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Dungeon Siege 2 Preview

GAME INFO
publisher: Microsoft
developer: Gas Powered Games
genre: RPG

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
PIII 1000, 256MB RAM, 4GB HDD, 64MB video card
ESRB rating: M
homepage:
www.gaspowered.com/ds2

release date: Aug 16, 05
» All About Dungeon Siege 2 on ActionTrip


There's a boatload of fans out there that are anxiously awaiting the next iteration of the Dungeon Siege franchise from Gas Powered Games. As it so happens, we AT staffers just happen to be some of them. So it's with great pleasure that we offer this interview with Kevin Lambert, lead designer from GPG. There is a VERY good chance this guy knows what he's talking about when it comes to Dungeon Siege 2.

Action Trip: We understand that the sequel will be built on the same technology that was used to power the original and the expansion. How do you plan to tweak this technology for the sequel?

Kevin Lambert: Our engineers continue to enhance and optimize the technology for DS2. We've completely replaced our effects system, added support for 2.0 pixel and vertex shaders, added the Flick scripting system and a long list of other changes to the core DS engine.

AT: Can you tell us a bit more about the new Flick system? Also, what are some of the other methods you plan to use to deepen the narrative?

KL: Flick is a simple system that allows level designers to easily create interactive and non-interactive sequences in the game. Similar to a director giving stage directions on a movie set, Flick provides a set of commands that can be used to set up anything from two characters speaking to each other in a movie to an interactive ambush on the party to an army of good guys and bad guys clashing together in a castle.

In addition to creating more interactive sequences in the game, we've also given party characters specific personas and they will occasionally talk to each other and to the main hero. This not only helps deepen the story, but it adds a dimension to the game that goes above and beyond a silent relationship between a hero and a group of "hired guns."

AT: In one of the developer diaries, you revealed that "two Powers used tactically are greater than the sum of their parts." Can you reveal any more examples other than the aforementioned usage of the Detonation and Circle of Frost Powers? If you cannot reveal any other specific Powers yet, can you at least give us some examples in more general terms?

KL: I'd love to tell you about some specific powers, but we don't really want to spoil the cool element of discovery with how powers can be used in different situations. In fact, I'm sure players will be able to discover even more clever uses of powers than we originally intended. One interesting combination that I like to use though is to start with a particularly effective Power that has a drawback of leaving a character vulnerable and then combo it with a defensive Power that can negate the drawback, giving extra mileage out of the defensive Power.

AT: Can Heroes gain more Hero Powers, or possibly change them as the game progresses, or is each Hero power inherent to a specific character?

KL: All Powers have skill requirements. So depending on how players choose to spend their skill points, more Powers will become available to characters as they progress.

AT: Tell us a bit more about the new 'pets' system.

KL: Pets are one of DS2's more unique systems. Pets were designed to give players interesting choices and tradeoffs in party composition and also to scratch the itch of players who yearn for the type of bond that you just can't get from another player character.

AT: How powerful will the 'pets' be in comparison to other party members?

KL: Pets will be stronger than player characters in some respects and weaker in others. For example, pets cannot equip weapons or armor, but they can get special abilities that player characters cannot. Our goal is for pets to be balanced against party members so that there's no right or wrong way to build a party.

AT: Finding legendary items was a great feature in both the original and the expansion, and how the ones in the expansion were in some way related to the events from the original. I'm guessing you guys are going to include legendary items again, but do you plan to broaden this concept in any way?

KL: DS2 will have far more hand-crafted unique items than its predecessors and we'll also have sets with bonuses that stack and grow depending on how many pieces a character has equipped. Beyond that, we've added magical reagents that players can find and use with special enchantable weapons and armor to create their own magical items.

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