Techday had the opportunity to interview two developers from Ready at Dawn to talk more about The Order: 1886. Game Director, Dana Jan and Tech Director, Garret Foster were kind enough to visit New Zealand and have a chat with us on their new game.
How did the idea of The Order: 1886 first come about?
Dana: It came about as a combination of things we had thought about in the past for years, even when we were not working on the game. After we were wrapping up the God of War games for the PSP, we thought it was the right time for the studio to see if Sony were interested in us on doing something new.
It was Ready at Dawn’s own idea to come up with a new IP?
Dana: Oh yeah, it was a home-grown labour of love to put together some ideas from a gameplay standpoint and a story. We had to figure out what do we want to do next and what we as a studio wanted to do in the future. We presented this to Sony and they said “let’s make that”.
Garret: We had a little presentation set up for Sony and we all said let’s go for it.
Why make a game set in the 1880s?
Dana: There’s a nice quality of things that are historical. The 1800s is really interesting and the world at that time was just starting to become the world we live in today. What we do in the world today isn’t that much different from what we did 100 years ago. There is a lot of familiarity in the 1880s because of a lot of the sciences that were happening at that time were starting to shape our world. There is also a nice interesting mix of people still believing in myths like the Boogeyman and other things they were afraid of and didn’t understand. This is because back then, science didn’t have a way of explaining things to them. It seemed like the perfect time for us to add creatures and monsters in that time period, but also science.
Why is The Order 1886 a third-person shooter?
Dana: We like third person games and we think they’re cool. Being able to see the character you are controlling is very nice. It also helps you understand the world that you are in and how that reacts to your character. We felt like in the 1880s they had guns and it’s a powerful device to use against enemies such as the Half-breeds that live in our world. From a genre standpoint, we are shooter fans.
Garret: The really important thing about third-person is that it helps you know who your character is. I feel like I have a disjoint with a first-person game and see a cutscene with the character in it. With a third-person game, there’s no distance as you see the character doing all of the actions in the game.
Did you get inspiration from movies or other video games to help you design The Order: 1886?
Garret: I think you cannot get uninspired by anything. Was God of War an influence in this game or was Daxter an influence too?Everything we do and consume imprints us in some way. Everything that you consume pushes you in some way. We’d be lying if we said we’re not influenced by a lot of different things. We’ll all huge gamers in the studio, so we wanted to make a game that’s just fun.
Dana: We also read lots of books too on top of movies and video games as well. It could be things like James Bond or Sherlock Holmes. We are just constantly surrounded by entertainment, and we pick the things that we think are cool. I like the fact that James Bond can blend in with just a suit in a casino, and nobody knows he’s a secret agent. That type of thing inspired us for our game too.
Can you describe in more detail on the enemies that are in The Order 1886?
Dana: The core situation in The Order right now is the battle against the Rebel Faction in the world. The Rebel Faction is an uprising of humans opposing The Order’s stronghold on society. They feel The Order is corrupted and only there to protect the wealthy and the very rich in London. The Rebels are basically made of people that are poor.
The other side you are fighting against are the half-breeds. They are these different evolved off-sets of humans that have animal-like qualities to them. They are kind of an abomination of humans. Since the founding of the Order of the Knights Round table, The Order is tasked to get rid of the half-breeds who want to get rid of humans.
Basically The Order is in a sticky situation as they are there to protect humanity, yet humanity hates them for it.
Did you take any liberties on the types of weapons you included?
Both: Oh yes, oh yes (laughs).
Garret: I would say that there were several liberties taken. When you think about, it makes sense for our universe. A lot of these pieces of technologies were either just invented or on the cusp of being invented, or they weren’t available in that form factor. For example, a capacitor at that time would have been the size of a table, but in the game it has been changed to a smaller more manageable state. We took some liberties and said, well this wasn’t invented yet but it became available 20 or 30 years later. But we never took laser beams or computers or anything too advanced. We tried to do it as close as to what could have existed at that time as possible. We tried to include things that may have been plausible.
Can you talk more about the main character of The Order: 1886?
Dana: Sir Galahad is a Knight that has seen hundreds of years of battle and has seen lots of people die around him. As a character he has started to feel the burden of what it is like to be a Knight that is protecting everyone else, while at the same time he’s losing a part of his own humanity. He was able to drink a black water that lets him live ten times longer than a normal human being. It’s kind of this strange contrast of doing a noble deed as it’s a big sacrifice to do in order to protect the lives of everyone else. Throughout the ages he starts to realize why we are all doing this. At the same time he’s with other Knights that have been through the same battles as he has. Sir Percival is like a mentor to Galahad as the two of them have seen a lot of wars together. Isabel is one of the lead female characters of the game and she’s another Knight that he has a strong past with. There is a newcomer called Lafayette who is like the player being introduced to everything for the first time.
Garret: It’s pretty fun to see someone jaded like Galahad in the game, and then add Lafayette as there is a stark contrast between them.
What was it like developing for the PS4?
Garret: Personally, I love the PS4 as a developer as it’s the easiest console I have ever programmed for. The thing that sets it aside it that they give you full access to everything. It’s so good to be able to capitalize on every piece of the hardware. It’s such a nice experience.
Why make this game in a widescreen format?
Dana: The aspect ratio for us was done for two different purposes. One of them being was to make the game seem very cinematic. Some of our favourite films were shot in the cinemascope 2:35:1 ratio. It was just compositionally something that felt really nice.
From a gameplay side when we started to do tests of what it was like playing a game that had this wide ratio. So we saw you can actually see a wide range of terrain from a third-person perspective from both left to right. If we situated the character to the left, you can actually see a lot more on the sides than you don’t see in other games that are only in 16:9. The widescreen format actually had a big benefit on the gameplay.
Why should fans get excited about the release of The Order: 1886?
Dana: For me it’s always exciting to see a new franchise. Inevitably we all play games that we know about and we might not get excited for its sequel. Having new games that come out is refreshing. For us, we’re excited for people to go “wow look at this game’s world and characters”. And I feel because of this, people will get excited about this game.
Garret: People are going to be immersed and they are going to experience a new world and a new story that hasn’t been told before. We mixed gameplay, story, tension, intrigue, cinematics and immersion. People are going to get a unique experience that they have never seen before.