Dawn of Heroes is a tactical RPG from Wicked Studios and Majesco. You'll be able to check it out for yourself when it releases next month, but Majesco was kind enough to offer us a preview build, as long as a brief interview on the with Wicked Studios president (and executive producer on Dawn of Heroes) Yves Borderleau. While we're still hammering out our preview (look for it tomorrow!), have a look at our Q&A session after the break.
First of all, why the DS? With a game as ambitious as this -- 50 missions, multiple classes and factions to choose from, full tactical RPG experience -- why not go for a disc release? RPGs of this caliber usually require lots of hours to complete, so why put it on a portable platform?
From day one our vision for Dawn of Heroes was to be an "easy in, easy out" type of SRPG that people could play for only half an hour and leave the game with a feeling that they actually accomplished something. We felt this would be the perfect type of game for the traveling gamer either to enjoy at home and on the road as well. since SRPG tend to take a lot of hours to complete - it's always great to play the game you crave anytime and everywhere you go! The Stylus driven controls, the dual screens and the fact that you can take your console anywhere to play multiplayer games "live" with your friends also played a lot in our decision to put it on the DS.
The game has support for Wi-Fi multiplayer -- how important is multiplayer to the experience? Do you think grid-based combat lends itself to being a good multiplayer experience? Why?
Multiplayer is definitely important. From the day it was invented chess has proved to be an incredible gaming experience and it's the ancestor of almost every strategy games. With Dawn of Heroes we strove to bring back the fun and especially the challenge of playing a strategy game against a human opponent, yet without going away too far from the roots of SRPGs. The turn-based game play allows player to form up a plan and put it to execution as opposed to quickly trying to react to attacks in a real-time strategy game. We had a lot of inspiration from classic tabletop RPGs to achieve our vision. All in all, it is true that gamers can enjoy Dawn of Heroes for many, many hours without playing a single multiplayer match, but they would really pass by a different and very fun experience!
The game touts a stylus-exclusive control scheme for the game -- one I think works well. What other schemes did you test out? Was it clearly going to be a stylus-driven game from the outset?
We pretty much had our mind set on a stylus-only control scheme right from the start since we really wanted that "tabletop RPG" feeling. Our goal was to take advantage of the console's features, but also to provide a faster and more user-friendly experience. By using the stylus we greatly reduce the amount of commands the player has to input -- which makes the gameplay MUCH smoother. This way is also more intuitive than any controller setup we could have come up with using the buttons and the d-pad.
The game really has a light tone and some funny dialogue. Why take that approach in a genre which seems to be one of the most serious in gaming?
We wanted Dawn of Heroes to be different from the other SRPGs as we felt there was enough dramatic "world ending crisis" in the genre using the serious approach. We also wanted to reach for a younger audience without making it childish and lose the core strategy gamers. The results ended up giving a very fun experience for both adults and younger players, veteran or new to the genre.
Between its art style and emphasis on comedy, how accessible do you think it'll be to DS gamers, being a die-hard tactical RPG? It seems like the game is trying to appeal to a younger audience. Do you think they'll be receptive to the gameplay?
Diehard tactical fans will find challenge in Dawn of Heroes along with new rules to play with. Even though we modified some rules they are used to see, SRPG players won't be lost, but they won't find the game too easy either. We are sure that once they try a multiplayer game, they will keep wanting more and more as the game becomes addictive very rapidly! Regarding gameplay we had something very specific in mind: make it easy to learn, but hard to master. With 26 different heroes to chose from -- all of whom have their distinctive twist and skills -- there is plenty of variety for everyone.
Thanks for your time!