Interview With Impire Senior Producer Joe Fricano
Metal Arcade caught up with Joe Fricano of Paradox Interactive, to talk about their latest game Impire.
Impire is Paradox Interactive’s latest RTS/ RPG game, available now for $19.99 on Steam. We talked to Joe Fricano, Senior Producer on the project, to get his thoughts about the game’s development, and his plans for the future. You can read our review of Impire here.
Metal Arcade: The most common parallel drawn in Impire’s case is to Dungeon Keeper, was any inspiration drawn from this or other games during the development of Impire?
Joe Fricano, Paradox Interactive: Impire draws a little bit of inspiration fom Dungeon Keeper (you DO build a dungeon after all) but the overall game has very little in common with it. It is more of a casual squad-based lite RTS/RPG with heavy focus on the story and quests.
Metal Arcade: While Impire focuses on the dungeon crawl, one gets the sense there’s a world beyond it from the lore and visiting NPCs. Any chance players might get to explore more of Ardania through sequels or spin-offs?
Joe Fricano: Well, Impire does let you explore a bit of the outside world of Ardania. I’d say that a good 30-50% of the game takes place outside your dungeon. That said, we love Ardania, so don’t be surprised if you see more adventures take place there in future games.
Metal Arcade: Much of Impire’s lore seems a nod to the Paradox series “Majesty”, could we one day expect a stronger tie-in between the two games and their characters?
Joe Fricano: Impire and Majesty take place in the same universe and timeline- there are several characters in Impire that have made appearances in other games so there IS a direct connection. Impire is a direct spinoff of the majesty series.
Metal Arcade: Are there plans for DLC to continue expanding on the existing game?
Joe Fricano: Absolutely.
Metal Arcade: Playing from the side of the villain, such as they are, is a fun but uncommon twist to Impire’s gameplay, what made you choose to tell the story from this point of view?
Joe Fricano: In the Majesty games you build up your kingdom so we thought it’d be fun to “tear one down” for a change. Being bad is always fun, right? Being the bad guy also seemed to fit with the ideas we had about filling the story with lots of heavy metal references and other cultural Easter eggs.
Metal Arcade: While Impire is a fun game, certain elements are criticised as being less fleshed out than they could be; for instance, the inability to fully customize dungeon layout, or more depth to hero invasions and minion raids. Were these design decisions, or a product of more restrictive deadlines? Are there elements of the game you wish you had done differently?
Joe Fricano: If there is one thing I would fault it’s that we didn’t fully succeed in conveying to everyone what the game is. Fans seem to want it to be “Dungeon Keeper” no matter how much we try to explain that it isn’t. We also chose to put a very strong focus on the story and perhaps should have spread the word a little more. The story of Impire is very fleshed out and one of the main reasons you’d want to play it. We even went so far as to enlist GameOn audio and triple-A voice talent- actors and actresses used to working on mega-budget titles like Assassin’s Creed. The game is also aimed at a little more casual audience than a lot of other Paradox games. For that reason, there is a lot of “entertainment value” over deep, tactical complexity. For example, we chose to do static fixed rooms so that we could make them look better and fill them with lots of details and animations that would not have been possible in a completely “freeform dungeon” builder-type game. We didn’t set out to make “sim dungeon” but a more adventure-oriented experience. If you could care less about story in games, you will not get the most out of Impire.
Metal Arcade: 19.99 is a price-point worthy of applause, and fairly rare from a non-indie dev. Was there any particular reason for this? Can we expect something similar from future Cyanide games?
Joe Fricano: This again harkens back to our aim to make a more casual, story-focused entertainment experience. The price point fits the game but even so, with 25+ hours in just the single player campaign alone there’s quite a bit of entertainment per hour to be had! I couldn’t comment on what the future holds as far as prices go, but the scope and focus of the game and price usually go hand in hand.
Metal Arcade: Cyanide’s portfolio took a turn a couple of years ago from almost entirely sports-based games to fantasy-oriented RPGs. What’s next for the studio?
Joe Fricano: Something really, really cool… and very different, but obviously I can’t talk about it.