Arcanum Interview

by Enid Burns: January 26, 2001

Published by: Sierra Studios

Developed by: Troika Games

Official Web site: Arcanum Site

One of the problems with the recent wave of roleplaying titles is that there has been little in the way of diversity when it comes to the locations and settings. We’ve seen numerous traditional fantasy games as well as the usual assortment of post-apocalyptical settings but little else. Part of the experience of these games is to play out characters in a unique setting. Now gamers looking for something different can head to the steam-powered world of Arcanum. The setting blends magic and technology together in a pseudo-Victorian Age. Though many of the characters certainly look of that era, there are plenty of characters of other races like orcs and ogres that might appear to have stepped over from a Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Yet developer Troika Games seems to blend it all in and has created a compelling story to bring these worlds together. Sharky Extreme had a chance to talk to Leonard Boyarsky, co-founder of Troika Games and lead artist on this title, to get an idea of what to expect from Arcanum when it is released this spring.

Sharky Extreme: There have been few attempts to bring the classic fantasy races, the likes of orcs and ogres, out of the middle ages. Why do you think we haven’t seen this before? Shadowrun attempted it but it was a hate-it or love-it RPG, do you think this will have a broader range of interest by gamers?

Leonard Boyarsky: I honestly don’t know why we haven’t seen this before. When we first came up with the idea, I wondered that myself. I think that one of the possible reasons has been the marketplace – fantasy RPGs seem to do better across the board than those with other settings. We hope that in Arcanum we will be able to appeal to those looking for a good fantasy RPG as well as those looking for something a bit different.
Sharky Extreme: Would you describe this game to be taking place in a “steam punk” setting? The real Victorian age was really gritty (Jack the Ripper, a time of colonial expansion, a divide between haves and have-nots) but it still had some romantic ideals. How do these elements play into the game?

Leonard Boyarsky: I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as “steam punk” because while we have the steam, the “punk” element is missing. We’re more “steam Victorian society”.
As far as the grittiness vs. the romantic ideals, we’ve tried to play that up in people’s attitudes as well as tasks you might become involved with.