Cyanide not belongs to the gaming industry giants or to the studios, which producing only hits. However, their games are very worthy: cycling-fans annually trying new Pro Cycling Manager, Blood Bowl has won the hearts of many fans of both sport-arcades and thoughtful boardgames, and the recent Game of Thrones was good and atmospheric RPG, but with some defects, however. Now developers are working on another action-RPG: Of Orcs and Men. So, let’s talk about it.
Hello! Please introduce yourself.
TOM : Thomas Veauclin, Art Director at Cyanide & Producer on Of Orcs and Men.
Syl : Sylvain Sechi, Lead Designer at Cyanide & Producer on Of Orcs and Men.
How long ago did you start to develop Of Orcs and Men? And why you decided to create a game about orcs and goblins in the first place?
TOM : We started working on Of Orcs and Men 4 years ago. We started working on a prototype called Renaissance where we already found our two companions, an orc and a goblin, who abused these dear people. From the beginning, we wanted to play the anti-hero, we wanted to cross the mirror to put the player in the shoes of one who is usually the enemy. Also, personally, I love orcs! ;)
Syl : On very early concept we only had an orc, the goblin came quickly after, but originally it was only a sidekick. We liked him so much though, that he quickly became the second hero.
Is Of Orcs and Men a game in which the «Evil is Good» and we will play the role of bad guys, like in Dungeon Keeper, or Overlord. Or maybe you just decided to show the familiar theme of fantasy war from unusual point of view?
Syl: In OOAM you do not play bad guys, you play guys that are presented as the bad guys in 99% of fantasy universe that exist.
TOM: By playing an orc, the goal is not to say that humans are very bad and that nice little orcs have no other choice but to pull their head.
In our universe, humans are actually hard, but not all. And the orcs are not blameless either, their warlike and not diplomatic aspect does not always help to find a peaceful solution to problems. Of Orcs and Men is mature, non-Manichean, where no one is perfect.
Is the world Of Orcs and Men entirely your invention? Or are you working, for example, in a universe of some half-forgotten board game?
Syl: Low and dark fantasy, that was our intent for this new universe. We’re a bit fedup with high fantasy and fireballs. Our intention on OOAM was to create a universe and a world that will appeal to a grown up audience that knows fantasy very well and would welcome a new vision of what could be fantasy for adults.
TOM : Of Orcs and Men has been completely invented.
We wanted from a universe that seems easy to grasp for the player but by reinventing most of the codes. Before we start writing the script, we wrote the whole genesis of races in our universe, we really wanted low fantasy.
Does Of Orcs and Men have a linear story in which we can pay the role given to us, or it’s more of a sandbox-game? How much freedom will players have in their actions and decisions?
Syl: It’s more a linear game. It was important for us to tell a strong story and sandbox-game would not have been the wisest choice for that. Somehow we give the player lots of choices and most of them will have consequences on the main quest (even deciding to complete or not a secondary quest will have impact).
What was the source of inspiration for the team during development? What kind of games, movies, books or maybe comics?
TOM: As you might expect, our inspirations are many : StarWars, Battle Chasers, Hulk, Planescape Torment, KOTOR, Die Hard.
Syl: Yes, also Thief and Hitman, Game of Thrones obviously (since we love the books and created the RPG), but also Gladiators and Inglorious Bastards.
There are two main characters in the game. How will we manage them: one by one (say, like different quests -- different leading character), in accordance with the plot, or can we freely switch between the characters any time we want? Do you have a co-op mode in the game?
TOM : Both characters are played at the same time, they are always together, or almost. The player can pause the game at any time and can switch between each of his heroes when he wants.
Syl: No co-op. It was a choice not to do it because it would have meant a completely different game. Taking choices, making dialogues, all of that with someone else would have mean lots of changes. And we eventually realized that a roleplaying game is more of a solo experience and no one would wait that his friend is back online to continue his adventure, as we didn’t wanted to make a Fable-like co-op where anyone can join, kill a few monsters, but doesn’t have any impact on the story.
Tell us about the roleplaying system Of Orcs and Men. Which skills, attributes, abilities will be available to the player?
Syl: The player will be able to customize characteristics and skills of both Styx and Arkail since both of them have their own characters sheets with their own experiences and skill points. He will also be able to entirely customize weapons and different pieces of armors, and also improve them at certain craftsmen.
What about the combat system? Is it real-time or turn based? What kind of weapons can our heroes use? Will we have access to magic?
Syl: It’s real time, but you can slow the game to launch abilities at any time. Arkail mainly use one handed weapons (orc sized weapons :)) and Styx uses daggers, both for melee and ranged attacks.
How violent is your game? Can we expect the rivers of blood, dismemberment and other horrors of war?
Syl: The talks about the genocide of a specie so it’s obviously violent. That said we tried at all time to keep it realistic and only use it when necessary from a story point of view. We’re not fans of gore, but yes, when something is violent, you need to show it (note that things can get extremely violent without necessary shedding blood).
What is the approximate duration of the singleplayer campaign? Will there be side quests? Can side quests strongly increase the time spent at Of Orcs and Men?
Syl : I’d said you can complete the game within 15 hours if you only focus on the main quest. We have a number of secondary quests, between 5 and 10 hours more depending on the way you resolve them.
Was Of Orcs and Men originally developed for PC, or consoles? What type of controller is more convenient for this game: gamepad or keyboard and mouse? Are you experiencing any difficulties creating versions for different platforms?
Syl: The game was develop for console and PC in parallel, it’s not a port. So basically we took time to make both right and I’d say the game works very well under both controllers (you can choose on the PC version if you wish to play it with the gamepad). No special difficulties, that’s the advantage of working on all 3 platforms since day 1 :)
Which engine Of Orcs and Men uses? What are the approximate system requirements for PC?
Syl: OOAM uses “Silk” Engine, developed by spiders. It already served on Fairy and the next coming Mars: War Logs. Specs are not final yet but since the game runs very smoothly on PS3 and XBOX which tend to be not so recent hardware, minimum specs will be quite reasonable.
Thank you for your answers! We’re looking forward to you releasing the game.
interview by Kirill Ulezko