Hi everyone, we are Dark Crystal Games, and our sci-fi post-apocalyptic RPG Encased is running to the end of its Kickstarter campaign - ask us anything! We are eager to answer any sort of questions about the game, development process and the problems that we encounter.

We founded an independent studio in St. Petersburg Russia. We are pleased to tell you how the game industry is developing in Russia and how it is to run a new studio.

Our proof: https://twitter.com/DarkCrystal_HQ/status/1051953741950275584

If you want a taste of what Encased is about, check out our Final Push trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiti7d5JnI0

If you want to watch more about narrative check out our pre-alpha gameplay preview: https://youtu.be/VRMBieJI2lE

We'll start answering around 3:00 PM (PDT) and we'll be here until the questions run out :)

We look forward to your questions!

Comments: 109 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

SinitarGaming23 karma

I was honestly intrigued by your project - it's oldschool-inspired, with already great-looking narration, without censorship. It does look promising! What I'm interested now are some other things :)

Inspiration.
What actually inspired you to start a risky way of being an indie studio in times of lootboxes and EA domination? How you're dealing with doubts? Being a members of already pretty successful studio like Larian is now, what gave you initial push to start making something own? That's pretty general question - I think it can also inspire other people reading this topic.

Replayability and class bulding.
Game is noticably inspired by such games like Fallout 2, with similarities but also own stuff as well. Though, system of abilities/skills/perks is looking pretty much classic - does that mean game will also have "classic" (similar fallout setting) pack of character builds, or you'll try to combine the actual usage of "classic" perks into something different, with own spirit and system? Can you maybe give a little sneak peek and write a few words about some of your own favourite classes in the game?

Words stronger than guns.
Will there be an opportunity to pass through key events in main questline without a single gunshot, using something like sneaking, speechraft etc?

Thanks in advance!

CRONUS_Employee25 karma

Oh, this is a complex bunch of questions! :)

So first of all, Larian is a great place to work and the games they are making are real gems. If not the opportunity to start our own journey we'd most likely not leave the company. There is a bunch of good, hardworking people, and the job is VERY interesting.

But the dream to make something on my own (Viacheslav - Creative Director here) was always on my mind. You know some people feel that being the part of the good company is good enough, and some need their own adventures and new voyages. I think that was the biggest reason. So if YOU feel that urgent need to build something from scratch - don't settle, look for opportunities.

The game is really classless - you and your abilities describe who you are, not some preset we created for you and make you follow. Want to be a braindead scientist - sure. Want to be a mastermind white collar ex-criminal - fine. You choose yourself your base Stats and Skills and those describe who you are and what you can do. You want to be able to push that rock yourself if you have enough MUSCLE, or you can make someone else do it for you if you have enough LOOKS. It is all about systemic freedom and how you use and exploit your abilities.

You can normally be able to beat the game without killing anyone yourself, use your LOOKS to make people do things for you, persuasion to convince people and stealth to pass by the dangers.

Rihannster20 karma

Tell us more about your work in Larian, on which piece of D:OS2 you worked?

CRONUS_Employee9 karma

(Viacheslav) I worked as Senior Gameplay Designer, created all sorts of content - quests, puzzles, combats, created first ever playable prototype of Game Master mode, oversee a small team of gameplay scripters.

Mostly touched Act 1 (the Swamps), Act 2 - Oilfields, Stonegarden, combats in Bloodmoon Island and some combats with demons in Arx. You know DOS2 is a big game, I was shifted here and there several times to help with stuff, but it was a good time!

Our other pal - Konstantin was testing and helping to design tools for game production and modding.

Our other contributors, like Devin Doyle, have written the whole bunch of quests and stuff.

master-of-orion17 karma

Hi, first of all, as an Early Bird supporter, I’m so glad the project will be funded (and will even reach a couple of stretch goals, yay!). My question is... Seeing how Encased is obviously targeted at the fans of old-school rpg games, if you were to choose an element (quest, storyline, location, game mechanic etc.) from the classic Fallouts or other classic CRPGs that inspired you the most, that made you think “wow, this is what roleplaying games are all about”, what would it be and why?

CRONUS_Employee9 karma

And thank you for supporting us!

CRONUS_Employee8 karma

So... in the original Fallout what really is fascinating is how open the world is and how it totally makes sense. On the first playthrough you may spend hours and hours just to find a Water Chip, but when you get used to the game and know the map of the wasteland you can beat it in 15 minutes! This is really stunning when it is first time discovered. So Open World Exploration will be it for the original Fallout.

Wagninator12 karma

Quick clarification around the NPC "henchmen" mechanic: Will you be able to give them any direction, or will they 100% be controlled by the computer?

Wagninator2 karma

upd

For me, the worst aspect of combat in the original Fallouts was the companion system.

CRONUS_Employee6 karma

Understood. The AI in our game will be improved a lot, compared to Fallout games, plus with Justice System in place, you will not trigger hostile behavior of your henchmen and NPCs immediately with an inaccurate shot. As for henchmen - in current design this is not the squad tactics RPG, you mostly control your own character but your have presets and commands to give orders to your henchmen.

headpool1821 karma

Fallout 2, iirc, had the ability to push companions out of the way. This is a MUST. Please ensure I don't get stuck in a door because Hugo the Hunter is standing in my way.

CRONUS_Employee5 karma

Hahaha, sure!

Xllatanr11 karma

Are the game going to base the mostly on firearms or energy weapons or are you going old school with projectile weapons?

CRONUS_Employee6 karma

Firearms, High-tech arms, hand-to-hand enhancements, grenades, heavy weapons. The main plot of our setting happens not that long after the apocalypse, so people still have plenty of guns and ammo.

Wari0Time10 karma

When it will be on steam?

CRONUS_Employee9 karma

Early access will be at the beginning of 2019! Add to the wishlist you can now :)

machop_coach8 karma

Hi guys! Just joined the Kickstarter campaign. Tell me, are there any discussions on the game? In one of the updates, I saw that the community helps in choosing a weapon or something.

CRONUS_Employee7 karma

Hi! So yeah - we are really carefully gathering ideas from the community - we have a special place for it in VK (Russian social network), Facebook, Discord. We often allow people to propose weapon ideas (and made a video about such ideas), vote for armor designs etc. We are generally very open to community proposals. Of course, we can't pick up everything and implement it, but we try.

Check out our CRONUS portal - you can submit NPC idea by filling the questionnaire and get an in game item (on release) https://cronus.darkcrystalgames.com/

HarryEaster8 karma

Hi there!

Love so far what you did with the look and the design :).

Two questions:

1) Will there be one endgame (meaning one final area) with different endings or different endgames, that will allow us to invade different HQ's of the factions?

2) I don't remember it anymore, but can I hire different companions in the game and if yes, how complex will their personalities and my interactions with them be?

CRONUS_Employee4 karma

  1. All the answers are in the center of the Dome, where the Maelstrom strikes the hardest. Most of the game you work on getting there. You may join a faction to do it easier. When you help one of the factions you are implementing the ending of that faction (one of two). There is also the 'neutral' ending - if you don't want to join the ranks of any faction and the "Dome" ending.
  2. Depending on your LOOKS stat you can hire companions (up to three). Those will have their own small personal stories and attitude towards different factions and your doings, though relatively simple, we must admit. The game is a little bit more focused on being the lonely wanderer in the wastes, closer to Mad Max, than on party building CRPGs

HarryEaster3 karma

Makes both sense and reads realistic. Good :).

Last question: What would you like to improve, what Fallout 2 didn't, when it was released?

Good night and thumbs up for the funding :)!

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

F1 and F2 are great, but honestly, there is a lot to improve in 2018 - UI, AI, combat design, loot progression. We will focus on preserving the spirit and improving on what needs to be improved to give fresh experience.

jopeldor7 karma

Can you tell more about Maelstrom? I’m not sure that I really understand how it works, and how it depends on psycho lvl?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

Psyche it is. Maelstrom affects both meta gameplay - fries players brains in some regions so you need to prepare a bit before venturing there, and also solves narrative function. Maelstrom is a special media which its creators - Forefathers used to communicate and build their society. But human's minds are not developed enough and Maelstrom drives them crazy, makes see "ghosts" and hear voices in the head. Being a bit special the protagonist can use interactions with Maelstrom to his advantage.

These are the basics - keep and eye on Kickstarter updates, we will cover it soon.

StarTortilla7 karma

Are you already set date of the alpha and beta testing?

CRONUS_Employee3 karma

Those are not set in stone just yet, but we are heavily targeting make Closed Alpha in mid winter. Then we will take some time to analize the results and will then start Closed Beta.

PosyoSir7 karma

Does the whole game take place inside the dome or can you ever leave it in the late game?

CRONUS_Employee5 karma

Yes, the whole plot of the game is connected with the territory under the Dome. But ... who knows what will happen after the final credits ... ? :)

Hejohath3 karma

The atmosphere of classic postapoc… What exactly can it be found under the Dome? Supermutants? Deathclaws? Scorpitrons? Or other attributes of this genre?

CRONUS_Employee2 karma

The most important attribute is the atmosphere of decaying world and desperation of the people trapped together like the spiders in the jar.

OVERCOVER_YT6 karma

Even if you don’t hit all the stretch goals now (which you probably won’t), would you still want to add the missed features at a later point?

CRONUS_Employee6 karma

First of all - we are intended to make this game as good, as we possibly can - so obviously we will try to squeeze as much content as we can. But there is a limit where you can stretch it - in the end, there are only 24 hours in the day.

Secondly, we will continue gathering funds via the backer portal - so some goals may still happen (same for social goals - keep sharing our social media, join Discord and eventually we will open all the goals).

Finally, some of the most requested features may be added later - in the expansions.

ClassyEnza6 karma

With Fallout as a big influence what made you choose the 1970's over an Atomic Age time?

CRONUS_Employee3 karma

We like the Seventies because it was such a controversial period. On the one hand, the seventies were expressive and bright, but on the other hand, it was a time of conflicts, protests, and crises. In our opinion, the fiction of the 70s is very introspective, drawing much more attention to the inner essence of things, rather than their external manifestations.

Also even with the current design, there are so many accusations in copying Fallout - imagine what'd happen if we'd stick with something closer to it.

SensitiveEnd6 karma

How is it? Found indie game studio in Russia? What problems did you face?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

Running it in Russia is not a problem itself. IT and games are ok here. The problems start when you need to go international - release or run Kickstarter - you need company in EU or USA for that. You need to convince players, the press that you are real people with an actually existing project, break some cold barriers. One of our biggest success of the KS campaign is not the funds only, but the fact we got some coverage and people believed in the project.

franswaa5 karma

Will there be a way to have some non-human option? Like some crazy weird bug mutant or a poorly disguised robot?

CRONUS_Employee6 karma

Not now :) But we are obviously thinking about it. We were playing Fallout tabletop RPG as a prototyping tool for our game, and you can be a Ghoul, a Mutant, a Robot, a Deathclaw and even a Dog in it, which is fascinating. Not gonna happen for this game, but who knows what we will dare to do in the future.

CrazyMonkeyWat5 karma

I believe you made a typo on the Campaign page under "Platforms and dates". Is the early access really planned before the game goes into Alpha? (image shows Alpha at Winter 2019 and EA at Q1 2019).

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

By the winter we mean Jan/Feb 2019, so several moths later from now, basically. And the end of Q1 is like very late April or beginning of May, depending on how certain things will go.

NegativeStand5 karma

Tell more about the team please. All stuff team is young with passion and fire in eyes? Or old-school hardcore gamers who played in Fallout in conscious ages?

CRONUS_Employee3 karma

A mix of both, actually. The leads are more aged and experienced and are big fans of old-school games - our lead artist is particularly a huge fan of post-apocalypse and isometric genre. We add younger blood to the team - they are energetic and more hungry for making their first projects and prove something, which is good. And they often discover older cool games with the help of our leads. So having a good balance is important.

HolidayQuit2 karma

How many members are in your team? How many artists, codeheads and writers? What are you focusing on while considering the size of the team?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

The team is about 25 people now. Core team is a bit less 20 people, those work on the game full time. Others work part time or help us as mentors and experts.

Nerauto5 karma

What is free play mode exactly? Player Vehicles and that mobile player HQ are so mouth watery tasty.

CRONUS_Employee2 karma

You will be able to see the results of the ending you have reached by returning to the places you have visited before, plus you can infinitely ride through the wasteland and keep evolving your characters.

TextCuteness5 karma

How was born the idea of the CRONUS? Inspired by VAULT-TEС?

CRONUS_Employee2 karma

Actually, surprisingly but not :) Before CRONUS the idea of the Dome was brought in - to limit the world, to add interesting meta-entity, to spice the plot. And with the idea of the Dome naturally the idea of the super organization that studies it was born (in Roadside Picnic the Zone was studied by the special institute). And with the idea of Corporation or Foundation, the idea of Wings and everything was born.

Gandargu5 karma

What engine are you using for Encased? Is it made with Unity or your own creation?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

At the moment it is Unity 2018.2

There is a lot of custom tools written though - Dialog Editor, grid generator (the game is turn-based), Stats, Random Encounters, Entity editors etc. Custom grass, cross blend shaders etc etc. So there is a lot of custom stuff on top of the basic package to make sure the game has the appropriate tech.

AllyrTroll4 karma

I watched few videos on youtube. Role-play is ok. But what about the battle system? When can you show the real gameplay?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

Soon? It is there, but we need some time to wrap it. UIs are a real mess and it was not presentable during KS campaign :)

MaterialEchidna4 karma

From the FAQ, I'm assuming this means a native Linux port, not running under WINE?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

Correct.

AlexanderDLarge4 karma

Is this a game that's a linear campaign or is it free play in the way that I could spend hundreds of hours in it like STALKER Call of Chernobyl/Misery?

How emergent is the gameplay? Is it entirely scripted or is it systems within systems interacting with each other?

CRONUS_Employee3 karma

The world is relatively open - except for the pockets of strong Maelstrom presence you can venture any direction you want and engage it all non-linearly.

There is obviously scripting involved in quests and puzzles, but the game is very systemic - both in stat interactions and bigger systems like Maelstrom itself, Justice System, day/night etc.

headpool1824 karma

Fallout 2 especially, which you've listed as an influence has a lot of pop-culture references... Movies, music, television shows, books, it's all there, if you know how to find it. Can we expect some fun pop-culture references from things you guys enjoy? Maybe a door that requires you to speak "friend" in another language and enter?

CRONUS_Employee5 karma

There totally will be a lot of references and easter eggs hidden everywhere. We love sci-fi classics and post-apocalypse, Mad Max, Fallout, other classic CRPGs - all those will be seeded here and there, as funny discoveries for the mindful player.

headpool1822 karma

Excellent. I had backed this previously, but I had a friend who backed it because you guys promised a linux version. I just wanted you guys to know that it did make a difference, hopefully enough of a difference. I also raised my backing by a bit too.

That grappling hook ability looks cool. Is that going to be specific to a character, an item you can equip, a special ability? The one where the character shot the cord pulling the enemy towards them and then melee'd it.

CRONUS_Employee3 karma

Thanks for the support to you and friends!

The hook is one of the special devices we added to make melee combat more attractive - let be honest, in the games with firearms melee build often suck, so we intended to fix that. You need to pass MUSCLES check to be able to pull the enemy, but otherwise, it is a common mechanic.

headpool1821 karma

Will there be different types of melee weapons with special attributes like stun batons and fire blade type things?

CRONUS_Employee3 karma

headpool1821 karma

Is there a hydraulic fist there? That's AWESOME! Do you have teasers for bladed weapons?

CRONUS_Employee2 karma

Not at my hand :)

DefinitiveAccount1234 karma

What kind of games do you aspire to make after Encased? What other developers are you most inspired by?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

Well, we are focused 100% on Encased right now. So we will see. Even for Encased there will be so many things we could not squeeze in, that we will need to make an extra expansion first.

We adore Larian and CD Project Red - those are real kings in their sectors of RPGs development.

Moon_egg4 karma

Are you planning to translate the game to the other languages?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

Yes! - English, Russian, German and French at the moment. Obviously, we'd like to support more, but might be a bit out of our budget. We will open loca files for fan-translations as well.

franswaa4 karma

Hello! Is there any part of the game that the team had the most fun designing?

CRONUS_Employee3 karma

Hi! Hard to say - there is no part of the world or a character that is not beloved by our designers, or writers or artists. We put heart and soul in all of them, there are no generic characters or places, which are placed just to fill the void.

franswaa1 karma

i love you guys

CRONUS_Employee2 karma

Thanks! __^

thatPigfromBeyondGaE4 karma

How I understand you found studio from scratch. Can you tell more, how you hired people, where you take finances to pay them?

CRONUS_Employee2 karma

I've known some of the team members for many years, and some I’ve only met since creating Dark Crystal Games. But the industry is basically very small, everyone knows each other, even if they did not work together. Acquaintances acquired during my work helped me to assemble the team. Also, having a clear idea of the time frame and scope and scale of the project really helps. And since I’ve had prior experience working on RPGs, people were more willing to agree to such a risky venture.

Japangettover3 karma

30+ hours of playtime seems a bit low for me. 30+ is you current state or is it you goal for the release?

CRONUS_Employee6 karma

We are not that big, so 30+ for this one. We needed to build a team and tools from scratch so it is harder. It is easy to promise 60 hours game, but if you are intended to deliver you need to be realistic about your resources. We can pull off 30 hours of great adventure. The bigger amount will just wash it out.

GoUpsidedown3 karma

Will there be a companions limit in the game?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

You will be able to recruit up to three, depending on your LOOKS stat.

Bvh53 karma

Hey there! How did you guys start developing games? I am a web developer atm and I'd like to get into it aswell but I don't know where to start. Any pointers would be very much appreciated :)

CRONUS_Employee2 karma

You will probably need to keep working to pay your bills so you will need to keep working. So if you are interested in design and creation you need to start with mods. Modding is a great opportunity to create a portfolio without creating an entire game from scratch and get a job in some bigger studio.

If you are more of a programmer, then you can check the state of HTML 5 games, should be easier with web dev experience.

Yeromine3 karma

You may have discussed this before but will your part team members have permadeath? It was one thing great about the original fallout games.

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

Yes! No resurrection scrolls, no vita chambers, and other "fantasy" stuff.

lesonsole3 karma

What do you think about tabletop RPG like D&D? Playing in some of them in the studio?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

Yes :) DnD, Apocalypse World, Fallout PnP etc. Tabletop RPGs are the ancestors of entire CRPG genre, we respect them a lot.

AlucardSing2 karma

What about karma? Can I pass the game like fully chaotic evil? Will it change NPCs' attitude to the central character?

CRONUS_Employee2 karma

Yes. The attitude will change for each faction separately. If you don't kill or insult representatives of the certain faction they may be neutral or even allied to you.

Oningstatibrat2 karma

Funny question but still...Will it be possible to complete the game just on charisma? Without killing anyone?:)

CRONUS_Employee2 karma

Yes! LOOKS in this case, but nonetheless, we are aiming heavily to provide such a playthrough.

BysisBasilisk1 karma

How will the inventory slots be released? Can I put big stuff like power armor or machine guns just in my pocket? lol..And what about weight limit?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

There is a weight limit. Slots are unlimited though you can't put stuff which does not make sense in the pocket (as e.g. PA).

Fearlesswarden1 karma

What about voice-over? Do you have a plan on it? Such games have a lot of text, and voice would be great for many players.

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

Voice over is actually one of the stretch goals. This one is expensive. We are exploring our options and trying to figure out how much we can put in. We too think that it will be really nice to have a narration voice over.

RDAM_Whiskers1 karma

First love the game concept and am a backer and am looking forward to this game. Second Do you plan to release any of the stretch goals that arent met as a dlc later down the road?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

1 or 2 stretch goals we can do on our own, perhaps. Their further fate will have to be decided after the release of the game.

CorrectMidnight1 karma

How many coffee and pizza did you put in the development?:)

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

Huge truck! :)

BoldelSlayer1 karma

Design. Do you have new ideas about levels design? Or will we just see another simple wasteland?

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

First of all, we are adding depth to it by adding heigh differences. Fallout and, for instance, Wasteland 2 were pretty flat. We are really emphasizing this. Heigh differences not only add depth and details to the maps, but those also affect world exploration and combat a lot.

OlegKazakov19901 karma

Как у вас удалось запустить Кикстартер кампанию из России? Я думал Кикстартер не доступен для Русских

CRONUS_Employee1 karma

В этой ситуации очень сильно помогают: сотрудник студии с заграничным гражданством и , конечно же, юридическое лицо в Европе :)