Gameguru Mania got a chance to talk with Jan Beuck, the Lead Game Designer at Master Creating, as he talks about Legend - Hand of God, their upcoming action role-playing game. He also provided us some exclusive screenshots. The game is slated for release in summer 2007.
GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little
bit about what you do on Legend: Hand of God?
Jan Beuck: Hi, my name is Jan Beuck, and I am Lead
Game Designer at Master Creating, the developer of Legend.
GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team
working on Legend: Hand of God? Is this the same core team with which produced
Jan Beuck: Master Creating is located in Hamburg,
Germany and was founded in 2001 by me and our Technical Director Martin Jässing
- together we developed Restricted Area, our first full-price game.
For Legend, we have expanded a lot - after all, we are working with 10 times the
budget of Restricted Area. For one, we are working with a graphics studio in
Bulgaria, where 21 artists are currently working on the game's assets and
cinematics. We've also hired several freelance artists with experience in the
movie industry. This includes Paul Campion, Lead Texture Artist for the Lord of
the Rings trilogy and responsible for texturing the Balrog and the giant spider
Shelob. He brings a lot of valuable experience to the table and helped us in
developing an exceptionally realistic materials system.
In addition, Andreas Adamek has become our Art
Director: his 15-year career includes work as Art Director for Anno 1602 and
Concept Artist for Spellforce, as well as Matte Painter for Industrial Light and
Magic, as part of the team that worked on the movie version of Harry Potter and
the Order of the Phoenix.
GGMania: What kind of game is Legend: Hand of God? What were the main
objectives you wanted to achieve in regards to content and gameplay?
Jan Beuck: Legend is an action-RPG, but it has a
stronger RPG bent than comparable titles. State-of-the-Art 3D graphics (with
High Dynamic Range Lightning, Shader Model 3, Normal Mapping and dynamic soft
shadows), a fantastic physics engine (AGEIA PhysX, also used by Unreal Engine 3)
and a great storyline are some of its strong points. We especially wanted to
bring the genre forward in terms of the story. As far as storytelling goes,
Legend will be much more like a real RPG - non-linear, with multiple-choice
dialogues and a deep, thought-provoking storyline.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the storyline of the game?
Jan Beuck: We felt that the heart of every
role-playing game is the story. To compete internationally in this regard, we
worked on Legend's plot together with the American author Susan O'Connor. Susan
heads up the Game Writers Conference and has worked for all major publishers on
many AAA titles in the past.
A long time ago, the land of "Legend" was ravaged by demons. The legendary hero
Targon was able to fight them back, with the help of elves and dwarves. The
portal through which they came was sealed with a holy spell. To uphold the seal,
Targon assembled the "Order of the Holy Flame". All this happened a long time
ago. The seal is maintained by the holy flame which is guarded by the paladins
at the order's monastery.
Our hero was found abandoned at the gates of the monastery and is brought up by
the paladins as one of their own, even though only children of high birth were
admitted to the Order before then. The night before an adept becomes a
full-fledged member of the Order and a paladin, he must spend the whole night
praying alone, high up in the mountain chapel. Only when the first ray of light
falls through the chapel's window, can he make his way back on the long trail
down into the valley. But this night does not go as planned for our hero...
GGMania: How flexible is the character creation system? Will you be able
to choose different genders and appearances? What are the choices available to
you in terms of "class" and how it develops through the course of the game?
Jan Beuck: We decided to have one unique hero - a
human male - as the game's central character and make him an integral part of
the story, which makes the plot much more compelling.
In terms of character development, this means you don't choose between set
character classes at the beginning of the game, but you can develop him with a
great amount of freedom throughout the game. Many different paths are available:
you might want to go with a combat-oriented hero and develop a heavily-armored
warrior or maybe you would rather develop a magic user who wears light robes and
casts powerful spells. You can also play any type of hybrid between the two,
concentrate on various typed of weaponry and much more. Together with the
different magical disciplines, this makes for interesting combinations, e.g.
flaming swords, when you master fire magic and swordsmanship or frozen arrows,
when long-range weapons and ice magic are combined.
6) What can you tell us about the enemies in Legend: Hand of God? What sort of
foes will you battle? How intelligent are opponents, by the way? Will they
simply attack you on sight until you die, or will the smarter ones use tactics?
You claim the game will feature a 'cinematic combat system'. Could you describe
The unique quality of Legend's combat system comes from the spectacular
portrayal of the fights, paired with a simple and intuitive control scheme. In
other action RPGs, combat is generally very samey. The monsters - big or small -
are always fought in the same manner, which makes combat become boring quickly;
it becomes a mere comparison of stats instead of an exciting duel.
One of our biggest aims is to change that - with the help of the Cinematic
Combat System, which generates cinematic-quality combat that looks as though its
been choreographed, but is highly dynamic at the same time. It takes into
account the size of the enemy: you can simply clobber smaller enemies (e.g.
goblins) from above, who have to jump to even reach you and deal damage. But
this is reversed when you meet a larger-than-life monster - now you're the one
who has to leap, and blocking their powerful swings is out of the question -
you're only option is dodging. Some enemies are 3 times as big as the hero; some
are bigger than the whole screen! And this leads me to the second important
point: if an enemy has a shield, he actually uses it to block. If he has a
sword, he parries - with an axe he has to try and dodge. This way, the style of
combat changes dynamically according to the weapons used and the attributes and
skills chosen by the player.
Different enemies also have different AI behavior. Some are rather stupid (like
the undead), others react to your strengths and weaknesses (for example the type
of weapon you're carrying) and use group tactics.
GGMania: How will the quest system work, how much variety will there be in
terms of different types, and how will you keep them from becoming repetitive or
Jan Beuck: There will be a variety of types, even
quests that can be solved just through dialogue - which is very unusual for an
Action-RPG. But I think the most important point is that each quest tells an
interesting story that also gives you a deeper view into the world and the way
the different people and races see it.
GGMania: Are the levels randomly created each time you play? Will there be
any kinds of random elements in terms of monsters and items and such? And what
kind of replayability is there in the game?
Jan Beuck: We decided to have the dungeons in
Legend be randomly generated - but the outside world will be built completely by
hand. This way, Legend offers the best of both worlds: hand-designed, detailed
environments combined with variable, randomly-generated dungeons with
GGMania: What can you tell us about the graphic engine for the game?
Jan Beuck: We decided to develop the engine
ourselves from the ground up, as there were no engines available that were
designed for the needs of an action RPG. We invested a whole year into
developing an engine custom-fit for Legend that is able to set new standards in
At the same time, our "Master Engine" offers every important feature of current
and upcoming FPS highlights, such as high dynamic range lighting, vertex- and
pixelshader 3, normal and specular mapping and much more. Our unique shadow
technique allows for extremely fast dynamic soft shadows with self-shadowing and
percentage closer filtering, in a quality that hasn't yet been seen.
The cool thing about out dynamic lighting system is that, instead of a mouse
cursor, you control a small luminous fairy who serves as the light source in the
game world. Thanks to real-time dynamic lighting this makes for some really cool
shadow effects, especially in the dungeons. The anmiations are nothing to scoff
at each other, thanks to motion blending, B-spline und inverse kinematics, as
could be seen in the GC press demo.
GGMania: Will Legend: Hand of God feature a multi-player component? If so,
what are you looking at for multiplayer options? Are there plans for
cooperative, competitive, or other modes?
Jan Beuck: We decided to concentrate fully on
designing the best single-player action RPG possible, with a strong central
character and a great storyline. We didn't want to include multiplayer merely as
an afterthought, electing instead to focus all our resources onto a
GGMania: Diablo II is often acknowledged as the best in this genre - yet,
despite the seemingly simple design few followers have come close to its
success. Do you have a view on this and what do you think what makes an
Jan Beuck: First of all, I think this is right -
Diablo II is still the best game of its genre. And I say this although our last
game was an action-RPG, as well. ;-) Just like in a great recipe, there's not
one single magic feature that makes an action-RPG great - it's a mix of
ingredients. Diablo II mixed a lot and it mixed them right - great atmosphere
(good music, cinematics, art style and voiceovers), great gameplay (a good
interface and responsive controls), great depth (lots of useful and truly
different skills and items) and - last but not least - lots of great rewards:
you always have a reward just in your sights, you just have to play another 5
minutes to reach it...
However, Diablo II is 6 years old now. That's a long time and so Legend will up
the ante, including lots of features that go beyond what Diablo 2 had to offer:
State-of-the-Art 3D graphics, a fantastic physics engine and a great storyline.
Especially this last point is one long neglected by action-RPGs. In terms of
storytelling, Legend will be much more like a real RPG - non-linear, with
multiple-choice dialogues and a deep, thought-provoking storyline. Additionally,
we are implementing many innovative features, like the cinematic combat system
or our unique mouse cursor - to name just two of them.
GGMania: At the moment, what is the current status of the game's progress
and when do you expect the game to be released?
Jan Beuck: We're currently hard at work on
building the game world and implementing all assets, quests and features. The
game will be released next summer, so it's just under a year away now.
GGMania: As you've probably guessed, we're all itching to see the game in
action. Will there be a video or demo so we can see a bit of the action?
Jan Beuck: I'm sure we will release some video
footage of the gameplay in the near future, I can't promise an exact date
though. There will of course be a demo, closer to the release date, but when
exactly is still up in the air.
GGMania: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Finally, is
there anything else you wish to say about Legend: Hand of God?
Jan Beuck: I would like to thank everyone who took
the time to read this interview - I hope you're looking forward to Legend - Hand
of God as much as I am. If you have any more questions, you're invited to our