We have announced our newest game, King Arthur: Knight's Tale, and there's already plenty of information on this Tactical / RPG hybrid available. Now we'll be examining its aspects separately in more in-depth blog posts. Next up, producer Zoltán Pozsonyi offers a glimpse of the processes behind the scenes, answering a few questions about the production of this new direction for NeocoreGames.
1. When did development of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale begin, and what is its current status? How many people are working on it?
The development of the core concept started in the spring of 2019, the first prototype build came about in the summer, by autumn we had a direction for graphics and atmosphere. Currently we are in pre-alpha. What we mean by that is that we’re finished with most of the bigger iterations and we have lots of assets already loaded in, but the game itself isn’t coherent yet, so a few changes can be expected. Around 60 people work on the game right now, counting those who work within the studio and outsider colleagues as well.
2. NeocoreGames has been known for its Action-RPGs recently, why this change in direction?
I think I’m not revealing any big secrets when I say that we’re currently working on a bigger Action-RPG as well, but the release of that game is very far away. We felt that we need a little break by developing something different, so we don’t become jaded with the Action-RPG genre. Once in a while it’s a good thing to do something different, to get some distance from the genre, so we don’t just repeat ourselves. Most of us from the concept team love tactical games and RPGs with a tactical approach, so the choice of direction felt natural, and then one decision led to another. The thinking process was like this: "if we want a tactical game, we should incorporate RPG elements, since we’re mostly RPG creators and writers", so this is how this hybrid came to be. As this was decided, we approached it from a rogue-lite angle as well. And as soon as this mixed genre was locked, we looked around to find a setting. We wanted fantasy, and free creative control, so we reached back to our old King Arthur games. The last step was to approach King Arthur from a dark fantasy perspective.
3. It sounds like a unique project – but how risky is it to experiment with genres?
There’s always the risk that you end up with a game that isn’t good enough for fans of either genres, because we only take the common features. We already have some experience with mixed genres, so we’re confident that we can pull this off. Our main principle is not to mix in a 50-50 ratio, this way we can avoid compromises. With King Arthur: Knight’s Tale our approach is that we consider it a full-blown fantasy tactical game, so no compromises there. RPG features are only added to enhance, to expand on that core idea, never to take away from it. The mixing of genres isn’t the most challenging task here, but the mixing of narrative and rogue-lite features. Our solution is to separate the campaign from the endgame chapter, as the toughest challenges will be introduced in the endgame. For this endgame portion, the question isn’t if it’s challenging enough, but how many tries will it take, how far will you be able to go?
4. How will the studio’s experience with Action-RPGs inform Knight’s Tale? Will there be features in there that the fans of that genre might find appealing?
These two genres stand very far apart, but anybody who loves a good loot system, artifacts and builds based on character skills, will enjoy this aspect of Knight’s Tale, provided they are happy with the tactical pacing and challenges. This game will require deep tactical approach and precise calculations, not only in combat, but in the management aspect as well, all decisions have to be weighed.
5. Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is a four-year-old game at this point. Were there any technological advancements at NeocoreGames? Was the engine updated? Is the studio ready for the next generation of visual fidelity?
We’re now using the new generation of our engine based on DirectX 12, and we've had numerous technical developments. A few of these will be visually pleasing – lighting, weather conditions, effects –, but most of them are experimental features, mostly tied to performance, to the ability to render a very detailed game at a higher speed. We made advancements in animation, almost all animation is done with motion capture. We have a new workflow for terrain and set pieces, a photoscan team provides high quality materials for a unique asset pool. So we think the game will be quite spectacular!
6. What kind of experience is behind the development, and what kind of challenges does the studio face with this new project?
After 11 shipped games, the studio can be considered quite experienced. Most of our developers are veterans with an average 8 years of experience in the field of game development. Among the designers, we have pen-and-paper RPG designers and writers, which provides extra benefit for King Arthur: Knight's Tale character-centric, branching story approach. Our experience in RPGs and Action-RPGs will help us create a good progression and loot system as well.
7. What sort of players might enjoy Knight’s Tale?
Anybody who loves dark fantasy, no doubt, and I think people who like adaptations of myths and historical settings with a twist, will be impressed by the design and the art direction. Tactical game enthusiasts who like to combine team members and develop character builds, will find the game more interesting, as there will be five playable classes, with the additional extra skills of unique heroes. Artifacts have a huge influence on how a build will look, even beyond skills. As for RPG-enthusiasts, I think it will appeal to players who love slower, more thoughtful gameplay, since your decisions have more weight, and you won’t always notice the consequences of your actions immediately, sometimes these will be apparent many-many missions later.