In our latest interview we had the opportunity to catch up with Matthew Pappalardo about his game The Great Gaias following TooManyGames Convention. Matthew discussed how the project has evolved since the lore began in 2008 as a campaign setting. Over the past 5 years the project has gone from a Dungeons & Dragons campaign to an in-depth RPG that plans to truly pay homage to the games of old.
The Great Gaias will feature a questing, crafting, city building, vast regions to explore, and much more. Up until this point the project has been funded out of pocket by Horizon’s End, but they need help for the final stretch run. They are seeking $25,000 on Kickstarter with 21 days remaining. All the needed links can be found below the interview.
About The Great Gaias:
The Great Gaias is an ancient tome authored by the Gods that is able to reincarnate the souls of ones who have led a life that was supremely influential and helped shape history. The First Men, the Chosen Ones, having been granted immortality by the Gods and free will, were charged with the governance of lesser man and ruled justly and righteously their new city called Validus. After years of prosperity, a stranger from the east, Grindelwald Maultor, brought magic to the First Men, and with this new-found power came tyranny.
Using this mighty gift he corrupted the immortal First Men, transforming them to wickedness. The Gauf, as these ten immortal warlords were named, waged a bloodthirsty war against the other free folk of Tenat. It wasn’t until the Warriors of Old, souls birthed from The Great Gaias, battled Validus, and pushed their forces back, imprisoning the immortal Gauf and Lord Maultor within an ancient Tower of the Gods.
Peace has reigned for a millennia, but a new age is dawning in which an ancient magic is returning to the world. The souls of the Great Gaias have all been reborn into existence once again, and the seals of the ancient tower are weakening. It is up to a small group of unlikely adventurers to uncover the past and fulfill an age-old prophecy that will undoubtedly shake the very foundations of the modern world and shape the direction of a new age.
Indie Game HQ: Can you tell us a little bit about The Great Gaias, and how long has it been under development, more specifically the extensive backstory?
Matthew: The Great Gaias originally started as a campaign setting that I started writing back in 2007 called Tenat: Campaign Setting. This had been my first attempt at creating a world that was our own with many instances that were directly correlated with the choices my PCs made during their time playing Dungeons and Dragons with me. When I started to digitalize the world in 2010 it had already begun snowballing into a rich world full with thousands of years of history, fully cultured civilizations and an ancient evil that spawned a Great War and the modern world that you would experience within The Great Gaias.
The Great Gaias in itself is a celestial tome written in by the Gods which corresponds to the choices that people made in the world. If a person had a substantial influence on the shaping of history, such as conquering a major city, disposing a tyrant, or creating powerful magic; the Gods, being a group of pompous creators who love entertainment, would write your name into this book so that your soul would be thrown back into the world to continue shaping history. The story of The Great Gaias that players will see as they play through the game is a time in which all of these souls are reborn into the world, and it is their job to shape history once again. The story takes on very dark tones, betrayal, murder, love, visiting every place that the world has to offer in hopes to once again put a stop to an ancient evil birthed from the choices of the “Warriors of Old”.
Indie Game HQ: What were some key inspirations for the story?
Matthew: I grew up reading fantasy novels such as Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth, Game of Thrones, Dragonlance and countless others. I learned how to read by playing Final Fantasy I and RPGs while growing up, so I think I have a lot of inspirations drawing from their works. My childhood was spent dreaming up fantasy worlds and having a ton of fun sharing these with people once I started DMing at around eleven years old. Through my experience with old school JRPGs, novelizations, and even comic books, The Great Gaias is the epitome of fantasy and a world where the unexpected is commonplace, and no one is exactly who they seem. The amount of character arcs and tide-turning scenarios found in my stories can greatly be attributed by the aforementioned titles, and through many years my sense of captivation has taken this game to the next level.
Indie Game HQ: How expansive will the crafting system be?
Matthew: The crafting system that we are working on right now is going to be very well developed. Throughout my days playing adventure games, mostly MMORPGss and JRPGs, the producer, Brian Swahn, and I have thoroughly thought out all possible scenarios and what is successful when implementing vast systems within a game. We want to balance grinding, searching and cleverness when approaching this system. Not only will crafting be available to weapons, armor and equipment, but we are also looking into mechanical parts (for creating golems), cloth armors and even spells that can be made. We like to look at precedents such as World of Warcraft and synthesis shops when looking at what we hope to accomplish here. We don’t want to make an all-out grind fest, but we are looking to actually require a deal of trial and error and discovering new recipes to make amazing items that can be utilized by the characters. We want you to be able to break down every item in the game to its bare components and essentially create more powerful items from their parts. We want crafting to be a huge part of the game to the point where enough hands on work will make crafting important even when you get to legendary equipment and set bonuses.
Indie Game HQ: How in-depth is the city management side of the game? Will players decisions affect the development of the city greatly, or will the city more or less run itself?
Matthew: The Build-Your-Own-City (BYOC) sidequest becomes available about halfway through the game, giving the player the option to return to previously visited parts of the world to see what has been happening since they left. Let’s start out by discussing the major mechanic of the BYOC. You will encounter many different people, some with their own stories, backgrounds and professions. These potential inhabitants will greatly have an impact on the way your city develops. Merchants, Military, Politicians and even Brigands can be found throughout the game and your city will start to develop based on the population. We leave it up to the player to decide which build he will be going for and there are perks for having each one, and to truly utilize all of the reward from this sidequest, you will want to build them all. I don’t want to reveal too much, but the Politician based city will give the player direct control over who rules the city, who runs the streets, and even enhances the lore by giving great history of noble families and elitists that “rule the world”. In the end it is up to the player to develop this city and find all of the trinkets that we fuel these sidequests with.
Indie Game HQ: Will the various character be able to combine their attacks during battle?
Matthew: We are looking into creating two types of systems that I will go into some fine details about. Essentially, I am guessing that you are asking if there will be combo attacks like those that were seen in Chrono Trigger or SaGa Frontier; the answer right now is yes. We are going to be creating union skills that the player will have to figure out throughout the game for enhanced damage, making usually single-target abilities affect all party members or enemies. This is in development, and we hope to see this system come to life. The second system that we are really proud of is our elemental weakness, not to be confused with the normal version of “fire vs ice”, “electric vs water”, systems found throughout JRPGs; but rather, for example: You are fighting a stone monster, you are able to freeze him (bringing up a state that realizes ice was just used), and then using lightning to shatter the enemy. Encounters like this will make The Great Gaias‘ normal battles as fun and hands-on as say one of our dynamic boss fights.
Indie Game HQ: What type of variety can we expect to see with the enemies and bosses?
Matthew: Throughout the world of Tenat you will encounter many different creatures that are familiar as well as original monster concepts that we created during our adventures in Dungeons and Dragons. Often these normal encounters will utilize flaws, strengths, and status effects that affect each monster individually, as well as the Elemental weaknesses that I described above. The Boss fights that are in The Great Gaias as of right now are amazing, often utilizing unique mechanics that the player will have to figure out either based on mannerisms, logic or common knowledge. We want each boss fight to be a challenge and not your usual tank-and-spank found in older RPGs. Counter attacks, heal-to-damage, crowd control are all aspects that will be used when encountering bosses throughout the game, as well as elemental weaknesses.
Indie Game HQ: Now we know your skills increase by use, but can they wane through non-use?
Matthew: The Raise-By-Use-Skills are a great way to involve a player even more into character development. We don’t think that you will ever lose skill points per say, but you will encounter traps, chests, and ore that you cannot acquire or decipher until possessing the appropriate level. These skills will be used throughout the game to unlock chests, find rare herbs, track monsters and even unlock hidden content. Of course we try to accommodate the “minimalist gamer” as well by making these completely optional and will never land lock you into the game with no hopes to raise your skills to escape.
Indie Game HQ: When can we expect to see an alpha version of the game?
Matthew: We are currently working with our QA Testers in Pre-Alpha models right now, often using place holder graphics or music until we can fund our new art and scores. If our Kickstarter funding is available you will most likely see an Alpha release for a few lucky donators as early as August or September, but this all depends on funding, of course. We currently have 30+ hrs of gameplay, with the linear story around 65% done, so we have plenty of content available for play. We are hoping for 50+hrs during alpha release, and with the game so well received at TMG convention, we are anticipating that this is what our fans would like to see as well.
Indie Game HQ: Thus far, what have been the best and worst parts of development?
Matthew: The worst part of developing this game has to be the Kickstarter campaign. I hate the fact that I am relying on potential backers to have to help us get through our last days, but creating the game out of pocket has become financially draining, and we truly need help from the lovers of this forgotten genre. On the other hand, the greatest aspect of developing this game has to be working with some of the most talented artists and our composer, Aaron Krogh. We have such a wonderful team of skilled artists that are contributing to The Great Gaias, and to see my characters come to life and the story breathed into the world has been the most exciting experience of my life.
Indie Game HQ: Thanks for your time. Is there anything you would like to add for our readers?
Matthew: I would like to conclude with what I mentioned earlier. We really need your help to rekindle this forgotten genre. The producer, Brian Swahn, composer, Aaron Krogh, and myself have all put a lot of time and effort into this project (all unpaid), and if we hope to see it completed we need help to fund artists like Lucy Lee (Luluseason), Paul Helman (Lemmings, Die Hard Trilogy) and Jared Blando (Pathfinder Mapfolios). Horizon’s End is not looking to make a million dollars. Our only goal is to breathe life back into this genre and scream to the big publishers: We want these kind of games back!
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