The Banner Saga, a Kickstarter-backed tactical RPG, has been in development for close to a couple of years now and its been given the release date of January 14, 2014. I caught up with the developers at Stoic Studio to talk about the game, with some refreshers on what the The Banner Saga is all about and what their plans are moving forward.
With exception to the likes of Fire Emblem and XCOM, turn-based strategy gaming is hardly in vogue. What made you guys decide to create a turn-based game instead of using a real-time combat system?
These are the games we like. We wanted to do something that was fun for us but also fun for those people like us who harken back to a time when games like this were the norm. Turn-Based strategy might not be the biggest thing out there right now but that does not mean it’s still not fun! We wanted a more tactical game and turn-based strategy certainly fits the bill.
What inspirations (in terms of video games) did the team at Stoic draw from in developing The Banner Saga?
Games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, and Dragons Lair gave us a lot of inspiration. That being said, we knew what kind of game we wanted and the ultimate goal was making a fun game.
We took the things we liked and added in our own flair that has a great mixture of RPG elements that actually affect the story and combat.
Most turn-based strategy games offer only a linear path to advancing the story. The Banner Saga appears to differ from its counterparts by offering "player choice that drives your narrative." Could you expand upon how this plays out in the game proper?
Think of it more as an RPG where your choices affect the story, the travel, and the combat. We wanted to give players options and let them tackle the game as they wanted so it really is up the player to forge their own path. It’s often fun to just watch people make choices and then later on see them play out. It is exciting to see people handle the same situation differently while still building their own path through the story.
When I take a look at The Banner Saga, it reminds me of Tactics Ogre—a game which, while primarily a turn-based strategy game, allowed me to make a few choices here and there with regards to the narrative. Is The Banner Saga more of a party-bassed RPG like Baldur's Gate and Dragon Age, or a strategy game like Tactics Ogre and Fire Emblem?
All good games! The Banner Saga is probably best summed up as a mix of all the above. At the core, our single player experience is focused on the RPG aspects of the story however your choices certainly impact what happens to you on your journey. You will have a large cast of characters that you meet along the way and you will be picking and choosing how and when to use them in combat as well. It’s also interesting to note that your choices also affect your party choices as sometimes your choice might mean you lose a character from your party or gain a character.
Do you have plans to expand upon The Banner Saga beyond its release?
The Banner Saga is just a part of a large story we would like to tell. Starting January 14th you’ll be able to get your first taste of our world. We still have some other options and plan that we want to continue to develop as well but this setting is ripe for continued development.
You developed a free-to-play multiplayer game based on The Banner Saga to support its development. How has that been working out so far?
Banner Saga; Factions is going great! Getting that multiplayer variant out the door allowed us to highlight some of the things we are working on as well as give our fans a taste of what is to come down the line. The best part, Factions is free and it enabled us to give a lot of people an early look at what we are planning to do with our combat system.
Beyond the PC, are there any plans to support the game on console and handheld systems like the PlayStation 4 or the PS Vita?
The Banner Saga will be released on January 14th 2014. We've discussed and started thinking about another two installations to this particular story and we'll just have to see how well this first chapter does. If it is a success we'll be able to expand on some features we weren't able to put into this first game and we'll also get to implement some fan suggested ideas.