When you think about action RPGs in the style of Diablo 3, you probably don’t think of a Norse setting. Fortunately, Games Farm are bringing the magic of the Vikings to a video game near you! Vikings: Wolves of Midgard is an action RPG set in a fantastical world based on Viking history and Norse mythology.
We sat down with Jan Turan, Lead Producer at Games Farm to talk about what sets Vikings apart from the other action RPGs out there and what to expect from the game when it launches.
GameWatcher: Could you just introduce yourself for us, please?
Jan Turan: My name is Jan Turan, I am from Kosice, Slovakia. I am the lead programmer at Games Farm Studios.
GameWatcher: Please give us a brief overview of your new game.
Jan Turan: We are working on Vikings - Wolves of Midgard, an action RPG based on Norse mythology. Vikings has been in development for one and a half years, currently. Right now, we are aiming for launch next year, early next year… maybe even a little bit later, but I think early next year for all the major platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, even Steam OS/Linux and so on.
GameWatcher: What’s different about this game compared to other games in the genre?
Jan Turan: That’s one of the reasons why we decided on this Viking setting, it’s a new setting in the genre. Everybody is doing post-apocalyptic, fantasy or sci-fi. We started developing one and a half years ago and now everyone is doing Vikings, everybody is doing Norse mythology. We never expected the Vikings setting to become so mainstream. I think the popularity of the Viking genre is starting to increase because of that TV show.
GameWatcher: So, you are a trendsetter…
Jan Turan: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
GameWatcher: Aside from the setting, what else do you think differentiates Vikings from other action RPGs?
Jan Turan: We tried to create a basic action RPG game because there is already a clear system of how to play these games: how to control them, how to use the inventory and so on. If you deviate from this, you can really fail because the fans are expecting this kind of game. The fans are playing action RPGs all the time, they like them the way they are… but of course you need to have something new. We included an exposure system to Vikings which can force you to heal yourself or force you to warm up somewhere.
We’ve also included city/village building as a feature. You are gathering resources constantly during your quests in order to upgrade the main village - these upgrades include things like making buildings better. This feature is even built into the storyline. To travel further in the game, you need to upgrade your dock yards. You will then be able to build ships which will take you to the English shores.
GameWatcher: What difficulties have you come across during development?
Jan Turan: In the beginning, we decided to port everything we worked on previously to Unity. This is our first game using the Unity Engine, so this was one of the main tasks: to familiarise ourselves with the engine and learn how to work with it. Our biggest challenge was to get the game on the industry standard level. The level for these types of games is really high because of Blizzard. If Blizzard is doing something and you want to compete with them, you need to reach at least the same level of quality, and that’s really hard. I think we’ve succeeded with the controller scheme and everything like that, so we are satisfied.
GameWatcher: What games inspired and/or influenced Vikings?
Jan Turan: We checked out the competition which we had in this genre: Diablo 3, Van Helsing, even some of the online games like Path of Exile. We’ve also developed action RPG games like Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms and Kult: Heretic Kingdoms. These titles were also influential as we learnt from the mistakes of those previous titles.
GameWatcher: What mistakes were made on Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms and Kult: Heretic Kingdoms?
Jan Turan: One of the biggest mistakes is if you are aiming to release the game on several platforms, don’t start with the PC. The PC is way more powerful compared to consoles, and the control scheme is completely different. We developed this game on consoles then ported it to PC, unlike other developers who create their games on PC then port it to consoles. It all gets very messy like that.
It’s very cool to develop for consoles first because the game will be optimised for consoles, then you do the PC version which can be a little bit better because it has more powerful hardware. You don’t have the problem where you build a really beautiful PC game and it doesn’t run on consoles. You’ll spend a lot of time optimising everything and cutting content when developing on PC first.
GameWatcher: We noticed we couldn’t play the game using keyboard and mouse controls…
Jan Turan: Currently it’s not implemented but it will be added later.
GameWatcher: You built the game on consoles first but ported it to PC, however we noticed the PC version runs at 60FPS. Is 60FPS a PC feature only or is that the standard across all platforms?
Jan Turan: 60FPS will be PC only. For consoles, we are aiming for 30FPS at 1080p. Vikings will never run at 60FPS on consoles.
GameWatcher: Is Vikings primarily a single-player game or has it been built with co-op in mind from the beginning?
Jan Turan: Co-op was decided a bit later in development, that’s why it’s only co-op and only supports two players. This is all we could achieve given the amount of time we have. Multiplayer implementation in games takes a lot of time, not only creating it but testing it over and over again. Currently in co-op, you can join the game of your friends allowing you to play with them. You are basically joining a single-player session of someone else, but this person will first need to host their game first. You can’t play single-player and have someone jump in, you need to host the game first.
The multiplayer can take place locally and online. It’s using the Unity system of multiplayer creation, so it was quite fast to integrate. Basically, you jump into somebody’s game, you play with them, you can leave anytime and you can keep your inventory. What you gather throughout your game you are allowed to keep, but you have to follow the host’s rules. The host will control the game, they will talk to people, they will open gates and so on.
GameWatcher: Does that mean you play the game locally with someone next to you on a sofa?
Jan Turan: No, it’s not local co-op or hotseat, I meant Local Area Network.
It sounds as though Games Farm have quite a bit to implement before Vikings’ release early next year. We’re really interested to see how rebuilding Midgard will work and can’t wait to test out the co-op mode in the game. Vikings: Wolves of Midgard is set to launch around early 2017.