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Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

Leonard Boyarsky On Steam and Magick

Art Director draws a picture of Arcanum just before the beta testing begins.

By Mark «Kyote» Allman (По материалам сайта

Dwelling - Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

GameSpy: Obviously with an editor, players will be able to make their own adventures in the Arcanum world, but do you have any plans for official expansion packs to the game?

Boyarsky: Boyarsky: Hmmmm… expansion packs. What an interesting idea…

GameSpy: What else is the Troika team up to these days? Arcanum is into beta, so one has to wonder if you guys have anything else planned at this stage or are you entirely focused on Arcanum?

Boyarsky: We are entirely focused on Arcanum at the moment. We’re all planning on collapsing as soon as Arcanum is done, but that’s about it for plans.

GameSpy: Are there any features that you had planned or desired to get into the game that you think you cannot put in anymore because of technical or time issues?

Boyarsky: Up until now we’ve been able to put most of what we wanted into the game. There are a few things that got dropped along the way, but nothing substantial, yet. But there’s never enough time to do all of the things you’d like to do.

GameSpy: Will there be different sub-quests depending on the main character’s race, sex, or class, or magical/technological bent and if so, please give an example? What happens if the character is a balanced jack-of-all-trades; will they miss out on all the technology and magic quests?

Boyarsky: Certain quests are geared more towards a magick user or a technologist, or towards a male or female character. There are a few things here and there that are exclusive, but for the most part most quests are open to most PC types. The difficulty of the quest could vary dramatically depending on your Magick/Tech aptitude, and people’s reactions and dialog pertaining to the quest might change depending on your race or gender

There is a strong division of quest solutions between thieves, diplomats and fighters. Every main story arc quest has three solutions to it depending on your skills. For instance, at one point you need to get into a heavily guarded mansion — you can fight your way in, you can sneak your way in, or you can talk your way in. All are supported.

A real distinction in quests comes in with the skill training. There are Master Quests for skill training that are only open to PCs with a certain skill ranking.

Logbook tracks quests, rumors, kills and more - Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

GameSpy: The fundamental dichotomy in Arcanum between magic and technology is clearly a core concept of the game world. Technologists will have trouble using magic and vice versa. What is the difficulty difference of playing a balanced character compared to one that is strongly biased towards technology or magic?

Boyarsky: We’re in the balancing stages right now, so it’s hard to say how it will feel different when the game is fully balanced. Our hope is that some things will be easier for each type of character and some things will be harder, but it will all reach some kind of equilibrium in the end.

Unique experience as a cute lady elf or ugly ogre - Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

GameSpy: The NPCs are like those of Vampire and Fallout, in that they’re capable of acting on their own and you have only limited control over them. This can and has (with some games) led to some problems. What sort of work has your team done on its NPCs to make them easier to manage in the party?

Boyarsky: We’ve given the PC the ability to use hot keys to issue commands to his followers, and we’ve designed the NPC’s dialog trees with an eye towards making them easy to trade with and get information from. Also, we’re putting a lot of effort into tweaking follower AI so that they act at least slightly intelligent.

GameSpy: It’s been stated that only the most dangerous kinds of deeds will earn you fate points, which can be used as lifesavers in combat. How does this work? Can these points be used to affect non-combat situations?

Boyarsky: Fate points are awarded for completing certain quests in Arcanum (usually very difficult or very good/evil). The points can then be spent at any time by choosing from a list of items that will benefit your character. Here’s a complete list of uses for Fate points:

Full Heal now, Force good reaction, Critical success on next attack, Critical failure on next opponent attack, Save against magick, spell at maximum, Critical success at Gambling, Critical success at Heal, Critical success at Pickpocket, Critical success at Repair, Critical success at Pick Locks, and Critical success at Disarm Traps.

As you can see from the list, some are useful in combat situations and some are useful outside of combat. The way a PC spends Fate points is through a pull down menu with check boxes. If he clicks on an «instant» one, such as Full Heal now, it happens, or the Fate points can be pending, such as Critical failure on next opponent attack.

GameSpy: Is the interface currently seen in the beta close to the final interface, or do you expect any major changes to be made to it? To what degree will the final interface with the shipped version of Arcanum be configurable to a user’s individual preferences?

Learn how to make your own weapons - Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

Boyarsky: The main interface is pretty much finished, but some of the other interfaces, such as the options and the save game are temporary. The interface will not be configurable, except for the hot key bank where players can drag useful spells/skills/items.

GameSpy: How does the game’s maturity level compare to previous products of your team, like Fallout? Will options like finding a spouse be available?

Boyarsky: The maturity level will be pretty similar to games we’ve worked on in the past, and there is the possibility for romantic entanglements.

Dwelling - Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

GameSpy: Can you describe a typical day as a lead designer on this project to us, and tell us perhaps what your own personal current focus is in the game’s development?

Boyarsky: Actually, I’m not the lead designer. I share that task with Chad Moore when it comes to the story, scripting, and dialog, and Tim and Jason are pretty much in charge of the game mechanics and RPG system.

My (and Chad’s) current focus is making the final maps, bug fixing, and tying up loose ends. We basically start each day with a list of things we want to accomplish, be it writing those last bits of dialog or making those last few maps, and then periodically throughout the day we get sidetracked into fixing a bug here or there and polishing scripts or dialog.

GameSpy: How has the experience of working on Arcanum been different from your experiences with Fallout and Fallout 2?

Boyarsky: We have a much smaller team on this project, so the workload is much more intense. It was nice to have extra resources to draw from at a big company, but it’s a lot more satisfying to feel you’re working on something for yourself.

GameSpy: How much historical research has gone into the reproduction of a genuinely late 19th century Industrial Revolution period atmosphere? Are you taking a lot of historical liberties, beyond the obvious inclusion of demihumans and magic? What do you think you gained by at least partially hooking it into our history?

Boyarsky: We did some research at the beginning of the project, but we were mainly interested in the «feel» of the era as opposed to actual historical events. We’ve incorporated a lot of big themes from the time as opposed to specific details. The one exception would be that Tim researched the beginnings of the industrial revolution and we partially based Arcanum’s on real world events.

Streets - Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

GameSpy: If you lived during the Industrial Revolution, before the advent of your lifeblood the computer, what do you think you would be doing?

Boyarsky: I would be an artist, or perhaps a writer. Same job as now, different media.

GameSpy: Where is the major focus of the team’s efforts these days? Are you still adding new content and features or just polishing what is there?

Boyarsky: The content is all «done», but adding it to the game is a process in itself. There is still art being done and the final maps are being made. We’re pretty close to full time bug fixing at this point.

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