Interviewed by Dennis S.
Hi, please briefly introduce yourself and your company for our readers.
Hi! We are Jonquil Software - a team from the town of Birsk, which is in the Ural region of Russia. We are Vilur Shakirov – project leader and lead artist, and Sergei Videneev – head designer and head programmer.
Please introduce your game Spells of Gold and its concepts to our readers.
Spells of Gold is a role-playing game with elements of trade simulation. The game is set in the world of fantasy, inhabited by humans, animals, undead ones and other creatures. The universe of the game - Lokatrienn - is large indeed. It consists of a number of separate worlds. Each one has several cities, each of which is an separate state and has an economic and political system of its own The Hero can travel from one world to another through special space Gates, called Portals. The Hero’s main activity is trade, that is buying goods in one town and selling or exchanging them in another. For this purpose the Hero has a special item - a Magic Sack of Monroke. Thanks to it, he can easily carry a vast amount of goods.
Much has to be undertaken, before the Hero can find more advantageous trade routes and get significant profit. On his way, he is going to encounter numerous robbers and bandits, wild beasts and undead ones. In the course of the game, the Hero may choose what he would like to be: he may either develop and master his fighting skills and become a Warrior, or use other abilities become a Mage, or specialize in both arts at the same time.
While traveling over Lokatrienn, trading, fighting and gaining experience, the Hero gradually comprehends the very essence of the Universe. The whole history of the world-creation and the way to change it is revealed to him. The Hero participates in the eternal battle between the Good and the Evil, unravels the mystery of the Dark Aliance, or even finds inconceivable Way of the Chosen.
How long were you working on this project and how many people are involved in its making?
The game has been in development for about 2 years now. Totally 10 people are involved in the project, but only 4 of them are working permanently; the rest do various jobs for us at times when we need their services.
What is the storyline behind Spells of Gold?
In short, the plot behind the game is based around the story, which you'll find behind a lot of other RPGs as well – the eternal war between Good and Evil. The Hero can choose either of the sides ( the Hero’s karma will become either more “positive” or more “negative” each time the player chooses the way to, for example, perform a quest). There will be 3 endings in the game, and the way the game will end for you will depend on your behavior.:) In the flow of the game the player will know a lot of things about the history of the game universe and will be able to change the current state of things crucially and forever. But...I am not going to go deep into detail. Play and you’ll see!
What is the size of the game world?
There are 30 separate worlds in the game. They are connected by portals, and the player can use them to travel between the worlds. Each world has from 2 up to 6 towns. Each town can be visited, and almost every building in a town can be entered. Each town is a state. Bigger ones can be entered only after you pay an entrance fee, which is different from town to town. The world has four different types of cultures, each looking different from the others. The worlds are different not only in the way they look and “sound” (each culture has a tune of its own). Goods and equipment sold in different worlds are greatly different from each other.
Is the game more similar to Diablo or Baldur's Gate?
This is not so easy to answer this question. Something in between, I would say. The world, and the complex storyline make it more similar to BG, but its combat system is similar to that of Diablo. Generally speaking, we would not much like to compare it to any particular game, because we are not making a clone of any game, and in terms of gameplay SoG is different from any other RPG of today.
5)How many character classes can the player choose from?
Unlike, for example, in the AD&D system, in Spells of Gold there are no ‘classes’. The player can develop his\her character in any of the three main “directions” – warrior, mage, trader. Besides, while developing, say, warrior’s set of abilities you do not limit your potential to become a mage. The role-playing system of SoG is more similar to that of Morrowind than to that of BG – the Hero develops those abilities, which he uses.
How many weapons and items are available in the game?
Over 2000 types. Tens of types of weapons, each of which can be made of different materials ( bronze, iron, silver, etc.), and each of which can give you different special abilities, when used together with different unique items. This gives thousands combinations. Besides, the graphic model of the Hero is divided into 12 parts, and each part is displayed separately. It means that at the same time your Hero can have on, for example, a left glove of leather, a right glove of studded leather, a chain mail of iron, a silver helmet, right armlet of gold, left armlet of iron, and boots of leather.
Can you name us some of the quests that the player can complete in the game?
There are two kinds of quests: the"storyline quests", determining the further course of events, and the "optional quests". The quests will be of various types: for example, to find and object for some NPC, to deliver a message, to kill an NPC or a monster, etc...Of course, the storyline quests will be more interesting and difficult. These may involve up to several NPCs, relations between gods, or guilds..
Could you tell us what is the importance of guilds in the game; how will joining one of them impact the gameplay?
By joining this or that guild, the player becomes a part of one of the mighty organizations of the game universe. Each guild gives you a range of opportunities, and allow for increasing a particular skill quickly and for better price. Besides, joining a guild will change people’s attitude to you.
What are the different schools of magic that the player can join and what are their special abilities? Can the player join one school of magic and then switch to another one or join two schools at a time?
There are three types ( or levels) of magic: Primitive Magic – a set of simple spells, which do not require any particular learning to master, Magic of Elements – the magic , which subdues the elements ( water, fire, earth, air) to your power, and Higher Magic, which is divided into Order Magic, Chaos Magic, and Balance Magic. You can learn all spells of both Primitive Magic and Magic of Elements, but you cannot learn all types of Higher Magic – you’ll have to choose between Order, Chaos, and Balance. Each spell has several mastery levels.
What are the different gods available to worship in the game? Can you switch allegiance from one god to another or worship more than one at a time, and how is giving allegiance to one of them influence the gameplay?
There are 5 gods: Oterion ( the god of warriors), Balaor ( the god of mages), Joella ( the goddess of nature), Tennara ( the goddess of night), and Enaryth ( the god of traders). You may worship either one, or two, or all of them. But you must remember hat some gods are not on friendly terms with each other, and so by improving your relations with one god you may incur anger of another. The Hero can gain a god’s grace by regular donations or by performing quests for temples of the god. Besides each god offers a set of players, which can be used for various purposes, for example, as combat spells in battles.
How many types of enemies are available in the game; could you describe some of them?
There are 3 major types of enemies in the game: robbers, undead ones, animals. Each type includes a number of monsters. Monsters of the robber type will be interested in what’s in your purse, animals will simply hunt you for food, undead ones will try to seize hold of your soul.
Spells of Gold has a non-linear story; please tell us how this will impact the gameplay.
Replayability is the most important thing, of course. We have 3 main storylines + a number of optional quests. We are sure that the game can be replayed lots of times, and each time the player will have a different experience.
What is the estimated time that it takes to complete Spells of Gold?
The game will go gold in January, 2003.
What kind of music can we expect to hear in the game?
As I’ve said before, there will be 4 cultures in the game. And each will have a tune of its own. Totally, there will be 15 different tunes.
Are there any multiplayer modes present, and if so what are they and what's the maximum amount of players that can participate in a game?
Sorry, but there will be no multiplayer mode. If the game had this mode, it would be totally different.
What are the unique features of Spells of Gold comparing to other RPG games on the market?
The trade element, of course, is the first and the most important feature. Secondly, the controls are very simple. The game world is really huge and elaborated – this is the third thing. Fourthly, the system requirements are really low. But the most important thing is that this is a game for everyone.
Any last words for our readers?
We have tried hard to create a world, which will appeal to the player, which will become the player’s second home, and we hope you’ll like the universe that we’ve made for you. May your Sack of Monroke will always be full. Have fun! Jonquil Software & BUKA Entertainment.