RPS: So how is single-player structured? Is there an overworld? How does it progress?
Alex Thomas: One thing that we found people did not connect with, even though we tried to explain it as much as we could… The travel scenes that were in the announcement trailer are actual gameplay.
Arnie Jorgensen: I put up the wallpaper and called it in-game art, and everyone says, “Oh, this is awesome, I can’t wait to see in-game shots.” And I say, “That was an in-game shot!”
Alex Thomas: The idea behind it is you’re an entire civilization of Vikings escaping from this rolling darkness that’s swallowing up the world behind it. Like the Neverending Story, the Nothing. We realized, when we started making the game, that we wanted a big, epic-sized world. But we didn’t have the resources to have exploration the way that you would in Dragon Age or something. Our equivalent is going to be this travel instead.
The way the travel works is, you have a civilization of people who all have needs. They’re going to spawn these events that happen. To simplify it, it’s a bit like of King of Dragon Pass meets Oregon Trail. It’s King of Dragon Pass on the road. As you travel, their endurance is going to get lower. Their morale is going to get lower. You have to do things to keep it up. But if you camp, this wall of darkness is getting every closer. You’re balancing the speed at which you can travel with the needs of your caravan.
RPS: So does choice in Banner Saga largely revolve around how quickly you decide to move from place-to-place? Or are there more road-mapped, BioWare-style choices as well?
Alex Thomas: That’s definitely a large part of it. Another is just how much you support your caravan. You’re going to get these random events based on everybody’s different stats. There are three things you’re trying to balance as you’re moving along: endurance, morale, and supplies. People are going to constantly be triggering these events based on what level those stats are at. I guess the key word that we’re going for is that everybody has their own motivation, their own agency. They’re going to leave. They’re going to join up with you. They’re going to do what they want to do to handle the situation.
Arnie Jorgensen: That’s a good point. In a single-player story, everyone thinks you control the characters. But here, you don’t. You’re the guy running the caravan. But everyone’s got their own agenda. You’re just trying to get everyone along to the end of the story.