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Conan Interview
Parcival, 2003-08-01

An Interview with Michal Smrkal from Cauldron, the Slovakian developer of the latest game adaptation of Conan the Chimerian, the famous barbarian created by Robert E. Howard.

RPGdot: For how long have you been working on Conan? How many people are working on it?

Michal Smrkal: We have had the idea to make a fantasy action-adventure game for long. But since May last year, when TDK, our publisher, acquired the Conan license, we were able to make our dream come true and work on a game from the Hyborean world. So by now, we are working on Conan for 1,5 years.
Now, here at Cauldron, are working about 30 people on Conan, but the whole number with music artists, voice art, … is about 60 people.

RPGdot: How far in the development are you? Do you have an expected release date already?

Michal Smrkal: At this time we are close to finishing the alpha version. We are now working on optimising, scripting and editing levels, creating animations and including them to the levels.
Conan should be on the shelves before Christmas this year.

RPGdot: To what extent will Conan appeal to a rpg audience? What rpg features will it have?

Michal Smrkal: Conan is an action-adventure game with RPG elements. These RPG elements are concentrated on the development of the main character, also Conan himself. Conan will gain experience points by killing his enemies. With these experience points Conan is able to „buy" new skills or upgrade his current ones.
The skills of Conan are combat and non-combat ones. There are about 30 different combat attacks and combos with double-handed axe, sword or mace. The non-combat skills are for example regeneration of stamina or health, lightning reflexes, or concentration.
Because Conan is no hardcore RPG we have only two statistics - health and stamina (on which depend the speed and power of Conan`s attacks).
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rgpgdot exclusive screenshot

RPGdot: How about features like an auto map, a journal and the inventory system? Can you solve a situation like a puzzle or a confrontation in different ways?

Michal Smrkal: On his way through the levels, Conan will find some maps, scribbles of levels ahead, which can be used for orientation in some areas. We wanted players who prefer fast game play not to be overwhelmed by aimless wandering through levels.
The puzzle system is not a classical one, like in other games. Our puzzles are in the form of traps which must be overcome to come forward. These traps are not too difficult, because Conan is not a puzzle game. Nevertheless some of them are really twisted :) . But if you pay attention to all information included in the game (like scrolls) you should have no big problems to solve these situations.
Yes, naturally, Conan will have an inventory system included, because of the number of items which he can use (keys, scrolls, maps, weapons, …)

RPGdot: Can you tell us about the background story of your Conan game in a few words?

Michal Smrkal: After the return to the village of his uncle, Conan will find out that the entire village has been destroyed and all his people are dead. He doesn't hesitate and starts to follow the trace of the hideous Vulture Cult. The trace of the murders will lead him through the wild Pictenland wood, the beautiful city of Kordava to the deadly Stygian deserts and humid jungles of Darfar. And in the heart of a giant volcano will Conan reveal a secret which goes much deeper than he can imagine.

RPGdot: Can you describe typical situations regarding combat? How do you handle it?

Michal Smrkal: The main focus of the fights in the game is to create atmospherically fights, as we know them from the famous film Conan: The Barbarian. Fast, merciless and pumped with adrenaline. We have created a very easy-to-use combo system, because we want the players to focus on the combat and the action itself, and not to torment them with difficult controls.
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rgpgdot exclusive screenshot

RPGdot: Do you need different weapons or tactics for different enemies?

Michal Smrkal: Yes, indeed there are different enemies and you must deal with them with different combat tactics. For example: wild animals will attack you straight forward and kill you in the bloodiest way. But human opponents will sometimes be much stronger than you, or will outnumber you, and you will have to relay not only on your quick reflexes and barbarian strength, but also on your strategic insight and tactical wit. 

RPGdot: How many different weapons are there?

Michal Smrkal: Conan can use a wide variety of different close-combat weapons like two-handed swords, axes or maces. The number is around 20, along with the legendary Atlantean sword or the mystical Black Axe. But the variety of the weapons used by Conans enemies is even wider. They will use just for example sabres, daggers, spears, clubs, halberds, and the beasts will use their claws and sharp teethes.

RPGdot: Will you also offer ranged combat?

Michal Smrkal: Conan will prefer only hand combat weapons. He is a champion of fighting with the sword or axe, and with a massive double-bladed war axe he is an unstoppable machine of destruction.

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screenshot from the Conan trailer

RPGdot: In the Conan books and comics apart from plain combat, stealth often played an important part, as well as magic. Will you incorporate these in the game? Will you be able to sneak or use magic yourself?

Michal Smrkal: The main focus of Conan are fights. We have been creating a game with dense atmosphere, intense storyline and very atmospherically fights, where you can feel the adrenaline flowing through your vines, and your heart beating in the heat of the battle.
Because we wanted to create Conan in the spirit of the Conan novels written by R.E.Howard (one of the best fantasy authors of all times) there is no magic and stealth action included. Magic will be used by Conan enemies however.

 RPGdot: Please tell us more about the multiplayer aspect of the game?

Michal Smrkal: Naturally we created an arena mode in Conan. It contains 16 different arenas along with 16 different characters to play in it. Different modes like death match, body count or time challenge are waiting for the player to be entered.
The 16 different characters will wield different weapons and fight a different combat style. Many of them are from the single player part of the game, some of them are especially developed for multiplayer. If you choose a character, you can use all his weapons and combos from the beginning.

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screenshot from the Conan trailer 

RPGdot: I read on the Cauldron site that you have two teams. What is the other team working on?

Michal Smrkal: The second team is working on our new, secret project. But I can't tell you anything specific, only that it will be a multiplatform action game from a sci-fi world setting :).

RPGdot: Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers?

Michal Smrkal: By creating this game we wanted to follow an epic work by one of the greatest fantasy writers of all times - Robert Erwin Howard. All characters, all locations, the whole story line is created in the spirit of this legendary writer and his immortal fantasy work - Conan. And therefore you will find all the great fantasy attributes of his novels in this game - intense fights with bloodthirsty monsters, dark alien gods coming from the space beyond the stars and the dense atmosphere of the fabulous Hyborean age, shrouded by the mists of time.

RPGdot: Thank you very much for this inteview and good luck further developing the game.

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R.E.Howard (1906-1936)


Conan (official game site)
Conan (official label site)


Average Reader Ratings: 5.63 (8 votes)
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