Frequent readers will probably notice I seem to drift towards RPGs a lot. That is something I try to avoid but I am not always successful. I was impressed by the very ambitious Antharion by Orphic Software. They tried to combine The Elder Scrolls, Baldur’s Gate, and Ultima into an old-school experience. They wanted a huge, living world, a deep tactical turn-based battle system and the feel of old-school games. It looks like they succeeded. As well, we contacted them to find out even more about the game.
“I’m a huge RPG and CRPG fan who’s always been endlessly fascinated by the idea of creating worlds. Art, literature and cinema all try to do this but ultimately fail by amounting to little more than fleeting glimpses into other’s imaginations. Video games are the ultimate art form in terms of world creation because they allow for persistent immersive worlds. There’s nothing like being totally lost in a fantastical world for hours at a time. More than anything, this feeling is what inspired me to create Antharion.”
The game is party-based, so you get to create up to a party of four characters and get to customize everything about them, such as their race (your choices being Human, Orc, Necrophil, Lynx, and Elf), class, name, etc. You can choose a pre-made class or create your own by distributing stats. The character creation system is similar to The Elder Scrolls in that respect, as well as the fact that there are lots of skills like Mercantile, Lock Picking and Defence. There are attributes as well like Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, Intelligence, and Constitution. On level-up you distribute the stat points the usual way.
“Antharion was conceived of and started by myself just over a year ago. For the technical read, it’s coded in C and uses OpenGL. The dream was to create a massive open world with the look and feel of classic old-school RPGs like Pool of Radiance and the Ultima series. Instead of being a hindrance, our limited resources turned out to be a blessing by forcing us to concentrate on core gameplay. Antharion‘s gameplay is really unique. While at first glance it may look and feel like a traditional CRPG, the player will quickly notice that the game feels incredibly transparent and responsive and unlike anything they’ve ever played. Table-top players will especially appreciate this. Recently I expanded the team, bringing on board a full time creative/world designer and a full time pixel-artist. Since then, the project has completely taken off, shaping into something far beyond what I ever could have dreamed. Our team’s current focus is polishing core game-play, building out the world and creating more content.”
The story involves the murder of the much-loved King Mallory by his own son, named Zeverith. He is now king and rules like a dictator. The new king attempts to purge the Order, a group of secret wizards. When he has trouble, he decides to send his men from town to town to kill every last wizard. They happen to come to your town, where destruction is left. They take you underground to your execution, but you manage to escape…
The world is certainly massive and is yours to explore, with over 100 dungeons, over 20 cities, over 50 unique types of monsters… Everything is interactive. Orphic tried to make the game feel unique so that it isn’t just a carbon copy of Ultima or Oblivion and it shows. The NPCs have lives of their own and feel like they are real people. Get reported for a crime and you will have a bounty on your head and perhaps a prison sentence if you are caught. All monsters have unique behaviours and strategies to keep you on your toes. There is no level scaling and there is a full day and night scale with random weather as well.
“There’s combat, thievery, bartering, alchemy, reading, talking, buying and selling houses and possibly a few more yet to-be-mentioned things. But it’s not any one of these activities alone that makes Antharion‘s world so interesting. It’s how they’re used by the storyline to drive utterly fascinating open-ended style quests with multiple endings, each of which can tangibly affect your standing in the world.
NPCs behave intelligently. Try to steal from one and he’ll react differently depending on the unique circumstances along with his individual temperament. He may flee, attack or run to report you to the guards. The guards will alert other nearby guards, come after you and throw you in the nearest prison if you’re caught. There’s also alignment, which reflects the moral quality of the choices you’ve made in the game. No matter what you’re alignment is (evil or divine) some doors will open while others will close.
Antharion supports multiple play styles so that any RPG gamer should feel right at home.”
The combat sort of reminds me of Fallout with it’s use of action points, but of course, the combat here isn’t gun-heavy and does look different. It is quite sleek – hard to explain. Combat moves quickly, something I felt Fallout never had. The magic is quite extensive as well. At least 45 spells are spread across three schools of magic – Gray, White and Black.
The game is being made by a full-time two-man team and has been self-funded out of their own pockets. The recently hired a full-time artist and will soon need a composer as well. The need the money for the composer, to add more to the world and to port it over to iPad. They need your help. The creators also support Kicking It Forward: http://kickingitforward.org/ so some of their profits go to fund further Kickstarter games.
“Antharion is coming to PC, Mac and, if our Kickstarter is successful, iPad. There’s also the possibility of a Linux port should we exceed our Kickstarter goal.”
Kickstarter Page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/879484120/antharion
Official Site: http://orphicsoftware.com/
- David Braben turns to Kickstarter for a new version of Elite (buccaneersguild.com)
- The return of the old-school RPG (pwrcords.com)
- Another Cancelled Kickstarter – Old School RPG, uhr – I Mean SHAKER (tenkarstavern.com)
- Island Forge – MMORPG Meets RPG Maker (indiegraph.wordpress.com)
- Using Techology as Part of the Game from Big Ball of No Fun (bigballofnofun.blogspot.com)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nathan. He prefers his last name not to be known. He’s probably a high-class superspy, but we don’t mind. He is the editor of Indiegraph. He’s our point man for interviews, and occasionally he takes a blowtorch to a game to see whether it measures up to his standards.