RPGamer Feature - Dawn of Heroes Interview
Dawn of Heroes
Developer: Wicked Studios
Publisher: Majesco
ESRB: E10+
Release Date: 02.02.2010

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To date, we've heard little about Wicked Studios' tactical RPG Dawn of Heroes. Considering all the mystery surrounding the title, RPGamer decided to take the opportunity to do a little detective work to unravel more details about this upcoming Nintendo DS title. With the help Yves Bordeleau and Bruno Parenteau from Wicked Studios, Dawn of Heroes will seem like less of mystery, and perhaps something to look forward to. For more information about Dawn of Heroes check out the game's official website.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us about Dawn of Heroes. Before we jump into the game, I would like to hear a little about Wicked Studios. Please tell us a little about the company's structure, history, mission statement, outlook, etc.
Wicked Studios is a small independent developer located in Montreal, Canada. We’ve been around since 2003 and released Keepsake, an adventure game for PC in 2006. Since then we’ve worked on 3D technology for DS and developed Dawn of Heroes as our first project on this platform. The team specializes in RPGs and Adventure game development.

OK, now for a little bit about Dawn of Heroes. Could you tell us how the concept for this game originated?
We wanted to take a break from the adventure genre after Keepsake so we decided to move on to another genre that we all liked very much (SRPG). We also wanted to create a game with a strong multiplayer experience; the turn-based tactical genre was perfect for this (and yet pretty much unexplored) so we were thrilled to work on this concept.

Could you please give us a brief overview of Dawn of Heroes? We know it's a tactical RPG, but what really stands out about it? What is the target audience for this title?
The solo campaign in Dawn of Heroes is as strong as the multiplayer experience. The "fair fight rule" preventing more than two units from attacking the same enemy on a given turn creates a real need to find the right strategy to win a combat. Quite a lot of combats in Dawn of Heroes are like puzzles to solve: you need to discover the right way to complete them or else you’ll have a hard time (or lots of levels to grind! lol). The game will appeal to both teens and adults with its "easy to learn, but hard to master" type of gameplay, distinctive art style and funny story.

What influenced the overall design of Dawn of Heroes?
We had quite a lot of different influences during game development. We took tabletop game elements as a base to Dawn of Heroes' gameplay, MMORPG elements were also an inspiration for the character skills, and movies/TV shows helped a lot to create the cut-scenes atmosphere. We also did focus group and gameplay testing with hardcore SRPG fans and also with people not familiar with the genre in order to design a game that would appeal to a very wide audience.

How deep are the multi-player features, and how is it accessed?
As soon as the Player unlocks five Heroes in single player mode he (or she) gains access to multiplayer games, both on wireless and WiFi. The bouts are 5 VS 5, and each player plays all of his/her heroes before the opponent take its turn. With 26 Heroes to choose from, each of them having a unique combination of skills and mechanics, the possibilities are almost endless!

How does the game handle the many branching paths that have been touted?
The branching system is quite simple: as the player finishes missions (or objectives) paths to new areas appears on the world map. Some of the branches will be locked for a while, but the game will give the player the opportunity to unlock them later in his or her playthrough. Once unlocked, all of the game locations/missions can be played again from the world map. There are also over 20 hidden objectives and 6 super hard monsters to challenge the advanced players.

We've read that every hero has a specific ability that they can harness in combat. What are some of these abilities used by the heroes?
Here are a few examples of active and passive skills: The skill "Taunt" prevents the target from attacking anyone else but the hero who used it for a specific amount of turns. Some passive skills will make a hero self-destruct when KOed to deal damage to nearby enemies, while another one will heal nearby allies when knocked down. Some abilities prevent the victim from taking any action while other skills give an ally an extra turn. One of the coolest things in Dawn of Heroes is to discover the different synergies between heroes and their special skills.

How did this project land on the DS? Also, why the decision to go with 3D models as opposed to sprites? And combat on the top screen is not always typical for tactical RPGs, any reason to share for that?
Very good question! When we started the game's production the DS was a very interesting console for the genre. Stylus driven controls and the dual screens were a great fit with what we had in mind. Since we developed a very powerful 3D engine for DS it was natural to go with 3D models and environments for the game. We decided to go with a stylus driven "overhead" view on the bottom screen to re-create the tactical tabletop RPG feeling. This way all the action is clearly seen on the top screen while the player can carefully plan his/her strategy on the tactical map on the bottom screen.

What are some other important aspects of the game that you'd be willing to share with the readers? What is it about Dawn of Heroes that you think would appeal to the RPGamer audience?
Being hardcore RPGamers ourselves, we can say that there's a lot in Dawn of Heroes to appeal to the RPGamer audience. Dawn of Heroes was developed by a very dedicated team and each developer/artist that worked on the title contributed to make this title unique by giving their different perspectives on SRPGs. The game takes over 25 hours to complete in single player mode (more if you do the side quests) and has great potential in multiplayer mode. Every hero has 3 unique appearances that are unlocked throughout the game and there are hundreds of magical items and unique weapons to be discovered, some of them giving heroes the appearance of specific monsters. RPGamer audience will surely enjoy the extra challenge that the 6 super monsters will provide at the end of the game (and will remind them of the good old FF7 "Weapons" in term of difficulty!). Another thing that will surely interest a lot of people is the game's soundtrack which is a blend of symphonic and power metal (a bit like Castlevania and Y's series).

How has this project helped to shape Wicked Studio's outlook for future RPG projects? What did you learn in this process that you will for sure carry over to your next RPG?
We definitely learned a lot during Dawn of Heroes' development. First of all, creating an original SRPG is very hard... especially when your dev team is very small! Add Wireless and Wi-Fi multiplayer features to that and you are in for a lot of work ;-). It was our first project on DS and we obviously learned many technical things along the way. I think the most important thing we learned is that scaling a RPG project up is much easier than scaling it down when all features are super-duper-important features (lol). Dawn of Heroes was a very ambitious project from day one and it was quite a challenge to keep the original vision throughout the development process without sacrificing too much. In the end we are very happy with the results but, as many of you know, this had a big impact on the game production time and release date. We hope you’ll enjoy playing the game as much as we enjoyed working on it! =)

RPGamer would like to thank Yves Bordeleau and Bruno Parenteau from Wicked Studios. Dawn of Heroes is currently scheduled to be hitting stores in Feburary 2010.

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