Chris Taylor on Wildman: "What if I tell people my wife's gonna cut my balls off?"
"I don't know of any other game that changes its title..."
PC Gamer: You've told me that making an RTS with RPG elements didn't work out, so Wildman is more action RPG than RTS, and there are Warzones where the RTS stuff happens. Is there a seamless transition between the two? How does that solution work?
Chris Taylor: Well, that's exactly right...I tried to bring RPG into RTS back with Dungeon Siege, and ended up saying, "No let's stick with a more traditional action RPG." This was a case of, let's take an action RPG game—you've got a hero, a Wildman or a Wildwoman—and for fun the game changes the name, the title graphics change to "Wildwoman" if you play the Wildwoman, so we think that's kind of fun.
I like that.
CT: And I think it's the first time. I don't know of any other game that changes its title to be based around—at least, the internal splash screen—so when you come back to it, it says "Wildwoman!"
Anyway, you have this action RPG hero. This hero is persistent, it evolves, the character grows. You're fighting over land, you're on this adventure fighting it out, you get to a point—a stronghold—you establish a base, you head out, and you step into someone else's territory, and you do something hostile. You smack someone on the head, and now there's an act of war declared. The trumpets blare and the war is on, and now you've got enemies streaming across the map and you've got to build your structures to defend. If you don't, they'll kick your ass and send you back to where you came from, and you'll regress in terms of the game's progression. However, of course, your character is persistent, so any experiences or leveling up, accumulation of items and so forth, you get to keep.
But if you're in the middle of this battle, and you're winning—you're doing great—but you decide you're just gonna wander off the battlefield, the game will say, "Oh, are you conceding?" Then the war will terminate.
So, during these RTS parts, the control doesn't change, right? I'm still controlling the Wildman, with no omnipresence to put buildings down with a hand from space?
CT: Yeah, you return to your base, and that's where you can build structures by clicking on the special build sites, and you'll have so many and they'll grow as you play the game. You'll get to choose what you build. Now, early in the game, you can't build much. As you expand and capture technology from your fallen opponents you have a broader technology base to draw from. Someone might shoot at you with a bow, now you've got archers, longbowmen. Oh, great, I've got flaming arrows! It continues to grow, and so the choices you have when building out your technology are greater. Now, that mirrors a lot of single player RTS campaigns. Every time you play a new mission you get access to a deeper technology tree.
In this game, you actually have to go out and acquire the technology. So, I use this fun example that soap, as a technology to primitive man—when he came across soap his life expectancy increased by a huge margin because he was keeping himself clean from disease and germs—bacteria and stuff like this—so, you know, you might destroy your opponent and it might give you a choice, would you like the slingshot or soap? So, you pick soap and all the units that spawn in the next war have greater health. It all feeds back into the war machine, but you could have chosen the other, and it might have been the wrong choice, but you still could probably win and then you'll pick up the soap maybe the next time around.
"Homo sapien emerges, bone, femur—you know—an elephant's femur in his hand, and he's just clubbing neanderthals and other creatures..."
So there's this technological evolution going on with your character. I'm trying to follow some sort of early man, you know: homo sapien emerges, bone, femur—you know—an elephant's femur in his hand, and he's just clubbing neanderthals and other creatures, and finally discovering technologies to build a cohesive war machine.
To answer your question, though, your Wildman develops a leadership technology—the skill of leadership—and he can command so many of the men. You don't ever do individual unit control because we want to stay truer to the action RPG game. So, you're driving your hero around and beating things up, but if you have a strong leadership and you come back to base, the next two or three spawns will spawn right into your crew, and now you're cruising around—a gang on the battlefield—and you can direct these guys a lot better than the guys just charging out of their barracks straight to the front line, which is a more MOBA style. So we're bringing together some fabulous elements people have been playing and loving, and we're hoping we can bring them together in a way that really makes sense.
On the next page: Cats, Tarantino, and Chris Taylor's balls...