GZ Interview: Venture Into the World of Greyhawk and Elemental Evil with Troikas Tim Cain

Venture Into the World of Greyhawk and
Elemental Evil with Troika’s Tim Cain

By Michael Lafferty

First PC Title based on Greyhawk Module Features Non-linear
Game Play

You can’t keep a good demoness down … well, at least you can’t
keep the evil at bay for long. There always seem to be those who quest for power
and are willing to pay any price to achieve it.

In the realm of Greyhawk, in a shire outside the village of
Hommlet, a demoness found a cult that was willing to bend to her will. Their
exploration of the elemental forms of evil soon allowed them to rule the region
with the fist of tyranny. But there were those willing to stand against them. A
war was fought and the temple at Nulb was razed. In time, people forgot the dark

But now something new is stirring in the ruins of the temple.
Bandits are patrolling the areas outside of Hommlet and it is rumored that
forces are gathering at the temple.

It is into this world you have come.

Greyhawk: The Temple of Elemental Evil, a PC release from Atari
and Troika Games slated for release at later this month, is the first PC game
based on the Greyhawk module. The game will feature multiple story paths and
endings, five controllable characters and three followers in each party. With a
wide array of monsters, this game will adhere to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
3.5 ruleset. In addition, characters can be customizable with skills, feats and

Tim Cain, co-founder of Troika Games, took a few moments during
the final stages of game production to talk with GameZone.com about this title.

Question: This title utilizes Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
3.5 ruleset. What made you settle on that for the overriding rules for the game?
What, in your opinion, do you think makes the D&D rulesets so widely regarded
and more or less the standard for these styles of games?

Tim: Troika was working on the Temple of Elemental Evil (ToEE)
using the 3.0 ruleset when the announcement came about the upcoming release of
the 3.5 ruleset. Since this release would occur before the release of ToEE, we
felt that it was important to not hit the shelf using an obsolete set of rules.
In addition, many of the changes to the rules were sorely needed improvements,
especially in balancing some of the classes like druids and rangers.

As for why D&D is considered the standard ruleset for CRPG’s, I
think it’s mostly historical. Most players of CRPG’s have been exposed to D&D
already, either as a paper-and-pencil game or in earlier CRPG’s. This exposure
makes them more comfortable with the D&D rules instead of learning something

Q: Most of the RPG adventures of this sort evolve around
similar plot themes. What plot elements do you think will set The Temple of
Elemental Evil apart from the crowd?

Tim: We have a big baddie at the end, but we have avoided
the inevitable "you must kill the big baddie to win." There are other ways to
win, including avoiding direct combat with the baddie, or even JOINING the
baddie. Why not, if you are evil, agreeing to work for evil? ToEE is a rich

Q: This game features a party-driven base with main
characters and followers. In regards to the followers, do this characters have
independent thought and effect on the party?

Tim: The followers will make comments when you reach
various areas of the game and when you meet certain NPC’s. Some followers pay
attention to the storyline and change their comments too. All followers will
take a share of the loot that you find, and they sell it when they get back to

Q: What game engine does this title use and what did it allow
you to realize graphically that is instrumental to the look at feel of the game?

Tim: We used a modified Arcanum engine, but we replaced
the characters with 3D models, which gave us fluidity to movement and lots of
armor variations in a smaller memory footprint than sprites. We also replaced
the tiled background with rendered backgrounds, which are extremely detailed and
look fantastic.

Q: The Temple of Elemental Evil features what amounts to a
non-linear progression through the game. What determines the path players take
throughout the game and, in general terms, what are some of the endings they may
reach – such as will they end up unwittingly aiding the return of the evil

Tim: The player’s path is partially determined by choices
made early in the game (like choice of party alignment) and partially by choices
made while playing (like whether to keep a certain item or to kill a certain
creature). The endgame slideshow shows the results of all of your player’s
actions (or lack of action), so many people should be encouraged to a play again
and see if they can change the ending.

Q: The Web site to this game features a very brooding musical
underscore. How reflective of the game action is the program music? Is it all
original? Who is responsible for the sound quality of the game?

Tim: Ron Fish did the music for the game, and it is all
original. I think he did a great job in matching music to the feel of each area.

Q: This is the first PC game based on the Greyhawk module. In
bringing this game to life, what elements were essential to keeping the flair
and style of this title?

Tim: The Greyhawk world is big, and even though the
adventure takes place in a small area, there are lots of people from different
parts of the world. Also, the adventure has drawn the attention of some powerful
entities, and we kept their involvement in the game, so the player has a chance
of making some world-changing decisions when he interacts with these creatures.

Q: How many different environments are there? How many
different weapons can players employ throughout the course of the game?

Tim: We have indoor and outdoor maps, including swamps,
forests, grasslands, dungeons, ruined forts and a couple of villages. We also
have a few extra-planar maps, which add some unique play areas to the game.

We put in all of the basic weapon types, including most simple,
martial and exotic weapons. Considering that we implemented weapon-crafting
rules, you can make lots of different weapons: shocking staves, flaming swords,
and frost bows, to name a few.

Q: What do you feel are the most dynamic elements of this
title that will have players devouring the game play for hours on end?

Tim: The world reacts to the player’s actions by changing
NPC reactions and dialogs. I think people will enjoy exploring the world to see
what kinds of quests they can uncover and which lead to special reputations
being applied to the party.