Last week, I sat down to chat with Phillip Florio, the lead developer of Dark Empire, a turn-based RPG that features a branching choice system similar to the role-laying games’s of the early 21st century. Here is that interview, transcribed for your reading pleasure.
1. How are you, and can you tell us a little about Dark Empire?
I’m Phil, and I’m the lead developer of Dark Empire. Dark Empire is a RPG developed by fans of old school RPGs and tabletop games. We want to make a game where roleplaying is encouraged and decisions matter. It will feature a branching path system that will allow players to pick their path through the story. Dark Empire will also feature our spin on the turn-based battle system, which will promote tactical decision making. It’s set in a colonial-type world where a war between Empire and rebels is brewing.
2. What inspired the game?
I’ve always loved American history, particularly around the colonial period. Years ago I came up with a fantasy setting that paralleled this history, albeit with a lot more magic. When a few friends and I decided to make a game the setting fit into it naturally.
3. What has been the easiest part of development?
Spitballing ideas with the team is always fairly simple. Everyone always has such grand and varied ideas. Reigning in those ideas to something realistic, not so much.
4. What has been the hardest?
We have struggled in the past with maintaining our art team. More than once we have had our artists decide they no longer have time to commit to this project and just walk off. Fortunately, we are now working with the incredibly talented Zolf, who may be more loyal to this project than anyone.
5. How was the game funded, and did this add extra stress to the development?
Up until now the project has been funded completely out of pocket from my saving, with some contributions for the team. However that only gets you so far, so we have a Kickstarter planned to start on September 6th to raise the funds we need to complete the project. We try not to stress about funding, but yes, sometimes it can be stressful when you are risking so much of your own savings on a passion project.
6. Do you wish you had gone with a publisher to deal with anything? Is being an indie beneficial over that?
Never really gave much thought to looking for a publisher. It probably would be nice to have someone helping us with promotion and distribution, but at least as far as development goes I don’t think we are missing out on anything. We’re free to develop the game as we have envisioned it without outside interference.
7. Is there anything you’ve learnt during development that you wouldn’t have learnt otherwise?
More things than I can possibly bring up in one interview. Putting together system and design documents, how to build a team with diverse skills, what it’s like to work closely with artistic types, how much work has to go into just laying the foundation of a project like this before you even begin building the game. I could go on. But it’s been a good experience overall.
8. What indie games do you like to play besides this?
I am a huge fan of indie games. I’ve wasted countless hours on Don’t Starve, and Bastion will always have a special place in my heart. I also love rogee-likes such as Rogue Legacy and One Way Heroics
9. What is your favourite game of all time?
That’s a tough one. It would be a close race between Fallout 3 and Knights of the Old Republic, though just about anything from Bethesda and Bioware would probably be high on the list.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to say? Where can Dark Empire be found?
You can see more about Dark Empire and follow its progress at http://ptfgames.com. You can also watch us on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/
I highly recommend following Dark Empire, especially if you’re a fan of games like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment, as Dark Empire looks to fill the sorely missed niche of those games. Follow this space for the Kickstarter announcement, which will be coming soon!