Xicat Interview

1. Please state your name and position at Xicat.

Hi, I'm John Linn, Creative Director at Xicat Interactive.

2. Are the games that Xicat is developing for XBox new, or games that have been out for PC before?

Well, we have a number of titles in development for Xbox currently. One is Metal Dungeon, a traditional style RPG that's been released in Japan and is exclusive to Xbox. The player controls a group of battle cyborgs in a post-apocalyptic world of robots and magic. The game plays similar to other turn-based RPGs, but the system is actually real-time, and emphasis is focused more on orders and strategy. Blackstone: Magic and Steel is another one of our upcoming Xbox titles, and it's also exclusive. Comparable to Gauntlet, Blackstone is a hack-and-slash romp through dozens of unique levels and with 20 unlock able characters. Gothic is an epic RPG, quite similar to Morrowind, but with a little more emphasis on a progressive, non-linear storyline, and interaction with the environment. Gothic has been released on PC, and is going to be launched on Xbox, PS2, and GameCube simultaneously (with the Xbox version seeing the best graphics, of course). Top Angler Xbox is an enhanced port of the PS2 version. It will be the first fishing game out for Xbox, and a team at Sega is developing it; so it's really a great one too.

Metal Dungeon

3. Are they completely redone to take advantage of XBox's power, or are they just being ported over?

In the instance of Gothic and Top Angler, the developers are really pushing the XBox's power. Both games will feature much better frame rates, textures, and graphical effects; We're focusing on the really atmospheric areas of the games; the sky, water and weather being the primary concerns. Gothic will also feature a more robust soundtrack thanks to the XBox's Dolby Digital encoding. Both Metal Dungeon and Blackstone are being developed with Xbox in mind, so the games will reflect this. Both are definitive Xbox experiences.

4. Are they going to be online with Xbox live?

The above mentioned games are not going to use Xbox live connectivity.

5. How familiar is Xicat with the Xbox?

We've been working with Microsoft on these games for quite some time now, and we're really behind the format. I think Microsoft has the focus and follow through to bring the format to the top. Metal Dungeon will be our first Xbox release, but the rest will be soon to follow.

Black Stone

6. Top Angler and Gothic are the games that we were told that Xicat is developing. What can you tell us about each of these games?

Gothic is a huge, sprawling RPG with a really neat story line. Basically you play a prisoner who's been cast into a magically sealed prison colony. The catch is, the prisoners revolted against their captors and took over the colony. It's a huge world that has turned into a medieval fantasy Lord of the Flies. Your character can align himself with any of the main 'camps' that have popped up in the game world. Depending on the choices you make, and the people you know the outcome of the game changes. Character development is equally non-linear. Your character doesn't just raise his stats at random as you gain levels. You have to train with people you meet to get stronger, and most of the time they don't help you for free. Because of this system, there are no classes; the player can learn how to fight well, as well as cast powerful Mage spells. The great thing about learning new skills is that it actually changes the animations; if you become a better fighter it shows in the way you swing your weapons and the combos you can do. It's all up to you.

Top Angler is a fantastic fishing game that's been developed by Sega. We worked with the same Sega team that brought Sega Bash Fishing to the Dreamcast. All the experience they had in the genre was brought to the table. We've combined the arcade feel of Bass Fishing with a little more strategy, such as lure choice, time of day, and realistic weather. Top Angler also features four modes of play, with many different lakes and locales. One of the coolest features to me is the importance of having a good tackle box. Each lure is good in different situations, and if your line breaks you loose that lure you had equipped. If you run out of the specific lures you need, you'll have a lot of trouble beating certain portions of play. There's also a lot mini-games and challenges to unlock and beat.

7. When is the expected release date for each of these games?

Metal Dungeon - November 15th
Black Stone - November 26th
Gothic - March 2003
Top Angler - March 2003

8. Gothic. We want to hear more about this RPG. It's looking great by the screen shots, and the features sound amazing. Just how smart are the monsters AI?

The enemy AI really whoop you in packs! It's imperative to try and get terrain advantages and isolate each enemy if possible, because they'll attack you with that in account. Enemy humanoids heal themselves in battle and spell casters are formidable because of their spell variety, and choosing spells to cast based on certain situations. The monsters of the game world react largely like monsters would; i.e. wolves attack in packs, lizards are dumb and slow, etc...

Metal Dungeon - 8 Screen Shots
Black Stone - 29 Screen Shots

Xbox Exclusive would like to thank Belinda Banks, John Linn and Mike Bellhorn of Xicat Interactive for making this interview possible. Be sure to check out Xicat.com for more information.