Parmi les grandes catégories du jeu vidéo, s’ il existe un domaine en crise, il s’agit bien du STR. Après un age d’or où les titres se multipliaient, brutalement, telle l’extinction des dinosaures, une météorite sembla s’abattre sur ce genre.
Mais certains studios s’y risquent toujours. Avec plus ou moins de succès. Des studios indépendants se montent et tentent de réaliser leur jeu de stratégie. Souvent de bonnes idées, mais rarement mieux qu’un petit jeu sympathique (à l’exception notable de Warparty). Le ciel est donc sombre, mais un miracle peut arriver. Et pas forcément où on l’attend. Je vous présent donc le studio Daedalic Games, studio ayant eu l’idée saugrenue de faire du point and click, sa lettre de noblesse. Ce genre qui connut la même trajectoire que le STR. Ce studio a réussi le tour de force de remettre ce genre sur les rails, avec des produits de haute à très haute qualité.
Comme visiblement ils aiment les challenges, ils débarquent avec leurs idées, leur univers, leur qualité et des moyens financiers réels pour s’attaquer au STR. A year of Rain pourrait être enfin ce que beaucoup de fans de RTS attendent. Devinez quoi? J’ai réussi à vous dégoter une petite interview sympa avec eux! Alors c’est parti.
Rem: La version française arrivera sous peu, mais en attendant pour les non allergiques à l’anglais voici l’intégralité de l’interview.
Among the major categories of video games, if there is a field in crisis, it is the RTS. After a golden age when titles multiplied, brutally, such as the extinction of dinosaurs, a meteorite seemed to fall on this genre.
But some studios still risk it. With more or less success. Independent studios are assembled and try to realize their strategy game. Often good ideas, but rarely better than a nice little game (with the notable exception of Warparty). The sky is dark, but a miracle can happen. And not necessarily where we expect it. I present you the studio Daedalic Games, studio having the crazy idea to make point and click, its nobility. This genre knew the same trajectory as the RTS. This studio has managed the feat of putting this genre back on track, with products of high to very high quality.
As they obviously like the challenges, they come with their ideas, their world, their quality and real financial means to tackle the RTS. A year of Rain could finally be what a lot of RTS fans are waiting for. Guess what? I managed to get you a nice little interview with them! So let’s go.
1. Could you introduce yourself and Daedalic ?
Nick: My name is Nick Prühs, and I’m working as Technical Director at Daedalic
Entertainment. I also had the original idea of making A Year Of Rain.
Ben: Hullo, I’m Ben, my business card says I’m a Narrative Designer. I’m also part of
the Localization Department here at Daedalic and I do voice directing whenever I get
the chance. Nick asked me if I may want to help him with story and worldbuilding for
A Year of Rain, and boy, did I ever.
Nick: At Daedalic, we’re publishing and developing high-quality games for console,
PC and mobile, and have won numerous awards doing so since 2007. For a long
time, our focus has been on narrative games, but we’re exploring related genres as
2. You’ve been really successful with adventure games, what made you choose to
develop an RTS ?
Nick: We’ll always be developing adventure games, but we’re playing a lot of other
games, as well. At Daedalic, we’ve always been thinking about related genres that
could provide more gameplay. Personally, I’ve always been a huge fan of the RTS
genre, and so we finally decided to create an RTS game that provides our players
with a multiplayer experience, more playtime, and is nice to watch on stream – all of
which improves on many of our previous games.
3. What’s your favorite RTS ? Why ?
Ben: Command & Conquer – Red Alert 2. I just admire the sheer creativity and
campy insanity that went into the unit, story and mission design and it was still very
intuitive and smooth gameplay. Good clean fun and superb design and that
soundtrack… Really loved StarCraft and Brood war too, especially for the narrative
and worldbuilding quality, but who doesn’t?
Nick: Clearly, I love Command & Conquer as well. But I’m more into the Tiberium
series. The more time we spent designing A Year Of Rain, the more I envied the
beautiful design of Tiberium, a resource that damages infantry but not harvesters,
and opens up for huge world building opportunities! And yes, I’m a huge fan of the
WarCraft and StarCraft series as well. I guess I’ve played WarCraft more than 1000
hours, and met some of my best friends in Battle.net during that time.
4. According to you, why did the last big RTSs failed ? Dawn of War 3 / Grey Goo ?
Ben: Jeez, so many reasons and links in that chain. I’d feel bad and dishonest to just
armchair this one. But pretending I didn’t read the articles and statements and just
going by gut and based on my gameplay experience with both: Neutrally, Grey Goo
seemed to lack the marketing push a game like this needs to be seen and bought in
sufficient numbers. Personally, while the cinematics were of high quality it lacked a
compelling single player campaign, i.e. no real character involvement, simplistic
mission design and no real hook to care about the events that happen. It was at its
core a good war story, but without much heart. Since my impression was they weren’t
going for strong, sustainable multiplayer, not having strong singleplayer content was
probably a huge deal.
Dawn of War… well, the risk with big IPs. Especially 40k that’s mostly appreciated for
its lore, they made a few blunders in that regard which upset people. Also they
deviated from many aspects that DoW II fans liked in terms of strategy / tactical
gameplay and made the game hero focused to a fault and steered otherwise towards
conventions established by someone else instead of sticking to their literal guns. In
DoW 3’s case, I think it was less failing, but more missing the mark and misreading
the room more than anything else.
Also: Blizzard. It’s hard to live in the shadow of the people who did so much right and
delivered experiences that great. To a degree, this is something that everyone has to
deal with in the RTS genre.
Nick: I haven’t got too much to add. Just two things that come to mind: The first one
is my personal impression of Dawn of War 3, which felt far too brutal and dark to me.
But that’s exactly what they’re aiming for, and the game is excellent at fulfilling that
goal. Second, I think “fail” is always related to what you’ve been expecting, and to
me, it just feels like both developers and players wanted and expected too much, and
the game couldn’t keep up with these expectations. Again, just a personal opinion.
5. Is is possible to bring new ideas to the table with an RTS ? Is it worth it ?
Ben: Absolutely. There are obstacles, see point 4, but keeping the genre from
stagnating and realizing your own vision is important, even if it’s just small things or
seems like a fool’s errand at first.
Nick: Yeah, I agree. We’ve learned that it’s a balancing act, especially with many
people out there who argue that MOBAs killed their beloved RTS games. But just
making a 100% “traditional” RTS will almost certainly put you up for comparison with
StarCraft and the other big IPs, and that’s (probably) not where you want to be. With
A Year Of Rain, we’re heavily focusing on the team aspect of RTS games, because
we feel like it’s always been there, but developers can definitely improve on what’s
been done so far.
6. 2v2 is at the core of A Year Of Rain. Why did you choose this format ?
Nick: Oh, there’s many reasons! Most importantly, it’s just more fun. That’s my
personal, very honest opinion. I tend to play online games with my friends a lot more
than any other game. As games should be all about fun, that’s probably already the
most important reason. But there’s more to it: Never playing alone greatly increases
the accessibility of a game, an aspect many RTS games have been struggling with.
You can always learn from your allies, help each other. Also, entirely focusing on 2v2
allows us to explore a much bigger design space. There’s no voice in the back of our
heads, constantly reminding us: “But what if anyone is playing the game alone?”
There’s no real “alone” in A Year Of Rain, and that opens up for a lot more
consistent, rewarding and fun teamplay.
7. Let’s talk about the game itself a bit more. Let us dwell on his universe, which seems rather original. A year of Rain! I would have said Ten years of rain if you were referring to the state of the STR. But I think the origin of the title is elsewhere. So where is it from?
Nick: That’s definitely one for you, Ben!
Ben: Well, first, it was just the working title of an idea for a game I knew would never
see the light of day, just something to keep my mind occupied. When I got the
chance to work on this project, I used the name for it. It’s part of the worldbuilding
where ‘A year of rain’ is a greeting / phrase people use when they wish someone
good fortune or refer to something positive unlikely to happen, since it’s a very harsh
world where water and rain hold a special importance due to their scarcity.
8. Could you describe A Year Of Rain’s world ? What were your inspirations ?
Ben: If I flat out tell you our inspirations, you can guess too much of the meta lore, so
sorry, no dice : D
The world itself is a harsh and hostile place with very few habitable zones, so every
scrap of land with favorable weather is fiercely contested. Most folks are nomads or
in service of those who managed to carve out a stable existence. I like settings where
a dynamic ripples out from a few persistent places of power and triggers events that
upset the balance, make things better, make things worse and so on. Worlds that
work well on a personal scale, rather than going for the end of the world or the
vanquishing of an evil empire. It’s a broken world with perpetual conflict filled with
people who have to deal with that.
9. How long have you been working on the lore ? Are you working with an external
partner for this ?
Ben: Hi, I’m Ben and I’m not an external partner! I’m taking care of the lore, story and
narrative design. Basically, I’m working on that since day one and it’s a really big pile
of lore which for some reason doesn’t get smaller…
Nick: We might want to add that we’re challenging ourselves on a regular basis by
talking to external story experts. We’ve always done so, and our legacy of games
shows that this definitely helped us writing some of the best stories ever written.
10. Without spoiling anything, could you tell us more about the three factions ?
Ben: Yes? No? Kindaaaa? I’ll just try. Each faction is in a way representative of how
people deal with the world they have to live in, or rather, what the world does to them.
House Rupah’s strength is diplomacy, leverage through territorial control solidified
through a pact with the Lord of Storms, a powerful air elemental. That’s why a lot of
other people flock to this faction, like other humans, nomadic elves and why the
house can afford the services of dwarves and gnomes.
The undead faction, or Restless Regiment, as they’re called in-lore aren’t your
mindless horde bent on world domination or life extinction. They’re not the big bad of
this world, they’re tragic yet menacing figures who have to fight like everyone else.
They’re just doomed to do it forever.
Nomads who won’t bow down to any lord and cut out a life in this harsh world by
other means, who are lost cultures, ferocious, tough tribes and who are what we’d
call monsters are the faction of the Wild Banners (or Outcasts, but that’s more of a
working title). They work together to survive and make sure to keep what little they
could wrestle from this world, and maybe to rekindle former glory of times long gone.
11. How does 2v2 work in the game ?
Nick: Actually, it heavily depends on the game mode you’re playing. Usually, in
Skirmish, you goals are still to gather resources, build a base, train an army and
destroy all buildings of your opponents. Currently, it’s enough to destroy all buildings
of one of the opposing team members to win the match, so you and your team mate
better watch out for each other! However, in A Year Of Rain we’re making teamplay a
lot more explicit than in traditional RTS games. At the beginning of each match, every
player has to pick one of three roles, for instance. Each role will grant a unique buff
and unlock unique per-faction per-role upgrades for the whole army of the player.
We’ve been observing that 2v2 teams in traditional RTS games usually picked
implicit roles anyway, such as one player training melee units and the other one
training ranged units. We really want to support players in doing so, and with explicit
roles, this allows for more guidance for new players and greater rewards on a
We’re also experimenting with boss monsters that challenge players to work together
in defeating them. To give an example: A boss might spawn arcane runes buffing it.
One player might have to destroy the runes, while the other takes on the boss itself. If
we find we need more explicit teamplay here, we could opt for “polarizing” the armies
of both players, preventing one player from dealing damage to the boss, and the
other from damaging the runes. The next iteration might switch the polarization every
few seconds. This is far from a final design, but you get the general idea.
Then, there’s the more obvious things, like the hero of the first player using an ability
to pull enemies together, and the hero of the second player casting an area of effect
spell on them. We’ve also been experimenting with the map layout, placing team
mates close together or far apart. But we’re keeping a close eye on what’s actually
fun, and will make sure that it’s just the fun things that find their way into the final
Finally, other game modes might work out entirely different, such as in the story
campaign, which has unique rules for every mission by design.
12. What are the ressources ? How are they handled in 2v2 ?
Nick: There are two main resources in A Year Of Rain: Anorium and lumber.
Anorium is the primary resource and used for constructing buildings and training
units. Workers can gather Anorium from mines, and killing neutral monsters grants
Anorium as well. Lumber is the secondary resource and used for constructing
advanced buildings, training powerful units and researching upgrades. Lumber can
be gathered from nearby trees and is usually more limited than Anorium, opening up
for interesting choices for the players.
Ben: It’s a bit tropey, but in Sci-Fi and Fantasy there’s often this one really special
material, you know, like unobtainium or whatever nonsense-ium you can think of.
Due to worldbuilding reasons, we didn’t think gold was that cool, even though it’s
widely understood convention. Also, there’s the beauty of something like tiberium in
C&C, a resource that has influence on gameplay, worldbuilding, and lore (as Nick
already pointed out). It’s one of those small details that people can appreciate and
that helps us with our design approaches.
Nick: We’re still experimenting with how resource gathering extends into the
teamplay aspect of the game. The most obvious way would be just to allow players
trade resources. But I think we can improve on that. Currently, the support player role
of one of the factions has a unique buff that automatically increases the income of
that player, and shares a part of that income with their teammate. Again, that’s just
one example of what we’re trying in order to give A Year Of Rain a unique touch,
especially when it comes to teamplay.
13. How many heroes do you plan on adding in each faction ? How many heroes can the
players control in PvP ?
Nick: Currently, each faction features three unique heroes. Before each PvP match,
the player chooses one of them to play. Campaign mode breaks with the rules from
time to time, because we take the freedom of giving players more and/or unique
heroes for telling our story.
14. Will heroes gain experience to unlock skills ? Will they upgrade their gear ?
Nick: Yes, heroes always start at level 1 and gain experience over the course of a
match. Currently, every level up grants the hero an ability point to learn a new ability
or increase the level of an existing one. In Campaign mode, they’ll also find items to
equip in one of six slots, some of which are consumable. Note that there are just a
handful of abilities per hero, and just a handful of items available, though. Don’t
expect a full-blown RPG here – A Year Of Rain is still an RTS game with team focus.
Also, there are no items in PvP yet, because we feel like it’s hard to balance things
out with random item drops there, but this might change in the future.
15. Will the heroes be closer to DOTA2 or Warcraft 3 ?
Nick: Wow, that’s tough one. Their role changes slightly from time to time as we’re
balancing things out, but I’d say they’re somewhere in between. Playing our heroes
and using their abilities is more based on skill than it has been with WarCraft. But
they don’t rely as heavily on gear as they do in DOTA. It’s a balancing act. We want
heroes to play an important role, but they must not be too powerful compared to the
rest of the army.
16. Will base building be a big part of the game ?
Nick: Base building has its place in A Year Of Rain, but it plays a smaller role than in
some of the other RTS games out there. There’s still workers that spend resources
and time constructing buildings, there’s climbing the tech tree and constructing
expansions, but we condensed the whole set of available buildings down. There are
no supply buildings for increasing your unit limit, for instance. With shifting focus
towards the hero and cooperation between players, the pie slice of base building just
got a little smaller.
17. How many units are you planning ? Will they have special skills ?
Nick: There are seven units per faction right now, all of which have an ability to
support their unique role. That’s our basic lineup for PvP matches. We really want to
make sure that each and every units fits a unique role within the faction, and came
up with this minimum set of units that we need to ensure enough depth while
preventing unit roles from overlapping. That being said, in campaign mode, there are
more unique units that we need to tell our story, and we’ve already got multiple unit
designs in mind for later releases. We just want to make sure that they fill the gap
we’re expecting them to fill, and we somehow expect to see a handful of unusual
things happening as soon as a broader player base is jumping onto A Year Of Rain.
18. Will we be able to capture neutral buildings on the maps ?
Nick: Actually, there are neutral buildings on our maps, such as destructible rocks,
healing wells, observatories and rich mines. Players will interact differently with each
of them: They are going to destroy the rocks or build expansions next to rich mines.
Healing wells currently heal all nearby units without the need of capturing them, while
observatories need players to stay in control of them to extend their vision. However,
some of these details might change before release, such as wrestling control over
healing wells, or how control of observatories is ensured.
19. Regarding the campaign : how is the story going to unfold ? will we be able to play
the 3 factions ? will it be the same story with 3 different points of view, of 3 different
Ben: Yep, all three factions will have their own campaign and all campaigns are part
of a progressive story. The story will be linear that means there’s no temporal
backtracking or point of view switch-up shenanigans.
Nick: It’s not like if you play Rupah, then Rupah wins, and if you play Undead, the
Undead win. Each campaign takes place after the previous one, with all implications
of that fact.
20. Could you tell us what happens during the first missions ?
Ben: Two old friends with enough guts and influence hatch a plan to carve out a
better place to live in this very harsh world. Then, of course, ideals clash with reality.
Sorry for going full on Netflix titlecard on you, but I really don’t want to give away too
21. Will there be rewards like skins or experience for heroes, in case of victory ?
Nick: For PvP, there are meta level rewards like player profile portraits and titles that
are unlocked by playing the game. These are shown at various places throughout the
game, such as loading screens, chat windows or the ladder. However, none of this
affects actual ingame stats of units or heroes – we want new players to be able to
have just as much fun with the game as experienced ones. Campaign mode is
different – heroes will carry over their items from mission to mission, for instance.
22. Will you add a replay mode ? Observer mode ? Ladder ?
Nick: Actually yes, it’s all there. Players are able to record replays of their matches,
to relive their most memorable moments later or learn how to improve further. In
observer mode, you can watch other online matches with a special user interface that
compares various stats of all players, such as hero levels or army size. That’s
currently available by using special instructions, only, for leagues and tournaments
for example, but we plan to make this available to the general public soon. Our
ladder is divided into multiple leagues, tiers and divisions, just as you’d expect from
any competitive game.
23. Do you plan on adding new maps regularly ?
Nick: Yes, this is definitely the plan. We’ll start with a rather small initial map pool for
PvP, and will make sure that these maps highlight different aspects of the game,
such as by using different neutral buildings mentioned before. We’ll then gradually
change the map pool to support new playstyles and give our players what they want
to see. We’re not 100% sure yet whether this means increasing the overall size of the
map pool, or swapping maps in and out, but we really want players to experience
new aspects of the game regularly.
24. How do you plan on supporting eSport ? Will you create official tournaments ?
Nick: That’s a very broad question and I can’t share too many details about that – yet.
We know that we want to support eSports, which is why we’ve already added
features like replays and observers mentioned before. We are currently talking to a
lot of different people about making A Year Of Rain eSports possible, but I don’t want
to tell you about anything that’s not fleshed out yet. Just be assured that we want this
to happen as much as you do!
25. Are you working with eSports celebrities on this topic ?
Nick: Yes, we’ve been working closely together with TakeTV from almost the
beginning of development. With their help, we were able to get valuable feedback
from players like Gabriel « HeRoMaRinE » Segat (mousesports) and Kevin « Harstem »
de Koning (Asterion) playing A Year Of Rain in very early stages, and we’re aiming to
continue and extend these relations. We’re always happy to hear what experienced
players think about our game!
26. How many people are working on balancing the game ? Is a faction stronger or
weaker than the others at the moment ?
Nick: We’ve got a team of designers who are watching the balance of the game
closely. As we’ve started out with a single faction (just because that’s how the world
works), we made sure that there are multiple viable strategies in mirror matches of
this faction. Now, with introducing the other factions, we’re balancing everything out
again and again to make sure none of them is overpowered when we release the
27. Do you plan on having a beta test ? For how long ?
Nick: Yes, we’ve scheduled a beta test for the game. We could really need the help
of our players with ensuring server stability and finding balancing loopholes, among
other feedback. We are a comparatively small company, and for us, there’s currently
no way of simulating a situation where thousands of players play the game – without
actually asking that many players. The details aren’t fleshed out yet, though. We
currently expect the test to take longer than just a few days, but shorter than several
28. Would you be willing to delay the release of the game is there are many comments
from the community ?
Nick: We are on a very tight timeline when it comes to planning the release of the
game. There’s many factors contributing to the date we have in mind, including the
releases of other products and our future plans for A Year Of Rain. Thus, we opted
for scheduling the beta test early enough so that we’d still be able to factor in as
much feedback from the players as possible without postponing the release.
Fortunately, we’re currently planning to release the game in Early Access, which will
give you more time to comment on the game, and give us more time to implement
29. When will we be able to try your game ?
Nick: We’re currently planning when to provide which version of the game, with trade
shows and beta test in mind. You’ll want to make sure to keep an eye on our Steam
page in order not to miss any opportunity at playing A Year Of Rain before release.
Also, our Discord server has a #beta_waiting_
A big thank you for your time and your answers. We will know more in the months that follow and I can only wish you the same success as for your other ambitious titles. The artworks already show an endearing and rich universe. The phases of gameplays are awaited with great impatience. Good night.