Interview with the developement-team of »Pathologic«

(Questions by Andreas Schnäpp) (Answers by Nikolay Dybowsky)

Hi Ice-pick Lodge! We're pleased to hear that we can get an interview with you about your game »Pathologic« Here we go!

For sure not everybody knows your game, could you please explain what players can expect from your new title? What is the background story of the game and where does it take place?

We are making a very unusual game.

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Yes, nearly every developer says so. But often they only mean that in their game some parts are more technologically advanced than in other games. "Pathologic", on the contrary, is a result of an entirely new approach to a computer game as such. For us, games are a new kind of art, which encompasses artistic methods and means of expression that as yet remain unrevealed. "Pathologic" is a result of our research in this direction.

In Pathologic you can choose between 3 different characters. What do we know about those characters and will the choice affect the difficulty of the game? Will we see the nonselected characters again in the game, and if so, will we be able to interact with those other characters? Do they have their own life, just like the whole town has?

Oh my, so many questions at once… ? The three latter questions have positive answers. Yes, they will appear in the game, yes, they will be

Pathologic (2005) - We had the chance to get a brandnew interview about Ice-Pick-Lodges multi-genre-combination!

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open for interaction; moreover, their actions will seriously complicate the player's life. Every rejected character "plays" the game simultaneously with the player, and sometimes stands in the player's way. The first question is more difficult to answer. We can't say that some way of beating our game is harder than others. But all three are very different. The Bachelor, the Haruspex, and the Impostoress trace back to the classic role-playing triad "clever hero, strong hero, cunning (charming) hero". But we took our own way in deciding on individual peculiarities of these types - each of the three heroes opens up only that side of the game

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world and only that aspect of the mystery, which he or she is predisposed to. But for all that they are acting in the common world, like fish in a fish tank.

You said that Pathologic is a bizarre combination of "first-person game, role-playing features, non-linear plot and real time flow" - Not every player can imagine what the game feels like. Could you tell us about a typical situation which combines many of these aspects?

A wonderful question! Imagine the following. While the player was heading towards one of the city outskirts to exchange his or her

Pathologic (2005) - We had the chance to get a brandnew interview about Ice-Pick-Lodges multi-genre-combination!

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weapons for precious medicaments at the thieves' place, midnight came. The state of the city has changed! After having made some more steps, the player sees (I hope there is no need in describing the first-person view ? ), that there are plague barriers and black flags over the bridge instead of the usual landscape.

The city area, through which the player was going to pass, is sealed off. The player looks into the inventory and discovers that there is only one immunity-increasing ampoule left. But he or she also finds out, that today the area, where a plot-critical character lives, is also plagued. But it is very important to get to this character before he dies, because his death will greatly influence the game! What to do? How should the player use the last ampoule - for the risky march to the thieves or for a visit to the character?

Meanwhile, the player's parameters are lowering down! He or she is tired of endless running and needs to take a nap - but where? Falling asleep in the street, one risks waking up robbed or infected, if at all. It is necessary to find a shelter. But the player has about an hour before fainting from fatigue. He or she should spend it searching for food and water. Where can one get them? By searching houses in an infected area, which are open because of theplague. But the player has a problem with medicines, so he or she chooses to venture into an area that was infected yesterday. Tonight it is free of the plague, but dangerous aggressors - burners and marauders - lurk there. The player must be able to fight them off, thanks to plenty of weapons. And the rest may be found at a nearby character's place - he will be glad to help the player, because the player helped him the day before.

The game will be non-linear, so how much can the environment change due to the actions of the player? If you finish the game in different ways - will there be different endings? How many endings can we expect, if there will be more than one? And how much time does it take to finish the game?

Again you ask so many questions? :). I'll answer them in order. The city configuration depends directly on the player's actions. It is mostly represented by reputation and NPC behaviour: level of their aggression,trade, prices, the amount of information given to the player, and secondary and bonus quests, given or held by the characters. The area infection is mostly random; the player has no influence upon it, with some rare exceptions. There are four endings, but each of them presumes its own city configuration. I hope you'll agree that the number of saved lives is of a primary importance, whether it is five or twenty.

We do not yet know how much time it will take to beat our game. But since the game plot takes place in 12 days, and the game time flows at a fixed rate, the overall time will be constant. Supposedly, about 40 hours for each character.

Since when have you been developing the game? Can you tell us what percentage of the game is completed? Is the release still aimed for 4th quarter 2004?

Pathologic (2005) - We had the chance to get a brandnew interview about Ice-Pick-Lodges multi-genre-combination!

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We've been developing the game for two years. We are planning to finish it in a near future - by the end of 2004 or by the start of 2005. "Pathologic" is a complex game, and almost every gameplay element had to be discovered, coordinated, balanced, debugged… There wasn't a benchmark game that we could orient at. Many things were invented from scratch, many things that were standard, constant and tested long ago (such as the interface style, resource balance, etc.), had to be re-tested by us. We were wary - what if a solution, which was tested in other genres, appears to be harmful in our case?

A key feature is "A large variety of individual survival and resource-hunting strategies under the resource hunger conditions" - can you explain this to our readers?Hmm… I think I have partly answered this question when I described a game situation. Resources are generated at random and differently in different places. Houses, which can be looted, are opened only in case of danger - if the area is infected or overrun by marauders. The city hungers. Provisions are rare. Ammunition also isn't lying underfoot; every bullet is worth its weight in gold. Prices are rising all the time… In a nutshell, you'll have to try hard to survive. I believe that the player will spend about as much time on developing his personal economic strategy, as on completing the plot quests.

What groups of players are you aiming for? RPG players or action fans? What would you say, will those different players like best at Pathologic?

Basing on your first question, the game is closer to RPG, than to Action. But beware - "Pathologic" is not an RPG, and one shouldn't

Pathologic (2005) - We had the chance to get a brandnew interview about Ice-Pick-Lodges multi-genre-combination!

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expect features, that have become mandatory elements of the classic role-playing genre. "Pathologic" is an experiment, a reconnaissance for us. And a trap for the players. We aim for gamers who grew tired of endless clones. For those who don't like the fact that games have stoppeddeveloping and opening up entirely innovative solutions. For people who are waiting for something new.

Pathologic is another word for teachings of illness or diseases. Why did you choose that name? Is there a special story about the name or was it just a coincidental idea?

A word play is hidden in the name. It is a multi-sensed word, which relies to several things at once, and besides, it describes our game as a whole quite precisely ?. But if I start to give detailed comments now, I'll definitely end up in giving heavy spoilers, and I don't want that.

Are you planning to support con-soles or to focus solely on the PC?

Currently consoles aren't in our checklist. The game will be released on PC only.

Can you tell us some facts about the system requirements? On which

system will the game run well? Are there any first facts?

The requirements are expected to be very loyal to players. The projected minimum is Intel Pentium III 1000 MHz, 256 MB RAM, video card - GeForce3 or ATI Radeon 8500 64 Mb. Probably, the game will run even with GeForce2 and still look worthy.

Pathologic (2005) - We had the chance to get a brandnew interview about Ice-Pick-Lodges multi-genre-combination!

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Thank you for the interview!