Q&A with Alexander Zubov, creator of Tomes of Mephistopheles

With the recent plethora of RPGs released for the major consoles, I can’t help but get a little envious and anxious for an in-depth role-playing game for Linux. Luckily for us Ubuntu gamers, the developers at Kot-In-Action are working on an exciting first-person RPG called Tomes of Mephistopheles (ToM). The game is currently in alpha, and you can help fund the development and buy the full, DRM-free game at the official Kot website (http://tom.kot-in-action.com) or through Desura. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Alexander Zubov, co-creator of ToM as well as the 2010 hit series, Steel Storm. Alexander was gracious enough to share some details on his new project and some thoughts on what’s in store for Kot-in-Action in the near future.


When and how did you get started with Kot-in-Action Creative Artel?
Kot-in-Action Creative Artel was founded in 2008, prior to the QuakeExpo 2008 virtual event. I learned about the DarkPlaces game engine years prior to the event, and I wanted to make a standalone game using it. The role of art director and all-around artist was a natural choice as I come from an art and graphic design background. I began working on my first game titled Prophecy: Return of the Blademaster, and soon I realized I needed a coder to help me with the project. No one wanted to help me as the project was in pre-production stage at that time. Seeing that help was not coming, I rolled up my sleeves and got to coding the game myself. The project was doing great and I wanted to display it at Quake Expo. However, I really wanted for it to shine, so to speak, and I asked for help once again. This time around, one of the most prominent coders in the Quake modding community, Clay "daemon" Cameron, offered his skills to help out Prophecy. Kot-in-Action team was formed, and the prototype of the game was put together in just 3 weeks prior to Quake Expo. The reception of Prophecy by the Quake modding community was warm, and we decided to turn it into a commercial game. Although we had some experience in modding, making a full commercial game was a whole different story. Prophecy required a lot of art assets. Since we didn't really know our potential, we decided to come up with a game of smaller scale. Steel Storm was born and the rest is history.

Tell us all about Tomes of Mephistopheles.
Tomes of Mephistopheles is designed to be a first-person action-RPG dungeon crawler with randomly generated worlds and dungeons. It will have fast-paced fluid combat (inspired by such old school games as Hexen/Heretic), a multitude of medieval and magical weapons, and an in-depth custom spell system (not something you see in many RPG games). Players will be exploring vast dungeons in search of the ancient Tomes. On his (her) way, the player will fight a variety of monsters, look for items/gear/weapons, discover secrets, solve quests, improve his (her) skills, develop new spells, and master new weapons. Players will be able to craft gear, weapons, and spells, and use dug-out cavities as a shelter / safe house. Dungeons and other structures are destructible via a multitude of means, and connect with a surface or outdoor over-world which connects to multiple other dungeons. Dungeons can also connect to each other, and if a connection does not exist, the player can dig his way through. The surface and dungeon areas will have towns and/or encampments with structures, NPCs, and various creatures to interact with. Not only that, but characters will not be limited to a single world. Players can generate new dungeons and continue building up their character, or take that character online to another player's world and partake in player vs player combat, cooperative questing, or possibly even help build some kind of structure depending on what the owner of the server allows.

What are some upcoming, post-alpha features to look out for?
We are planning to add more architectural details so the dungeon won't look so empty. Player progress saving and dungeon saving are on their way. Multiplayer. More enemies, gear, and weapons. Multifloor dungeons. These features are due in the nearest future.

What have you learned from creating Steel Storm that you've incorporated into creating ToM?
Release early and iterate. No localization support (everyone knows English to a certain degree, and coordinating translations of constantly changing and improving text is a huge overhead). No Mac support until release (we don't have Macs, and, while the engine runs on Mac, testing without having a Mac handy has proven to be a disaster). Use social media as much as possible. Reuse the resources.

Will there be future installments/episodes (ala Steel Storm) or DLC?
Most likely we will have DLC, pre-built characters, and some unique gear and gadgets, after the game is released. It's too early to talk about future installments, although the potential is there.

Can you tell us about your plans after ToM is released? Any new games or focusing on DLC?
We already have Steel Storm 2 in development, along with ToM, so I think we are pretty much set for the mid-range foreseeable future.

Thanks again to Alexander Zubov for participating. For more information on Tomes of Mephistopheles, you can visit http://tom.kot-in-action.com for more screenshots, videos, and game updates.