We are here today with Jeff Vogel, founder of Spiderweb Software. Spiderweb Software is the developer of great shareware titles like Exile, Avernum, and Geneforge., available in delicious demo form via their website, www.spiderwebsoftware.com
IMG: Spiderweb Software is a family-owned shareware game house. Can you please tell us a little about yourselves and what you do at Spiderweb?
Vogel: We are a small company, founded in 1994 and based in Seattle. Our goal is to make single-player fantasy role-playing games. Huge games, with intricate plots, cool encounters, and lots of fun stuff. The sort of games that aren't made much anymore.
Our games are very retro. They're a lot like the older classics, like Ultima, Fallout, and Baldur's Gate. We are too small to be able to afford fancy graphics, so we try to compensate by providing a lot of fun.
We have three three full-time employees, counting me, and a bunch of freelancers for art and such.
IMG: So, tell us the dirt on the upcoming Avernum 4. What we can expect in this title? Do you have a projected release date?
Vogel: Avernum 4 is the first all-new update to the Avernum series in quite a few years. The Avernum series of games has been quite popular, and our fans have been very happy that it is going to continue.
And, as always, it will be out for Mac first.
As for the storyline, Avernum is a nation underground. The surface is under the total rule of the Empire. Once, the Empire got rid of all its misfits, petty criminals, and people who didn't fit in by sending them through a one-way teleporter into Avernum. There, they lived out their lives and struggled to create a home in the underworld.
The first Avernum games are about their struggle to survive, fight the Empire, and win their independence.
In Avernum 4, Avernum is an established nation at peace with the Empire. Some come to Avernum to work the mines. Others come to hunt monsters for their treasure. And some risk life in the underworld because it is the only place where a person can be free from the total rule of the Empire.
But then everything goes wrong. The monsters that hide in the lower caverns start surging out, attacking people everywhere. Huge shades, shielded by powerful magic, have taken up residence in the cities, wandering and killing at random. And normally peaceful citizens have been afflicted by a strange, overwhelming paranoia, making even regular townsfolk unpredictable and dangerous.
And the player is the one who manages to stumble upon a clue to what's going on and gets sucked into the adventure.
IMG: For those who have never experienced the Avernum world, is prior experience necessary to play Avernum 4?
Vogel: Absolutely not. What little background information you need to understand what is going on is explained in the introduction. After that, it's on to the adventures.
There is a lot of history in this world, of course, and fans will want to know what happened to their favorite places and characters. But all of that is provided in a way that people who just want a bunch of action can ignore it and go have fun.