War sweeps throughout the kingdom. Hoards of orcs invading the land from the North. In order to keep the royal army going the blacksmiths of the land strive constantly over their hot coals replenishing weapons and forging new ammunition. Those who break the law in these days are punished hard; they are sent to slavery in the mines, to delve deep into the earth and dig out ORE for the weapons. There are no guards here, there is no need: The entire mining area is surrounded by a magical barrier, this dome is a thousand metres in diameter and stretches over the prison reaching through the underground and meeting to a perfect sphere in the depths of the mines. The barrier can be passed from the outside with no effect whatsoever. No living being can pass through from the inside however, only lifeless objects.
This way the prisoners have the monthly opportunity to exchange the ore for food, medicine, even drugs and small luxuries, with the world outside.Within the prison there is a callous hierarchy, only the most powerful of prisoners are allowed to receive goods from the outside world and only they have the right to share it among the others. The strong take a huge amount for themselves and live in luxury, where the others are made to grind in the mines day after day for their miserable share.
The penal colony has two rival groups. On the one side: An old encampment, under the authority of the Ore Barons who control most of the exchange between the prison and the outside world, on the other side the smaller, new encampment, where the inhabitants are runaways from the other side who have opened their own mine and work desperately on a breakout plan.
Other than that, there is a somewhat remote temple, whose leaders rant and rave their prophecies of the end of the world. Together with the younger members, they constantly celebrate the few days they think they have left. The temple and the New Camp have joined together against the Old Camp and the power of each is more or less equal.
Every now and then there are some attacks and small hold ups between the two sides, for more extensive assaults neither of the two are powerful enough. Both sides however, keep constant watch over the other in case of some otherwise unknown weak point that would aid them in their fight against each other.
This twisted predicament is not your only problem, it is just one of them.
Powerful character system
Advanced facial animation
Complete effects system
Level of detail
Engine flexibility, extensibility, portability
It's important for us to give the player optical feedback. Meaning, when a player wants to advance his abilities there are no meaningless numbers merely increasing from 67 to 68 but the effect of the skills you have learnt are visible in your character."
For example, at the beginning of the game every character will chop about with his sword like a lumber jack would do with his axe; if he trains sword fighting with a master of the sword, you will actually see the improvements: His fighting moves will become quicker and more accurate. Alone the way he holds his weapon will not go unnoticed.
These "optical" improvements are for the whole range of skills included in GOTHIC. The two different classes of magic (which are absolutely independent from one another) work along the same lines.The untrained fireball from the normal magic class would just about manage to light a cigarette - for those among us who are not subject to this craving - a candle ;-) - with suitable training, however, you can cast "surface fire" with a mere wiggle of your fingers. In the psionic magic class you will soon see what happens if you try to control a monster, whose psychic abilities are far beyond yours...... BIG mistake!
For armour and weapons of every kind there is also the WYSIWYG - principal: - if you've had a spot of luck and happen to have found the "blood red axe of death", you'll naturally want to try it out. As soon as you equip a weapon, it can be found on the character's back and in his hand when fighting. Also clothing, armour and helmets are pictured exactly on every character, so that you know at a glance if it's a good idea to draw your sword against the steel-plate armoured veteran soldier when you're wearing a leather vest and a silk cap. Due to these visual effects we have decided to use the third person view for GOTHIC. The player has a constant eye on his character and knows at a glance which armour, weapons and skills he has, without having to rummage through all sorts of menu screens and numbers.
"Of course we are all role-playing-freaks at Piranha Bytes. That's why we believe everyone should be able to enjoy a game, not just the specialists among us: Oh, character generation. Hmm, should I choose 'herd sheep' or 'glumpf resistance level 1'? What is glumpf resistance? How the hell should I know!!
In GOTHIC you don't have to determine everything before you start. Get to know the world a little before you have to decide: "You want to learn sorcery, eh? No problem son, just bring this message to the Necromancer and come back with his answer. If, err, when you get back, I'll teach you what you want to know."
...Did anyone say it would be easy......?
We have taken great care to make the game control as easy as possible - you won't have to slog through thousands of menu screens, or have to keep a constant eye on a mass of character statistics. After all, it's much more fun to concentrate on the story and the world around you without being thrown off course by a few numbers.
Even though GOTHIC manages to survive without loads of menu screens and hundreds of character statistics, it will be no Action-RPG where RPG means that you get to open doors with golden keys instead of key-cards and kill orcs instead of super mutants.
[[Monster time !]]
"What really sucks in other games is the way the monsters behave. You turn the corner and you see a statue of a monster waiting to be triggered off either when he sees you or when you shoot at him. So, all day they do nothing more but stand around waiting for death, huh?
Wrong! Monsters have a right to a private life! They talk to each other, play games or simply sit around cleaning their toe nails. When you turn the corner in GOTHIC that is what you'll see: An orc sitting on the floor playing with his feet. He sees you, jumps up, roars at you, grabs his battleaxe (read: picks it up from the floor!) and goes for you!
And another thing I just can't stand anymore: Hidden keys. You reach a vast portal which you can only gape at because you don't have the "red key-card" and have to fight your way through a boring extra level where, at the end (surprise, surprise ) you find the key you need! In GOTHIC you can simply knock the door down if you want to go through it, of course the monsters will hear you, and may even be attracted by the noise you make.
In general the question isn't how to get through the door, but how to get past the monsters.
You are unable to swim through the underground stream, because of a dangerously hungry water beast lurking in the depths? No problem, kill a goblin - his favourite snack, and throw it into the water, the water beast is pre-occupied and you can get past him.
You're not the only one who can throw goblins either, the giant cave dwellers grab the goblins to throw them over obstacles or simply over your head to attack you from behind. The monsters in GOTHIC are all somehow linked to one another. Some hate the sight of each other, others work together. This way you can conquer some monsters by luring them into the hands of their enemy. A goblin, running to escape, will try to lure you into a trolls lair, to attack you anew with the troll at his side.
To be able to interact with monsters in that way, we have given them all certain fears and favourites but also individual perception. Some can be lured with food or noise, some will run away from bright light. Some can only hear or detect movement. Every Monster has his own strengths and weaknesses, which are there to find. Whoever dares to blunder into every fight chopping his way through monsters ten to the dozen, will soon find the tables turned - on himself !