“We are each of us angels with only one wing,
and we can only fly by embracing one another.”
― Luciano De Crescenzo
There is only thing I hate more than a slice of cold pizza and that is a potential masterpiece still in alpha stage.
I mean, have you ever tried a game capable of catching your attention since the first few seconds, overwhelming you with an incomparable mix of nostalgia, entertainment and roguish adventures? Well, imagine a game like that and imagine my disappointment when, after a couple of hours, suddenly I understood that the demo was already over!
There are so many good things to tell about Call of Saregnar that I wouldn’t even know where to start, but for sure what I like, above anything else, is the passion behind this project.
In the past weeks I had the luck to have a nice (and funny) chat with Damjan Mozetič, the brilliant mind behind the game, and it’s clear that he knows exactly what are the golden rules to develop a great RPG in the old-fashioned way. Nowadays there are not so many RPGs that can boast the charm of games like Betrayal at Krondor or Realms of Arkania, maybe because many players prefer to smash compulsively buttons instead of trying to “play a role”. What CoS seems to want to do is offering a real chance to listen and play a true adventure, where killing monsters is just a necessary (although funny) eventuality.
Before leaving you to the interview, I just want to give you a humble advise: if you are just like me and cannot retain a waterfall of tears and sobs every time you see a beautiful bunch of pixels trying to emulate a 3d world, well then you have only one choice, finance the game on Patreon!
1st Turn) Let’s start talking about the story. I played the demo and I really loved the “minimalistic” incipit of the game. For once, we do not start in the shoes of the chosen one, but with an unlikely party composed by two funny anti-heroes: a clumsy mage and his “roguish friend” just cheated by a thief in a tavern. We might say, not an epic start but an epic fun, but… can’t you reveal something more about the story?
I don’t believe that you necessarily need to open the first act with a catastrophic calamity, a call to action born from the need for revenge after witnessing your family murdered, or an army looting your home village, or have a portal to hell appear in your basement, demons pouring out etc. How about a gentle, cosy start, like good old text adventures used to have?
Without spoiling too much, let me tell you that the game definitely picks up the pace in chapter one. There is murder, mystery, and a new character joins the party. The August 2020 Patreon demo only featured the very beginning of the Prologue, so there’s much more to come.
2nd Turn) CoS features a nice turn-based combat system and playing the demo is possible to get a taste of it, but we can safely say that there a lot of different models of “turn-based combat systems” out there. So my question is: which is, in your opinion, the best so far and which of them inspired you?
While combat is not the main thing in CoS, I think it is pretty important and I know many RPG players look forward to it. I want to keep the combat system engaging, but not too complex; It should be easy to understand, while providing enough of a challenge so you can’t just blindly barge through. I certainly looked at inspiration from Betrayal at Krondor, but felt like the square grid needed an update to hexes, so this is what I’ve done. Right now at the core, the combat system is a rough copy of the system used in BaK, but with slight modifications. It is not finished yet though and needs lots of polish and additional features to bring it into this decade.
3rd Turn) As I said above, at the beginning of the game we don’t have the chance to create our character, but we have to play with a predetermined couple of characters, but we’are still talking about an RPG, right? So can you describe in details what kind of character development we can expect from CoS?
Is it an RPG, or an adventure game? I guess it is a mix of both genres, taking this and that from each and making something unique out of those parts. Like in a good fantasy novel, the characters are predefined and they may join and depart the party as the story dictates. While for better or worse you are stuck with what the game gives you, at the core there still is character progression. Each character has a number of stats that can improve over time, and there are numerous skills that can improve either through doing related tasks (picking locks to raise the artifice skill, fighting to increase the melee skill etc.), reading about them in skill books, or having them taught by tutors. While at first glance the character system may appear classless, each character has a predefined set of weapons they can use, and only certain characters can do magic. And speaking of magic, there is a total of 12 gods you can learn about, each having a number of spells that you can obtain and use in combat or outside when exploring.
4th Turn) In the land of Saregnar there is no place for giant rats and slimes. Why do you hate so much those lovely creatures? In other words, how important is for you to avoid the clichés of the fantasy genre?
It is my duty to see them expelled from where they don’t belong: a believable, cohesive world where certain popular fantasy creatures just don’t fit. I’m not saying the world of CoS doesn’t have fantasy creatures, because it does, but most are not of the sort you usually find in other RPGs. The lore of the world I’ve designed is pretty deep and at the heart, you have a human-inhabited world where gods are central to their living. You got spirits of all kinds as well, and you have the rare mythic being that lives at the edge of when humans thread.
5th Turn) Nowadays one of the most fashionable expressions is “procedurally generated”. Why have you decided to swim against the tide and make a videogame where everything is hand-crafted? And, above all, how hard is creating a game where nothing is left to chance?
I’m all for not following trends. Joke aside, everyone is doing procedural world, procedural loot, procedural encounters. Where’s the fun in that? Sure you have replayability, but at what cost? Also with a pre-defined, non-branching storyline that players will not likely replay over and over, it makes more sense to have everything meticulously crafted by hand to heighten the one-off experience. As for the difficulty of doing it all manually, sure, it is time-consuming, but I find the process so very enjoyable that I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. Rolling dice will never be as rewarding to the player as a purposefully crafted experience.
6th Turn) Let’s talk about the art style of the game. CoS mixes 3D, 2D and even real photographed actors in a very bold way, and you know what? It really works! It represents a perfect blend of past and present. What I ask you now is: aren’t you afraid of this choice? I mean, in an era where a Geforce 30 series seems more desirable than a beautiful girl, don’t you fear that this choice can harm the sales?
Thank you! Well, the past has only shown us that the market doesn’t know what it wants until it gets it, so I guess time will tell. But like you said, it certainly works and I believe I chose the right path to thread. Besides nostalgia, the simple presentation was also chosen because I couldn’t possibly afford going with next-gen graphics; Who’s got the man power to do that?
7th Turn) On your official website it is possible to read: “There are no quest markers or objectives”. Are you sure of that? I mean the world is full of people, like me, who are even unable to find their car in a parking lot! Can I hope for a rethinking?
Everybody loses their car in a parking lot, but fear not, the game has a self-annotating journal containing all the critical information you need to find your way through it all. The world is also designed to funnel you gently through, so finding your objective shouldn’t be nearly as hard as it sounds. Thanks for reminding me to rephrase that on the website. 🙂
8th Turn) Now let’s talk about inspirations. One is quite clear, Betrayal at Krondor, but what about the others?
Speaking strictly in terms of games, you can certainly say that Call of Saregnar is 90% Betrayal at Krondor inspired, but you may find a bit of the old Realms of Arkania trilogy in there, as well as Microprose’s Darklands, Might and Magic VI and other games of the ’90s. Outside of games through, my home country Slovenia, its history, its myths, and landscape have certainly played a major role in shaping the feel of the game world.
9th Turn) What can we expect from the land of Saregnar? I mean, what kind of dangers, enemies, and beasts will we have to face?
Answering this in detail would most probably spoil the story, but I can tell that the vast majority of the opponents will be humans wielding melee and ranged weapons as well as magic users. Still thinking to what extend will I include other creatures/beings as they would require a different approach when creating sprites for combat use.
10th Turn) CoS is in alpha state at the moment, so can you whisper in my ear when do you think the game will be released?
I wish I could tell you this, but right now the release date is still under wraps. We are currently working on ways to bring the game to the players in the shortest time possible, but the timing is tightly linked to the income from Patreon/Ko-fi/donations, etc. As soon as I establish a sufficient regular income, I’ll drop everything to work on the game full-time. I can leave the rest to your imagination. 🙂
BONUS TURN) Before leaving you, just a bonus question. Which is the latest turn-based game you’ve played or still playing?
I still regularly enjoy playing Master of Magic, Heroes of Might And Magic and of course Betrayal at Krondor.
Thank you very much for your time. We will continue to follow your project. For any other information please visit the official website.