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A Chat With 'Solasta' 5E Video Game Developers

About six weeks ago, I mentioned an upcoming 5E-powered video game called Solasta: Crown of the Magister. Developers Tactical Adventures have been in touch, so I asked them a few quick questions about the upcoming game, wich will be coming to Kickstarter soon.

Combat_UI.jpg

What can you tell us about the world in which this game takes place?

We will be giving more information on the world fairly soon (we plan to introduce our lore during our Kickstarter). We cannot reveal too much, as we want discovering the world of Solasta to be part of the final experience. That being said, Solasta is a High Fantasy universe where players will find most of their favorite playable races, with one notable caveat: they may behave / interact differently than you think, as an ancient cataclysm forged Solasta to its current state.

You might also be interested to know that one of writer is Graeme Davis, one of the original author of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay back in 1986 - and that he won the Best Writing ENnies at Gen Con this year!

You mention some character types such as a Darkweaver Rogue and a Mountaineer Fighter. Which 5E classes and races can we expect to see in the game?

We would like to include the races and classes found in the System Reference Document of the OGL – though we may not be able to include all of them for our first game. Note however that the SRD only details one subrace per race and one archetype per class, so we will be adding more of those according to our own lore - hence the Darkweaver & Mountaineer. currently we have 4 races / Classes available on our Website: Human / Dwarf / Elf / Halfling, and Fighter / Cleric / Wizard / Rogue. More will be added through Kickstarter.

Orc_Camp.jpg

How much of the 5E ruleset made it into the game, and how much did you need to change for the new medium?

I actually wrote an article about that particular topic. Long story short I would say that we want to include as much as possible of the ruleset. Some successful games included 70%-80% of the rules, we want to try to go as high as 90-95%. Not because we are fanatics, but because these rules (such as flying and lighting) create interesting gameplay situations. We do not want to pretend to be smart and replace the rules with our own just because. We want to limit rules adaptation to when there is no other choice for the video game media. For example, when vision distance represents 20 monitor screens (longbows…), we have a problem and must adapt it so that the gameplay and visual feedback stays consistent.

Is this game a single-player game or just multiplayer?

We want to focus on building a solid single player campaign first. Multiplayer would be great, but we are a small independent team and we have to remain realistic.

Ruin_Entrance.jpg

Is the combat turn-based or real-time?

It is turn based, as in my opinion it is the sole way to properly adapt 5E rules. For example, main action, bonus action and reactions do not make sense if you have a real time with pause simulation. Exploration are real time though, with reactions pausing the game.

You mention the term "verticality" a few times when describing the game. Could you give us a couple of examples of what you mean by that?

Our Gameplay Director has written an article about this topic. In a nutshell, verticality encompasses a number of 5E features, ignored or poorly adapted in other games: climbing / jumping / flying, shoving enemies, using ropes or climbing kits, and much more. To enable all these cool features, we built a 3D simulation based on cubes where most games use a plane which is extruded vertically in some place.

Spider_Eggs_Group.jpg

This game uses the 5th Edition ruleset as its core; are you utilizing the Open Gaming Licence?

Yes absolutely. This is a great initiative, which allows all fans to develop or play 5e content. The content of the System Reference Document (SRD) is massive, as it contains 400 pages of character classes, race, monsters, spells, items, etc.

Could you speak a little on the challenges involved with transcribing the 5E rules to a video game environment?

When I started playing 5E on tabletop, apart from having a blast with my friends, I realized that this was the best edition so far to adapt on video game. It surprised me that no one managed to do it correctly, so I guess this was the inception for the creation of the new studio. As I started developing our prototype, everything seemed to make sense and was easily integrated. The only issue we had so far, and which required some adaptation, concerned the lighting and vision system. When playing a team of four adventurers, a video game applies some constraints in terms of art direction, feedbacks, etc. (We wrote an article about that particular issue here).

There have been very few video games which leverage rulesets like 3.x, 4E, 5E, and so on. Do you have any thoughts on why that is?

I would say it requires passion. There are many great game designers / developers, but sometimes reskinning your game with a license and fighting with the franchise to adapt it will disappoint everyone. I’ve been playing D&D for 30 years, I am not trying to reinvent it - we are doing our best to replicate the same experience, but in a video game.



Here's a quick gallery of some character art!

Dwarf_Cleric_Woman.png



Elf_Rogue_Male.png


Halfling_Mage.png


Human Fighter.png
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

Tsuga C

Explorer
I'm still waiting for another Neverwinter Nights for PC that allows people to create their own modules without needing thousands of dollars in development software. The toolset that came with BioWare's NWN had some limitations here and there, but overall it was a gem. BioWare's constant updating of the games (NWN original campaign, Shadows of Undrentide, Hordes of the Underdark) and toolset through patch 1.69 showed that at that time they truly cared about creating a high-quality cRPG experience for their dedicated D&D fan base.
 

Barantor

Explorer
I'm still waiting for another Neverwinter Nights for PC that allows people to create their own modules without needing thousands of dollars in development software. The toolset that came with BioWare's NWN had some limitations here and there, but overall it was a gem. BioWare's constant updating of the games (NWN original campaign, Shadows of Undrentide, Hordes of the Underdark) and toolset through patch 1.69 showed that at that time they truly cared about creating a high-quality cRPG experience for their dedicated D&D fan base.
NWN got a facelift and has been re released on steam, they are slowly adding better graphics to it as well.
 

ZeshinX

Explorer
Mmm. Based on the SRD and not the PHB has just massively reduced my interest. I don't begrudge them that, I'm sure it was a pragmatic choice. I'll keep my eyes on this, but only in passing.
 
Mmm. Based on the SRD and not the PHB has just massively reduced my interest. I don't begrudge them that, I'm sure it was a pragmatic choice. I'll keep my eyes on this, but only in passing.
I doubt they had any other choice, with Baldur's Gate 3 coming up WotC will probably not license the full 5e material to anyone else. Which is a shame since Solasta seems much more promising as a D&D CRPG from what we know of BG3 so far.
 

timbannock

Explorer
I doubt they had any other choice, with Baldur's Gate 3 coming up WotC will probably not license the full 5e material to anyone else. Which is a shame since Solasta seems much more promising as a D&D CRPG from what we know of BG3 so far.
Yeah, plus it gets room to have some things that aren't 30+ year old stuff we're all bored by at this point. If part of the gameplay is about discovering and exploring the larger world, having some different races, archetypes, backgrounds, and so on goes a long way toward making it feel different from say another Forgotten Realms-set CRPG.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
Honestly, stuff like "turn based is the only way to adapt 5e dnd" doesn't make me hopeful about this actually being a good game first, and anything else second. I don't care how "faithfully" adapted it is, I care about actually enjoying the experience of playing the damn game.

That said, the verticality talk is good. I'm not sure if it's as groundbreaking as their talk makes it sound like they think it is, but it's encouraging regardless. One small thing that makes DDO more fun than Neverwinter Online is being able to get better at jumping, swimming, tumbling, etc. My sniper rogue can jump very high, and the game lets that actually be useful. A game that takes that farther, by building the actual physicality of the digital space to accommodate it, should be really fun.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Count me as cautiously optimistic. Limiting to basic rules only because of licensing issues is in some ways a benefit, it limits the scope of expectations and the rules that they need to implement.

If they capture the spirit of D&D, I don't need the whole breadth of options available. It will be interesting to see how they handle leveling and rests though; what works in a P&P game doesn't always translate well to a video game.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Mmm. Based on the SRD and not the PHB has just massively reduced my interest. I don't begrudge them that, I'm sure it was a pragmatic choice. I'll keep my eyes on this, but only in passing.
I don't see why.

Now they can offer brand new designs as expansion material.
 

MrZeddaPiras

Explorer
I would love to see a faithful transposition of 5E. What makes or breaks a game like this is monsters AI. Let's hope they do a good job with that.
 

Norinrad

Villager
How much of the 5E ruleset made it into the game, and how much did you need to change for the new medium?

I actually wrote an article about that particular topic. Long story short I would say that we want to include as much as possible of the ruleset. Some successful games included 70%-80% of the rules, we want to try to go as high as 90-95%. Not because we are fanatics, but because these rules (such as flying and lighting) create interesting gameplay situations. We do not want to pretend to be smart and replace the rules with our own just because. We want to limit rules adaptation to when there is no other choice for the video game media. For example, when vision distance represents 20 monitor screens (longbows…), we have a problem and must adapt it so that the gameplay and visual feedback stays consistent.
It always represents a challenge that is never really that realistic in video games, the actual distance ranges for things like bows, crossbows and other range equipment.
When the longbows range would be several monitor screens and they’d have to scroll over, I don't think any game really tries to address that. They just shorten the ranges, might be interesting to see like enemy spotted detection range, and even if it's off screen play is paused and the game pans over to the enemy where you can take a shot with a longbow if it's in range, even if it's not in the monitor viewing area.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It always represents a challenge that is never really that realistic in video games, the actual distance ranges for things like bows, crossbows and other range equipment.
When the longbows range would be several monitor screens and they’d have to scroll over, I don't think any game really tries to address that. They just shorten the ranges, might be interesting to see like enemy spotted detection range, and even if it's off screen play is paused and the game pans over to the enemy where you can take a shot with a longbow if it's in range, even if it's not in the monitor viewing area.
It would be kind of awesome if you had a toggle to turn on realistic ranges.

Of course then you would need this setup:
monitors.jpg
 

MarkB

Adventurer
It always represents a challenge that is never really that realistic in video games, the actual distance ranges for things like bows, crossbows and other range equipment.
When the longbows range would be several monitor screens and they’d have to scroll over, I don't think any game really tries to address that. They just shorten the ranges, might be interesting to see like enemy spotted detection range, and even if it's off screen play is paused and the game pans over to the enemy where you can take a shot with a longbow if it's in range, even if it's not in the monitor viewing area.
There are ways to get at least a partial benefit out of it in games - for instance, in XCOM, the Sharpshooter's Squad Sight ability allows them to attack targets all the way across the map so long as another squad member has the target within visual range.
 

Tsuga C

Explorer
NWN got a facelift and has been re released on steam, they are slowly adding better graphics to it as well.
Thanks for the update as I didn't know that was happening. I am, however, only interested in additional functionality. I played all three campaigns at least four or five times apiece and who knows how many of the fan-created modules--some mediocre to fair, some quite good (A Dance With Rogues, Ravenloft)--I ran through multiple times with different alignments and classes of character.

I don't seek the same ol', same ol' with prettier graphics; rather, I want an enhanced toolset and more tile sets and placeables to created a wider variety of environments. Every city and every cave and every dungeon/castle shouldn't look so similar.
 

Barantor

Explorer
I don't seek the same ol', same ol' with prettier graphics; rather, I want an enhanced toolset and more tile sets and placeables to created a wider variety of environments. Every city and every cave and every dungeon/castle shouldn't look so similar.
For the roleplaying server I ran we turned to the very well done "Community Expansion Project" to add more variety back in the day. I remember how folks complained about it's multi gig download requirement, but it added over twice the amount of objects, placables and tiles. For us it wasn't about the single run adventures, but a living and breathing world that we continually added on to. It's a pity that NWN2 didn't do better, since it has a lot more options and the ability to map outdoor areas that didn't use tiles but height maps.

If someone was able to capture that sort of thing with modern graphics and modularity I think they would have a good seller, but for some reason that time seems behind us.
 

Tsuga C

Explorer
If someone was able to capture that sort of thing with modern graphics and modularity I think they would have a good seller, but for some reason that time seems behind us.
Attention, video game producers, coders, and designers:

Build it and we WILL buy it. There are multitudes of game-hungry D&D fans who are for one reason or another
unable to sit down for a pen 'n' paper campaign with four to six friends--time, age, distance, etc. We have cash in hand, so please build the next NWN.
 

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