Jolly Developer Walkthrough Videos Of: Risen

Hmm, I’ve seen this sequence of game events somewhere before: shipwrecked up on a beach, where you find some similar washed up loot, then fight something with a stick, and meet a sexy lady. Egad! It seems that the opening sequence of Risen, the new fantasy RPG from former Gothic developers Pirhana Bytes (the new Gothic is being developed by Spellbound, and more on that another time) has happened before. Isn’t it… well isn’t it the start of Age Of Conan? And possibly another RPG I only faintly recall? Perhaps these games took their cue from the same issue of Fantasy Happenings Journal (For Fantasy Professionals), where ideas for fantasy adventures are free. Free to use. And reuse. And… there’s a three part developer walkthrough, and despite my de-Risen of the subject matter (oh, I’m that good) it’s worth taking a look. Whee!


  1. Bananaphone says:

    Really looking forward to this one. I was one of the seemingly few people who enjoyed Gothic 3.

  2. Hermit says:

    Off the top of my head, Daggerfall started with a shipwreck (Though you actually began the game proper in a cave), and Wizardry 8 certainly started on a beach with some handily placed Weapon Sticks.

  3. Gutter says:

    Yeah, that video looks like a new AoC game, after you equip a shirt.

    The cut scene transition when the dude reach the house in the 3rd video is quite poorly done too.

  4. HexagonalBolts says:

    Gothic 3 was appalling, you got the best weapon at the beginning of the game and the game play itself was highly repetitive. There was no sense of progression at all

  5. AndrewC says:

    Oh Gothic 3. Bless you.

    How did you play it Bananaphone – I got dispirited by the cookie cutter missions in the cookie cutter city hubs, and when I realised every single city was going to be the same I stopped. As a last ditch attempt to enjoy the game, I tried heading far north to the fire mages (the only main quest strand I could follow) and just passed through lots more cookie cutter city hubs.

    Aimless, pointless grinding without any juicy main plot thread to follow. It was a single player MMO in all the bad ways, even though I always found the Gothic games to be rather juicy and welcoming RPGs.

    How’d you get through it? What’s your secret?

  6. Metal_Circus says:

    And it was horribly bugged. It still astounds me how it even got published.

  7. Pavel says:

    Loved all three Gothic games, looking forward to playing this one very much!

  8. AndrewC says:

    Gothic 3 was famously pushed out the door early by an evil publisher. Or at least that’s what the developers said…

    It wasn’t until last year’s patch that my dude even had a head.

  9. Spludge says:

    Isn’t the landing on mysterious island with mysterious equipment thing the opening of FarCry?

  10. Zyrxil says:

    Combat still looks quite bad, much too similar to Gothic 3.

  11. Jazmeister says:

    That is pure class, Jim.

  12. Flappybat says:

    Gothic 3 was like playing an MMO without any other players.

  13. Sly_Boots says:

    I’m another who enjoyed the Gothic games (except Forsaken Gods which was so astoundingly poor it was almost funny), so looking forward to this.

  14. Sajmn says:

    Looks to me like they’re stuck in the past, with the combat, animations and interface and everything.

  15. Paul Moloney says:

    For me to take anything seriously from Pirhana Bytes again, one of their videos would have to be a walkaround of their new QA departments showing their team members and the QA methods/software they’re using. I’m absolutely serious; Gothic 3 was a disgrace.


  16. Flimgoblin says:

    Liked gothic 1, played the expansion pack version of gothic 2 which was ace until it sent me to the center zone after the pirates/excavation. The expansion pirate missions were so much better than the gothic 2 main plot it made returning to it seem such a let down.

    Tried gothic 3, made it through 3 quest hubs before the “omg it’s all the same”-ness got to me. Was a few interesting unique things (like meeting the druids) but it’s a good example of the wrong way to make a sandbox game.

  17. Heliocentric says:

    Well, my first experience with this developer was gothic 3, i walked to the top of a hill and then fell into the floor. I restarted and got battered by an orc.

    Tried again and walked near a pond and a great big thing popped out and killed me with near one hit. Eek!

  18. Jeremy says:

    Those guys died of “too much water”. I never knew I was being so careless.

  19. Adrian says:

    Or, you know, they may have read Shakespeare. As usual, he did it first (in The Tempest).

  20. Anaphiel says:

    How is it possible that the environments in Risen look so amazingly nice, and the characters look so amazingly awful? It’s like a Far Cry 2/Serious Sam mashup.

    Let’s add “Character Artists/Animators” to the PB Christmas list, just below “QA Team”.

  21. Lars Westergren says:

    Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir also started like that.

  22. Okami says:

    Marketing Fail!

    Don’t show the opening sequence of a RPG at a trade show. Hitting giant birds with sticks really isn’t going to sell this game to anybody.

    Also: Is it too much to ask from a company to get somebody with at least half decent english skills to present the game on an international trade show?

    The average 16 year old german high school student has a better grasp of the english language than this guy. It’s really embarrassing.

  23. Batolemaeus says:

    As someone who has been together in one room with a lot of 16 year old german students i can assure you, their english is far worse. They’re usually worse than my french, and that’s saying a lot. Prince of Persia game starts like that too.

    I, for one, am hoping for nothing less than a Gothic 2 successor. Spiritually, i mean, it was the best part of the series. It has a lot of bugs, but it just felt so authentic.

  24. gulag says:

    Ah Gothic 3. Take’s a lot to love it.

    I found driving the 800mb community patch through it’s front window and ignoring the ‘good’ route made for a very fun time, but by the gods, there is some grind in there!

  25. K says:

    How was every city the same? If Gothic had variety anywhere it was the architecture and landscape. And seemingly almost every quest was optional with different ways to accomplish them. If you want to kill the boss orc of the city you can impress the orcs through various deeds until you can see him; start a revolt through various methods; put the guards to sleep and kill him in his bed; charge right into his hut and try and fight your way through everything; snipe him with your bow; lead some deadly bests into town; summon an undead army and rain down fiery death from above… Not to mention there were cities held by rebels, orcs, barbarians or hashashin. It let you help or kill pretty much everybody, how is that not a sandbox game? It’s also one the best games for exploration, you can even find your way up the mountains without going through the defended pass.

    But! It was and still is full of bugs even after all the official and unofficial patches. It still runs slower than any other game I’ve ever run on my computer even if all the details aren’t on high. So I can’t defend the game too much.

    I’m really, really looking forward to Risen as this stuff is my drug of choice. I’m expecting a rock hard game, full of beauty and wonder which will reward persistence and exploration and probably have some awkward interface issues to overcome.

  26. Rabbitsoup says:

    Sarah looked like a classy chick, why must the devs go with the busty shipwrecked chick?

  27. Jeremy says:

    Why do all games start out with smashing birds or some other low level creep with a stick? Why not just reward discovery, exploration and escape with xp and levels. Even if for the rest of the game you have to smash birds and the like with sticks, just give us one authentic start area.

  28. Paul Moloney says:

    From Wikipedia, I read that Gothic 3 used a custom engine called Genome developed especially for the game. Honestly why do small developers do this rather than buy a third-party engine? Surely they must realise they’re going to have enough work developing and debugging an RPG without developing and debugging an engine on top of that? It’s a bit like writers coming up with their own word-processing system any time they write a novel. It’s not like they were able to sell it to anyone else. It honestly doesn’t inspire confidence that Risen “is realized with a new DirectX 9 engine that has been programmed almost completely from scratch”.



  29. Railick says:

    I tried Gothic 3 twice. The second time I really started to get into it and promised myself I would play it through as long as it would let me. Then I faught and killed (I thought) 3 orcs and as I was killing the third one of the first one got up and the second one got up and then the third one got up and they said “NEver do that again” O.o I couldn’t undertand how these 3 guys survived getting chopped on 40 times until the point that they (looks like) passed out, then they suddenly just healed to full health, got up, and walked back to their post like nothing happened. I recalled someone saying something about a finishing move you can do on fallen enemies but I looked all through the control menu and could find nothing so I just uninstalled the POS and went on with my life.

  30. DigitalSignalX says:

    Dungeons and Dragons online started out shipwrecked with a stick-ish too. As did some of the chars for Sacred 2.

  31. Wulf says:

    RE – Gothic 3 and the evils of publishing.

    Piranha Bytes really can’t be blamed or Gothic III, in this case, it really was the fault of an evil publisher, it was Knights of the Old Republic 2 all over again. A brilliant developer takes their time making an incredible game, publish goes “RARGH MONEY STEAL CODE RELEASE NAO!” and everything goes to shit.

    This is why I’m very thankful that publishing companies are a dying breed, record labels too, but that’s another story. They’ve been responsible for some of the worst crimes to gaming imaginable. I still weep over what became of Ultima IX because of EA. Gee, thanks Electronic Arts, that game could’ve been really great!

    JoWood though are one of the worst, they even released an expansion for Gothic III without even bothering to translate large parts of it, and all of this made Piranha Bytes look bad.

    So I actually feel really bad for PB, because I think that the majority of people have absolutely no comprehension of just how badly an idiot publisher can ruin something, even though we’ve seen it time, time, time, time, and time again with releases that are rushed out the door being barely 40 per cent complete.

    To see Gothic and PB at their best, play the first two games, they were absolutely bloody incredible. And now that PB have shaken loose the parasite of JoWood, I have a feeling that this is going to be PB at their best again. What we may be looking at here is a game as brilliant as the first Gothic made for modern times and PCs.

    I’m a nerd, yes, so forgive me if I find that an incredibly exciting prospect.


    Considering that this is a roleplaying game, I have to ask you; as opposed to what?

    In Fallout 3 and Oblivion alike, the animation was shite (I thought these two were two of the worst as far as animations are concerned), the animation in the Neverwinter Nights games was pretty bad, it looks like the animation in Dragon Age looks poor, and those of Alpha Protocol don’t look too hot, either.

    So really, what on Earth are you comparing it to? What Godly RPG of history do you have in mind? I’d love to know what you’re measuring it against because I want to play it!


    I don’t agree, they look fine to me, but I do think I see what you’re talking about and it’s something that’s always amused me. The thing is, a lot of RPGs have beautified characters, with no facial flaws, heroes with long, flowing, conditioned hair and chiselled, oiled, physiques… that sort of thing. In other words, perfect people.

    And then to see a non-perfect person in an RPG might be jarring, because I think consumers of the non-European RPG market are expecting perfect people, something more along the lines of Oblivion or Neverwinter Nights 2 (Gann of Dreams, et al). But that’s not what PB does, or most European RPGs in general, really.

    So I can understand it’d be jarring to see this at first, they don’t look like bad models or poor character design though, not in the least, they just look like everyday people, and everyday people are ugly buggers. And I can also understand how it would be easy to create a bridge between ugly characters and poorly designed ones.

    If that’s not what you’re talking about, could you elaborate and clarify how they look like Serious Sam characters? Because I have Serious Sam installed (netbook) and I’ve recently played it and thus I know what the characters look like, to say that the characters of Risen look like that is — to be polite — hilariously ludicrous.


    1) You fail at understanding what excites RPG traditionalists, and Risen (and pretty much every European RPG) is aimed at RPG traditionalists.

    2) I’d take a video of actual gameplay over a glossed over intro movie that tells me nothing about the game any day of the week. Substance over style, yanno? I want to see what I’ll be playing, not what I’ll be looking at for a few minutes before playing. And I appreciate that PB aren’t out to fool people like that.

    3) Batolemaeus beat me to this one.


    You said it!

    Gothic 2 was my favourite of the series too, and I’m hoping they’ll continue along that route with Risen. There’s nothing wrong with a linear RPG, what’s important is that they remember to keep their AI smart, in a lot of linear RPGs (NWN, BG, …anything Bioware) the NPCs are complete idiots and that detracts from the game.

    I mean, I understand that the developer of a linear game may not want to put too much effort into the AI of a city you may never visit again, but PB did that with Gothic 2 and they did it with flair. That’s what I’m hoping to see from Risen; a damn good storyline, a linear RPG, and those previous two elements coupled with an amazing gameworld with well-done AI (including schedules).

    It might seem a tall order, but they’ve done it once (Gothic 2) and I believe they can do it again.

  32. ilves says:

    That only happens with people who aren’t technically your enemies. If you go into town, you can knock down all the people who live there, but they won’t actually die unless you hold right mouse and press left while standing next to them, at which point you’ll drive a sword into their chest. For normal enemies they die and stay down without it, you were probably fighting some Orcs that technically you could’ve just talked to instead of killing, but chose to engage them for a quest or other reason.

  33. Wulf says:

    More posts, oy…


    Because then it wouldn’t be an RPG, it would probably be more akin to an adventure game. Don’t get me wrong, I love adventure games, and I’m currently doing my sixth run-through of Uru (I’ve been pulling it out about every year since it was released). Uru is a fantastic game, one purely of exploration, discovery, learning, and interspersed with the odd puzzle. But Uru is an adventure game.

    An RPG is usually defined by stats and whatnot, and by things like combat. I crave more adventure games too, and I’d love to see new entries like Uru on the market, but I don’t think that Risen should be an adventure game, it was never supposed to be. That’d be like making an adventure game out of Gothic 2… it just wouldn’t work.

    I think there’s room enough for both genres in the World.


    Having complete control of their own World might have something to do with it. I don’t know if they’d be able to achieve what they do with a third-party engine that they do with their own in-house one. And I’m really referring to how their critters interact with the World.

    For example, in Gothic 3 one could see roaming Wolf-packs who’d chase down and kill herbivores, and then actually eat them. It was amazing to see, one of my favourite memories of that game was getting a Wolf polymorph scroll and following them along and just marvelling at how much work had been put into the AI of a pack of Wolves in their game.

    I’d be for a third-party engine, but only if said engine allowed for that same level of AI, because the AI is one of the things that makes the Gothic games breathtaking. And I have so many stories I could tell about all thre eof the Gothic games because of AI alone.

    How I was almost caught robbing a house but managed to save myself because I saw the guy coming home through a window and jumped out that window. How I once found myself chased by Snappers (Raptors) and lead them to a hunter who was always bragging his exploits, said hunter then whimpered something about not being able to handle this and fled for his life too. How I lead one particularly strong critter up a mountainside, it slipped, fell, and got killed from the fall.

    Things like that really enrich the World for me. If they could do that with a third-party engine, sure… but if they were somehow restricted from being able to do that? Then they should forego the idea completely.

  34. disperse says:

    I almost died from drowning and am surrounded by the dead bodies of my friends. I know… let me put a hand on my hip and stick my bust out.

  35. Urthman says:

    The thing that’s marvelous about the Gothic games is the exploration invited by the landscape design. I still remember how astonished I was playing the Gothic 2 demo at how many nifty nooks and crannies there were to explore. There were literally a dozen places where I’d say, “Hmm, I wonder if I can go up there or over there..” and in every case it was actually a semi-hidden spot to explore with stuff hidden away.

    Gothic 3 also has a lot of that great exploration. The actual RPG bits are not as good, but the landscape and architecture put Oblivion to shame. It’s just a very rewarding world to explore.

  36. Paul Moloney says:

    “So really, what on Earth are you comparing it to? What Godly RPG of history do you have in mind? I’d love to know what you’re measuring it against because I want to play it!”

    I presume this question is directed at me. First of all, before you even start comparing things like animation, characterisation, storyline, etc, one presumes that you’re comparing two games that are basically playable. In Gothic 3 on a decent machine (in fact I tried it on two machines), not only was it a slideshow, but even on the lowest possible settings, there were large graphical anomalies (basically a sort of “clipping” effect that you sometimes see in games, except this consisted of most of the screen).

    So, you’re right, possibly once I got past that, I would have noticed Gothic 3’s differences to Fallout 3. But I didn’t so couldn’t.


  37. Stupoider says:

    Aww. I’m not a fan of the awkward arm movements when talking to people. The woman’s sweeping arm gesture made me grimace in the first video.

    Still, I think it looks good! Haven’t seen the intro to AoC because I haven’t tried it yet. :>

  38. Anaphiel says:

    Wulf, I wasn’t commenting on the aesthetics of the characters, I was commenting on the quality of the models and the animations, which do look like they’re still Gothic III quality at best.

    I may be guilty of exaggerating a bit with the SS reference, but they are pretty bad. The animations during the conversations are particularly laughable.

    It may not even be so much the quality as the jarring juxtaposition with what looks like a really beautiful and believable world. I had the same issue with the Witcher, trying to reconcile the quality of the swordfighting mocap and Geralt’s movement and the awfulness of the non-fighting NPC anims.

  39. Railick says:

    I take back what I said about Gothic 3 being a POS, it isn’t. What makes me so angry about it , is that it appears to be a great game I just can’t get into. that isn’t the games’ fault it’s mine :)

    (Those orcs were standing there , I was killing them as part of a quest. I knew there was a way to finish them off I just couldn’t figure out how)

  40. Tei says:

    I think I stoped playing Gothic I and Gothic III because the game killed my savegames. I think I did a rotating savegame scheme, but at a point something ( settings? ) got screwed so was imposible to fix, even resintalling the game, or something.

    Hope this new version don’t use that “filesystem” thingie, or whatever was, that is soo prone to break, and summon satan on your gothic installation.

  41. Railick says:

    Summon Satan on your gothic installation, lmao

  42. K says:

    I loved the fact you needed a finishing move instead of just mindlessly slaughtering people. There are many times in RPGs where I’ve found somebody annoying, but actually killing them seemed too much. And the reverse is true; if you’re being an annoyance then guards will attack you, but they just knock you down and steal your stuff and tell you to stop it. Instead of killing you for a petty crime as in other RPGs. It seems like a more civilised World and yet brutal. It’s a nice touch.

  43. D says:

    Love how he says that the drowned people died from “too much water.” As if they drank themselves to death. ^^

  44. Alaric says:

    “All the people which have just died from, from dri… from too much water.”

    This is epic win! =)

  45. unclelou says:

    Looks to me like they’re stuck in the past, with the combat, animations and interface and everything.

    Doesn’t really matter, as long as they stay so far in the future ahead of anyone else in the genre as they did with Gothic 1 and 2 to this very day when it comes to a believable gameworlds, NPC interaction and open-world/design/non-linearity.

  46. unclelou says:

    Note to self:

    Don’t make a phone call and post at the same time, it screws up your login details, punctuation, spelling, grammar and sex appeal.

  47. plant42 says:

    Beautiful scenery, level design and nice effects but Jesus those animations are bad. The guy wacking that ostrich thing while it flaps around? Really bad. Not quite ‘worse than Hitler’ bad but at least Oblivion bad.

  48. heartless_ says:

    I gave Gothic 3 ten minutes to impress me. I played Gothic 3 for ten minutes and never again. Yes, it was that bad.

  49. OKami says:


    You also seem to have a very black and white view of the gaming industry. I’ve worked on quite a few games for different developers and publishers now and in many cases the only reason why any progress was made during development at all, was the publisher breathing down our collective necks.

    While it’s true that Jowood are a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when revolution comes, Piranha Bytes themselves did botch up the development of Gothic 3 rather gloriously. Should you ever meet a german game developer, try to get him drunk and ask him about Gothic 3.

    Also: Some people might be of the opinion that it’s more important to get the fucking game working than creating a life like wolf pack simulation within a fantasy rpg.

  50. Alaric says:

    Some people might be of the opinion that it’s more important to get the fucking game working than creating a life like wolf pack simulation within a fantasy rpg.

    I’m one of those people!

    I’m also someone who could never get into any of the Gothic games. I love CRPGs, but this series somehow never did it for me.