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The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

Interview: Fighting Fantasy for a new generation

A game based on the first Fighting Fantasy book is coming to DS this Christmas. Developed by Big Blue Bubble and published by Aspyr, the DS exclusive has the full co-operation of original authors Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone.

We've been told by the publisher that the game is still waiting on final dates for UK, Europe and Asia. Don't worry it will be released over here though. We've got a couple of exclusive screens too. On with the show.

Why have we had to wait so long for a Fighting Fantasy game on the current hardware?

Damir Slogar: This game has been in production for almost 4 years. Getting the maximum performance out of the hardware has taken some time. Also, it's take quite a bit of time to create the large number of art assets that are found in the game.

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Have you had any input from the book's creators Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson?

Slogar: Of course. We showed the playable prototype of our game to Ian Livingstone back in 2007. Ian immediately recognizsd the potential and we agreed to continue the development using the Fighting Fantasy brand.

Around the same time, Steve & Ian had just published the 25th anniversary edition of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain so the choice to base the game on that book was obvious.

We started the design of the characters and environments while getting constant feedback from Ian. Some of the main monsters (such as the Orcs and Minotaur) went through numerous iterations because Ian thought that they were not scary or gritty enough.

Meanwhile, we were struggling to find a publisher for the title. Everyone we showed the game loved it but the 'big guys' like EA, Ubi or Activision were not interested in DS only titles.

Another challenge was the high cost of manufacturing because the game is using one of the largest cart sizes and largest save EEPROM (in part because you can draw on the in-game map using the stylus). Last year we managed to sign the game with one publisher, but as the global economic crisis hit everyone hard they went out of business.

Luckily we finally met Aspyr and they really understood the value of the FF brand and technology behind the game. As the game was nearing completion in terms of gameplay features we needed someone to re-write all the story and dialogues to make it a real Fighting Fantasy experience.

Of course who else could do a better job than Steve Jackson himself? So we recruited Steve to help and he did an amazing job bringing the characters and story to life through his writing.

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How have you brought to life the 'choose your own adventure' aspect of the books in a game?

Slogar: We had to give it a more modern twist but we managed to keep all of the core elements including character creation, skills and attributes, items, weapons, etc. Players can always choose their own path (and get lost, despite having a detailed map at their stylus tip) and many missions can be completed in different ways.

How will the game be different from traditional RPGs?

Slogar: What is traditional RPG? I've been playing RPGs for close to 30 years now and I have a hard time defining 'traditional RPG'. Obviously, we were inspired by some of the top games in the genre like Dungeon Master, Eye Of The Beholder series, Ultima Underworld and, more recently, Oblivion. As you will notice, all of those games had strong action elements and Fighting Fantasy is no different.

How will you stop people cheating the system by just going back and choosing the option that doesn't kill them?

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