Work-In-Progress Spotlights
October 10th, 2008 by Scud

Blood of the Bear

A project by Mashek

Welcome again for another Work in Progress Spotlight, this time we are have a sneak peak at a new project by Mashek, 'Blood of the Bear', a remake of his previous work 'The Second Krethárn War'. Featuring defend-the-spot action and added depth to the story via multiple cut-scenes the project promises to keep the player entertained and engaged whatever their favourite genre is. With intense gameplay as you fight fiercely to defend your fortress be aware your in-game actions affect the story and the outcome of the battle; so expect not every play-through to be the same! But what are different outcomes and endings with out an interesting storyline? Mashek returns again with his unique writing style that produces a brooding and dark atmosphere plus with the added help of grim sounds, melodramatic music and 'cold' map design complementing the theme excellently, surely a joy for the senses!

But what about the story? Set 19 years after the Krethárn-Erertiyan war, a time of war, pestilence and darkness, an aging count by the name of Jaerith still remains hardened after his wife and child's death. Battling with melancholy he reaches his forty-eightieth birthday, "But what is the point of living alone", he wonders. On the night of his birthday, the fortress he is stationed in is attacked and besieged. Through the morning fog it is the clear the enemy are the Krethárns, who have returned to receive revenge for their defeat 19 years ago. The commander of the Krethárns remembers when he was a boy his father being slain by the Erertiyan. He also remembers the man who killed them; he goes by the name of Jaerith. A conflict between nations is represented between two Lords and their blood feud. Who will be the successful Lord, which nation shall prevail? Want to find out? I suppose you'll have to wait until December to find out. ;-)

But eager for more? Download the teaser here NOW!

I managed to catch, in my belief, an in-depth and eye-opening interview with Mashek:

What made you remake 'The Second Krethárn War' when many found it a well-rounded scenario in terms of story and map design?"

Mashek: Because of Tanneur's review. There, I've said it! He gave me a very honest rating of 4.4, while the majority of reviews had given me 4.8s. At the time, I was quite pleased with the review he gave me, which was very succinct and detailed. I remember telling myself that, although he recommended a major update to fix some of the design's underlying issues, I would do no such thing. I was done with it for good. About a half year later, I grew so attached to the designs flaws that I started to remake it to fix up the issues outlined in Tanneur's review, namely the lag and map design. As the scenario began to take shape and look enormously better than the original, I decided for myself that I may as well remake the two following cut-scenes - although they had already received perfect ratings at the Blacksmith. And so entered the revamp of the Second Krethárn War.

When remaking a project, do you think there is a danger of straying too far away from the original material and turning it into something complete different?

Mashek: I think it is more a danger of not making the revamp different enough to satisfy your audience. No matter how well made something may be, unless it has enough content and difference in it, it will fail to deliver - which I learnt the hard way only recently. Even if it is a remake, people expect something different, while still keeping to the theme and general idea of the previous work. They want the same idea, but along a more fulfilling premise. I believe, or rather I hope that the coming instalment of Blood of the Bear will deliver that new level of fulfilment for players of the old version. Everything has been remade, for better or worse.

Following on from above, why not let sleeping dogs lie as they say, and get stuck into a fresh project?

Mashek: But then I run the risk of them waking up unexpectedly and biting me on the backside... as they say, of course. No, I think I am too much of a perfectionist and honestly, because I liked the idea so much I just couldn't bare to leave the original design alone in the state that it was. But don't worry, I've been designing many others scenarios that I hope to release apart from it too! One such design includes Kor and Mechstra's Age of Chivalry: Hegemony, and features an epic battle on a frozen-over lake. Another winterish scenario indeed, but what can I say, I'm Australian and I've never seen snow before in my life and probably don't expect to do so for a long while now.

You've just released the teaser for your project - what did you think about the growing trend of teasers/trailers being used in the SD community?

Mashek: The growing trend in cut-scenes has both positive and negative implications. A great deal of the increase in cut-scenes and teasers/trailers appearing over the past few years relates largely to the AOKH Cut-scene Competition of 2006 and 2007, which was received with great success. The design community received 18 cut-scenes and teasers from those two contests alone - nine cut-scenes for each year. That's a lot of cut-scenes, and its understandable when numerous people voice concerns against such an increase, especially when most of those cut-scenes are never followed up by actual interactive scenarios. Although this was never an obligation for cut-scenes submitted to the contest, it certainly applies to cut-scenes submitted as per the author's choice. And there are certainly many cut-scenes that are not followed up by any sort of major release.In my honest opinion, the trend is nothing to be anxious about. Certainly there are more cut-scenes now than there were, say, two or three years ago - but I don't see the trend as any king of problem as I know some among the community perhaps do.A teaser has always been a good way to introduce your project to the greater community to receive feedback and motivation. Remember though, there's nothing more frustrating for downloaders who view a particular cut-scene that will never be followed up by a full-release scenario. There are plenty of such examples in the Blacksmith; a probable reason for why a great deal of the design community has particularly negative feelings about what should be released and what shouldn't, let alone how something should be released. While it's been certainly true over the years at the Blacksmith that downloaders prefer a full release scenario they can interact with, instead of a cut-scene which they cannot; it's also true that cut-scenes, teasers and/or trailers set hopes and can actually garner a few more potential downloaders. My opinion on the trend is as follows; a player should follow up his cut-scene or teaser with a full release, or risk angering potential downloaders.

And now, some screenshots from the scenario.