The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 2 Neocore Interview

1 Oct 2013  by   David Reid
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If you loved our huge Van Helsing QA you’ll love this one too as today we’re joined again by Viktor and Orsolya from Neocore Games to discuss The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II, the upcoming sequel the to the popular original that’s just been enhanced with the Thaumaturge class. Also congratulations goes to our lucky winners of our Van Helsing DLC giveaway last week as well. Now read on…

IncGamers – David Reid: In The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II you’ve previously mentioned a darker and more deeper story with a new carnival area, could you expand upon this if more details have now been fleshed out?

Viktor: The first adventure already introduced some parts of Old Borgova, and this time we are going to venture deeper into the ancient downtown, where everything is more traditional and more… well, gothic. One of this forgotten corners is the dark carnival, a hideout for some strange creatures, and it ties the story straight into the mystical past of Borgovia that we had only mentioned briefly in the first game, the true story of the vampire lords who ruled the land for centuries… and their secrets.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II box art

IG: In the story you can currently make choices, will these affect the game’s ending?

Viktor: One of our goals is to achieve that all the choices you make during the game will add up eventually and even if they don’t affect the ending, they will have an impact on the big events.

IG: I love Domovoy Baggins, you never know what he’s up to next, so is he making a return in the sequel with a bigger goodie bag?

Orsolya: Or with some exploding Christmas gifts… Now he’s also on Facebook, so send him a friend request and you might get your own surprise package for Christmas.

IG: Will do, more easter eggs and references to other media?

Viktor: Absolutely! We were totally blown away by the overwhelmingly positive reactions to the easter eggs in the first game, so the answer is yes. And coming up with easter eggs is always great fun.

IG: Has the original Van Helsing’s personality changed since his last adventure? Is he more reserved in what he says for example or loves having his witty banter with Lady Katarina?

Viktor: Van Helsing finished his first great adventure with a classic showdown when he defeated the evil, mad scientist. But as now we pick up where we left off, for him it’s time to face the consequences. What happens after the fall of the villain? There is a vacuum to be filled, obviously. The gothic metropolis of weird science is on the brink of destruction and chaos rules the streets. Van Helsing is a hunter, but now has to take care of other people too, as a reluctant leader of the Resistance, which is a new role for him and he’s struggling with it. There are some power players in Borgova who don’t regard him as a liberator. So he has changed a bit, yes. On the other hand, he is still the mysterious stranger, the hunter behind the mask we know from the first game.

IG: How are you planning to expand the end-game?

Orsolya: We’ll add respawning enemies so this time you can go back to any level for a little grinding and farming. You can expect more scenarios hopefully also with new game modes and after the third game we plan to add a New Game+ feature to the whole trilogy.

Van Helsing II bridge fight

IG: What sort of improvements have been made to your in-house engine?

Orsolya: First of all we updated the weather system so now we can get more stunning and dynamic weather effects, which are very useful for game design purposes as well. For example we’ll have a cursed forest where the whole scenery, including the weather, the lighting and even the plants will change dynamically as we gradually remove the curse.

IG: I noticed from your PAX video of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II that you’d added that dynamic weather, will this affect movement for example or are these purely for aesthetics and making Domovoy Baggins harder to spot?

Orsolya: Actually everything in the game serves one single goal: keeping our precious Domovoy safe from players. Hah, I guess you wouldn’t believe it anyway, so yes, some weather effects will make the game look much better and create the right atmosphere, but some of them will affect the gameplay too, or vice versa, as mentioned before.

IG: Have you used your motion capture studio for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II?

Orsolya: No. This time, because of the ARPG genre and the setting, the movements are rather willingly exaggerated so there was no point in using motion capture technology. Although we used some reworked mocap basics for the main character, for the running animations or a few fighting moves, but most of the time we had to rely on hand-drawn animation. It is a big change in our workflow after creating RTS games where the ratio of hand-drawn and mocap animations were exactly the opposite – there we used mocap even for the horses.

IG: Any new monster types and AI enhancements you can share with us?

Viktor: Although Van Helsing II continues the previous adventure, in most regards it’s more like a completely new game, so we can assure you that the monsters we are planning to unleash on our esteemed hunter are all brand new. Apart from some familiar creatures from the first game, we have literally dozens of new creatures waiting for Van Helsing – both monsters created by the Weird Science and some old-fashioned fiends. And yes, they are all really angry.

Orsolya: That’s right, we’ll have tons of new monsters, now including vampires too as a lot of players were missing them from the first game. There are some nice monster concepts on the game’s Facebook page already if you want to have a sneak peek. We didn’t really plan to enhance the enemy AI further in the sequel. With our strong ties to the RTS genre one must imagine that we’d force an advanced enemy AI into an action RPG and create monsters that use tactics, evade attacks with good dynamics, step out of the range of AoE spells or go round the zone of damage.

Well, to be honest, we actually tried to do that but it was simply not fun that way. So we decided to stick to the good old monster groups of the genre who just attack you if you come into sight or hit them. But we did not give up entirely on the thought yet: in the sequel we’d rather think of the AI as an advanced unit ability. We plan to add more monster groups who will have the special “ability” of being more clever than others – they’ll think sensibly as a group and combine their skill, for example. In the first game we only used this for some boss fights but in the sequel we’ll see this more often to spice up the slash parade.

IG: Monsters can certainly be nasty at times, especially on hardcore modes. Is co-op and Scenario DLC mode still in?

Orsolya: We want to keep both, yes. It’s not a secret that the Scenario mode was added to the game after release due to the high community demand and we wanted to act quickly, so we didn’t really have the time to plan a nice Scenario afterlife for the game. But it will change now with the sequel, as we have been planning the Scenario mode since the beginning. After the release of the sequel we really want to expand the Scenario mode with free content updates on a monthly basis. It’s also possible that we’ll add other gameplay modes for those players who want to dive into the killing of monsters even after completing the game.

IG: Will there be a new separate multiplayer scenario mode e.g. with the new expanded tower defense?

Orsolya: Well, I guess we’ll see. Our community already asked for tower defense scenarios but we can’t promise it for sure yet. Our priority now is to rework the tower defense sequences in the story to make it more comfortable and interesting with more traps and we’re also trying to integrate it better into the game and making it optional at the same time.

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