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'Sacred 2' - Developer Q&A

by Keith Durocher on Jan. 22, 2007 @ 5:24 a.m. PST

Sacred 2 is a deep fantasy RPG where players are immersed in an epic journey through the medieval-like kingdom of Ancaria. Highly action-oriented, Ascaron's Sacred 2 features pitched battles and a wide range of enticing quests. We sit down with Creative Director Hans Arno Wegner to get the latest dirt ...

WP:The action-RPG market is a difficult pool to make progress in, locked as it is in so many peoples minds as being exclusively the domain of Blizzard and essentially bereft of new ideas. What features will Sacred 2 incorporate to set itself apart from its contemporaries?

Hans Arno Wegner: Sacred was a great step towards this market. With this background, Sacred 2 will have a state of the art action-RPG game full of unique features. It will have outstanding graphics and a huge seamless world. Our innovative characters, character development systems, and the depth of the world will excite the players.

WP: Sacred had its fair share of controversy when it launched due to censorship differences between the North American & European releases. Will Sacred 2 contain the same amount of blood as its predecessor, or does Ascaron plan on making this version more 'PG-13' in order to maintain an even release internationally?

HAW: It was a decision of our distributor to have a different US version. I hope we will have the same fun, un-cut version for all.

WP: Sacred boasted a very strong cast of characters, the voice acting and dialogue was some of the best in the industry at the time. Does Ascaron plan on prioritizing individuality in the same way with Sacred 2? Can we count on the same clever one-liners when enemies run from a fight?

HAW: Absolutely. The striking character design will still be one of the main focuses in Sacred 2. You can look forward to a lot of comments filled with storytelling and humor.

WP: In the first iteration of this franchise, players could select their class and name, and all customization from there on was left up to in-game items. Are there any plans with Sacred 2 for avatar creation, such as hair styles, tattoo skins, etc.?

HAW: Yes, there will be customization in Sacred 2. You will have a lot more possibilities for customizing your characters

WP: Sacred was a fantastic value for fans, owing to the dedicated developer support as well as the Sacred PLUS and Underworld expansion packs. Does the development cycle of Sacred 2 include fleshed out plans for more (possibly free) content?

HAW: Of course we will continue support Sacred 2 after its release. We plan to offer new content like weapons, enemies, armor or quests.

WP: Will multiplayer support be as large a part of Sacred 2 as it was for the original, or are developer resources in this area being focused on an even tighter single-player experience?

Sacred 2 will offer a tighter single-player experience than before. But Sacred 2 will also have great multiplayer features with all the favorite playing modes you will expect.

WP: This is a question I ask all developers in these Q&A lists, as I find it can offer unique insight into the genesis of an imaginary world: what pop-culture influences have been most prevalent in the Ascaron studios during the development of Sacred 2? What movies, art, and music helped keep the inspirational fuel-tank full? Be specific, many of these recommendations inadvertently blend in with the final product, and fans might want the chance to buy into your tastes.

HAW: Of course we had been inspired by a lot of books, films, comics etc. Here are some of them: (von Franz)

  • Comics: McFarlane, Froideval,
  • Books: Tolkien, Wim Gijsen, David Eddings
  • Music : Peter Gabriel, Eric Satie, Liszt

WP: So far, only the Seraphim class has been detailed in screenshots on the official Sacred 2 website. Initial impressions hint at a sleek make-over; no sign of any 'wavy blue noodles' this time around. Are all the classes from the first game making another appearance, complete with a leaner, meaner new look? Or can we expect only a couple old favorites amongst a host of new faces?

HAW: We want to offer our players fresh new characters and styles of play. Only the Seraphim will be from the original game. All the other characters are completely new because we have a completely new story for Sacred 2. Since the world has the changed, the characters will have changed also.

WP: It seems like these days, everyone wants to leap headfirst into the MMo market. Sacred seems tailor-made for the persistent world treatment, what kept Ascaron from plunging into this increasingly overcrowded sub-genre?

HAW: We want players to enjoy a great single-player game. Without a persistent MMO World, players have the freedom to play Sacred 2 absolutely the way he wants – for the ladder run, the search of the best items, the story, etc.

WP: How did Bob Bates come to be involved with Ascaron and Sacred 2? It seems like a rather drastic departure from games like Companions of Xanth and Unreal 2, but his pedigree is unquestionable and his input can only mean good things for Ancaria.

HAW: He has a great reputation in our industry, and the story is a very essential part of Sacred 2. Ralf Adam first contacted him, and we met with Bob at Games Convention in Leipzig. He was entranced by the game and enjoyed the work with the dedicated team. And yes, this means really good things for Ancaria. =)

WP: While graphics remain extremely important to a games success, physics and AI are increasingly essential to the action-RPG genre. Titan Quest has shown us the power of well-implemented physics, and Dungeon Siege II has shown us the drawbacks to a lack of convincing AI; will Sacred 2 learn from these lessons?

HAW: The importance of a good AI and the well-implemented physics is clearly a trend in the whole gaming industry. We knew this, and focused on these features right away.

WP: As the European games market continues to explode, do you find it less important to adhere to North American cultural values when crafting the world of Sacred 2? After all, the darkest life-lesson folk stories come from the old world. Do you think that because your native demographic is unchained by an overly "politically-correct" outlook, Ascaron has a certain freedom to explore more mature themes?

HAW: We definitely enjoy freedom in our storytelling, and we’re focusing on breaking out of clich├ęs to give depth to the game. However, we are using the classic fantasy setting, so that it is internationally easy to understand the world.

WP: A feature being touted as integral to the Sacred 2 experience is the freedom to play as a champion of light or a harbinger of darkness. Will this manifest itself as 'good' & 'bad' classes, or will there be the chance to determine your alignment through moral decisions as you quest?

HAW: The player can decide to be a hero or a villain. You are not forced by the story line to be the true-blue hero, but there will also be some pure "good" and "bad" characters.

WP: Will there be a dynamic faction system? For example, if you do evil deeds, will evil races like you over time? If I punch a sufficient number of puppies, will I be able to quaff ales with the undead? (I sure hope so, I’ve always wanted to chug brews with a zombie.)

HAW: This will more be a result of the way you decide to play. We don’t want a dynamic faction system, because this will lead to restrictions in the quest and world design. We think it is cooler for the player to choose his alliance right from the start. Then he can experience Ancaria through that point-of-view, enabling him to have different outlook on certain situations.

WP: Previous Diablo-style games have widely adopted item ideas such as named sets of equipment, or runes/gems that can enhance weapons. Will Sacred 2 have these features as well?

HAW: Certainly. Sacred 2 will have a lot of items and a lot of ways to enhance them than the original game.

WP: Sacred was one of the first (if not -the- first) games to feature mounted combat. Sacred 2 will have this too, but what new enhancements can we expect in this area? I envision massive warhorses in ornate platemail barding, or even non-equine steeds like demonic three-headed dogs.

HAW: You are able to look forward to even both! We will have warhorses and other unique riding mounts! But I am afraid we will not have your three-headed dog. =)

WP: While this might be somewhat outside the format of the action-RPG genre, will there be any form of player crafting/artisan skills? For example, melee characters repairing or enhancing their equipment, or casters recharging their runes.

HAW: As you mentioned this is not a basic feature of an action-RPG, but in Sacred 2, characters can enhance equipment by his skills.

WP: What system for skills will Sacred 2 use? Will it be tree-based, with an extensive array of pre-requisites and elite abilities for high-level avatars to wield? Or will it follow the structure of the original game, with each class getting a set list that players will be able to slot points into as they level up?

HAW: Like in Sacred, we still separate between die-activated Moves and Spells and passive skills. Sacred 2 will offer players the opportunity to build his character and choose his way of playing and fighting. Moves and Spells can be chosen freely, but some skills will require pre-conditions depending on the character. Spells and moves can be customized through a tree-based system.

WP: How about multi-class characters? Titan Quest featured this particular ability, with varying degrees of success in its implementation. Does Ascaron plan on exploring this area?

HAW: We believe in strong characters with history and motivations. We do not want to have a "no-name" hero that is capable of being every kind of fighter. Our characters have three different aspects each that represents a playing style. The player can concentrate on one aspect or combine different aspects. So in fact, all characters are multi-class characters.

WP: Finally, do you have any parting words for fans of your newly-realized Ancaria? We’ve been waiting for a long time, what can you tell us that might not have been covered in this Q&A so far?

HAW: We have made an authentic world for an intense game experience. Prepare yourself for a large landscape of emotions.

Thank you again for your patience and time…

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