not help you to
tell your story.«
Even though Risen 2 Dark Waters is still in alpha stage, the game is already playable and the voices of the NPCs are also already integrated. Work remains to done in the balancing, the animations are by far not all complete yet and the lip sync is still missing. Because the aspiration for Risen 2 Dark Waters is that the dialogues will be lip synchronous. While we only saw one animation during a talk with a NPC – the well know gesticulation with hands – the animation looked smoothly and naturally. Especially compared to previous Piranha Bytes games. Seeing this advancement makes your realise how far behind the animations and how stiff the movements of Risen 1 really were. Men and woman will finally have different skeletons and animations. So the women will definitely look and move more feminine. We can safely conclude that Risen 2 Dark Waters will make a huge leap in the animations. Another nice element is the reading of books that you find in the game world and that may contain hints to legendary items. Those items have properties which enhance certain aspects of your character. When you pick up a book, the camera moves around so that you can see your character from up front. Then he takes the book, opens it and recites what he reads with good intonation.
As in part 1, all landscapes are built from hand, every dungeon is unique. Nothing is built in a level generator and definitely no
recycling of always the same three dungeons over and over again. A new feature is the option to eavesdrop on characters. That can open up some new quests. »For example, two people could chat about someone who lost his pistol during a gamble«, Daniel elaborates. »With the hints from that conversation you will get different ways to get to that weapon.« Crafting as we know it will also be part of the game. You can forge your own weapons, complete with own animations, as in previous Piranha Bytes titles. The console version which is already officially announced will again be made by Wizarbox. But contrary to Risen 1, the french developers are working on the port of Risen 2 right from the start this time. With the first Risen, the decision to make a console version came very late and Wizarbox had little time and options to optimize the game for the Xbox360. That resulted in muddy textures, suddenly appearing items and a control interface that many people had problems with. Now the console is taken into consideration right from the beginning and there is a designated contact person at Piranha Bytes who is responsible for the communication with Wizarbox. »We learned some things from the development of Risen 1«, says Daniel. »We can say clearly: Please don’t do this and that and that, too.« And Björn adds: »Roman Keskenti is our programmer in charge of the parallel development between Wizarbox and us. Every one or two months we merge the different states of development together to check where we currently stand and make sure that everyone is on the same level.«
Björn reveals: »In Risen 1, we primarily packed the first two chapters full of content and quests. Then the game content dwindled and at the end, almost nothing remained besides the main quest. The game was very linear in the third and fourth chapter. In Risen 2 Dark Waters, we took care to make the game linear in the beginning and then the world will open up later in the game. The third chapter in Risen 2 is the largest one, the one in which the most work is waiting for you. Of course, there are parts where things will be linear because it would be impossible to maintain a narrative structure otherwise.« While Piranha Bytes in previous games just dropped the player off in a world to explore on his own, they now try to give the start of the story more structure.
Unfortunately, we also bear bad news: Modding support is no topic for either Deep Silver or Piranha Bytes. The problem, as they explain it, is that their tools are primarily developed for internal use only and do not function reliably in every environment. Contrary to the engine for the first Gothic which was developed by three students and licensed by Piranha Bytes, the developer had neither aspirations nor resources to release the tools required to edit the game data ever since Gothic 3. According to Piranha Bytes, such effort would be doomed to failure from the start because, for example, there is no documentation of the internal file format. The programmers who work with the engine sit in one room, they do not need a lot of documentation. The creators of the Zengine used for Gothic and Gothic II were interested in spreading their technology and had their own motivation to provide tools for end-users. This motivation is missing today. For Piranha Bytes, their engine is just a means to tell their story.Conclusion
Risen 2 Dark Waters is Piranha Bytes’ first attempt after Gothic 3 to leave the well-established paths and try something new and different. While Gothic 3 – after the rather story-dominated predecessors – faced a lot of critic by a part of the fans for its exploration-driven world (and probably the amount of bugs), Risen 2 Dark Waters is primarily just a change of scenery. Piranha Bytes turn their backs on classical medieval sword-and-magic fantasy and switch to colonial era pirates with all consequences (firearms instead of bows, cutlasses instead of swords, jackets instead of plate armour). How far the narrative structure has been changed and adapted to modern roleplaying games (emotions, drastic decisions and high class staging) and what impacts that might have on Risen 2, cannot be anticipated at this time. However, there are some interesting concepts and Piranha Bytes deserves praise to dare some innovation, even if a pirate setting might not meet everyone’s personal taste.
German original by Don-Esteban. Translation to English by foobar.