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Mount & blade Interview
RPGFan Exclusive Interview: Armagan Yavuz, Taleworlds Entertainment
by John McCarroll - 09/12/08

Several of RPGFan's staff members are big fans of independent developers. RPGFan had a chance to ask a few questions of Armagan Yavuz, a developer at Taleworlds Entertainment, developer of upcoming RPG Mount & Blade. What sets this independent developer apart from the pack is that Taleworlds Entertainment isn't based where most people would think an RPG would be developed; Taleworlds is based in Turkey. Check out what the developers had to say about their upcoming title below!

RPGFan: First off, give our readers a quick overview of what Mount & Blade is all about.

Armagan Yavuz: Mount & Blade is a single-player, medieval combat game for the PC. One thing to know about Mount & Blade is that it isn't a "typical" RPG; it's a blend of RPG, action and strategy genres, and it brings all of those elements together in a unique way. It is set in Calradia, a medieval world that is plagued by war. In developing the game we wanted to combine epic sword fighting action with an open and dynamic world which can be affected by the player's actions. To that end, game features a realistic, deep and intuitive combat system and free-form sandbox gameplay which enables players to go anywhere and do anything.

RPGFan: With that general overview, what single part of Mount & Blade do you think puts it above and beyond other RPGs on the market?

AY: One of the most significant differences is that most RPGs have more stat based combat, while Mount & Blade uses skill based combat, which we believe makes the whole experience more realistic. For example, you can only hit your opponent if you've managed to have your sword physically connect with his body. And even though the damage, of course, is determined by your stats and the weapon you're brandishing, it is also partially calculated by physics formulas: the energy, speed and impact angle of the weapon. If you are hitting someone while mounted on a fast-moving horse, the damage will be much greater since the speed of your horse is added to the momentum of your weapon's swing.

Another aspect of combat that is unique to Mount & Blade is the game's emphasis on horseback combat, which is overlooked by many RPGs. We've put together a fun horseback combat system which enables players to wield swords, lances, or even crossbows while riding.

RPGFan: Were there any games in particular that gave you inspiration for portions of Mount & Blade?

AY: Mount & Blade was inspired by games like The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall, Elite 2, old Koei Strategy games like Ghengis Khan, as well as historical fiction novels — especially those by Bernard Cornwell. But I think the strongest inspiration would be Sid Meier's Pirates!, specifically, the way how the game managed to turn into a new adventure each time you played it. I always loved not knowing what to expect from the game because it had an overwhelming sense of freedom and randomness. We've tried to capture that same feeling in Mount & Blade; we hope those who play Mount & Blade will want to play it over and over again with different characters and shape their own destiny and adventures in the world.

RPGFan: Is the game's story told mainly through cutscenes, like most console RPGs, or via questlines?

AY: While Mount & Blade does feature quests, the game does not have a linear storyline. It uses a dynamic and responsive game world in which your actions affect how events unfold. Our objective was to make players feel like they're shaping their own story — a story which is completely different every time they play a new game.

RPGFan: We've seen a lot of titles come from Eastern Europe in the past few years, including Two Worlds and the Witcher; do you see Eastern European countries becoming more prevalent in game development? In addition, most of these games we see from Eastern European developers are for the PC - is this because of the type of gamers in this part of the world?

AY: Those titles prove that there's definitely a lot of creative talent in Eastern Europe, and obviously, a lot of people there want to be involved in the games industry. I believe the PC Gaming market is strong in a lot of Eastern European countries, so there are several developers that have an interest in creating high quality PC games and tap into the popularity of PC gaming . The PC gaming industry is especially attractive for independent development houses like TaleWorlds, as it's both cheaper and easier to create games for PC (the console market typically demands that you be a registered developer and not everyone can develop console games).

RPGFan: Are there any plans for expansion packs or downloadable content?

AY: Let's say we are definitely thinking about it!

RPGFan: Your American publisher, Paradox, is most well known for its strategy games - how did your company come together with them in the publishing of an RPG?

AY: Mount & Blade has gameplay aspects that appeal to strategy fans as well as RPG and action fans, so it was natural for us to work with Paradox. We also enjoy playing the games they develop and publish, so we were delighted to work with them on this project.

RPGFan: With the game being available on GamersGate (Paradox's Digital Distribution service), do you see it selling more via boxed copies or digital distribution in America?

AY: I'm not too sure, but we're certainly excited about the fact that our American players will be able to take advantage of retail and digital distribution options to get their hands on Mount & Blade.

RPGFan would like to thank both Paradox Entertainment and Taleworlds Entertainment for this interview. Mount & Blade will see release a later this year.