Recently, I've been talking with Norbert Varga from Digital Arrow, developer of the sci-fi racing platformer inMomentum, and the fantasy RPG Dilogus: The Winds of War, which is currently under development.
In part one, we talked about how Digital Arrow develops games, what kind of impact inMomentum has had on them, and touch on Dilogus: The Winds of War. In this second part of our interview, we go deeper into Dilogus' current state, Digital Arrow's experiences with trying to find a Linux friendly publisher, and the value of cross platform development.
I often hear Dilogus cited as a significant upcoming cross platform title. What kind of community responses has Dilogus evoked from gamers on all platforms?
Dilogus - The Winds of War is part of our efforts to liven up Linux gaming. We’ve evoked a lot of response from the Windows community, as well as a fair amount of positive reaction from the Linux community thanks to the fact that we aim to deliver a native Linux client of the game. The amount of interest shown from the Linux community at an early stage of development like ours only proves that Linux has potential as a gaming platform.
You mentioned that Dilogus is only a part of your plans for Linux. Are there other projects or concepts that you can tell us about?
We have way more plans in our pocket beyond Dilogus - The Winds of War, or generally games. We have concepts for games, software and more towards Linux and generally all platforms on how we interact with the gaming community, but that’s all I can disclose at this point.
In what ways do you think Linux gaming can be improved?
There are many-many ways. Steam coming to Linux will encourage more developers to dip their feet in Linux game dev, the same way Desura has already done. The Humble Bundle guys have also done a great job in encouraging Linux development.
Linux gaming can be also improved by raising general awareness of investment/publishing parties towards the possibilities Linux can offer. Once there are 5 or 10 big game hits on Linux, they will probably move easier towards the platform.
What kind of reception has the game development industry given your plans for Dilogus?
So far we have not managed to receive any kind of support for the project, mainly due the fact that we wish to support Linux. It’s something that many investors and/or publishers don’t seem to show interest in, which is understandable if they do not deal with the platform. However, for us, it is something that we do not wish to drop. We’re hoping to find an investor/publisher who shares our interests in being a cross-platform (Windows/Linux) developer.
A lot of us here at Digital Arrow are Linux users. Also, a part of me as a gamer has had a dream of a great RPG running natively Linux for a while now.
Have you had interactions with prospective publishers that have fallen apart due to your desire for Linux support, or are you just not getting any interest at all?
We’ve seen both. Obviously, everything depends on publisher interest in platforms and the IP. Both publishing and investment parties want to make sure that their money goes to the right place, which is understandable.
There are many examples of great games, movies or books that have went through tens or in some cases, over a hundred cases of pitching, before finding the right publisher and turning into a product. I’ve been working on Dilogus for many years (the universe), and I’m not the type of person who gives up on a project.
With Dilogus having little visible activity over the past year or so, what can you tell us about the state of Dilogus and your plans for the future?
As I’ve mentioned, the investment interest in the project has been scarce. Being independent brings along the fact that we have to fund things ourselves which is not easy, especially with a project like Dilogus - The Winds of War. For the past year, we’ve been seeking further investment with so far no luck, and have been working with the resources we have on prototyping and developing various gameplay features.
Have you considered crowdfunding as a possible avenue for supporting development of Dilogus?
Yes, we have. The problem is, most sources of crowdfunding is restricted for us for the time being. In addition, the project is not very small - therefore, crowdfunding is a hard nut to crack, even if we would have full access to all crowdfunding services. Not everyone can get multiple hundred thousands from Kickstarter. The recent success stories of it might suggest otherwise, but we all know that those happened only because of the people behind those games. We might give Kickstarter a go at some point, but it’s not our immediate plan.
Crowdfunding with Dilogus, in my opinion, could be more viable in a manner where we give people an alpha with their preorder, much alike Desura’s Indie Fund feature. I think that’s the most fair way. Right now however, we cannot do that, because Dilogus is not yet ready for such.
What kind of importance do you think there is in cross platform game development and cross platform development tools?
Windows as a gaming platform has been around for a while. Linux on the other hand have been more often categorized as work platforms or server machines. But this is changing. With more and more distribution options, such are the Ubuntu Software Centre, Desura and more importantly Steam (which is now finally coming to Linux, as I've heard), Linux is at a point where it’s become a more than viable gaming platform.
Not everyone uses one and the same platform. Everyone needs a good share of games, and Linux is no-where near to being populated by them. People have preferences in platforms, but they all wish for equally great games. A belive, that by providing games to people on all platforms (Windows, Linux or Mac) , the game marked would be more stable and equal.
Where do you see Digital Arrow in two years' time?
By then, Digital Arrow will probably increase in its staff (if things go right of course), and hopefully, Dilogus - The Winds of War will be released by then. Past that, we’ll be working on our next project or on expanding Dilogus itself.
Can you describe your development environment? What sort of toolsets do you make use of, and why?
Digital Arrow is mainly a distributed company, which means some of us work from an office, and some of the team work from their homes from multiple places in the world. Most of the team however is from Europe (for a more streamlined communication). We use multiple tools such as Skype, Redmine, GoogleDocs, Box.net & Dropbox, SVN, FTPs and things like that to get the work done within this distributed system that we employ. It’s like one big, virtual office, where things get connected using the internet.
During the production of inMomentum and the past, we’ve improved this system a lot, allowing us to have team that functions as a regular, in-office team (sometimes even better - no traffic problems to get to work!), capable of all aspects of game development.
And to finish off, what is your favourite game?
Haha, now that is a hard one to answer. It’s hard for me to pin-point a favorite game, there are just so many! I’ll list a few, and hopefully that will suffice: Gothic 2, Baldur's Gate 2, Half-Life 2, Max Payne 1, Psychonauts, Portal and Fallout 1 & 2.
DerRidda: When can the general public expect to see some in-game footage of Dilogus?
Currently, Dilogus is in a prototype phase and is not really ready for a public preview. When the time comes, we’ll make sure the public knows.
xpander69: Where will we be able to find Dilogus when it is ready for release (steam/desura/gameolith, etc.)?
Certainly Steam and Desura, and possibly other digital distribution platforms as well. This highly depends on who we’ll be working with in the future to make Dilogus - The Winds of War a reality.
sakuramboo: Will the Dilogus coop mode be true multiplayer or just a local lan?
We’re aiming for online cooperative gaming, which will allow playing with people that you choose from, or other, random (public) parties that allow outsiders to join.
sakuramboo: Will Dilogus support OSX at any time?
I cannot say for sure, but it is possible.
Thanks for your time, Norbert, and best of luck with Dilogus: The Winds of War!
If you haven't already, please take the time to read part one of the interview.
Thanks for reading!
Questions marked with an asterisk (*) have been submitted by community members/friends/people who are not me.
If you'd like to find out more about about Digital Arrow, you can find information on the company and its games on the Digital Arrow website. InMomentum is currently available on Steam for Windows, and Dilogus will be available for Windows and Linux PCs when it is ready.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This interview was first published on the 22nd of May 2012.