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Arx Progress Report - 
Raphael Colantonio

Garrett, 2001-03-20

RPGDot: Hello Raphael. How are you? How is development of Arx going on?

Hello Garett, I'm fine, extremly busy as the rest of the team here, but I'm fine. The development is still on schedule for now, that probably sounds usual, but in game development, it is some kind of a miracle :) 

RPGDot:In what state of development are you right now? Have there been significant changes to controls/gameplay or design in common since we last talked 6 months ago? What do you still have to do? 

Well, the technology is almost there, we've started to work on the 'game' format, so going through all the resources and routines which are currently in a 'tool' format, making them lighter and faster. Also, we're concentrating on a 'playable' demo for the E3 show in Los Angeles, so it should give a clear idea of what Arx is about, we'll try to show as many aspects as possible.
There hasn't been any major change in the control/gameplay area, we changed the concept of character class so the player will play a multiclassed character, as we thought it's better to let the player decide his class by his facts rather than his initial choice, that this gives more flexibility in case the player wants to change orientation as he progresses through the game. 
We did a lot of script refinement, checking the flux of information that is being given to the player, scenaric bug checking (all over the place !!), making sure the player can't get stuck, adding more dialogues in order to cover most paths that the player could choose, etc...
The main features that we still have to do in term of gameplay are the fighting engine and enemy behaviour, we've had a long time to think about it and we're just starting to implement the feature now. We also have many spells to implement, a lot of work on the interface, well, I could go on for a while, basically we still have a lot to do before you can get your hands on the game :)

RPGDot: Has there been a feature you could not implement yet or maybe even had to leave out? And is there one, you are proud of and that was a hell of a job to realize?

Currently we did everything that was planned, we've added a few stuff on the fly (like the cloth physics), but overall, we try not to add stuff and stick with what was originaly planned so that we don't get late on the overall schedule. You know, there is nothing worst than adding new features during a production, it's the best way to screw everything up.
Arx is a huge project, I don't know yet if we'll be to deliver every features that we wanted when we started the game, but all I know is that we'll work hard and do our best.
RPGDot: Can you tell us more details about the story by now? What's your favourite part of it?

Not even under torture :) anything I could say could spoil the game now. All I can tell you is that your initial goal will be very clear and simple... but... in order to achieve your goal, you'll have to deal with the world of Arx and its races, and the more you progress, the more you'll have to get involved in their conflicts and understand the way they work... and that might turn out to be more challenging than your initial goal...

RPGDot: Will there be a character creation and what races & classes will there be. What characteristics and skills describe our hero? Can you play a heroine as well? 

Yes, there is a character creation at the begining of the adventure, it is very simple, the player can tweak 9 skills and 4 attributes. Regarding the hero, you play a human male, the reason why we don't give the choice for your race and sex is that Arx is a very story driven RPG, therefore, it is hard to let the player choose his race and sex and keep a consistent story: Can you immagine a scene where the princess is supposed to be kissed by the hero, knowing that the player chose to play a trolless !!!

RPGDot: Paul Neurath's Floodgate Entertainment will do sound of Arx. Why did you choose a company so far away from France to do this? Will they do more for Arx than the sound & speech thingie? 

There are many reasons for that... I believe in Passion (there's nothing cooler for us to work with guys who've worked on games we venerate), and I believe in International productions, I'm convinced that having american directors working with european talents, or the other way round is the best way to get something really unique).
When Arkane Studios was looking for a publisher for Arx, I had the chance to meet with Paul Neurath at last year's E3 show and I showed him Arx. After Looking Glass' demise, Paul created FoodGate Entertainment and we exchanged a few Emails, until the oportunity of FGE doing some of the audio work for us came out as Kemal Amarasigham (the guy who did the sound for Thief) happen to work for FGE too.
So Kemal will do Ambient sounds and Speech recording, whereas the ingame sound effects will be done by Christophe Carrier, our audio director. Chrisophe is extremly happy to have Kemal involved on the project, considering that the speech recording and the ambients in Thief were fantastic both in term of quality and creativity, so having the same talents for Arx is kind of cool. Also, working with guys that are not just some contractors you pay for doing a job, but having the feeling that these guys share the same passion and get involved in the creative side as well, is one more very good reason !

RPGDot: Who is composing the music? How is the music implemented in gameplay and what's it like in general? Inspired by Ultima Underworld, i.e. short tracks, that change acc to the situation (e.g. combat), or a full orchestral soundtrack like in Baldur's Gate II? 

Most of it will be ambient tracks rather than orchestral music, although, sometimes the ambients will have tunes in them, but all that won't be too obvious, I must say that after a lot of discussions, Kemal, Christophe and I all agreed that having proper musics in games is most of the time rather boring after a while and even if it's nice at first, most player usually end up turning the music off in the audio options. Appart from the local ambients, we'll also have contextual ambients, that play on the top, we're trying to think of a 'layer' of interactive tunes, or rythms that would change according to the situation (stress, joy, peace, danger, etc...). 

RPGDot: When are you planning to have Arx finished? How many CD's will it use? Do you know anything yet about manual, maps or goodies, that will ship with the game? 

Looks like it should all fit in one CD. For the ship date, I prefer not to mention anything for now, we'd like to have as much time as possible to playtest it, again, and again, and again... and again.

RPGDot: Do you have plans for sequels already or are you going for a totally different kind of game then? 

Yes, we're having ideas for the sequel of Arx, but it hasn't been written yet. Also, after Arx, it is possible that we want to do a different game, just to relax our brains a little, knowing that the fact of us doing the sequel for Arx depends mainly on the commercial success of the 1st one.

RPGDot: Thanks for your time, Raphael.

Average Reader Ratings: 7.95 (337 votes)
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