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Sections: A Tale in the Desert II Interview,
with Andrew Tepper


Selenia drags Andrew Tepper of eGenesis away from development of their upcoming second telling of the underground cult classic "A Tale in the Desert" where she finds out what kind of car he owns, and asks about the sequel in development in this interview with the man himself, recently returned from his E3 Promotional Tour!

Interview: Andrew Tepper from eGenesis - Selenia (06-02-04)

Hello and thank you for participating in this interview. Would you mind explaining exactly what role you have in the development of A Tale in the Desert II?

I'm the lead designer. I create the challenges in the game, the skills, technologies, and Tests. I code this in an in-house language called BabelScript.

For the love or for the money? Do you now drive a Beamer and take extended vacations on your yacht based on the success of A Tale in the Desert I to now be working on a sequel?

Heh, well I actually did drive a BMW *before* getting into games! But I wouldn't trade my "job" for any other. Well, maybe porn star.

This is not a sequel in the truest sense, but was referred to as the 2nd telling on your forums, I believe. Will you be marketing it as a sequel, or as a continuation to the first game?

"2nd Telling" is really the best description. The game starts over with all sorts of significant changes, but with many technologies, skills, and building types that Tale 1 players will recognize (and many they won't). You can think of Tale 2 as a "2.0" of Tale 1. Everyone will start clean, as peasants, and Tale 2's story will unfold over the coming months.

Since the first telling had no combat besides that of the verbal sort, do you intend on implementing player versus player combat in this world?

Tale 2 will have no combat, just as Tale 1 didn't.

Will you be using the original world maps, introducing a new map, or adding onto the existing one?

Much of the map has been redesigned. It's again based roughly on historical Egypt, but many areas have been updated.

Will there be any graphical enhancements to this second rendition?

Tons: We've redesigned the terrain rendering system for high-end cards. Terrain now looks sharp, even in the extreme distance. Fragment shaders are used for each terrain type, allowing us to use bump-mapping, specular-mapping, and specialized fragment shaders on a per-terrain-type basis.

A new procedural foliage system has been created. Egypt looks more lush; palm trees gently blow in the breeze, thick ground vegetation near oases is now possible. Our world builders can invent new plant types using this new system, and I can create new behaviors for each type of plant.

By making the game's tasks easier this time around, are you hoping to draw more of the casual player in?

Yes. The biggest frustration in Tale 1 for casual players was that there was all sorts of cool stuff to do - they could see the hardcore players' camps with all sorts of cool devices - but the time investment to get to that cool stuff was too much for them. Since Tale 2 is shorter (estimated at 6 months) but with more content, it's possible to make most things easier, while not running out of stuff for the most dedicated players. (Casual players won't be able to get to everything, but will at least get to the good stuff much faster.)

A Tale in the Desert is certainly not the typical mmorpg. Are you hoping to draw more of the traditional mmorpg player into your world, and what kind of strategies are you employing to accomplish this?

Am I going to try to make ATITD more like typical MMOs? Absolutely not. Many of our players come from traditional MMOs - it's a different sort of game, but most people don't stick to just one genre anyway. There are already plenty of choices, and good ones, if that if the sort of game you're in the mood for. ATITD has a different feel, a community that tackles the huge variety of challenges that we come up with - that's not something to change!

You mentioned handling your building's space requirements in a different way, so they are not taking up as much space outside? Would you care to explain how that is going to work exactly?

In Tale 2, before building most projects, you first create a camp building: a large empty structure that you design yourself. You then lay out specific projects inside the camp building. When you're outside your camp building you see just the walls. When you're inside, the walls come down, revealing your various workshops.

You can expand your camp, adding sections as you need more space. You can design the layout, the kind of architecture you use for each wall, door, roof piece, etc. You can select various building materials, colors, trim, and other details, in order to personalize your camp. Exotic materials and designs will available, allowing for a huge amount of personalization.

Are you liking the storms in SW PA as much as I am?

Ugh.

Beta when?

In a few weeks. We'll have an announcement when things are ready.

What aspect of the retelling seems to be drawing the most enthusiam?

The thing I'm most enthused about is how much all our current players are looking forward to starting over. The first part of a Telling is just an amazing experience - the society grows before your eyes, and you can really have an impact at how the world - it's laws, it's culture, and it's history - grow along with it.

Thank you very much for your time, where and when can we learn more?

Beta should start in a few weeks, and Tale 2 not long after that. We'll again have a free trial, and I invite everyone to come explore and contribute to a world unlike any other on the net today.

To learn more about A Tale in the Desert v2.0 be sure to check the official website! Discuss: Whats Not To Love!

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