Serious look and feel to Sorcery
Sorcery uses Sony's PS Move motion-sensing controller and was first shown in 2010 but then stayed mainly out of the public eye until last month, when it was released.
Developer Peter Ackemann explains Sorcery's delay and how the game could make gamers less sceptical about motion-controlled gaming.
Sorcery was first revealed at Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2010. But there hasn't been much news about it since. Why has there been a delay?
The E3 announcement was a double-edged sword for Sorcery. Of course, we were delighted by the unexpectedly huge reception, but at the same time we were a small team facing big expectations and the game was not there yet.
Furthermore we could see that a tonal shift was needed to resonate with the core PS3 audience.
Given that, Sony doubled-down and we began a long rework of the game which took us more than a year before we were able to re-announce it.
Nintendo bought motion-sensitive gaming to the masses with the Wii, but many hardcore gamers still hesitate to try motion sensing gaming. How will Sorcery make gamers want to try?
The general gamer perception of motion-controlled gaming is that it is sloppy, tiring, and offers little you couldn't do better with a standard controller.
With the power and precision of the PS Move, we thought we could do better. Simply put, our goals from the beginning were that control experience of Sorcery would be reliable (getting what you want every time), durable (you can play for hours at a time, standing or sitting, live-action role playing or on your couch, being a "lazy gamer") and effective (offers a deeper gameplay experience not possible with a standard controller).
We believed in these goals and pursued them ruthlessly for three years of development. We may not have hit 100 per cent, but we got a long ways toward it. We definitely pushed the envelope and I think gamers should give it a shot.
How much has Sorcery changed from that first reveal in 2010?
At its heart, it's the same game. But realise that we worked on Sorcery for as long after E3 2010 than we had before it, and with a lot more people so it definitely changed a lot.
Thematically, it was a major overhaul toward a somewhat more serious look and feel. We said it was going from "fairy tale" to "grown-up fairy tale", a subtle but profound shift.
The game became story-driven and the story became much stronger. That also meant the tile-based dungeon you saw at E3 gave way to rich hand-built levels.
The core gameplay was maintained, but continued to evolve from essentially a demo suite we had at the show, to a fully functional spell-combo based combat system.
How hard has it been developing a game for something like the Move, where players' physical movements are crucial to gameplay?
I expected it to be hard, and it was harder than that. We like to say that "everyone presses X in the same way", but what do people do when you tell them to strike with the wand? And how different is it the next time they do it?
The PS Move is precise, but people are not. The key is a feedback loop of instruction, action and response that guides the player into effective behaviour. Sounds kind of clinical, but it's really an art form.
And, of course, you have to stay mindful of the core goals at all times. That said, the controller is ultimately a tool and is not the game itself.
Run me through some of the game play mechanics with Sorcery. How will spell casting work?
At the low level, we've got the bolt casting system.
Think one-to-one control of your third-person avatar. You do what you want him to do. Flick the wand straight, or left or up and down, and he'll do the same. Even throw in a sidearm flick to curve your bolt around or over obstacles.
You're not tethered to the screen, but have the full dynamic range the PS Move and your arm can provide.
At the tactical level, advanced spell combat is based on combining spells with each other and with environmental elements. Select a spell with a gesture then cast to conjure its effect (a firewall, an ice cloud, a whirlwind).
Then switch to another spell to combine its effect with the first. Produce a lightning tornado, or send your bolts through a wall of fire to ignite your opponents from afar.
Or chain your spell effects on enemies, freeze their shield with ice, then shatter it so you can strike the flesh beneath.
Long-term character development takes place through alchemy, which is a hands-on physical roleplaying experience of the Wizards Laboratory.
Gather arcane ingredients, do your research, then head to your cauldron where you Shake, Grind, Stir and create potions with magical powers (and occasionally unexpected results).
What are you most proud of with Sorcery?
Every member of the team would answer that question differently. I think there's a lot to be proud of: A functional and novel motion-control scheme, being the first serious action-adventure game on the platform, a great story, memorable characters, a beautiful world, charm and wonder and fun.
I think Sorcery has something for new and old gamers alike, as long as your imagination is intact.
Sorcery, about $70, is out now.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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