Review Fix Exclusive: Inside ‘SOLASTA: CROWN OF THE MAGISTER’

Review Fix chats with Mathieu Girard founder and creative director of Tactical Adventures, who breaks down the gameplay vision of the brand’s newest title, “SOLASTA: CROWN OF THE MAGISTER” and why it’s worth checking out.

About the Game:

The dynamic and mysterious world of Solasta features brand new elements of verticality, allowing players to use their surroundings as an element of strategy. Position ranged characters on high vantage points or send your thief down into shafts and caverns to scope out what’s ahead. Utilize light as a tool to explore the depths and hollows of dungeons or use it as a weapon against the creatures of the dark. Solasta is a unique team-based adventure where each character plays a critical role in the campaign and can be a hero. Players must take advantage of each character’s strengths and weaknesses if they are to succeed.

Players will have the opportunity to get in on the adventure before it even starts when Tactical Adventures launches its Kickstarter campaign at the end of summer. Players will be able to back Solasta: Crown of the Magister on Kickstarter and link arms with the developers, joining the Solasta community and being rewarded for doing so!

Review Fix: How was Solasta: Crown of the Magister born?

Mathieu Girard: Solasta was born from the passion of playing role-playing games, both on P&P and computer games. I started playing these types of video games back in the 80s, and the Gold Box is a strong reference for me. Although I have played and loved many cRPGs, I felt something was missing compared to the depth and possibilities you can find in a P&P game. This is what Solasta is about.

Review Fix: What was/is your role in the game?

Girard: On top of heading the studio, I am the Creative Director for Solasta. I somehow feel like a fraud saying that, because I have been mostly involved in programming and producing video games in the past 20 years. But since the team is developing my next toy for Christmas, I can assume that I am leading the vision of this project. Also, I have very competent artists, designers, programmers and producers working with me. It is a passion project, and I am very happy to have gathered equally passionate associates.

Review Fix: How did you get involved in the industry?

Girard: I joined the industry 20 years ago, when my résumé was accepted by Ubisoft. I actually showed them a prototype of an RPG game (developed in C++ and 3FX Glide) to demonstrate my skills. After, I worked on 11 games of different types and styles, but I still remembered my initial passion for RPGs!

Review Fix: What was / is the development like?

Girard: I started alone, in my sort-of garage. I wanted to prove that the project, and its pillars, were viable. So, in addition to writing down the vision and performing market research, I developed a fully playable prototype in 9 months, including rules database, character creation, dungeon exploration, combat and magic. This prototype allowed me to gather support, funds, and talented staff.

Review Fix: What makes this game special?

Girard: It is hard to explain in one simple answer, but what we bring in terms of verticality, lighting, and even party atmosphere brings a unique feel to this game. It is also a big challenge, because the amount of verticality we bring (climbing on walls, flying, shoving opponents) requires reinventing everything for cameras, pathfinding, AI and of course Level Design.

Review Fix: What games influenced this one the most?

Girard: The Gold Box was a huge reference. It is amazing how this family of games influenced the genre, even jRPG. XCom is also a big reference, both for the original game and its deep turn-based tactics and first attempts at verticality, as well as the recent remake and its immersion. 

Review Fix: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?

Girard: During the creation of the vision and the prototype, there was temptation to change the context of the game. Since combat and tactics was a strong part of the game, we wondered if we should make a “management” game, à la XCom, where you plan a lord/wizard recruiting heroes and dispatching them to dungeons, somehow like Darkest Dungeon (great game!). 

Review Fix: What were the major lessons learned?

Girard: In the end, we preferred to keep the party perspective, achieving an equip quest, as you would expect in a good old P&P RPG. Also, I have discovered in the past that it is hard (but not impossible) to introduce compelling storylines in management games.

Review Fix: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?

Girard: I think it does not make sense to reinvent the wheel, and it is critical to know these old game mechanics. First of all, there is always some wisdom to learn, and also you will appeal to old gamers like myself! More seriously, I think it is important that young game developers learn about the history of game design in the great schools which train them.

Review Fix: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?

Girard: My favorite memory as a gamer is in creating parties of characters in RPGs: selecting a class, race, rolling 1000 times to get the perfect ability (don’t judge, you all did this). This is a great moment that we want to promote in Solasta.

Review Fix: How do you want this game to be remembered?

Girard: There are actually many complementary ways to do this: tell a compelling story to the players, make the characters and NPCs unique, setup challenging combat situations, create varied exploration situations, make sure every class / race ability is interesting and offers different solutions to the game. It is all in the sauce and balancing it out.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Girard: Obviously show more of the game. We are working very hard on a demo, we can’t wait to get feedback from our community!

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 9064 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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