Crossbeam Studios Interview

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, September 24, 2005

Crossbeam Studios is a new company with a lot in the works. One of the most exciting titles they have announced thus far is Orb. I had a chance to talk with James Bond, one of the lead designers on Orb, for more on this exciting project.

 

First off, tell us your name and your position at Crossbeam Studios.

Well my name is James Bond, and I am a lead designer for our debut title Orb.

The background story and character art that has been revealed so far show a fantasy based setting. What other games, movies, or other media have influenced this?

Orb has been in development for over 4 years now and in that time the back story has been influenced by many things. Sure the Final Fantasy series has had a slight influence, as have the Zelda games from Nintendo. However we wanted to create a new world, of magical fantasy; we have researched almost everything. Religion, Celtic myths and more have influenced us. Influence has also come from current media, for example games and film; however these alone would not do justice to the world of Delphire in which Orb is set.

How many people are currently involved on the project?

Well there is a core team of 6 who are working on the actual game; however the number rises to around 15 when you take into account the voice actors, concept artists, and financial team

Orb is going to use what is called “Atlas Terrains” for the Torque Shader Engine from Garage Games. How has this influenced the way the game is being designed, and how will it be utilized within the game?

Until we get our hands on a stable version of the Torque Shader Engine it is hard to tell really, but the huge areas that the atlas terrain will allow only make the huge world of Delphire possible. It will be utilized for sure, but we are still undecided what method of area change to use; this will be dictated by the story more than the technology.

The game is going to be an action/adventure title. However, is this going to be more of a hack and slash game, or one where you can level up your character’s stats as you progress?

It won’t be a hack and slash, however we don’t really want to go too full on with the RPG side of things. There will be a magic system where bigger and better spells will become available as you progress through the game; how this is handled can’t be released at the moment as it would involve divulging too much of the storyline.

The first public demo is expected by E3 2006 (still a fair ways away). However, do you plan on showing any kind of demo build to publishers before this point in time?

Well, the plan at the moment is to try and have a playable demo ready for mid December for internal use, however this gives us some slack,. Nevertheless, the plan is for the actual public demo to be ready for E3, though I don’t think we plan on sending publishers demos before March next year. If we depended of a publisher deal then things would be different, however this is not the case at the moment

What other development tools beside the aforementioned Torque engine are being used for the development of Orb?

The usual suspects are all in there: Photoshop, Blender, GameSpace, QuArK (although this is only a temporary tool until Torque Constructor is released), Visual Studio and MilkShape to name but a few.

How much of the game will be voice acted, will it only be major story scenes or a majority of the game?

Well I think this will be dictated by the type of distribution deal we will have. If it is going to be distributed online then full voice acting wouldn’t work. However we are aiming to do a box release. I think we will go for a happy medium, where by the short versions of dialog will be voice acted with the longer version being by text. Another consideration is that the player will choose. We hope to have this feature customizable.

Will Orb be a single-player experience only, or can we look forward to any online or LAN component?

There are no plans to have multiplayer capabilities in the first game of the series, however this could change later in the series.

What in your mind will set the game apart from others in the genre or other PC games in general?

We have worked for a long time to make sure every detail fits. The emotion in the storyline will enchant and mystify the player. We are currently working on immersion levels, where by what the player sees and hears will draw them in, on a higher level that has been seen in games of late.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to tell me about Crossbeam or Orb?

Well, over the coming months we plan to really lift the lid off on Orb, as well as some of the other things we have been up to. And if you want to get the most up to date information of CSE (Crossbeam Studios Entertainment) then we have now set up a newsletter. We also release small bits through our forums, where we will at a later date be giving a small number of forum members the chance to play the BETA releases to get early feedback. So why not sign up and keep your eyes peeled. Our website is www.crossbeamstudios.com.

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