I’ve recently had the chance to check out Fatshark’s Krater while it’s in its pre-alpha stage. The game is a squad-based RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world. Since the game is in its pre-alpha stage, Fatshark has been very inclusive with the community. Their forums are teeming with ideas that bounce between the developers and the playtesters.
Fatshark’s CEO and executive producer, Martin Wahlund, was on hand for the interview.
You guys mention resemblances to Syndicate and X-Com. How exactly does Krater capture the feel of these older titles?
Martin: We want a squad management system that is somewhat similar to X-COM. We also want to capture the fact that characters got injuries and died in X-COM, which encouraged players to use different squad members for missions. The pre-alpha is very easy in terms of difficult level as we want people to get the hang of mechanics without any tutorial and explanations. The major resemblance with Syndicate is that you control a team of characters in a top down view.
The loot system is more like the one you see in Diablo 2 and the game is played in real-time in order to allow co-op.
Martin: Krater is set in Sweden and I can’t think of any game right now that takes place in a post-apocalyptic Sweden! The game world is also very lush. It has a lot of green vegetation and colorful houses. We believe that a post-apocalyptic world shouldn’t be limited to just a brown and grey color palette!
Episode Two of Krater, Pledge of the Patriarch is due out in Q3 2012. How important is storytelling to Krater and can we expect more episodic DLC in short intervals?
Martin: Storytelling is very important in Krater. We want to build a world that people can explore.
In the pre-alpha build we only have a few quests but not the main story. We are aiming for releasing content in regular intervals. Expect a variety of updates; everything from the large episodic expansions to really small updates that might contain just a few new skills, quests, items, or what we feel is needed at the time. Our vision of the game will for sure not be fulfilled when we release the game at first. We want to build on Krater in the long run. There are so many things we want to get into the game that it’s impossible to even get half of it into our initial release. We have to work in iterations if we don’t want to wait another two years for the game’s release.
I was surprised with how active I had to be in order to control my squad effectively. Are micromanagement skills vital to success in Krater?
Martin: Yes and no. It depends on the team you pick. Some characters are more micro intensive to cater to the RTS fans and some are more for the fans that want to focus on strategy in combat. The strategy-focused characters will have longer cooldowns and cast times so it’s more important to time those correctly. The micro intensive ones use instant abilities where you really can step up your damage by using your micromanagement skills.
Care to elaborate on the game’s character progression? Injuries and death in particular.
Martin: When a character is knocked unconscious, the the vial in his portrait is filled a little bit to show that he’s suffered some permanent damage that isn’t healed. Think of it like a minor injury. If you sustain a few of those you get a permanent injury. If you collect too many permanent injuries, the character dies.
There are a lot of permanent injuries that give you different penalties. Some of these injuries can be healed in the hospitals (which are not in the pre-alpha build). What we want to achieve from this is a more careful player. Fleeing combat should always be an option. Players should be scared of dying!
Players can improve their characters by finding good implants, finding better gear and customizing their skills. However, we want the player to focus more on building a good team in order to tackle different situations. Early on, the options are limited but the further you progress, the more vital it will be to pick the best setup for each mission.
We already know to expect co-op gameplay. Do you guys have any plans for a versus or arena mode?
Martin: Yes, we’re planning it along with the next episode of Krater, Pledge of the Patriarch!
How it will work? We have our ideas but I guess we are going to ask the community what game modes they would prefer! Basically, I can see a lot of different game modes, everything from pure arena fighting team vs team to more advanced game modes such as something along the lines of DotA.
Will the multiplayer offerings allow each player to control his or her own squad or will they simply control one or two characters each?
Martin: We want to keep the feel of the game, so when it is possible you’ll be able to control a team of three. A lot will depend on what type of co-op mission you chose to play.
Martin: Yeah, we are really happy with the soundtrack. It is done by a Swede named Christian Gabel who plays in a great Swedish band. The story behind the soundtrack is a long one that won’t fit into this interview. Personally, I would compare it to the soundtrack of Bladerunner or maybe Tron.
How’s the pre-alpha been so far? Do you guys feel a bit vulnerable showing Krater before everything’s been implemented?
Martin: It has been great! We have gotten very valuable feedback from the players. Of course you feel vulnerable as there are a lot of mock-up things in the build, and also a lot of things missing. I would however, say that the benefits are greater than the drawbacks. People seem to understand that they have gotten a real pre-alpha build with all the flaws you find in something this early.
Any last comments for our readers?
Martin: We are still getting a lot of feedback so if you like RPGs and would like to participate in our project, sign up for the pre-alpha at www.kratergame.com. It is not too late!
Expect Krater to be released in Q2 or Q3 of 2012.