CumQuaT: Well, I’ve been gaming since I was about 4 years old, using an Amiga. But back then I didn’t know much about computers, so I had more fun watching my dad play games. This sort of became a habit, and I would pull up a bean-bag next to him and watch him play these RPGs like Might & Magic and others, and he would name one of the characters in the party ‘Alex’ and the others would be named after himself and other people we knew and we’d essentially go on these large-scale adventures together, that would last months and months, resuming each night that little habit was what hooked me to RPGs.
I’ve always been attracted to them more than any other type of game. I never wanted those gaming nights to end, and I was always sad when bed time came around and we had to stop, so skip forward many, many years, and I was in university, and I loved to write my own engines right towards the end of my diploma (in animation) I was coding on a lunch break, and I figured out how to generate infinite worlds. not “effectively” infinite, but actually infinite. persistent, too, so you could always go back to any point and it would always be the same at the time, I thought it was cool, but I didn’t really do anything with it.
I went on to make other games instead but then, skip forward several more years and I had just gotten married, and at the same time was very, very ill, and given an 85% mortality rate. It didn’t look like I was going to survive when that happens, it really threw life into focus, and I realized that I wanted to leave something behind that would last. I didn’t get the chance to, and I went in to have major surgery which I was told I wasn’t really likely to wake up from. but, obviously, I did. and I was determined from that point on to make a game that I would be remembered for.
Since I had these fantastic childhood memories of playing games like Might & Magic, Eye of the Beholder, etc, I decided that would be what I would do, as it’s a very personal thing for me and since I had this technology lying around to let me have an infinite world, I decided that I would combine the two and voila! Malevolence was born. 3 years of work later, here we are.
Donut: Well that was longer than an entire interview normally is, haha. So from day one, have you had the grid system? Even Might and Magic didn’t use one.
CumQuaT: Yes it did! M&M 1 through to 5 were all grid-based it’s only the modern ones that are free-moving
Donut: Than I guess I don’t remember them as well I should have. So yeah, was the grid based a new thing? Or was that there from the planning phases.
CumQuaT: That was there from day 1, I wanted people to experience what I experienced
Donut: What is your response to people disappointed it is grid based?
CumQuaT: Don’t play it haha what people in the gaming community don’t seem to realize is that I’m making this game for me. Always have been, always will be. It just happens that many, many people also love and miss the grid-based system. but not a day goes by where I don’t have to deal with comments saying “your movement is so laggy and broken!”, but it’s all from people too young to recognize that its a system that was used by games such as Anvil of Dawn, Dungeon Master, Wizardry, Might & Magic, Eye of the Beholder, and many, many more for about a decade! If it wasn’t for those games, modern RPGs wouldn’t exist at all.
Donut: What would you say is what you derive most from these games, sans the grid system?
CumQuaT: It would have to be the sheer scale of them. these games were utterly massive during a time when game worlds were tiny in every other game. People think of games such as Skyrim as having these enormous worlds, but in actual fact, they’re incredibly small compared to some of these games from the past. I love to stand in a game’s world and feel truly small in comparison to it. the open-ended nature of them where you can just pick a direction and head off and have an adventure in whatever way you want, to me, is so much better than a linear game experience
Donut: But won’t the world eventually get boring? How do you deal with the fact that the infinite world only has a limited number of variants of dungeons and such? You might find a cemetery or a pyramid but wont you end up just having the same thing over and over? Same enemies and types of loot and such?
CumQuaT: All of the loot and quests are generated procedurally as well, including spells that you can find and learn. there’s also an intricate crafting system planned which will keep people occupied, since the crafting system uses the procedural loot monsters stats also generate procedurally, and we’re implementing a system that includes special boss versions of monsters which wait for you in dungeons to really test your mettle the 3D assets of the game world stay the same, but they are arranged procedurally to give a bit more variety as time goes on
Donut: Interesting. So besides the standard fantasy elements, what unique things will we be finding in Malevolence?
CumQuaT: You mean aside from the first ever truly infinite game world?
Donut: Haha, I mean more in the places you go and the things you fight. We all have fought skeletons and beholders, but what new things will Malevolence bring?
CumQuaT: Oh, in that regard it’s very much an homage to the classic CRPGs of the late 80s and early 90s. It’s aimed at bringing that experience back, rather than creating a new one. Since no-one else seems to want to do it , there’s nothing that is specifically new in Malevolence that you wouldn’t find in those old games. All of the creatures and loot and whatnot are all designed to bring back memories of the old classics, so you’ll find all of your orcs and zombies and minotaurs, etc
Donut: So what do you personally love the most about the game so far, once again sans the infinity.
CumQuaT: How true it’s managed to keep to its predecessors and also the amazing community it has generated
Donut: So the beta recently came out, what features can we expect in the next iteration that you are excited for?
CumQuaT: Well, we’ll be sorting out a few major bug fixes first, which is inevitable after opening up to so many different system types but our first major content release will include the quick-travel system, procedural magic system and monsters will start roaming the countryside at night
Donut: So how does the procedural magic system work?
CumQuaT: So with the magic system, basically every spell can have up to 3 sub-effects which combine into the final spell. these effects are chosen from a list of effects that are available in the game, and mixed together using procedurally generated values based off of the players stats so, for example, you might find a spell that does 50 points of lightning damage and 20 points of fire damage, while taking whatever damage you deal and giving it back to you as health the game, after generating a spell, works out how powerful the spell is and applies to it a level at which the player must be to be able to use it, based on how powerful the spell is it does all of this intelligently on its own
Donut: Is there some sort of level cap? Hard to imagine finding a level sixty thousand spell.
CumQuaT: no level cap, no. but it does get harder and harder to increase in level over time though we do have some level 12′s running around already
Donut: What do you see as the feasible max a player is going to hit? And if god forbid we find super hero level thousand players running around, will the spells scale with them?
CumQuaT: Yep, everything scales in my simulations of play time, I saw people that were level 120 running around (yes, I ran simulations to see how feasible an infinite game was hahaha)
Donut: So scaling enemies as well?
CumQuaT: Yep! The game even keeps a track of what gear you’re using, and tries to throw you challenges from time to time to “inspire” you to upgrade your equipment there’s actually an underlying AI “dungeon master” so to speak, which tweaks the game based on your play style
Donut: So back to spells, one thing I loved about the Might and Magic series (and the later RTS iterations) was the uniqueness of spells. Dimension doors, magic mirrors, meteors. Will we see anything like these in the game or are we limited to buffs and offensive spells?
CumQuaT: Oh there are quite a few things in the works. think of the spell list more like the spells from the Diablo Series. Things like firewalls and portals and whatnot. We want people to feel POWERFUL in the game, not contained
Donut: Armageddon spell confirmed?
CumQuaT: Haha the visual I had in my head was for a level 20 character to just be able to fill a whole frikkin room with fire, annihilating everything within in that regard, I guess you could say that D&D has been a bit of an inspiration with the magic system the effects all emanate from the player. It’s very player centric.
Donut: So will the players be able to harm themselves using their magic? I assume lighting a room on fire won’t be very healthy.
CumQuaT: Actually, no. The hero that you play is actually MADE of magic, so magic that they create can’t harm them. monsters, however, will soon be able to use their own magic, which will DEFINITELY spoil your day
Donut: I suddenly feel as if I did not do enough research on the hero. What differences between monster magic and the heroes own will we be seeing?
CumQuaT: Not much. anything that the player will be able to use, magical monsters will be able to as well, though usually in a theme you’ll find fire mages, water enchantresses, poisoners, etc so, while any one enemy will generally stick to one type of magic, you can potentially find an enemy with ANY sort of magic
Donut: Interesting. One thing players of many modern RPG’s find annoying is that enemies scale instead of just having areas with harder enemies. Will we see this or is it straight scaling?
CumQuaT: Actually, Malevolence has an invisible biome system for difficulty (in addition to its regular biome system for terrain) so you may be in an “easy” biome where the monsters are fine for you, but accidentally, without realising it, wander into a “difficult” biome, where you’re better off just running once you’ve gotten a few levels, you’ll be able to take on that biome (we don’t like linear scaling either)
Donut: Will the game feature some sort of morality system? Will we be able to fight pesky adventurers and skeletons in different biomes or will we only fight evil monsters.
CumQuaT: Only evil monsters for now. The thing most people tend to forget while looking at Malevolence is that it is, in fact, a roguelike. And it plays like one
Donut: Aw, my chaotic evil character will be so bored. We are almost done, so lets get more general. What are the biggest changes we are going to see in the final release?
CumQuaT: We actually keep a running list of what’s coming on our testing blog: http://malevolencealphatest.blogspot.com.au/ the best bits will be the magic, the boss monsters and the guilds, I think, given the feedback we’ve recieved on the game so far that’s at least what people seem most excited about
Donut: Will you be continuing support after the game is released?
CumQuaT: Oh, for sure especially since the first expansion is already planned and we’ll be moving onto it pretty much immediately after version 1.0 of the game comes out. One thing you learn very quickly as a game dev is that it doesnt matter how finished you think your game is, there are ALWAYS bug fixes to be done with a project this large, and a body of this many people, it’s impossible to have the game 100% perfect and, really, I want everyone to have the best possible time playing it. so i’ll be working hard on the updates and fixes for as long as I need to be. I love my fans and players! they’ve been so supportive and vocal throughout the last 18 months, and I owe it to them to be worth their attentions
Donut: For our final question, what do you think the end point is? What is the end game for Malevolence?
CumQuaT: To complete every single thing on the list I just sent haha after that, just to sort out any little bugs that are left. The community that has built up is AMAZING, and it’s become very self-sufficient. because of how cool they are, i’ll likely keep dropping new surprises in for them and such And then, of course, there may be a Malevolence II, or another expansion all comes down to how popular the game is
Donut: And then in the 3DO fashion, we will then get a Malevolence RTS
CumQuaT: Ahaha definitely not though I can say – without revealing too much – that there do exist plans to put Malevolence into a couple of new forms both of which shall excite fans of the game a GREAT deal
Donut: Thank you, this has been an enlightening interview.
CumQuaT: Not a problem! Always happy to spread word of the game.
Malevolence: The Sword of Ahkranox is an infinite, procedural CRPG that can be found at http://www.moddb.com/games/malevolence-the-sword-of-ahkranox