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Shadows of Reality

Shadows of Reality Interview with Stephen B. Adkins II & David Gallay
by Webber
Shadows or Reality is a 3D cyberpunk-style RPG that takes place in the year 2087, in a city called North Cal. The game has two modes of play, single play, or online play. The single player mode will be mission based, while the online version lets you decide your own path in an online game world. The game will feature the graphics punch of the Lithtech Engine by Monolith, which promises to help give Shadows some of the best most detailed looking game environments ever. Few details are available on either playing mode, but what is known, makes Shadow's one of the most exciting upcoming RPGs. Imagine emulating Richard Deckard in Blade Runner, or whatever vocation you choose, and travelling the dark slumy streets of a gigantic cyberpunk metropolis. This is the playing experience Shadows of Reality wants to deliver.

Last week I was allowed the great opportunity to interview some of the people behind Shadows, Stepehn B. Adkins II: Producer, and David Gallay: Lead Designer/Website Designer. They offered me some incredible information on this game, and if you're not excited after reading this interview, than you must be dead, hehe!

Q: What has influenced you to create Shadows of Reality? Is there any previous game, movie, book, etc., that we can look at as an influence?
David Gallay: My influences are pretty much seeing the way the world is going, how the power is being taken form the individual and going to the large mega-corporations. Combine that with an obvious serving of William Gibson for everything cyberpunk, a dash of Blade Runner for visual flair (along with some German expressionism to bring out the good shadows ), and lots of mediocre CRPG experiences to see what NOT to do.

Stephen Adkins: What influenced me was Gibson and Blade Runner, but also Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" and "Snowcrash." Also, the dream of being able to surf the net the way cyberspace is described by Gibson.

Q: This game is a role-playing game in the sense of assuming an identity in the game world, it is certainly not the traditional RPG. If the player takes a dangerous job, could the game play almost like an action game for them? If they became an assasin, could they face gun-battles, police chases, etc.?
David Gallay: Absolutely -- what I see as the main problem in most CRPG systems today is that all the characters, no matter what they look like or are supposed to be, end up the same. They all walk around the screen and wack monsters on the head until they are really good at it, and then wack other players on the head.

And it's not player-killing thats the problem, but the total lack of very different choices in the way to run your character. At the bare minimum in Shadows of Reality, you can either play around in the Grid, or you can run around the real world most of the time -- that already provides two major unique choices. If you want to be an assassin, a hired gun, and kill the enemies of your corporation, you can make it an action game with security and other players chasing after you. Or you can work for BlackStaff Security and defend the other corporations. Or you can simply play a simple netrunner. Or a doctor. The point of the game is not to get a high kill count -- for the most part, killing other players won't give you all their money or lots of XP or anything like that. It's more likely to make the world a little more dangerous for you, and some players will obviously enjoy that :)

Stephen Adkins: That definitely sums it up. We want to give you the ability to choose a path and for your choice to mean something to you, your character and to influence the game world in general.

Q: How many people will be able to play Shadows of Reality at the same time?
Stephen Adkins: That one will be coming clearer as we move on. Currently the max is unknown. We are shooting for as many as we can.

Q: Have you found a way to avoid most of the lag problems that plague a game like Ultima Online?
Stephen Adkins: Again, it's too early to tell. Since it will be a while before this game comes out, we should see some significant upgrades to everyones pipe to the net that will settle some of the bandwidth/lag issues.

Q: Shadows of Reality will have a Single-Player Option, but it seems like anyone playing this version would be missing the real game?
David Gallay: The single-player option will be more of an introductory adventure. Kind of a prologue to the online version of the game. I personally feel that single-player is still important, because we can develop this really killer RPG engine, why should only the people with modems and net connections be able to enjoy it? Of course you miss all of the dynamic changes and new people going on in the online world, but games like Fallout and Final Fantasy VII seemed to do OK without a net connection :) If the single player portion proves popular, we can always devote a team to making modules for it, or independant groups could make mission packs or other mods.

Q: Shadows of Reality is, in my mind, a more ambitious RPG than Ultima Online, or anything else I've looked at to date. You guys are attempting to take an Online Game World further than any other game has attempted. With less Rules, less Order, I love it! I'm almost detecting that you view this game, in the same way you view the "Grid" (Internet) within the game. It's like your not even totally sure what Shadows will evolve into?
David Gallay: Well I know what I HOPE SoR will evolve into -- an exciting online community that the entire gamer population has been waiting for. It combines the best of persistant worlds like UO, Quake ladder matches and old-style telnet MUDding. With some other internet technology we hope to apply and integrate into the game, I can definitely see it becoming a new kind of content provider and social gathering place. Imagine, an online ampitheatre where your favorite techno band is playing live via streaming video, while down the street a battle between corporate goons and some mercenaries is raging, and at the same time a netrunner safe in their apartment is slowly digging through corporate security systems on the Grid. All in the same world. That's my vision.

Stephen Adkins: We want it to be open ended so it can adapt as the demands of the players change. All of what David said and more.

Q: Players can choose to enter the game as whatever they want, as an entry-level player. Could a player evolve, after playing for a long time, and end up controlling one of the games huge corporations? Or forming his own huge corporation?
David Gallay: Thats the plan. Although NPC and AI systems will probably be necessary for a while, we would like to move to a 100% player controlled world (with official SoR sysops in the backstage ready to mix things up)

Q: How big will the game world in Shadows be?
David Gallay: It will be approximately the size of current San Francisco.

Q: What will the design of the cities be like?
David Gallay: Glass and steel sky-scrapers, mono-rails and brightly lit streets in Hi-Town. Crumbling brick and mortar buildings in Lo-Town, with "red-light" sections fileld with neon, bars, netrunner dives and other assorted nastiness. The Wastes will be just that, a blasted, contaminated wasteland where all the really bad stuff happens.

Q: Will Players of Shadows be able to make additions to the game world? For instance, designing a car that would be for sale in the game?
David Gallay: We would love to do this -- since we have to make sure the game is hacker proof, a direct programming language would probably be hard to do. Probably more along the lines of a player submission system. Instead of making a really cool weapon and forcing another player to run your TC or Mod in order to use it, you can submit it to the SoR team and if it's cool enough, get it patched right into the online world.

Q: I can't even imagine what a daunting task it is to design the NPCs for a game like this. You have to allow for so much. How will NPCs interact with players? What kind of AI will the NPCs have?
David Gallay: This is something we are still working out :)

Q: What type of 3D Acceleration will be supported? What will the system requirements be?
David Gallay: Since the LithTech engine will most likely be straight Direct3D, our game will support any card that supports Direct3D. However, due to the very modular nature of Monolith's engine, I wouldn't count out other API specific versions.

Stephen Adkins: We are definitely looking into an OpenGL renderer and maybe some other card specific ones. Not locked in stone yet.

Q: What can we look forward to at E3?
David Gallay: Our smiling faces?

Stephen Adkins: Since we are currently in the prototyping phase, we will be attending the CGDC and E3, but not showing what we have to everyone yet. :)

I'd like to thank David and Stephen very much for their time, and please keep checking LunarNET for more info on what promises to be a truly groundbreaking title.



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