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Dungeon Siege II Designer Diary #1 - Combat Evolved

With the game nearing an important development milestone, lead designer Kevin Lambert discusses some changes to the combat system.


Due out in late summer, Dungeon Siege II will mark the return of the fast-paced combat and adventuring that played such a central role in the original game. The developers at Gas Powered Games have updated the 3D graphics engine and made numerous changes, tweaks, and enhancements based on feedback from the first game, which was a hit with action and role-playing fans. Rest assured, though, that the spirit of the original game remains intact; you'll hack and slash past waves of monsters and opponents in your quest for loot, better weapons and equipment, experience, and a happy ending. Now with the game nearing a major development milestone, lead designer Kevin Lambert fills us in on the latest details.

Dungeon Siege II will have plenty of hack-and-slash, and hack-and-smash, combat.
Dungeon Siege II will have plenty of hack-and-slash, and hack-and-smash, combat.

Combat Evolved

By Kevin Lambert
Lead Designer, Gas Powered Games

So we've been chugging away and are fast approaching our gameplay-complete deadline at the end of the month. At that point, all the major gameplay systems will be in and baked. Then we'll spend a focused amount of time polishing them up and fixing any egregious issues before moving into the final balance, testing, and bug-fixing phase.

Speaking of gameplay systems, I thought I'd talk a little bit about the party combat in Dungeon Siege II. We've made a major decision since the original Dungeon Siege to move away from a fully autonomous party and to focus the combat around a single character within the party instead. Along with that focus, we continue to provide lateral control over the rest of the party, for certain specific kinds of interaction.

Out of all the party members, the player only has full primary control over one character at a time. Furthermore, that character will never act on his or her own. With the rest of the party not under your direct control at the moment, you can set the artificial intelligence to one of a few preset behaviors. With a simple key press or click of a button, you can tell the rest of the party to hold their ground, to take an aggressive stance, to mirror your every move, or to regroup and guard your selected character. It's easy to switch your focused character at any time, so, for example, if your mage is the most important character in your party in a specific combat situation and you're currently focused on your melee character, no problem.

The combat mechanics have evolved quite a bit to give you more control over your party members.
The combat mechanics have evolved quite a bit to give you more control over your party members.

The party AI allows players to set the standing orders of the party before combat so that they can focus on the actions of a single party member during combat. And really, it all boils down to one simple concept: more fun and interactivity in combat, especially since players will still have quick and easy access to all of the party's powers.

We've been having a great time in our internal single-player and multiplayer play tests over the past few weeks, and the game is really coming together nicely. We're rounding the corner on the final stretch of development, and we're all very excited (read: completely stressed and pulling our hair out) to be here.

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