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Old 11-05-2011, 10:28 PM   #1
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[Interview] Malevolence: Sword of Ahkranox

Malevolence, Sword of Ahkranox, is an upcoming game from a new Australian studio, Visual Outbreak. We were able to have a talk with the lead developer, Alex Norton.

M:SoA is a procedurally generated game, wherein you play a single character in a turn based dungeon crawl style game. The game isn't limited to just dungeon crawls though, and a fully procedurally generated over world with towns, castles, and houses/ships to buy are planned as well in the full release.

The Jist of M:SoA

CoG -In a nutshell: Who would love SoA most?
AN -Me! This whole project started as me wanting to create my ideal game. Along the way more and more people wanted to help and we're finding amazing levels of support from people all over the world who want to play it too, so it's gotten bigger and bigger because of that! But anyone who has ever played an RPG*because*it was an RPG, or any fans of the old turn-based first person RPGs of yesteryear which game companies seem to have forgotten about, will absolutely adore Malevolence: The Sword of Ahkranox.

CoG -How many developers are at the studio, or working offsite?
AN -At the studio itself we have 4 core team members. A lead developer, a lead writer, and two artists. The rest of the team is made up of 28 regular contributors from all over the world, including the USA, United Kingdom, New Zealand, France and many other countries. Makes for one hell of an email inbox!

CoG -How long has Sword of Ahkranox been in development for?
AN -By the time the demo is released, it will have been 18 months since principal development started on the project.

CoG -When is the Target Release Date?
AN -Final game will launch on December 21st, 2012. The day the world ends! But also the day that a new world is born... The world of Ahkranox!

CoG -When's the Demo/Beta planned?
AN -We have a fully playable demo coming out before the end of the year. It's hitting the test teams in a couple of weeks. But it's by no means a small demo. We'll be letting people have a fairly good taste of what*Malevolence*has to offer!

CoG -Are you planning just the one demo, then release a year later, or perhaps this demo, then an updated or alternate demo to show how far it has come?
AN -That is a question that I have been running around the dev team for quite some time... We're leaning towards a second demo, but we'll see what sort of a reception comes from the first before we consider that one. We may be wrong and only we will like our game! But that's alright. We love to play it!

CoG - What sort of games most inspired SoA?
AN -All of the AMAZING classic turn-based, first person RPGs of the late 80s and early 90s, such as Might & Magic, Wizardry and Eye of the Beholder, but also some of the fundamentals of more recent titles such as The Elder Scrolls and even World of Warcraft. We basically want to deliver the classic gameplay style to an audience more accustomed to modern games, so we've tried our best to create a real fusion of old and new, without making it feel particularly like either. We keep asking ourselves "what could make this game even better?" that's what led us to things like the infinite world, the infinite items, etc. They're all things that we want to see in a game but people have told us can't be done. Well... We've done it!

CoG -What Distribution channels are you hoping for? Steam? Desura? Carrier Otters with waterproof USB Sticks?
AN -We had thought of carrier pigeons, but can't find any who don't try to eat the flashcards. We want to get on Steam, but Steam select their games on popularity online. So our main mission is to get the word out and have people play and (hopefully) enjoy the demo! The wonderful people at Desura have already offered us a publishing deal through their platform which we are looking forward to making use of! We're also considering (once again, based on the demo's popularity) releasing a limited collector's edition with extra materials that will be on a DVD!

He doesn't look friendly.

CoG -So far, the game has been shown to be only single player/single character, will there be Online Integration at all? You made an offhand comment about showing off on facebook, will there be Twitter/Facebook integration in showing off favorite items or random screenshots?
AN -Well, it's an interesting question, really. The initial release next year will be single player only, but, based on reception, we're VERY heavily considering making our first official expansion pack bring multiplayer compatibility (both LAN and online). Not in an MMORPG sense, but in a team-play scenario with up to 4 friends. One thing we WILL be trying very hard to get done in time though is the bragging system you mentioned. If you find a particularly cool item or place, you can let your friends know via facebook and/or twitter. Even though the in-game world is infinite, each person will be experiencing the same world, so you will be able to share map co-ordinates with a buddy and they'll be able to go and check it out for themselves! Given the infinite nature of the game and its contents, we're hoping that this will inspire online communities surrounding things that people have managed to find!

The above ground world. Sunlight!

CoG -How random will the monsters be in the various dungeons/outdoor areas?
AN -Monsters in the game are broken into categories, and then divided into further categories. Firstly, when a monster is created, the engine checks to see if the user is in a themed area (for example, a crypt will mostly have undead in it, rather than minotaurs). Then, of those enemies, it is broken up into percentage chances for the varying difficulties based on the player's level. Then, of those enemies they are sorted into either basic enemies or complex enemies. Basic enemies are given base stats that are shifted based on the player's level, given one of the texture packs and shipped out. Complex enemies are given roles, such as warrior, magic user, tank, weakling, etc, which have special properties. However, all of the features of the enemies such as texture, health, power, intelligence, abilities, etc, are defined around the procedural generator and the player's level. No matter how high the player's level gets, there will always be monsters they plough through, and always be monsters that scare them!

Dark, dangerous dungeons. And stabby things!

CoG -Is there anything odd about being an Australian developer? How's the Dev community there, the support systems, etc? How many bizarre questions do you get about living in Australia?
AN -I think the most bizarre question I have been asked since making this game was "Are you guys Belgian? You seem Belgian." To this day I'm not quite sure what they meant. Australia has quite a vivid underground game dev scene. Groups such as Half Brick have had HUGE success in the mobile platform market with their hits 'Fruit Ninja' and 'Jetpack Joyride' and I've gotten to hang out with them a little bit. All the big companies, however, have dried up and shut down. THQ, Pandemic, Krome, they all died, which was very sad to see, but this has just given rise to a super-breed of indie devs all waiting to get their titles out there. However, only a couple that I have met have been out to make their dream, rather than just money. Perhaps it's the Aussie way? Who knows. For the most part our team stays well apart from the other devs as they can often be a pessimistic lot. Far too obsessed with money and success and not as invested as they should be with following their dreams!

We'd like to again thank Alex for his time, and for the screenshots provided above. As soon as the game hits demo stage, we'll let everyone on CoG know. Until then, they've asked us to provide the team's Facebook and Twitter (Note the Twitter background may be a little risque for some workplaces!) links, so you can get news and updates to the game as it moves closer to the big demo release.

Last edited by Lekon; 11-05-2011 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:14 AM   #2
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I want this to be good, really bad. Like really really bad. I want there to be low-level areas and high-level areas and have it be crazy new the whole time.

And I want to not wait a year for it.
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I'm just going to hate everyone, to be safe.
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:59 AM   #3
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Interesting I will be sure to give the demo a try when it comes out.
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Old 11-06-2011, 09:04 AM   #4
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Old 11-06-2011, 12:01 PM   #5
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Imagine this game paired with the technical aspects that the DF has been working on forever...wandering through a DF world with this type of GUI...
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:10 PM   #6
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I'll give this game a go when it comes out. Good preview interview; I wonder how they will pull off the infinite world concept.
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