The Interview: Tortured Hearts
Obsolete Gamer is always on the lookout for great upcoming games. We recently had a chance to look at the Tortured Hearts project. Here is information from their official press release.
Zoltan Gonda, and Csaba Foris, both well known for the legendary Commodore 64 RPG “Newcomer™,” have teamed up once again to bring PC gamers another RPG which brings back the story and gameplay that won’t let you sleep until dawn. Supported by Lenore Hoehl, the team has already produced the full story in a development environment, including a crafting system, character development sytem and many more. Currently the team is at the funding stage via Kickstarter to move the project further on with the graphics, music and sound effects, voice-overs, and combat system.
Tortured Hearts™: Or, How I Saved the Universe. Again. is an epicly epic, satirical RPG, dedicated to the proposition that most RPGs take themselves far too seriously. Since almost every imaginable plot scenario and character has already been used and overused to the point that cliches are unavoidable, Tortured Hearts™ instead revels in pointing out that the life of adventurers is one endless heroic cliche, some sort of existential trap created by the gods of RPG worlds.
Tortured Hearts™ is set in the unique custom world of Eupherea, where things are different. For example, the gnome race hasn’t yet been written out of the Big Picture. Celestial bureaucracy, which functions much like ordinary mortal bureaucracy, has a hidden hand in the affairs of things and especially in the lives of adventurers.
The PC is one of many seasoned and stereotypical adventurers seeking their fortune. But it bothers the PC to be a stereotype; he doesn’t want to be identified as another loot jerk. He’s jaded by the same old dungeons and fetching quests. Yet, wherever he turns, there are still the inevitable rats to kill, puzzles to solve, errands to run. He seeks thrills, but the thrill is gone. His own quest is to get a thrill out of life again.
Some quick facts about the game:
– About 100-150 hours of gameplay.
– 200 areas
– Over 500 NPCs / Over 100 quests
– Single player game, with 8 possible companions.
– Six playable races: human, elf, half-orc, halfling, dwarf, and gnome.
– Character skills and abilities can be developed freely. There are no predetermined classes with built-in limitations, only trends which you can follow or not. A similar system was used in Newcomer™, now perfected.
– Combat will be turn-based
– Highly replayable: Because many NPC interactions involve choices, there are many possible ways to get through the world.
– Graphics: 2D/3D style compareable to animated cartoons.
– A crafting system which will create saleable items and buffs.
– A variety of companions who contribute in an interactive way with the PC, the NPCs and each other
Obsolete Gamer reported Jorn Asche had a sit down with the team behind Tortured Hearts.
Please introduce yourselves a bit to our readers, not everyone might be familiar with the projects you’ve been in so far:
Zoltan Gonda – Lead designer and writer—has been making games since 1990. An early project was Newcomer(TM) for Commodore 64, which is still around. He worked for Digital Reality and Stormregion, game developers in Hungary, on several strategy games. He made two of the top community mods for NWN 1, Tortured Hearts I and Tortured Hearts II.
Lenore Hoehl – Writer and producer – Worked with Intension Games of Hungary and later with Zoltan Gonda to make several casual games. Lenore also worked with Zoltan Gonda on the NWN modules.
So there are lots of RPG’s out there. What are the main aspects of Tortured Hearts that makes it different from all the other games out there?
It is more intricate in its choices and plot progression. You cannot do all the quests in one play through, for instance. You will not be able to see all the responses of any one group of henchmen. There are multiple outcomes to quests as well as to the game as a whole. The art and the world are unusual and detailed.
Which setting did you choose for your game? Will it be more a fantasy setting or can we even expect elements of the real world in the game?
The game starts in a fantasy world of Eupherea and progresses to more fantastic locales. But the behavior of people individually and socially is understandable and like behavior everywhere; for instance greed, and stupidity, and hope are the same and expressed as they are in the real world.
The subtitle of the game is “Or how I saved the universe. Again.” Which role does the main character and his companions play in the game and are there several different endings of the game?
The protagonist and his companions are all very experienced and professional adventurers. They have “saved the Universe” any number of times because that’s what heroes do. Yes, there are several endings.
Does the world of Tortured Hearts “live”? Do people have a special time frame when they go to work, sleep or anything of that sort?
No, we tried that in the 1st NWN mod and it was too hard for all but the most dedicated hardcore player. However, the NPCs are walking around, talking and interacting with each other and objects, so areas look alive. Sometimes the NPCs will be “out” for the PC until a condition is set.
On the Kickstarter page a turn-based combat system has been announced. Can you give us some details? Will there be boss-fights as well?
Of course there will be boss fights. Initiative in fights depends mostly on stats with a small random factor. The party grouping can be controlled by the player and their inventory accessed during combat. There are personal traits called Tactical traits which are taken on creation, including the companions, and these are either offensive or defensive, so a different party group will have a different mix of these feat-like qualities and this will make combat a little different in every game. In combat, the player can let the companions fight through AI or control them individually.
What will the character system look like? Will it be depend upon experience points or will there be event trainers in the game who you’ll need to progress further?
Characters will have skills and abilities and one tactical trait. The skills and abilities are dependent on experience points, abilities costing more than skills. Crafting depends on skills. One craft, Junk Art, requires an NPC to complete.
Will there be also a possibility to automate the character development for all those who would like to focus more on the fights and the story of the game instead of character development?
It could be done, although it seems like it would crippling rather than helpful. We can do anything on popular demand though.
How many main quests can be solved and how many sidequests are in the game? How long will it take to complete the game?
There’s really only one main quest. There are more than 100 side quests, most of them optional. It will probably take a minimum of 30 hours to do the essential side quests that advance the plot, and over 100 hours to do as many as possible (some will be mutually exclusive, see #2)
How far has the game been already developed? What needs to be done next?
The story has been worked out. The areas have been laid out and the connections between them mapped and transitions planned. Simple convo cut scenes have been programmed. The conversations between the PC and NPCs, between NPCs, between companions have all been done and programmed. The quests have been written and programmed. Characters and items have been created. We are now working on the GUI. Next we will model the areas and import them to the game engine, then put in the placeable items and NPCs.
How much time did you invest in the project?
At least 6000 man hours over four years.
How can the costs for such a project be calculated?
By taking the jobs to be done times the cost of man hours to do them. This project will take more than 10 people working full time for at least eighteen months.
Can you give us a example of a similar project so we can relate the costs? I think many people might be curious first when they read at Kickstarter that you’d like to have $300,000.
Games are like movies, the cost can be very high for a studio. I don’t know how to answer that except to say that it’s often in the millions for a big game, and this might be underfunded at $300,000. On Kickstarter, you should also remember that all the money will come in a lump sum which in the US would be subject to between 25% – 30% tax if not offset by the end of the year; if it weren’t offset the total would be cut by that much, so collecting from Kickstarter at the end of your fiscal year could be a big, even ruinous, problem.
Also Kickstarter and Amazon take a 5% cut of the pledged amount, each, so there’s another $30,000 gone. Also, Kickstarter requires rewards, and pledgers like tangible rewards, this is a big cost to the developer too. Even if we only gave away digital rewards, like a game, at a low price, it would cut into our future market by giving the greatest fans, the ones most likely to buy it, a special low rate.
What will you do if you don’t get the money in the time between?
We are going to very thriftily use what money we have from other work to make a playable demo, which we think will convince people to support the project.
Which versions of the game will be available? Are there plans for a special edition with printed map etc. ?
At the moment we are only planning for a digital release, due to the cost of tangible boxes and maps. In a future Kickstarter we plan to have things like maps as digital rewards; unless we get overfunded, tangible maps and books would be a huge expense. We might sell them from our website.
Are there special races that can be played and can you tell us somehing about the way it changes the gameplay?
The races are very typical: human, elf, dwarf, gnome, halfling, half-orc. No half-elves. The different races start with different attribute stats as in D&D. After that they can develop by XP in whatever way the player desires.
You can few their website here.
Also check out their Facebook page.
Here is a link to their Kickstater page.