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Inside Mac Games Holiday Q&A 4: Basilisk Games
December 16, 2010 | Jon Carr

Welcome to Part Four of our Inside Mac Games Holiday Q&A Feature! This round we have Indie RPG maker Basilisk Games. Jon Carr interviewed Thomas Riegsecker, owner of Basilisk Games, about the importance of his close ties to fans, Eschalon's story and future, DRM and what he is planning for Basilisk's next project.

IMG Holiday Season Q&A 4: Basilisk Games

Jon Carr: You seem to have a close relationship with your fan base, often conversing with players on the Basilisk forums and incorporating fan suggestions into updates to the game. How important is that connection for an independent developer?

Thomas Riegsecker: It is paramount! Having a close connection with your fans and listening to their comments and suggestions is one thing I can do, as an indie developer, which a big-name studio simply cannot. Our fans are the people who support us and we owe it to them to listen closely to what they want in the games they spend their money on.

JC: You have partnered with various distributors to sell your games. How difficult is it for an independent developer to attract the attention of online distributors? Is this something all indie developers should try and do?

TR: It is extremely hard to get Steam or Impulse to take notice of an indie game, and even though Book I was on many distribution portals it was still an uphill fight to get Book II on the same portals. Certainly, partnering with a few major software distributors has helped us get discovered by gamers who would never have found us any other way.

I really donít have any ďinsideĒ advice for indie developers who want †to get their games online with a major distributor. Youíve got to be professional, persistent, and have a well-made game to present to them them...and then hope that the person who makes the decision to accept your game is in a good mood that day.

JC: Not all indie developers offer Mac friendly versions of their games. Has the extra effort of supporting multiple platforms paid off?

TR: It certainly has! The Macintosh platform is simply awesome for gaming and we owe much of our success to the Mac gaming community. Even the Macintosh press shows us far more love than any PC gaming magazine or website ever has, so we deeply respect and appreciate the support that the Mac gaming community has given us.

JC: All your current games are completely DRM free. How has this worked out for you so far, and do you believe there is such a thing as "ideal DRM" ?

TR: No, there is no ideal DRM. When you were a kid and your parents bought you the latest gimmicky board game, it didnít come with the stipulation that you could only play it at your own house, and not at your best friendís or your grandmaís. The maker of the board game didnít require you to phone them every time you wanted to play. Most importantly, if the maker of the game went out of business, they didnít come over and take that game away from you.

Perhaps the above example is an oversimplification of issues surrounding today's forms of digital entertainment, but I feel pretty strongly that once a person buys a game, it is theirs to play freely however and whenever they wish. Having said that, I do wish people understood how damaging it is to us when they illegally copy or download our games. If a someone likes what we do, we need their support to keep doing it. Itís all about mutual respect.

JC: What is your inspiration and philosophy behind creating old school style RPG's? What is Eschalon's unique take on the genre?

TR: The inspiration for our games has always come from classic computer RPGs from the 80ís and 90ís. These were games that truly engaged the player, forcing them to really think about character development, combat strategy and solving quests. Todayís modern RPGs spend way too much time holding the playerís hand, walking them through the game via abundant cut scenes and ensuring that they donít make wrong decisions- usually by limiting the scope of their characterís development.

With Eschalon (and our future RPGs) we simply give the player a game world and some guidelines for building their character, and then we set them free to follow the storyline at their leisure. Yes, this might be overwhelming for the novice player, but for gamers who stick to it the end result is a rewarding game that provides a genuine feeling of accomplishment when completed.

JC: In Book II players had the chance to discover a skeletal hint of some of the greater creatures in the land. Will there be dragons or other epic beasts in Book III, and will players have the chance to engage them in battle?

TR: No comment. ;-) †If youíve followed us since the start of our company, youíll know that we generally keep very hush-hush during the development of our games. This is to keep the game fresh and exciting to the player upon its release. But, since Book III is the last game in this storyline, players can safely expect to see some really cool, new stuff.

JC: Some fans of the series had a strong reaction to events at the end of Book II. Did the response come as a surprise?

TR: No, not really. I expected some controversy with the way I presented certain aspects of the storyline. All we can say is that not everything is as it seems, and to get the full scoop youíll need to play the final game.

JC: I've heard Book III of Eschalon will include a toolset so fans can make their own adventures. Mac gamers often get left out in the cold when it comes to creation tools. Can you provide some info about what your toolset will offer?

TR: We hope that Book III continues to live on through an active community of modders long after weíve moved on to our next game. To achieve this we are releasing our own Map Editor and several other tools that we use ourselves to make these games. I am honestly excited to play a few fan-made adventures since I never get to enjoy a ďfreshĒ Eschalon game myself.

The tools are made with the same language and compiler that the game is made with, so they should compile just fine on all supported platforms. We are certainly planning to make the tools available to everyone, not just Windows users.

JC: You haven't yet officially announced Eschalon: Book III. Is it likely to be your next project? What can fans expect from the conclusion of the Eschalon series? In comparison to the first two games, how large will it likely be?

TR: Correct, Book III has not yet been announced, though I have mentioned that we are working on it here in the studio and it will likely be our next release. Weíll have more information for fans early next year. At this point I canít tell you yet how large the game will be or what new features it will contain, but we certainly want to end the trilogy with the best and most exciting game we have ever produced.

JC: You have mentioned the possibility of a sci-fi RPG in Basilisk's future. Is it likely to offer players the chance to create a party of adventurers? Will it have the same "old school" focus as the Eschalon series, and if so, from which titles will you draw inspiration?

TR: Yes, we have had a sci-fi based RPG in development for a couple years now. It will use a new game engine since the Eschalon engine will be retired after Book III, and yes, it is heavily inspired by old-school RPGs such as Wizardry, Dungeon Master and Might & Magic. It will be party-based, and it will not be isometric. Thatís really all I can say about it right now.

JC: Thank you for your time!

TR: Thank you!

More Info

Basilisk Games offers demo versions of the ongoing Eschalon series on its website. You can also join the community in the forums, as well as follow them by their social networking links. Additionally, you can buy cool shirts from the Swag Shoppe. Look for more old school RPG goodness from Basilisk Games in 2011.

Related Links
Basilisk Games
Eschalon: Book I
Eschalon: Book II


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