You might already know that the developer behind Tropico series, Haemimont Games is working on an Isometric Action RPG and they are calling it “Victor Vran”. Some of you might even have joined the early access of the game.
However, some of you might still be waiting to know more about the game before entering the world of Victor Vran. We, like you were curious too so we decided to ask Haemimont some questions about their upcoming title.
Mr. Bisser Dyankov (Producer at Haemimont Games) was kind enough to reply to our queries in detail. There is a lot of information in there which might change your views about the game so start reading!
First of all, how about a little introduction, a brief description of your dev team, and the inspiration from which Victor Vran came into being.
Haemimont Games is a small independent studio based in Sofia, Bulgaria. The studio has its roots back in 1997. Our first game, Tzar, was an RTS released in 2000. Our most renowned titles are the recent Tropico sims (Tropico 3, 4 and 5). So far we have complete in-house development, where everything – from the character concepts, through the in-house engine and tools, to the final game testing – is done inside the studio. This allows for amazingly fast reaction times and flexibility.
Over the years we have established our own theories about making games, what makes a game good or bad, successful or not. And while all our titles reflect our understandings, we wanted to have a complete say over a project, and to test our theories unconstrained. This is how Victor Vran came into being and we are very proud with what Victor Vran is becoming as a game.
As for the choice of the genre and setting, we wanted to try something new, compared to our previous titles. Action-RPGs have a lot of popularity inside our studio and we simply love the gothic fairy-tale feel.
This is how Victor Vran, action-RPG game, was born.
You lot have been very secretive about the story of the game. The plot, and the mysterious, Van Helsing inspired protagonist are quite vague at the moment. How about telling us a few things regarding the setting of the game beyond what is available in the Early Access? What kind of environment are we likely to witness in the final version? Is it diverse like in most action-RPGs? Or will it follow a strict Victorian style and art design throughout?
On the previous day of completing this interview we are releasing an update to Victor Vran Early Access, which introduces the complete story to the game. No more secrets out there! And even though certain elements are still missing (like cut-scenes and voices), the complete texts are already in the game, accessible to all players. We delayed the story up to this moment because we wanted to give it to the players when it is ready and to allow them to experience it completely.
So the tale of the curse that has befallen the city of Zagoravia, the fight against the demons and Victor’s own past are out there for everyone to explore.
As a spoiler, it will ponder the questions of power, immortality, desire and its hidden costs for a mere mortal, be it a demon hunter or a queen.
We know that the game currently is available on Steam via early access, Does choosing Steam mean we’ll see some Steamworks based elements within the final release? If so, how deeply tied is the game to its statistical data?
We are happy to work with Steam tools and have used features such as Achievements for several titles, including Victor Vran. We will be introducing Steam Trading Cards as well, and Victor Vran already has implemented controller support. We do not plan to include micro transactions in Victor Vran, we are sticking to the pay-once-own-forever model.
Also, using the Steam Early Access platform allowed us to communicate directly with the players who gave very positive feedback for the game, and also suggested critical improvements for making the game better, like the mouse-move control system.
Victor Vran is said to be an action-RPG, but its gameplay mechanics allow for a more tactical approach. If so, how important is it to get the formula right for players playing the game? There have been suggestions of ‘game balance’ issues in the Early Access, but is that tide to players not applying proper tactics? How important is the cohesion of weapons, outfits, powers, and Destiny Cards as far as tactical fidelity is concerned?
Thank you for that wonderful question! We are indeed very delighted with the current state of the combat system, which is not only stat-based, but has heavy emphasis on the tactical/action approach. There is definitely a great variation between the choice of combat style vs. specific enemy.
We believe that since the player is free to explore the possible combinations, he will find the one that he enjoys the most, will master it and later on experiment with another combination, which will be more effective against other enemies. As the game progresses, the player will need to improve his “build” but there is not a “correct” one – and even if a combination works perfectly tight now, it might very well not work just around the corner – since our enemies are not just stat packs, but have widely different behavior.
It is in the combination of weapon skills, powers, consumables, outfits and exploring different combos where the heart of Victor Vran lies.
Let’s talk about co-op. What unique features will we see to the game’s co-op? Is there any integrated system of auctioning loot, or a formal technique of trading? We’re also interested in how balanced will be instilled during co-op. Will it just be more enemies with larger health-pools, or is there an extra special-something in there as well?
Currently we use a scaling system which will ensure that monsters stay challenging for a band of demon hunters. Our experience shows it works really well.
Hexes are a fun little feature to try while playing coop. They increase difficulty to the point where everyone dies in less than a minute (and laugh as they do so). We are currently not planning on implementing a trading system.
Isometric Action-RPGs usually tend to give you multiple heroes to play with, but Victor Vran is the only playable character in the game. Don’t you think that limits the diversity of the characters, and the re-playability of the game? What measures are you guys taking to make sure that doesn’t happen in the final version?
Early on we decided to create a classless system where you don’t need to start over to experiment with a new build or play style. You may need to acquire the outfit, weapons, destiny cards and demon powers for your new build but you do so by continuing to play the game without losing your progress. No more restarts!
We also wanted to tell the story of the demon hunter Victor Vran. What you can see in the game now is just one of his many adventures. He did a lot before he got to Zagoravia and there is so much more in store for him after this episode of his life. There is so much to tell – how the demons started coming to our world; how the first vampires (who are not demons) came to be; what held Victor so he did not get to Zagoravia a year earlier and much more.
These two combined – a classless system and a story part of a huge universe led us to make the game only about Victor Vran. This is not a limitation – you still have a lot of variety in terms of builds and looks.
I’m really interested in information about the leveling and progression system of the game. It’s character development that is usually the most exciting part of an action-RPG. Will Victor Vran follow a similar system to other renowned ARPGS, or is there a unique progression mechanic planned for the retail version that further allows one to diversify the applicability of the player character?
Our character development focuses on making informed choices as you learn the ropes of the game. You don’t need to choose a class and then stick to it without knowing how it will play. You don’t need to review hundreds of development options before you can make an informed choice about the first step of your character development. We offer players simple and immediate choices which get richer as they play the game and which they can always revisit later.
Victor Vran is not yet finished and we plan to make significant improvements to the character development, so stay tuned for more …
A-RPGS are renowned to be addictive, re-playable, and highly rewarding. What efforts are being made to encourage re-playability of the game? Do you guys have a specific model that encourages a reward-based system and incrementally increasing difficulty?
End game content is planned but we want to reveal our plans step by step. Let’s first see how the Early Access community will react to the story. As an example, there will be completely new challenges available to the player once he finishes the game.
Let’s talk about the game story itself. You guys probably won’t tell us much about the plot, but on average, what is the projected length of the game? Is the game split into multiple ‘Acts’? On a player’s first sitting, how long would it take to complete all the ‘stages’ or ‘Acts’?
As Victor Vran is getting closer to release, and the story is already incorporated in the latest update of the game, we have a pretty good assumption of the overall duration of game experience. We assume that players focusing solely on the story will be able to experience the whole plot in about 15-20 hours, while if they decide to conquer all side content, that would take them somewhere about 40 hours. These figures do not include any endgame content.
Last but not least, do you think the game will be finalized and available as a finished product by this summer time? How do you guys plan to tackle the challenging issue of possible server problems for co-op within the first few weeks?
The game will be completed this summer, there is no way around it. We are confident we will meet the deadline for release. As of our server capabilities, our technology was tested and developed in our previous titles and has so we do not expected major challenges there. Of course, there might be surprises down the road, but we have substantial engineering experience and we know we can swiftly handle possible technical issues with our servers.