’lara’s deadly skill with a bow makes her more of a threat from a distance.

What distinguishes Hunted from other elf infested fantasy RPG’s on the market?
While Hunted has all of the great elements from classic dungeon crawlers like deep puzzles and loot collection, it is primarily an action game. Caddoc and E’lara have significantly different skills on the battlefield along with access to a deep magic and skill system. Everything was designed with co-op in mind. Not only can they heal each other from anywhere, but they can also use offensive spells as buffs to perform a battlecharge. So if Caddoc uses a lightning spell to battlecharge E’lara, her weapons will become imbued with that power for a time, making her extremely powerful. Even her melee attack can become devastating, and where she would have previously stayed behind cover, she can now rush into action. By working together players can really turn the tide of battle.

Can you explain how important cooperative play is in the game and how you are ensuring that the cooperative experience is different than the standard “two people just playing together”? What was the hardest part of developing the co-op portion of the game?
Co-op gameplay is something that was considered from the very beginning with Hunted. The concept of co-op at a distance is very important to dynamic between Caddoc and E’lara, meaning that they can heal each other and perform a battlecharge from anywhere on the battlefield. All of the skills and spells are also meant to work in conjunction. For example, E’lara’s arctic arrow freezes enemies, allowing Caddoc to shatter them with a melee attack. Caddoc’s levitate spell lifts enemies into the air and slams them to the ground, giving E’lara a ripe opportunity to pick off the floating targets.

There’s also a more advanced co-op attack called a Spell Link that occurs with Caddoc and E’lara both cast a battlecharge at the same time. Basically, a tripwire of death stretches between the two characters and deals damage to anything that gets in its path. So you can have both players advancing up the sides of the battlefield and anything caught in the middle will take damage.

If playing alone, do you have an AI controlled partner? How accurately does the AI model human behavior?
When playing alone the AI does take over as your partner. Players can easily control their AI partner to solve puzzles, and you’ll be able to distribute crystals towards advancing your partners skills and spells however you want, so if you choose to switch characters at any of the obelisks your character will be customized to your liking. It was important to inXile that you be able to access all of the game’s content no matter how you play.

The AI is very proactive, I’ve had my butt saved on more than one occasion by the AI either tossing me a regen vile or buffing my character with a battlecharge.

From the trailers we’ve seen the game has something of a sense of humor, how hard it to write humor into a fantasy game?
Caddoc and E’lara are old friends and they are very self-aware. They have the type of banter that you’d imagine from two people who spend a lot of time working together and relying on one another in very tense situations. While Hunted is a very dark game in a fantasy setting, it’s important to the story that both characters feel like real people, and that includes some jokes at each other’s expense. Not to mention a natural competitiveness that exists on the battlefield that results in some trash talking.

Could you talk about the character development of both characters? How difficult was it to develop two complementary character paths?
Caddoc and E’lara make a great team because they have very different personalities. E’lara is a bit blood thirsty, always ready to act on impulse. Caddoc is more cautious and willing to think things through. As the story of Hunted progresses, Caddoc and E’lara’s relationship is put to the test and players will have to make some very tough decisions that directly affect the development of their character.

Describe the Crucible mode of the game and what you think it will bring to the game as a whole. How can player’s get the most out of the Crucible mode?
Crucible allows players to string together arenas to create a custom dungeon crawl. They can go into each arena and customize the action in a number of ways, including waves of enemies, time limits, loadouts for their characters and a bunch of other options. Once their creation is complete, it can be tested out single-player, split screen or online. You can also share your creations with the community or check out some of the custom maps that InXile has provided with the game.

Getting started with Crucible is easy with an autogenerate option that allows players to quickly jump into the action if they don’t want to spend too much time in customization. You can also unlock more and more options in Crucible by collecting gold in the campaign and in Crucible itself, and your stockpile of treasure is tracked in the menus. Crucible also tracks a player’s combat stats so when you jump into a Dungeon with your buddy you can compete for the highest number of kills or executions.

We think players will get the most out of Crucible by sharing their maps with the community. With options like countdown timers, and limited ammo and magic, you can create some really tough dungeon crawls for your friends.

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge seems like a bit of a blend of genres, RPG and action... which do you think fits the game more and what other games do you view as your comparable competition?
Hunted is truly an action game. It certainly has deep exploration and a good reason to explore every corner of the world, but at its core it brings the third-person action experience to the dungeon crawl. We’re hoping that by combining these mechanics with a deep magic and skill system Hunted will tread new ground in the realm of dark fantasy.

More pointless question, how long is the game or how many weapons in the game? Please answer the less offensive question
The campaign can be completed in 10-12 hours and for those gamers that really want to find everything it can take a lot longer. After you complete the storyline there’s an unlockable mode that forces players to find all of the hidden areas before they can advance to the next chapter. Then, Crucible adds unlimited replay value to that equation, so you’re looking at a large amount of content.

Lucy Lawless has been cast as Seraphine, could you talk about the character and why you went after Lucy Lawless for the role? What was it like to work with the former Cylon Warrior Princess?
Seraphine is a temptress who initially appears in Caddoc’s dreams and she’s the reason that Caddoc and E’lara become wrapped up in the story of Hunted. Initially the two mercenaries are simply completing a task for Seraphine to make some easy money, but eventually she ensnares them in a much larger plot.

Lucy Lawless really took ownership of this role. You can see some of her work behind the scenes in one of the videos we recently released, and she really got into character. Also, with her previous roles in Xena and Spartacus, she’s really suited for this project.

How much support can players expect for the game after the initial launch? Are there any plans for DLC?
Our hope is that through Crucible gamers will create the content that keeps players coming back to Hunted long after they’ve experienced the story. We have no current plans for other types of downloadable content.

Is there anything we missed that you think is important? What kind of person should avoid picking up your game at the end of May?
We’re really excited that we were able to pack so much into this title. There’s an involved storyline and a co-op experience that transcends simply providing cover for your buddy. Hunted can be played with the AI or with a buddy using splitscreen or online. And with Crucible we’ve given players a reason to generate endless amounts of their own content that can be shared with the community. I suppose the only people that should avoid Hunted are those that hate having fun.

We'd like to thank David for taking the time to answer our questions as well as Tracey for setting up the interview.  Jeremy Duff contributed to this interview.
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About Author

Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom. I was a Microsoft Xbox MVP from 2009 to 2014
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