Overlord : Interview with Lennart Sas
Lead Designer and Director at Triumph Studios -
(Xbox Community Network), with which Xbox Gazette is affiliated, has been able
to ask some questions to Lennart Sas from Triumph Studios, about their game Overlord.
: How would you describe the genre of Overlord?
Lennart Sas :
At the core Overlord is an Action Adventure/RPG. We have added many things to
the core gameplay with the most important thing being the direct control over
a pillaging Horde of Minions. This leads to lots of mayhem and destruction, but
also opens the door to some interesting tactics. So Overlord isnt easy to
squeeze into one box, but weve tried hard to make sure the controls are
easy to pick up for everyone who plays action games.
: RPGs are usually a pretty po-face genre. What kind of atmosphere and feel
did you want to capture with the game?
Lennart Sas : Overlord doesnt
feature your average run of the mill fantasy story. We have created a twisted
world where nothing is as it seems. We have fat tyrannical Halflings. Paladins
overcome by lust, Greedy dwarfs and unicorns trying to gore you with their horn.
The games writer, Rhianna Pratchett, has made sure to write everything in
a fantastic satirical tone. As you explore the world is described by your minions,
who cuss and curse at things such as prancing lambs and the idyllic landscapes.
XCN : Oblivion has really raised
the bar for RPGs on Xbox 360 do you feel you are competing with Bethesdas
Lennart Sas : Oblivion is a fantastic game, but its an
evolution of the traditional RPG. Overlord takes inspiration from sources outside
of the RPG genre and brings many new things to table, most notably your Minion
Horde but also your Dark Tower. They are different games, but I do think that
if you enjoyed Oblivion on the Xbox 360 then youll love Overlord as well.
XCN : Because Overlord gives
you some freedom over your actions it has been compared to Fable. How would you
address those comparisons?
Lennart Sas : In Overlord you play a Dark
Lord so the choices vary between Evil and Really Evil. These corruption
decisions play out at a different scale than Fable. Fable is a great intimate
game, where you the worst thing you can do kill some NPCs, but in Overlord your
evil doings start by killing peasants and go up from there.
: Whats the backstory of Overlord, and what is the player trying to
Lennart Sas : Total World domination is the goal in Overlord!
You start out in a ruined tower, which has been looted by a bunch of heroes and
now its up to you to rebuild the tower, defeat the heroes, and stamp evils
authority back on the land.
XCN : Overlords tagline is Be
evil or be really evil. How much choice will we have about just how bad
we behave and what kind of things can we do?
Lennart Sas : The first
choice you are faced with is killing peasants for their lifeforce, so you can
spawn more Minions. Next to stealing their souls, your minion can also wield their
items, like pitchforks and pickaxes. From there, there are a number of choices
that the player must make, as well as hidden corruption events to
You can also play the game through corrupt or uncorrupt which
give different highest level spells, different upgrades for your tower, and of
course different Achievements and endings!
: Will we see a visible indication of how bad we are? Will our characters
Lennart Sas : As you become more corrupted, your
appearance becomes darker with demonic spikes growing out of your back. The looks
of your tower changes too (including the upgrades you choose to buy) and peasants
flee or drop to their knees at the mere sight of you. Achieving 100% and 0% corruption
are both challenging complete every evil act in the game, or tougher still,
keeping your naturally destructive minions in check!
: Overlord lets you command Minions how does this system work?
Lennart Sas : The Overlord is controlled like most other 3rd person games,
but unlike those games you are followed by a Horde of Minions. You can send
these Minions by pulling the right trigger. This causes them to dash forward killing,
smashing, looting, collecting or pushing depending on what they come across. The
minions are smart enough to automatically pick up dropped items from dead enemies,
but will only do that when the coast is clear.
You can also sweep
the Minions as a group using the right stick. This causes the minions to respond
directly to your commands, running in a close formation (like a flock of ravenous
& destructive birds). With sweeping you can quickly trash a house, overrun
an enemy or collect weapons and lifeforce scattered across a battlefield.
: What are some of the cool things you can get your Minions to do?
Sas : Minions are extremely loyal, and they will act on your command no matter
how life-threatening it is. For example, Minions can pick up bombs and carry them
to the enemies, jump at the back of rock giants to bring them down, running into
buildings trashing and looting the contents. Minions can even be sacrificed to
replenish your own health or mana. And if you want a magic sword or piece of armor
youll have to chuck in a few hundred minions into the molten metal to get
that magic effect!
There are four types of Minions to
do your bidding. You start with brown Minions - the strong melee fighters - who
have the ability to carry any weapons they find. Ranging from Pumpkin hats and
pitchfork to pristine golden armour and weapons theyll become ever more
formidable and destructive.
After the browns you will
have to locate and secure the loyalty of the three other lost minion tribes. Next
are the Reds, who have a ranged fire attack and fire immunity, the Greens who
are very stealthy with a deadly backstab attack, poison immunity and the ability
to cloak to ambush foes. Lastly there are Blues, who arent terribly
good fighters but they can resurrect fallen Minions in battle and have the ability
to damage magical creatures.
: Aside from the Minions, the character you play is pretty powerful on his
own. What kind of things can he do?
Lennart Sas : The Overlord wields
mighty two-handed weapons. His armour and weapons are custom forged at the tower.
Secondly the Overlord can support his minions with an array of powerful spells,
ranging from a simple fireball which can sets the scenery and peasants on fire,
to infernos, shock shields, enemy mind control spells (which can set enemies against
each other), and Minion upgrade spells such as Legion of Terror.
XCN : Its pretty obvious that
Overlord has a good sense of humour, but how far are you taking the gags?
Lennart Sas : The tone of the game is satirical with jokes being made on
the many fantasy stereotypes. We didnt want to work on a grim turn-off of
a game, so weve made sure to make it a real laugh. Overlord is intended
to make you smile (or grin a grin of pure evil) while playing!
: A lot of the laughs come from the Minions - what are some of the funniest
things they get up to?
Lennart Sas : Minions have many special animations
and voice lines when they interact with their environment. Minions can get drunk
and subsequently empty their full bladders. They also make funny remarks, for
example as a ghost elf tells the sad tale about the destruction of the great Elven
forest, Minions cant contain themselves and start interrupting the elves
by making nagging remarks.
But funniest of all has to be the things that the
Minions pick up and use as weapons and armour. You may not notice immediately
after the fight with some rats that one enterprising Minion has turned it into
a furry helmet!
XCN : What can
Xbox Live members expect from the Overlord demo?
Lennart Sas : For
the Xbox Live demo we decided to include the very start of the game. This introduces
the basics of the minion gameplay and backstory as recounted by Minion Master
Gnarl, initiating you in the ways of evil. There are farmlands to raid, a magical
tower object to retrieve, Halflings to roast and a fat troll to kill.
we can only give a hunt of what you can expect in the full game. Three more minions
types, all the minion upgrades, seven heroes to fight, loads more lands to explore,
the Guard Marker opening up lots of tactical opportunities, a cool
Dark Tower, a Dungeon, a Forge, Mistresses, Spells, and Multiplayer!
: Do you have any plans for multiplayer modes in Overlord?
Sas : Overlord features three online head to head game modes:
Slaughter, rival Overlords compete to score the most kills on the opposing Overlord
and their minions which bonuses for taking down the levels population count
also (or use them to kill your opponent).
its not about killing, but about looting! Whoever gathers the most loot (or steals
it off the other Overlord or their minions), wins.
Survival sees two Overlord and their hordes co-operating as the angry inhabitants
of the world join together to take you down. Work together and stay alive as long
as possible against an intensifying swarm of enemies.
: Do you have plans for any downloadable content for Overlord?
Sas : Downloadable Content has been part of the plan and we have some cool
stuff currently in development. We plan to have a number of extra multiplayer
levels as well as an extension of the single player campaign where you get to
face a new type of enemy threatening your domain.
: Many thanks for your time!
- Other Xbox
Gazette, June 28th 2007
Thanks to : Lennart Sas,
Studios , XCN