Available: March 2004
Developer: Ascaron
Publisher: Encore / Big Ben Interactive

Interview by: Ameer Awadiyeh

For those that didn't know, Sacred is an upcoming RPG based in a medieval fantasy world. While it was recently released in Germany, players elsewhere still have to wait for the game, although you can already grab the demo or check out our preview of the full version of the game. Nevertheless, to shorten your waiting time here's an interview with one of the folks responsible to bringing it to us.

Hi. Please introduce yourself, the company you work for and your part in making Sacred.

Hi there. My name’s Alan Wild and I am the Product Manager for Ascaron Entertainment. My position in Sacred includes game ideas, testing, editing and finalizing the English manual and international print materials, liaising with the press and coordinating various other international requirements, including the localization of Sacred into English.

What time period does the game take place in?

Sacred takes place in a medieval world, filled with both historically identifiable myths, legendary creatures, epic quests and, of course, those unbeatable fantasy features that make this kind of game truly amazing!

Where does the background story come from? Where do all the names in the game come from?

The background is all derived from our Sacred team. All the Ascaron people who work on Sacred are real RPG fans. We’ve drawn on all our own experiences of this genre to create names, quests, characters, scenery, weapons, items, and basically, a whole new believable fantasy world.

Could you tell us some info about the characters and items (Weapons, Armor, Clothing etc...) included in the game?

Sacred has six main characters: Gladiator, Seraphim, Battle Mage, Wood Elf, Dark Elf and Vampiress. As well as a generic pool of items and skills, they’ve all got a host of class-specific weapons, armors, items and combat arts (special skills and magic).
The Gladiator is the fierce close-combat warrior. His special skills allow him to grab enemies and pick up, throw them, slam them, kick them, stun them, attack numerous enemies at a time... and the Gladiator can use almost all the weapons available in Sacred. Likewise with armor, which he can wear with little or no encumbrance or movement penalties.
The Seraphim is an angelic warrior, a skilled fighter who also has heavenly magic at her disposal. She has a range of unique armors, such as Seraphim wings, which as well as having some seriously cool magical and ‘energistic’ lighting effects, add various bonuses depending on just which items you find.
The Battle Mage is the traditional magician character, with one subtle difference: he also has some skill with close-combat weapons. The forte of the Battle Mage, however, is his exceptional magic and powerful spells. He can use spells from each of the four Elements: Fire, Earth, Water and Air. Additionally, the Battle Mage is also adept in the healing and protective Life magic. Being able to use weapons as well as magic gives Sacred’s Battle Mage much more scope for playability than previous mage characters in this genre.
The Wood Elf is a ranger-class character, with the legendary skills and magic of the noble Elves. Highly skilled in the use of bows, she can unleash devastating multiple, explosive and special arrows from her taut bowstring. Alongside her graceful attacks the Wood Elf’s Moon magic allows her to summon Ancestors and Unicorns to aid her, and to magically trap or transform her enemies.
The Dark Elf hails from a race that has strayed from the path of nobility walked by their Elven brethren. Dark Elves are malicious and ruthless in combat, particularly in the use of unarmed combat. They are also renowned for being efficient with their savage and wicked blades. Dark Elf males are trained from birth in such skills, and also in the use of traps. It is these traps which can make any meeting with a Dark Elf quickly turn into a lethal encounter.
The Vampiress is one of the most unique characters to ever grace the world of fantasy RPG. Vampires have always been talked about, and there are many stories about them... and the Vampiress epitomizes the essence of the stories of such creatures. Both honorable and charming, fearsome and deadly, the Vampiress can appear as a beautiful knightly warrior, with graceful movement and speaking with their air of nobility, or she can appear as the vampiric creature of the night, summoning wolves and awakening the dead to aid in her quest, and fighting with animalistic claw attacks, slashing and biting.
All the characters are hugely playable in their own right, and each play quite differently which adds to the replayability of Sacred.

What will make Sacred different from other fantasy RPGs and what groups of gamers will it appeal the most?

a. The characters, as described above, will make Sacred immensely appealing to all RPG gamers.
b. Sacred also boasts the first appearance of horses which are an integral part of the game. To be able to ride, fight and cast magic from horseback is something gamers have been wanting for a while.
c. Not only that, but there are different horses available, with varying appearances, skills, bonuses, and riding requirements, as well as horse equipment for purchase.
d. We should also mention the combat arts and how you can combine special skills and spells into spectacular single-click combo moves.
e. Also, the forging of weapons and armor via blacksmiths to create individually customized items!
f. Plus, the believable game and incredibly detailed world creates a superb environment for complete and total immersion in a true fantasy world, filled with all the combat, magic, myth, danger, adventure and legends that fantasy gamers come to expect.
g. I’m sure you’ll agree, Sacred is a vast game. A really playable and in-depth gaming experience.

How will the multiplayer aspect work? How many simultaneous players will be supported?

Currently the lobby server supports in excess of a thousand players, who will then filter off into various games (either existing games or players can create their own) linked to the lobby server. We are constantly working, developing and adding to the multiplayer service. The thing with online games is that multiplayer gaming and server support is an ongoing project.

Could you talk about the graphics in the game? How high is the detail level?

The graphics are stunning. Our artists have done an exceptional job in building the very visual Kingdom of Ancaria. We have a 2D gameworld complete with fully 3D characters, allowing for greater detail and flexibility. To do what we have done in full 3D would have caused the minimum spec to go through the roof, preventing a lot of PCs from playing it well, and on top of that Sacred would not have looked anywhere near as beautiful, thus losing the atmospheric feel you get when you play it. To solve the issues of disappearing or “getting stuck” behind scenery, Sacred has a cool transparency feature. When you run behind buildings you will see a filtered transparency effect surrounding your character and any active nearby characters/enemies. This maintains the level of graphical detail without hindering movement or forcing gamers to change camera angles as can happen in some of the 3D engines around at the moment. With Sacred we haven’t forced the gamers’ hands in any aspect. The whole thing about Sacred is playability. It’s a game for gamers.

What about sound and music? Are they as delicate as graphics?

Absolutely. The voice actors we had in were superb and we had a lot of fun. We had even more fun editing the final sound files into Sacred. The Goblins and Ogres were probably the most entertaining to sample. Extremely happy with the end result!

Have you faced any problems during the making of Sacred?

No real problems as such. I’ve already mentioned the transparency issue we implemented, but this wasn’t a problem so much as an intended feature. The localization was big job though. There are some 110,000 words in Sacred, and around 5,000 different speech elements for the main characters, NPCs and enemies, with even more sounds and music for both atmospheric and creature based effects and responses.

What do you think the minimum system requirements will be?

Pentium III 800MHz with a DirectX8 compatible 16Mb graphics card, DirectX compatible soundcard, 2Gb HDD space and at least DirectX8 installed (DirectX9 will be included on the CD). It will need 256Mb RAM and works on Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP operating systems.

Thank you for taking some of your time to answer to our questions:) Any last words for our readers?

Just to say we hope that the gamers out there enjoy playing Sacred as much as we do... Yes, we play it too!