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19.05.2011 14:00 [Interviews (english)] GamersGlobal: Interview with Björn Pankratz
GG: Björn, I myself sometimes still say "GameStar" when I mean "GamersGlobal". Is it similar for you and "Gothic" or do you really manage to flawlessly say "Risen" all the time?

BP: It's difficult sometimes, I have to admit it. Especially when there's a number behind it. I have said that so many times over the years, it's hard to get it out of your head. But we started something new and it was good after all those years to clean out the dust and not having to continue an existing story all the time.

GG: Risen 1 was not as big as Gothic 3 but similar to Gothic. I get the impression that you are really choosing a new path with Risen 2.

BP: For us, the mission of Risen 1 was to show the world that we can make a solid game. A foundation to work on. It's not that easy to create a complete new universe. Therefore, the setting of Risen 1 was a bit smaller. But with Risen 2, we can go for it!

GG: And now you have pirates and the Caribbean as primary element. Is it just a coincidence that "Pirates of the Caribbean 4" is coming to the movie theatres?

BP: Pure coincidence. We have been using pirates for quite some time now and wanted a faction that was similar to the ones we had before but also new. We had pirates in an add-on but we could not tell a real pirate story so far. We always stayed with classical fantasy. And we wanted to get away from the rather inflexible setting we always had.

GG: You mean the separation in three or four chapters with a fixed progression at every new chapter?

BP: We were attested "solid but plain cooking" for Risen 1. And many gamers had the feeling to have seen all of it somewhere before. This time, we want to tell a non-linear story which is still bound by chapters. Because you cannot tell a great story if you don't have at least a few bottlenecks in it where you know exactly where the player is and what he has already done until now. Gothic 3 had a huge world that was open from the start. You could talk to every character from the beginning. We don't want to leave the player that much without guidance. We want the best of both worlds for Risen 2.

GG: There are those pirate games from 1C Seawolf, the newest is named "Captain Blood". They focus on ship-to-ship combat but you can also do some quests on land. Will you go in that direction with Risen 2? Will there be naval battles?

BP: We don't want to reveal that just now. But we from Piranha Bytes know our strengths, which are roleplaying, a lot of factions, a realistic presentation of the world. Each point that you see is a place where you can actually go. There will be villages and camps. In short: We won't go too far from what we know how to do it. The games you mentioned are very empty on land. But we want a living world, as we had it every time before. We do not want to make a naval warfare simulation.

GG: The world of Risen 2 will definitely be divided into islands on which separate factions are living. Don't you think it's risky to fully go with the pirate theme? Not everyone might like that.

BP: Our Gothic 2 add-on "Night of the Raven", where we also had pirates, is still highly appreciated by our fans. In Risen 2, the pirates will be about the same way as they were portrayed there. But of course much more detailed. But the game will be about more than just pirates. If you like Piranha Bytes games, you surely will not be disappointed.

GG: The factions in your previous games were always made from the same recipe. There was the "force of order" and there were the "rebels" or "swamp dwellers". And there was a magical or clerical faction. Is that the blueprint for Risen 2, too?

BP: We will take a few freedoms with that basic system, this time. There will be factions that you can join. But I cannot explain that in two sentences. The story will definitely be in the foreground.

GG: You don't plan on "nerfing" Risen 2 compared to your previous games?

BP: No.

GG: Gothic 3 was huge but a bit empty at times. Risen 1 was much smaller but well filled. In what direction will you go with Risen 2 regarding the world size? More Gothic 3 or more Gothic 2?

BP: Somewhere in between. It will be a big world but each island, each region to which you can travel will have its own story. It won't be a huge brick of land where you have to cross the "plane of boredom" before you finally meet someone. Everything will be built by hand and we will guide the player through the world in a reasonable way. We want to offer a balanced mixture of talking, exploring, questing, fighting and so on.

GG: That means you won't be able to go everywhere from start?

BP: We first present the concepts to the player. He can't go everywhere at first. It starts very linear but it won't be long before you can travel freely on one island. Other islands will follow later on. The explorable world grows as you progress in the story.

GG: In your opinion - what is the biggest change in Risen 2 compared to its predecessor?

BP: The characters! They are much more detailed, appear more often, have a better connection to the player. You just can do a lot more with them.

GG: But you will still be travelling alone most of the time? Instead of with a party?

BP: You'll play one character. But the least you can expect are short periods as in Risen 1 where you were accompanied by Patty for a while. We will reveal more about that shortly.

GG: In the games business, there are two diametrical trends: Action games are getting shorter and shorter, you can be happy if you get a solo campaign that lasts 8 hours. At the same time, roleplaying games like The Witcher 2 or Two Worlds 2 don't get that much shorter. But certain groups of players don't want to spend 50, 60 or 70 hours with a game. They are even frightened by that. What play time to you target with Risen 2?

BP: A part of the gamers wants to look in every corner of the world, turn over every blade of grass to find even the last hidden item. And we will definitely serve that fraction. Those "explorers" will spend a long, long time in Risen 2. The ones who want to go through rather quickly can do that. But it won't be that easy. Risen 2 won't neither be short nor exorbitantly long. It will definitely be bigger and longer than Risen 1.

GG: The console port of Risen 1 was not exactly a masterpiece. It was more difficult and looked uglier. Will that change or do you say: "Lead platform is the PC, the rest is to be done by someone else."

BP: The console port of Risen 1 was started after the PC version. This time, we develop in parallel. I expect a huge increase in quality. For example, we took care from the beginning that we will have good mouse-keyboard controls on the PC as well as good gamepad controls on the console. We also want to do tests to see if we need to adjust the difficulty level depending on the platform.

GG: Console always means "achievements" and more and more "DLC". Do you want to sell your fans only "half the game" and charge them for the rest, too?

BP: No one needs to be afraid about the amount of content.

GG: Technologically, the consoles have reached a limit concerning further enhancements. Is that a chance for the PC to return as the main gaming platform in the next years?

BP: The performances of PCs stagnates but the shrinking of the PC as gaming platform also stagnates. Hence, I believe that the PC market will remain in about its current size in the next years. There are people who want to play a game 50, 60 hours comfortably in their living room or at the PC, on a big screen, and then put it on the shelf. These people will always exist.

GG: But the big money seems to be made with browser games. With "Free To Play", not everyone pays and many just pay small amounts. But the huge amount of players and the relative simple development make strong arguments for F2P titles. Compared to the labour to create a "real" game over many years, why should you be designing a "Gothic 6" in five years when it is so much easier to make a browser game and earn money with that. You know, drive a Porsche and all that!

BP: Because those games with Free2Play concepts don't need game designers. Actually, such games mostly need a sales manager. We at Piranha Bytes want to tell stories. We want to offer gamers a full-length entertainment program. And even if we do go with the time and now also have things like achievements, we won't forget our strengths and move to completely different terrain. We are quite comfortable where we are right now. Even if we don't drive a Porsche.

This interview was conducted by Jörg Langer for GamersGlobal and translated by foobar for the World of Risen.

Original interview: http://www.gamersglobal.de/interview/risen-2-wird-sehr-viel-groesser

  written by foobar