The Technomancer Interview – Mars Calls RPG Fans Once Again
French studio Spiders have focused on the Action RPG genre for quite some time now. Their first game was Faery: Legends of Avalon, released in November 2010 and now almost forgotten by the public. Then we've had Of Orcs and Men (which spawned the Styx: Master of Shadows spin-off series), Mars: War Logs and Bound by Flame.
Their latest project, The Technomancer, brings us back to Mars once again. However, this game aims much higher thanks to a much larger amount of content and extra development time to polish it all. We've talked to CEO Jehanne Rousseau to bring you more exclusive details on The Technomancer, due to launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC this Summer.
- Just a couple of months ago, the game was still scheduled for early 2016 while now it's been moved to summer 2016. Can you explain the reasons for this delay and what kind of improvements are you planning to make to the game in the meantime?
- The reason is simple: We want our game to be released in the most polished state possible. Allowing ourselves this extra time has let us further polish and improve The Technomancer’s large amount of content.
- When compared to your last game (Bound By Flame) what would you say are the biggest enhancements you have focused on?
- We’ve focused on deepening the experience in every conceivable way. We added new skills, a wider range of equipment and loot, greater tactical depth for every play style, and AI companions for the player to cooperate with. We want to widen the player’s array of possibilities, while at the same time keeping the challenge of the game intact.
- Will there be dynamic weather and/or a day night cycle?
- The weather system actually goes hand-in-hand with our story. Mars and its inhabitants are suffering the consequences of the War of Water, where major Martian corporations are fighting to control its supply. The weather is dry and sterile, putting the entire planet under a serious drought. Most of the action in The Technomancer happens indoors, as humans live in sheltered cities to protect themselves from harmful radiation. There is a day/night cycle, which is used in different ways. NPCs go to bed at night for instance, which could mean that certain quests aren’t available during that time. Some quests also have a deadline, and would have you complete them before a certain date or time - the day/night cycle serves to remind you that time stops for no man…
- From what we understand, it sounds like The Technomancer has a much bigger playable world. Is that coupled with an increased longevity? How long will it take to complete the game, on average?
- Mars is a lot bigger in The Technomancer compared to what you saw in Mars : War Logs. We’ve created vast, open areas that allow players to explore their secrets. The game’s world is built around several hubs and cities that can be unlocked - between which you can travel using a Martian rover. With regards to longevity, The Technomancer offers far more than any of our previous games. The main quest has 25 to 30 hours of play to offer, which is easily extended to around 50 hours with the inclusion of side quests. This is 4 times lengthier than Mars: War Logs, and The Technomancer contains around 4 times as many quests as Bound By Flame. This is without a doubt our deepest and richest game to date.
- Choices seem to be pretty important in The Technomancer. Will these lead to branching paths and eventually multiple endings?
- Your choices will have a direct influence on the narrative, as well as your personal gameplay experience. This is not limited to just the game’s ending. The introduction of factions and companions means your approach to the branching dialogues and quests will have an effect on your reputation on Mars. Factions and companions play an important role in the adventure because of the quests they offer - this means that how you behave with them determines what perks and rewards you’ll be able to reap. Because of that, and since everyone is entitled to their own style of play, the game experience tailors itself to each individual player.
- Do you plan to add any additional content after launch and if so, will it be free or paid?
- No additional content is currently planned for after launch, but we may consider it at a later date.
- In an earlier interview you mentioned that the engine was re-written to properly utilize the hardware of current generation machines. Can you tell us the main upgrades you made?
- This new generation of powerful consoles and PCs has allowed us to make huge steps forwards in terms of quality. As such, we’ve completely rewritten our engine and switched to a full PBR graphic renderer. For The Technomancer’s futuristic world, this was very helpful for things like proper rendering of electric light sources, or the wide variety of materials like polished metal, rust, or sand. The added capabilities also let us dramatically increase the level of detail of our environments. The cities of The Technomancer are far more populated and complex than those featured in Bound By Flame.
Particular attention was given to the faces of our characters. This was important for making them feel ‘alive’ when interacting with them.
- Are you still targeting 1080P@30 on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, even with the 7th cores now unlocked on both machines? How much of a performance boost did you notice with those anyway, respectively on PS4 & XB1?
- We are in the final phase of optimizing The Technomancer, and improvements are still underway. We have had to make several decisions which have allowed us to maintain the richness of the game’s fluidity and environments. As such, we’ve decided to use a 900p resolution on Xbox One, which ensures a detailed and smooth experience. Regarding the 7th processor, this was a good addition to help us achieve our objectives. The gain is not huge on PS4 or Xbox One, but it was helpful for squeezing out a bit of extra power.
- Could you detail the technical features of The Technomancer's PC version for us (4K/SLI/CrossFire support, uncapped frame rate, additional effects...)?
- We are still in the testing phase for high end PC configurations. Our goal is to support the maximum number of hardware features, and offer graphical options with great flexibility.
- Are you going to support DirectX 12 at launch and if not, do you plan to add it later? What about the new Vulkan API?
- We are not currently planning a DirectX12 version for The Technomancer, as this would have split our efforts on too many API. However, this is certainly something that we will consider with great interest in the future.
- Thank you for your time.