Gothic Interview with Kai Rosenkranz from meditates Schatzkästlein
email(„feedback“, „rpgdot“, „com“, „Sia‘ Garrett‘ Manzari“)
Sia‘ Garrett‘ Manzari, 2003-08-12
Today we bring you the translated version of the interview with Piranha Bytes‘ Kai Rosenkranz that appeared on meditates schatzkästlein (German for meditate’s treasurechest) in association with the Khorinis Times. Khorinis Times und meditates Schatzkästlein are two online-magazines for the Gothic p&p RPG. Many thanks to Ragon for doing the translation and to meditate for allowing us to post this in English!
meditate: Hello KaiRo, we are delighted that you will do an interview with us for our magazine. Do you know who we are and our number of subscribers?
Kai Rosenkranz: I have been following what´s going on in the forums, of course. That´s why I also know the Khorinis Times.
meditate: You certainly are aware of the big p&p RPG taking place on http://www.worldofgothic.de, that has expanded your very creation to the extreme as a pen-and-paper version. Exactly two years ago the first clans emerged at WoG, which then joined more and more users to their ranks. At some point from random posting a RPG emerged that has put almost 800 people under its spell to date and continues to live and grow. Currently 200 folks spend their spare time on roaming the world of Khorinis, not just simply gaming away, but rather as poets and thinkers.
Do you pay a visit once a while? Checking how our people populate and develop on the concept of Khorinis that you created? After all there are some of us who might even know Khorinis better than you, because they actually like livein it?
Kai Rosenkranz: Yes, I noticed that too, already. A world only comes to live really when it is enriched with lots of detail and a number of plots. Because of this it has been nice for us Piranhas to see that the realms of Gothic have created „a life of their own“ in a way, by you garnishing it with your ideas further on. There are really great ones among them, I have to say.
meditate: It´s not very hard to see from our RPG that there are very talented writers behind it. Would you be interested in their ideas? I mean, Gothic´s supposed to continue, isn´t it?
For example there was once the story of an evil sorceress in our game, who commanded hordes of Orcs doing her sinister deeds and there are the Sithi, strange beings of the light. A visit to the underworld was featured as well, which then resulted in the humans enforcing the withdrawal of the armies of darkness. Does that sound like one for you?
Kai Rosenkranz: I see. This interview is actually a sales presentation which should advertise your ideas :-). Well, why not. There are a lot of concepts flowing into the development of the Gothic installments from the forums anyway. This is not only limited to the story but also includes contributions to the gameplay in general. I can very well imagine that we will adopt one idea or the other. I will inform you then, of course :-).
meditate: Because there has been Gothic I and it featured the Brotherhood of the Sleeper as a guild that community has of course lasted in our version. After the destruction of their old home they have their camp now in the Valley of the Pyramid. Will this cause any conflicts?
Kai Rosenkranz: Even if there was more to discover in the Pyramid Valley than the Brotherhood has explored after their move, this won´t get you in trouble. The ground has collapsed at one place and exposed a small underground area. Maybe even the Psionics are responsible for that collapse? Perhaps Samantha shouldn´t have yelled at her squirrel so loudly? I leave that up to you… :-).
meditate: Did you know that there is a guild of black mages around Xardas, which is living in a magic castle high on the peaks of the mountains right in the neighbourhood of the black troll?
Kai Rosenkranz: I have never been to that place myself, but one can feel their presence even if he has sensitized his perception of magic auras only slightly.
meditate: Could you give the black mages a bit more room? Always Xardas on his own and no woman by his side? How about a particular sinister soceress Meditate?
Kai Rosenkranz: Ok, some women have an exceptional taste concerning men. I heard about it. In addition Meditate, as High Priestess of the Dark Powers, seems to share some hobbies and interests with Xardas. But the disparity in age… 🙂
meditate: After all, could you tell us a bit on how you develop the game as story and as sript? Who breeds all those ideas and how are they implemented afterwards? I would like to know this with less focus on the technical aspect, but rather regarding the content?
Kai Rosenkranz: There is a team of four in charge of inventing the stories. Björn, Matthias, Mike and Stefan. With Gothic I the procedure was different as with Gothic II. We developed the basic idea first of all which then was fleshed out in a sound fashion and with lots of detail. The coherence of the elements was thought through well, the relations between the camps, the prophecies, the Sleeper, and so on, everything had its fitting place in the story. With Gothic II there wasn´t this solid foundation due to time issues. Because of that it was attempted to expand the concept in certain areas in a rather incremental way and then squeeze in some plot behind it. From this the „depth“ of the world suffered a bit. In future projects we won´t repeat this mistake, that´s for sure. 🙂
meditate: Is there a kind of „masterplan“ about how the world of Gothic looks like as a whole or is the necessary new area invented simply on demand and then just „glued“ to the already existing part?
Kai Rosenkranz: The latter. There are some cornerstones for the story like for example the role of the gods, the kingdom, the orcs and such. Those basic ideas of course mark like the red line through the plots, everything else is built upon that existing foundation. The „Ring of the Water“ is a genuine creation of the AddOn that had never been planned before, but fits into the scheme of the world making sense nevertheless. That´s why it is also possible to allow so much influx of fan ideas into it all. In the realms of Gothic there is always room for new and good flashes of inspiration.
meditate: Are you thinking about more races besides men and orcs or will you stick just to these two in the future? The question about more domestic animals would be interesting, too. Sheep sausage over and over again is getting boring in time, as you certainly are aware of, aren´t you? Aren´t there more typical househeld animals possible to enhance the middle ages-RPG feeling or is it new monsters/animals of the wild before all, that is worked on in the further development?
Kai Rosenkranz: I wouldn´t say „before all“, but there are novelties in all areas. In the AddOn you have new creatures (which I, however, wouldn´t keep in the house, really), and as the story advances of course fresh flesh crosses one´s path in the form of new species.
meditate: Can we ever expect horses or other mounts (in part 3) or can you already determine that also the future engine (of what making ever this will be) won´t support features like that?
Kai Rosenkranz: This question comes in a relatively early stage. The technical framework is not yet built and we´re currently busy with working on the overall concept.
meditate: The speciality of the Gothic feeling has also much to do with the music and the sound in general. Sometimes I really wish for the music on CD. Couldn´t you improve this lack?
Kai Rosenkranz: Heh, heh, thanks. So far there is only a tiny soundtrack CD that is included in the Gold Edition and contains a handful of pieces from the custscenes and the game itself. I will probably compile a „proper“ soundtrack cd for Gothic III, as I – if all goes well – will collaborate with a real orchestra for the first time. In that case a soundtrack CD would be worth making.
meditate: I am a big fan of the voice actor for the dragons, btw. Will I be able to hear this great rumbling voice again, and who is this guy in the first place who can mimic dragon voices so perfectly?
Kai Rosenkranz: The guy is called Bodo Henkel and works for the radio. He also lent his voice to Xardas, Saturas, Cord and other characters, for example. The dragons were „processed“ in the studio afterwards, i.e. added with effects and voice pitch.
meditate: Did you ever hear about our Mud-Forum, in which scores of people reaching far beyond the circle of roleplayers, discuss problems of the real world, talk about movies and music, establish dragonhunter and dragonguardian clans and have a lot of fun? Will Mud ever appear once again?
Kai Rosenkranz: You mean the chat corner? Yes, I know it. However, I´m not there that often, I have to confess. When I take the time for surfing, I rather like to crawl through the actual Gothic forums. Regarding the question of Mud´s comeback: The likelihood that Mud is still alive tends to being relatively low, doesn´t it? 🙂
meditate: Who was the mysterious 13th mage Saturas mentioned in Gothic I? „when we summoned the barrier, we were 12 mages. But there was a 13th mage also who controlled our powers. But that one averted soon to continue his studies. The first who were in the colony will likely remember him.. His name is Xardas“ (the twelve known are: Corristo, Damarok, Rodruigez, Torrez, Drago, Saturas, Cronos, Riordian, Nefarius, Myxir, Merdarion, Xardas – Milten only joined later.) – And the manual mentions only 12 as well.
Kai Rosenkranz: Question back: Did you know that there is allegedly a fourth god? In the comic strip „Ra“ is introduced as the father of the three brothers Innos, Adanos and Beliar, but in the games there´s no talk about this godfather ever. It came quite handy to us that actually no one ever asked about that. The lesson of this story: Some questions never should be asked 🙂
meditate: Will the „southern isles“ Abuyin is talking about play a role at some time?
Kai Rosenkranz: That depends on how much in need for a vacation we will be during writing the Gothic III story. If the four storytellers Björn, Matthias, Mike and Stefan are hungry for getting to the isles, the nameless maybe will be, too. I think, however, that we can offer enough material with the mainland for the time being.
meditate: Pyrokar is telling the hero that there had been four Temples of the Night or so (don´t remember the precise formulation). With the Halls of Irdorath the third one has been found now. The fourth one is still missing. Will we find it now?
Kai Rosenkranz: Well observed. The Halls of Irdorath are the most eastern of the four conjuration temples for the god Beliar. The northern and the western one had been destroyed at the time of the victory in Irdorath already. The southern therefore is still intact, however, as the AddOn is mainly playing in the northern part of the island, it will remain hidden for the time being.
meditate: As you surely can imagine, the whole community is waiting for the AddOn in great excitement. We are highly curious, yet don´t want to know too much either. All this speculating is just too exciting and the hunt for news on various websites is like searching easter eggs. Could you give us anything, too? Something that only can be found at our site then?
Kai Rosenkranz: Exclusive infos don´t remain exclusive for long anyway. That´s a lesson I had to learn when I pre-launched the website for the AddOn „only for the community“. Yet the very same day the secret news could be found in the online presentations of the game magazines. 🙂
But ok, why not. We could give it a try. The focus stones reappear in the AddOn. As is well known they hold an amazing amount of energy, which makes them ideal for reactivating old mechanisms and technologies of the lost civilization. Not only can you breathe life into a dead stone again during the game, maybe you will even manage to make contact with one of the long deceased creators and acquire knowledge about the old civilization, that can´t be found in any travel guide.
meditate: But now for the most important: When will we be able to hold it in our hands? And right away another question, how much time can we expect to spend on playing through the AddOn?
Kai Rosenkranz: „When it´s done“? (I have learned from the recent events and do not publish any deadlines anymore that are not carved into stone).
How long you can play it? Well, the first empirical data differs quite some. No one of us has finished the AddOn below 20 hours so far. And that despite knowing the story almost by heart alone. Those who want to live out their thirst for adventure will probably be busy with the game for 40 hours and longer. This is only the net play time of the AddOn, remind you. The original Gothic II story elements are not taken into account in this calculation.
meditate: Finally: Are you already writing for Gothic III?
Kai Rosenkranz: Yes. The title is already decided upon 🙂
meditate: How about a mod-tool? Mike Hoge once stated: „We´re thinking about it, but it is hard for us to imagine that this will find much resonance… well, our tools are just not easy to use…“
There are, however, a lot of people among us who would love to face that challenge and even would have plans ready for it.
Kai Rosenkranz: There are many opposing factors. I wouldn´t bet on a release. We are making honest efforts to open the AddOn world to the modding community as much as possible. But some serious problems with it we most probably won´t be able to solve.
meditate: That´s it, just one last question about the hardware requirements, have there been made any changes to it?
Kai Rosenkranz: Some fool has already published the system requirements (128MB of RAM…, yeah, sure!). If Gothic II is running on your computer, then the AddOn will just as well. Everything is a tad more detailed indeed, but in turn also the engine has been optimized once more. The final requirements will be released on the AddOn-home page when they are carved into stone.
meditate: In many Eastern-RPGs one meets optional so-called „boss monsters“. Have you ever thought about implementing such almost invincible enemies, especially for the folks who have complained about a too easy Gothic/Gothic II? That would raise the not adjustable level of difficulty for hardcore Gothic fans. And as those enemies do not have to be defeated in order to finish the game successfully, RPG newbies shouldn´t be bothered by it, too.
Kai Rosenkranz: The enemies in the AddOn are a lot tougher than in the original Gothic II game to begin with. We expect the buyers of the AddOn to be experienced from playing Gothic II and looking for a real challenge now. And they will find it. The term „boss enemies“ is a matter of definition. At some spots (be they relevant for the plot or not) your character will step up against an extraordinary colossus of an opponent. With the appropriate tricks and a sense for the Achilles‘ heel of the creature, however, you will be able to gain the upper hand over it anyway.
meditate: We have a vote on http://www.worldofgothic.de running at the moment, in which the people have yet expressed their wishes for significantly stronger extra enemies. Maybe you will have look at it.
But for another question: How will it go on with Gothic III on the technical level?
Kai Rosenkranz: I cannot say much about it for now. Anyhow we´re not intending to make a step back. That is valid for the visuals, gameplay, sound, AI, controls and so on, equally. The new engine is based on a licensed foundation that will be enhanced in a way that all our demands for creating a successful Gothic III will be met.
meditate: How big is the success of both games so far? Are you satisfied with it and will you be able to make another game from it? Could you even save something for a rainy day to ensure continuation of your business for longer?
Kai Rosenkranz: We won´t give up even if that means to strap the belt a bit tighter financially for a certain period. It seems to be some kind of law of nature that the creative minds always get their hogs brought to the wrong market by those business bozos and fleeced by them. In case one of the business bozos is reading this: That was just a joke, of course! Our situation has improved in terms of that we have a better negotiating position now through the popularity of both Gothic parts.
meditate: You (or yourself to be precise) have mentioned hopes for a „release party“ for Gothic II in a past interview. Did one take place this time? If so, how was it? If not what stood in the way?
Kai Rosenkranz: There was no release party. We Piranhas munched some chops in total secrecy and toasted with some cheap sparkling wine, that´s it. What stood in the way? Well, most of us rather longed for going on vacation than for partying after the nerve wrecking final sprint that you make towards the end of developing a game.
meditate: Well, then we wish you and us much success for the AddOn and maybe it will yet work out with the party someday.