Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden Interview

We already had a chance to see some gameplay from The Bearded Ladies’ upcoming turn-based post-apocalyptic strategy/RPG Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. And now, Indiegraze offers a detailed interview with the studio’s producer Mark Parker. The interview touches on the game’s feeling of adventure, its sense of humor, the importance of its stealth aspect, as well as Mutant Year Zero’s relationship with its pen and paper source material. A few sample questions:

Erik Meyer: MYZRTE guides players through XCOM-inspired turn-based tactical combat, with mutations, specialized equipment, and unique character abilities leading the way through a post-apocalyptic setting, so from a mechanics and an experience POV, what aspects of the project set it apart from games with a similar perspective, and as designers, how do you go from solid assets to a well-oiled machine?

Mark Parker: Whilst of course there are comparable elements to XCOM and other tactical games, we wanted to stand out from the crowd somewhat by incorporating a solid feeling of adventure, not just a succession of tactical encounters. Therefore, we have a real-time element that allows the player to employ stealth and a certain degree of pre-planning before entering combat, and the transition between real-time and tactical gameplay is smooth and dynamic. It’s about giving the player a choice of how they tackle each situation (something we know about from working on Hitman) and also allowing them to explore the rich world we have created. Regarding the process of making it a slick-feeling and satisfying experience, it’s mainly down to playing, tweaking and playing some more. In addition, Rui (CEO of FUNCOM) is a hardcore player of tactical games, and he regularly gives us feedback regarding difficulty, timings, visual cues, etc.

EM: Long before the announcement of MYZ as a videogame, the pen-and-paper RPG already had a devoted following, so can you speak to the bridge between what you’re doing and the traditions it comes out of? Additionally, what expectations come with a universe that people already know and love?

MP: Well firstly, it’s impossible to please everyone, and whilst the temptation was there to add a lot more of the RPG elements from the books into our game, we knew that attempting to replicate a pen and paper experience in a videogame is never really going to satisfy everybody; by its very nature, a pen and paper game is a very free-form social experience where (besides the core ruleset) the players’ imaginations are literally the limit. So we decided to make a tactical adventure game set within the rich world from the books, and we felt that this genre fit the universe nicely and that there is a certain degree of ‘dice rolling’ in this type of game. As for the universe, we try to make sure everything we include fits well with the books; there are obviously some things we wanted to explore or add that the books don’t cover entirely, so there is a small amount of ‘artistic license’, and many of the team members have been long-time players of the Mutant games, so they also keep to canon.

EM: In the gameplay footage that has been released, devs spoke to characters misunderstanding history, so a statue of a high school mascot might be mistaken for a demon, for example. As the game’s narrative has developed, how do you see the setting informing the storyline, and what other things have come from this process that either surprised you or provided depth to the culture of the PCs?

MP: The idea of everyday items or locations from our ‘current’ age being misconstrued by peoples living far in the future is very appealing. We tried to avoid ‘obvious’ humor in the dialogue in favor of more ironic moments that would entertain the player but be deadly serious from the characters’ perspective. A good example of this irony is early on in the game where Dux and Bormin discover a functioning ‘Boom Box’ radio and naturally misinterpret it as a bomb. The ghouls are also supposed to talk and act quite a bit differently than the mutants; there is a good reason for this which we won’t go into at this time.

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Val Hull
Val Hull

Resident role-playing RPG game expert. Knows where trolls and paladins come from. You must fight for your right to gather your party before venturing forth.

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