If you’re a fan of Isometric, party-based, real-time with pause RPG games then you’re in luck.
GrapeOcean Technologies is bringing a title including these exact things to PC, Mac & Linux on GOG and Steam.
We recently had the opportunity to snatch up and interview with this amazing company, and here’s how it went.
Hey guys! Thanks so much for sitting down with us for an interview, you have a really fantastic looking game and we’re looking forward to playing it in the future, also congratulations on meeting your goal already, with 13 days still remaining! That’s FANTASTIC!
N: So starting with the opening question, how did Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness come into formation?
GT: The idea for Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness has been one that I’ve had for a long time. Having played Baldur’s Gate years ago, I wanted to make a game that could stand up to its legacy. In 2014 I decided to move away from the world of business software and open GrapeOcean Technology to pursue my goal of making great games.
When our studio first started out, we had people from very diverse development backgrounds. It was a little difficult getting used to game development when compared to other kinds of software, but after we added some experienced game developers to the team things started to come together for us. It’s actually a boon to have people from varied backgrounds working for GrapeOcean; our experience with a variety of software development means that we’ve been able to integrate the benefits of several different styles into a cohesive whole.
N: Kickstarter is a great way to really harness the community when you’re creating a game, especially when you do meet those pledge goals. Do you think this option has been more challenging then going with a publisher or in a sense does that freedom outweigh any challenges there may have been?
GT: There are definitely challenges associated with making a game with only funding from private investors and the community. But like you said, there’s freedom in development that comes with not having a publisher call the shots. We’re creating a game that is meant to appeal to fans of the old CRPGs and we wanted to have as much control over the creative direction as possible to make sure that happens. And Kickstarter has given us even more of an advantage- community involvement is helping us to better understand what CRPG fans want from the game, and that will show in the finished game. Feedback is incredibly valuable to us.
N: One of the many things I noticed about the game that was a really interesting implemented feature is how you’ve worked the concept of greed into the title. Like it isn’t just something that’s part of the story, it makes changes in the world on the NPC’s and effects the players journey. It kind of reminds me of Fable and how your choices either propel you down this path of goodness or end up making you look like an evil demon because you’ve walked down the dark path; but at the same time I love how you guys have taken this a level further, separating greed from evil. How did you come up with this concept? I love a game where your choices have repercussions and almost a butterfly effect on all other elements as well. Genius.
GT: I’m glad you like it. Greed is a very central element to Black Geyser. We really wanted to make our world dynamic, with choices that feel like they’re having an effect on everything around you. Lots of games use the good/evil spectrum (and it will exist in our game, too) but greed/generosity is something that nobody else has done. This was kind of the central idea when I first thought up the concept for the game: How would the human greed, inherent to our society, change the world if it had the curse of a dark goddess to back it up? I don’t want to get too philisophical about it, but it should give players a chance to explore (or reject) one of the human attributes that’s normally something we try not to think too much about. And it’s central enough to the story that players will get a lot of chances to decide what certain greedy or generous choices mean to them.
N: What were some of the main goals you had for this game when starting out? Were there features you knew you already wanted to include in the game, a specific type of combat style, etc?
GT: As I mentioned before, I have a lot of love for oldschool RPGs like Baldur’s Gate. I really wanted to make a game that fans of the CRPG genre would recognize as being in the same vein as those classics, so a lot of the creative focus behind the game has been about making an entirely unique game world, yet one that feels intuitively like the aspects that made those old RPGs so great. Doing that is a pretty large undertaking, because there are a lot of balls you have to keep in the air. The story has to be engaging, the world has to be intriguing, combat has to feel impactful and satisfying. We’ve put a lot of work into our tailored Unity engine to make all the pieces fit together as part of a cohesive whole.
N: One of the preview videos I was watching included branching dialogue, how much does this (much like the greed aspect) play into the gamers journey and shape what type of experience they are going to have?
GT: It’s absolutely central to the experience. While there are definitely choices that players are going to be able to make outside of dialogue that will have an effect (with combat, for instance, or with leaving behind items for scavengers after combat to help reduce the curse of greed) the branching dialogue is going to be where many of the players’ decisions will take place. Do I want to help this NPC? Should I ask for a greater reward for a quest, even though that will worsen the curse? The way that players choose to interact with other characters (both in the party and in the world at large) will be a big driver of our interactive storytelling, and will have notable effect on the world around them.
N: What would you say are your biggest inspirations behind Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness?
GT: I think I’ve mentioned Baldur’s Gate a couple times already. Icewind Dale is another notable example, as well as games that came a lot later. Recently there’s been kind of a renaissance of isometric CRPGs, and while I wouldn’t we took much creative inspiration from those, we were definitely inspired by the successes of studios like Obsidian and Larian in producing very high quality games and in bringing back the classic style of the genre. It seems like players are really embracing the return to RPG roots, both new players and old fans. There are even more great RPGs coming out in the next couple of years, and just like everyone else we’re really looking forward to playing them!
N: What aspect of the game has the team been most passionate about creating in regards to maybe, programming, graphics and animations, etc?
GT: This would really depend on which member of the team you ask. I’d say I’m most passionate about world-building and story. Things like graphics are important, yes, but we remember classic Infinity Engine RPGs as being great games… and let’s be honest, the graphics in those games can seem a bit dated when you look at what can be done with modern technology. We have talented artists to make Black Geyser look great, skilled programmers to sure the combat and other systems are interesting and work well and an amazing composer for our music and sound effects. But ultimately I think that all of those elements are in service of enhancing the story and creating an immersive world. I want players to step into Isilmerald and never forget the experience.
N: If you could have players take away one thing from their experience in Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness what would it be?
GT: Just one thing? I hope players enjoy all the things. Joking aside, I want players to come away from our game remembering that games are supposed to be about fun. RPGs in particular are about immersing yourself in another world where you are an important part of the story. There have been a lot of valid complaints from the gaming community in recent years about the corporatization of games and mass-production of uninteresting experiences and monetization elements that tend to feel like cash grabs (I’m looking at you, loot-boxes). I’m sure there are players out there who like loot boxes, but I don’t think that’s what RPG enthusiasts are looking for. With Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness, I want to capture that feeling where you glance at your clock, and then you don’t look up again until three hours have passed and you didn’t even realize it because you were so lost in the experience. I want players to find themselves thinking about the game when they’re not playing it because they want to dive back in as soon as they can. That was what made the classic games so special, and it’s why people still go back and play them so many years later. I want Black Geyser to be a game that players remember, and the kind of game they can go back to years later and still enjoy.
For anyone wishing to check out this title, it is currently up on Kickstarter featuring video footage, images and a TON of information on what you can expect from this game.