The main pillar of any development in our studio is immersion. We spend a huge amount of effort to ensure that what is happening is believed so that it is perceived as a gaming convention to a minimum. And over many iterations of internal, closed, and external playtests, we continue to refine the already made content so that that magical feeling arises: 'I forgot about time, I forgot about things to do, I forgot that I have to work tomorrow - I'm there.'
At first, there is a joyful anticipation; working on such a project is a dream. Then, there is fear because there is a very high risk of getting it wrong. There are too many unique details and features, and each one must be conveyed with love. From this to the very end, there is only overcome by the grace of the Emperor. Among the sources of inspiration were Last Spell, XCom, Jagged Alias, Wasteland, Battlefleet Gothic, Mechanicus, and - as with any project in our studio - the golden fund of classic RPGs.
What was it like creating the first cRPG in the Warhammer 40k setting? Were there other titles that you took some inspiration from?
What were some of the major challenges you encountered while creating Rogue Trader?
Volume and detail. The game came out noticeably larger than initially planned, primarily because, at each moment, we found individual elements of the setting that required additional disclosure in the environment, narrative, and mechanics. Combat system. We did not have a direct reference that could be used one-to-one in Rogue Trader, neither among tabletop RPGs nor among video games. What players got in the game was the fourth iteration of the mechanics. A huge number of questions that we had to explore and even invent. Especially in terms of the setting outside of military operations.
2023 is nearing its end, and I must say that it was a great year for cRPG lovers. Unsurprisingly, many more people fell in love with the genre. Do you think this will encourage more developers to explore opportunities in this sphere?
Definitely. From a business point of view, the audience's love for the genre, expressed in purchases and high ratings, is a direct signal that the niche is much wider than is commonly believed.
One example is the Perils of the Warp, which summon demons. We had to change the operating principle to "the unit explodes and a demon appears in its place," otherwise, situations would appear like the cutscenes with chaos spawns that began after defeating all the initially known combatants.
One thing I found quite interesting with Larian's approach to Baldur's Gate 3 was adding headless bodies to the game to prevent players from talking with them using a spell. I'm curious whether Owlcat did a similar creative thing to work around some of the problems in the game.
Now that the game has been released, which Warhammer 40k setting would you like to take on next?
What was included in the release is far from the 'maximum.' Somewhere, we did not have enough resources; somewhere, we ourselves decided that this was too much. There are no children in the game, no torture, no genocide or suicide. Every element of brutality that players ended up with was something that we felt was necessary to unlock the fantasy of grimdark and the battles in it.
I have noticed that the game does not hold back on the brutality side, giving you options that you would think twice before choosing. Was there a point or threshold you didn't want to cross for those choices, or did you intentionally go all out?
Aside from the restrictions on "romance" in Rogue Trader for reasons you have mentioned a few times, what other features were you unable to implement in the game?
Compared to the original plan, a sufficient number of systems and content were cut from the game at different stages. Here are some examples: the use of military vehicles, mass battles, craftworld, a full-fledged system of morality and fear like in the desktop prototype, changing the voidship, decorating the voidship, the production of goods and items in a trading empire, the trading system itself.