Risen 2 Creators On ‘Exotic’ Pirate Setting

He seems nice.
This six-minute “making of” trailer for Risen 2 (below) is definitely worth a look. It shows off some of the environments in detail, but more importantly the developers take their chance to talk about some of the decisions that went into to making the archipelago world. A bunch of factors are at play in making Risen 2 the game it is going to be, not least of which is the implementation of a terrain engine, which was opposed to the usual handcrafted worlds that Pirhana Bytes had worked on. It’s looking impressive, though.

The video does make the peculiar decision of mixing translated voice-overs with subtitles, which is a little awkward, but then perhaps that’s just me. Anyway, it has added 43.7% to my anticipation of the game, which was already fairly high after the moderately excellent Risen.


  1. Njordsk says:

    I love gothic/risen, I love pirate setting. Roll on !

  2. groghog says:

    Why is he drawing on that beautiful map?! Argh!

  3. Gundrea says:

    Yarr. Hand over yer comments or walk the plank.

  4. Bharg says:

    Sure, we’ll never realise that they”re making the exact same game for the what? sixth time now.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Why is that a problem? The games are amazing every time. Combat is a little worse than the first two, as is the pacing, but they generally keep the quality of their games really high.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      I played Risen before I ever played a Gothic game and liked it a good deal. But then I went back and played Gothic 1 and 2 and Risen pales alot in comparison. It does feel like a rehash with mostly the same types of monsters and same gameplay (choose a faction and kill a big monster at the end), only the gameworlds quite a bit smaller and the quests aren’t as complex or interesting as something like Gothic 2.

      So it’s nice that they are doing something different. After playing Gothic 1, 2, and Risen within the space of a year and a half, I don’t think I’ll be able to take on Risen 2 for a while unless it’s at least slightly different.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      woops: double post

    • Bharg says:

      To me their new games couldn’t quite match Gothic 1 (wich also featured In Extremo).

      I would appreciate if they at least tried to change the structure of the games.

    • Tuco says:

      Not really. the “structure of the game” is really the LAST thing they need to change.
      If anything, they should “export” it to many other developers who are apparently unable to handle open world games without sad gimmicks like level scaling (yes, I’m looking at you, Bethesda).

  5. thepaleking says:

    “It was a lot of work, so we didn’t do it.”

    Kind of a major downer to hear that they won’t hand build the world, as that was always my favorite aspect of the Gothic/Risen games. In Risen they managed to make a fairly small island (compared to Morrowind or even Gothic 3) feel huge because of all the details and carefully laid out roads that ran through extremely varied terrains. It was always the thing that set it apart from the Bethesda open worlds. Still looking forward to it though.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Shamus Young writes on this subject quite a lot. He sees procedural generation as a tool to be used by artist, to take away some of the monkey work (basically exactly what they say here).

      His still-ongoing Project Frontier shows some variation, despite the very short amount of time he’s been working on it.

      I hope games will go down the mostly generated / partially hand crafted route.

    • MadMatty says:

      No worries: the way you do it is:

      1. make the computer generate the terrain, put in trees, plants etc. the right distance from the water, not too high on the mountain, naturally forming rivers according to basic geological rules and such.
      The map may even end up more natural looking than the handcrafted ones!

      2. THEN you just modify the hell out of the terrain to make it fit with quests, make it less boring, adjust it for specific gameplay situations and so on.
      Its just the computer that does the first 50% of the boring job, and it works a charm if implemented correctly.

    • Cvnk says:

      I agree. I was immediately concerned by that revelation. Exploring PB’s incredible terrains is pretty much the primary draw of their games (for me anyway).

      Hopefully they’re not switching to height-mapped terrain and are sticking with a mesh. I can handle them turning over much of the terrain generation grunt work to a computer algorithm but as long as it remains a mesh that will give them the flexibility to customize it or add whatever features they choose. Height-maps are much more limited in that aspect.

  6. InternetBatman says:

    I hope the quality of the geography doesn’t decline with their new method of making prototypes. Piranha Bytes makes the best geography of any game I’ve ever played, and they did it with pretty much every game they were involved with.

    • Njordsk says:

      Gothic 3 landscape is just my favorite for the serie. Oh going from the lush forest to the dry desert was fantastic.

      Must say skyrim surpasses it, even though it lacks diversity.

  7. sneetch says:

    I’m looking forward to this, I’m glad it’s not out all that soon though, I think Skyrim will provide me with enough action-RPGage for now.

  8. Stepout says:

    The problem I had with Risen was that it was an open world game, but it was way too hard to explore. Around every corner were 3 monsters that were way more powerful than you.

    • Avish says:

      The exploration starts at chapter 2, while chapter 1 is for building your character.

      I liked that you cannot run all over the place from the start, when you don’t even have proper armor or shoes. It made the island feel like a dangerous place with dangerous beasts and monsters, that you need to earn your right to explore it.

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      That was true of Gothic, but it was part of the charm. It lent a sense of danger to the wilderness… If you go blundering into the forest unprepared you will pretty much get eaten by wolves.

      [edit: ok, Avish already said basically the same thing]

    • Knufinke says:

      In all of the PB-Games there are certain “difficulty areas”. Most of the times it means when you’ve been killed a lot in one area of the game you’re not supposed to go there yet. And if you supposed to go there better kill whats easy to kill until you level up and try to outsneak/outrun the big ones.

      I prefer risens areas to the way oblivion handled things, because different monsters in each area adds to the variety and exploring the world feels actually like an achievement. Oblivions had leveling creatures and really not a lot of variety in terms of landscape, so meh… I didn’t enjoy exploring Thamriel at all.

    • Soon says:

      You can explore almost everywhere, if not by running away, then by transforming.

    • InternetBatman says:

      That threw some of my friends off, but the beauty about that is that when you are ready to explore you feel a sense of accomplishment. Also you can really feel the power of each upgrade, which provides greater motivation to explore and find more loot.

      I’ll admit that Risen’s mobs weren’t nearly as well balanced and the end of the game became far more of a grind because of it.

    • MultiVaC says:

      I really love that about their games. I spend hours of the game hardly going any distance from town/camp before running back screaming from a pack of wolves, but when I finally became strong enough to survive out in the wilderness it was so exciting and rewarding to go out adventuring in those places I had only been seeing from a distance for so long.

  9. jack4cc says:

    People looking like pirates talking about their pirate game, I wonder if there will be piracy issues when it’s out ?

    • Urthman says:

      I, for one, am going to pirate the shit out of the towns and sea vessels in this game.

    • vecordae says:

      You should look up Johann “The Brown Burgler” Avershmee if you need some historical references to work from. He plundered the shit out of fourteen towns, leaving them utterly shitless and, as a result, relatively clean smelling. He was often hailed as a hero by the same towns, however, as their sanitation systems were typically comprised of buckets and hope.

  10. wodin says:

    Risen had an excellent combat system. new moves opened up as you beat some fella in an arena battle. It really men’t you had more to do than just mash your mouse button ala Skyrim. It’s a shame Skyrim never implimented the combat system similar to Risen.

    I normally don’t like having todo different mouse clicks to do moves but Risen system seemed very easy to learn and actually do in battle.

    Risen was a very overlooked RPG, it’s biggest annoyance was way to many encounters with beats on the roads, apart from that it was a superb RPG and I look forward to Risen 2.

    • Robin says:

      Yeah, Bethesda clearly choose to keep a simple structure-less combat. (That’s also imputable to their stats system).

  11. Blackseraph says:

    What annoyed me about Risen and this too, is that you can’t make your own character nor play as a female. Playing as female is and should be a norm in RPGs really.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      I always find it strange that nobody ever seems to want to do any actual role-playing in Role Playing Games. They just want to play themselves or the same proxy they always choose to play in similar games.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with specifically defined player-characters. You play a role, but it’s still your interpretation of that role.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Gonna roleplay making lunch for the kids?

      I don’t think you shouldn’t always equate “roleplay” with “choose your character”. The developers are trying to make a game, which tells a story… what choices are open to the player are not always going to be the same sort of choice.

      Gender can call up a lot of questions, especially in “ye olde” settings.. ones where women (in reality during those times) were expected to stay at home and look after the kids, or whatever. Playing a woman character in such a setting would functionally require the devs to change the way a lot of the game choices respond to you… unless of course they have already put forward the idea that women are treated equally (a relatively easy suspension of disbelief).

      Some of the most popular RPGs don’t give you the gender choice, or even appearance choice. The whole JRPG sub-genre heavily favours fixed characters, as does Planescape: Torment, and the Witcher.

      It really depends on where the Devs think their effort is best spent. Most of those appearance choices during character creation have very little effect on the rest of the game… and if it’s 1st person, you hardly ever actually see yourself either.

    • Gundrea says:

      Why is white male the default for an RPG character?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Why is white male the default character for 95% of all games, RPG or otherwise? 4% of the remainder is non-human “mascots”/no physical presence.

      A mix of what sells, and inability to design outside of that?

      Beyond Good & Evil and Urban Chaos were really well done, but they’re rare examples.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      Because caucasian-similar males make up 99% of the population, and if Gothic 1+2 + Risen is anything to go by, you’ll start as a person of no particularly outstanding features. No exotic stranger, no gorgeous dancer, no superman – just a normal guy who gets into deep, deep trouble.

      Loving it.

    • MadMatty says:

      @Ninja Dodo- its not that strange that so few people roleplay- most kids havent even heard of it, and are coming straight from Modern Warfare 3.
      They usually pick a “stallone” type char, and play as if they were themselves, only bigger, with balls and usually a lot better looking lulz

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      This isn’t about equality. A change of skin and one or two dialogue options doesn’t suddenly make a game gender-inclusive. Obviously, 90% of game protagonists are white males because 90% of game developers are white males. Also, if you’re going to make a game in a historical or semi-historical setting, retro-fitting modern attitudes towards gender-equality doesn’t usually come off as very believable.

      The Witcher 2 would not be a better game if you could play as a woman, nor would Gothic or Risen.

      Rather than superficial character-customization for bullet points I wish there would be more games with some actual well-developed female characters. THAT would make a difference.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      @MadMatty: I suppose. Personally I like Tim Schafer’s theory that “all games are mech-warrior” ie you’re strapping on the giant robot suit that is the game… You’re choosing to play that game because you like the fantasy (or role) that it provides.

      link to gamasutra.com

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Everyone knows what roleplay is… it’s just most people associated it with being a teacher with a naughty student, or a sexy nurse, or, well, erotic utility rather than computer games (not including leisure suit larry)

      Youger people refer to it as “let’s pretend”.

    • Blackseraph says:

      @Ninja Dodo While I agree that Witcher 2 wouldn’t be better game if you could play as a woman, there definitely are gameplay and lore reasons why Witcher can only be men.

      However Gothic and Risen would be better, there is no real reason in either of those games why protagonist can only be male.

    • jaheira says:

      “The Witcher 2 would not be a better game if you could play as a woman”

      O RLY? Anyone else think wandering around sexing everyone up would be pretty cool as a woman?

    • vecordae says:

      Many of the dudes I know wot play female characters usually do so, they claim, because if they’re going to look at a backside all day, it might as well be an attractive one. It’s usually purely an aesthetic choice and it typically has almost no impact on the actual game experience.

      That said, it’d be fantastic if a game intelligently approached issues like sexism, cultrual centrism, and religious oppression in an open world RPG. Picking a female character or a member of a subjugated culture would provide noticeably different gameplay experiences. It is, however, a lot of extra work for something that only a small portion of your player base will be willing to explore.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      There’s a reason why in such games (Risen, Gothics, Witchers, Two Worlds Twos etc.) you can play a male only – they all have a hero with personality. In all these games to create a female hero with personality would mean to create another game. Maybe it is not only a matter of costs, maybe devs can’t feel they’d make it good? Personally I love these games, when you roleplay a fleshly character. And I prefer it to Fallouts or Elder Scrolls (Scrollses?), where your character is a mute generic grunt, no matter the gender.

    • InternetBatman says:

      It doesn’t bother me in Risen for several reasons:

      One is that they are on a shoestring budget. Having a different gendered character raises costs/ time spent by a lot.

      Another is that the series has always given you that character. It wouldn’t be right to change the main character in the middle, and it didn’t make sense to have a female character in the first game. The first game was set in a prison colony taken over by prisoners, the very few (five?) women in the game were treated as commodities or chattel. That makes sense given that it was a prison run by inmates.

      Another reason is that women are shown in all kinds of roles throughout the games. Everything from hardworking wives caring for their sick husbands, slick prostitutes selling information, leaders of the thieves guild, and a pirate’s daughter searching for her father’s cache.

      The final reason, and probably the most controversial is that I think it’s a cultural thing. I’ve worked with several Eastern Europeans and all of them, including the Germans, had problems with the concept of sexual harassment. I just don’t think gender is thought about quite the same way there, and that what would be blatant misogyny in Britain or the states is just kind of the norm there.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      not sure I’d categorise Germany as Eastern Europe

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      @Hoaxfish: Sure, but if a game doesn’t have a protagonist you want to play, maybe it’s the wrong game for you is what I’m saying.

      @jaheira: Yeah, because that would totally work within the fiction.

      @Blackseraph: In Risen, sure the avatar could’ve been replaced with a woman probably…

      For Gothic though (specifically Gothic 1) I really think not, given the setting: a rebel (male) prison colony… The handful of women there (whom the intro suggests were traded for ore link to youtube.com) are treated like slaves. I really don’t see how a female protagonist could’ve worked here. It would completely change the tone of the game.

      Gothic 2 and 3, since the protagonist is the same person in the sequels, still no.

      So Risen, maybe… but would it have made a better game?

      My point is, if the player’s avatar is a specific character with a specific background a bunch of sliders and tickboxes cheapen that.

      Personally I’d rather have more choices in the game than on the character select screen.

      [edit: while I was typing InternetBatman made many of the same points]

    • Blackseraph says:

      @Ninja Dodo, Saints row the third retconned female avatar into the game just fine after first one and the game is better for it, Gothic could have done it after first one as well just as well. And having female in first one would just have needed some better writing nothing more.

      Well my opinion in rpgs especially is that specific character aren’t good if they take away all the options from making your own character, this is really the reason why Hawke was so disliked after Dragon age: Origins. But it was still better than protagonist in Gothic or Risen.

      Perhaps this isn’t a problem for you. You ever play as a female character if you can avoid it? But this is huge annoyance for me that affects my enjoyment of the game, I also don’t like it. I really don’t have to either.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      I really cannot agree about Gothic with you. There is no way a female protagonist could’ve been written into that game in a remotely believable way. Saints Row is a bad example because there isn’t any aspect of that game that is supposed to be taken seriously. A girl hero would not make sense for the setting and story of Gothic for previously stated reasons. “Better writing” is not a counter-argument.

      I haven’t played Dragon Age so I can’t comment on that series.

      To answer your question: I played both male and female characters on my various playthroughs of Vampire Bloodlines. I found both interesting. The game is unusual though in that your choice of clan and gender actually makes a significant difference to choices and dialogue. If a developer doesn’t have the resources to make it meaningful they shouldn’t do it.

      A different example: I’m glad Beyond Good & Evil exists. Here’s a game with a strong female protagonist… and I really think it would have been a worse game if you could choose to play a guy instead of Jade.

  12. MrDreadlock says:

    Making a good, immersive jungle environment it’s not an easy task, but i hope they’ll manage to deliver.

    On a side note: I wish my Skyrim to be set on some warm, sunny islands. I just can’t stand that winter!:)

  13. danimalkingdom says:

    I get upset when I see game developers. Especially when they have dreadlocks. I don’t expect anyone to understand.

    • MadMatty says:

      when i saw those dreadlocks i had an immenent urge to punch him in the face- i dunno why?! i think i understand

    • vecordae says:

      I too have a violent reaction to the sight of trustafarians.

    • adonf says:

      Yeah, if anything that video was an impressive display of crappy hair styles. As a rule I don’t play games made by bald-headed developers or sporting faux-hawks or dreadlocks. This one is definitely a no-buy for me!

  14. Cosmo Dium says:

    Risen had exceptionally great level design. The world was relatively small compared to its predecessors and the Elder Scrolls games, but the dungeons you fought in were brilliantly, I’d say masterfully laid out. They felt very organic and very dangerous. They felt like they had been hand-carved by the monsters that dwelled in them. Seriously – best level design I’ve played through in a while.

  15. Gandhi says:

    The Elder Scrolls could use this setting. The Argonian underwater breathing could be useful here.

  16. MadMatty says:

    I found Risen 1 to be quite good, its fairly open, but not as much as the Elder Scrolls games. Storyline and quests also quite good, alas i never quite got to the big dungeons.
    Stuck with Skyrim now, and its super brilliant (apart from the broken menus) and i dont think ill have time for this- im no super fan of pirates either, tho it´ll do if the rest of the game is good quality.
    good luck to Pirana tho!

  17. Navagon says:

    As much as i’m interested in this game I can’t quite shake the impression that the logo reads “RizenZ”.

  18. orborborb says:

    I rate Risen right up next to Dark Souls, Mario 64 and Sunshine, the Marathon Trilogy, Ico, Metroid Prime, Majora’s Mask, Minecraft, Portal, Myth, Half Life 2, Quake 3, as my absolute favorite 3D games.

    But without the handcrafted world I’m not sure I’d be interested at all.

    All Bethesda’s and Bioware’s 3D RPGs have been boring and pointless to me because of their lack of three dimensional handcrafted exploration and I’ve wasted way too much time trying to enjoy them. I honestly prefer to play broken games like Aidyn Chronicles, Galleon, or Vexx since at least they have handcrafted worlds that are fun to explore.