If you know me by now then you have read numerous times about my love for Indie games. The joy that I get has been documented and the biggest influence on me will forever be The Banner Saga. It wasn’t all about the beautiful artwork in the game or the epic battles that I experienced. It also wasn’t all about the amazing characters or the wide range of emotions the story line had given me. No, it was everything about this game. I still remember the first time I played The Banner Saga. I couldn’t put it down. Who are the Varl? Who are the Dredge? Do I possess the skill to play this turn based combat game that uses strategy like a chess board? I had to know. I had to experience this game in its entirety. It doesn’t matter if you bled for Rook, put your heart into Alette, fell for Iver, disliked Bolverk or found it difficult to trust certain people (I’m looking at you Menders). What mattered the most is that you went along on this incredible journey and was able to enjoy one of the greats.
I recently got the chance to do a Q&A with Lead Designer at Stoic, Matt Rhoades. I am thrilled to be able to share this with our readers.
- Can you tell us what it was like working on such amazing games like The Banner Saga trilogy?
Matt: It has been really gratifying. We are so honored and humbled that the games have been as loved and enjoyed as they have!
- With the success Stoic Studio has had with The Banner Saga was it always known that it would end with three? And how difficult was it to say goodbye to these wonderful characters?
Matt: The Banner Saga was originally going to be a single game when Arnie, John and Alex first conceived it. They just realized that they had way too much story to get it all into one game, so they broke it into a trilogy. But from that moment on, it has always been planned to end with the third one.
As for saying goodbye to the characters, I think most of our players would agree we’ve been saying goodbye to great characters since the first game! But that aside, I think we’re all mostly relieved that we were able to finish the trilogy and end it as well as we did.
- I remember playing The Banner Saga for the first time and thinking about how the fighting played like a well thought out game of chess. Was this always the initial goal? And if so where did the developers draw that inspiration from?
Matt: Chess was definitely one of the inspirations, as well as classic turn-based strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Ogre Battle and the Shining Force series.
- Can you tell us what it’s like being an Indie developer and getting your game approved for console? Were there any difficulties with the process?
Matt: Well, having a publisher to handle some of the communications with Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo was definitely a help for us. The process wasn’t significantly different from the way it would have been if we were a big studio publishing a game on console. The biggest challenge was that, for Banner Saga 3, we were releasing simultaneously on PC and console. And in multiple languages! That is a lot of different versions to juggle at the same time, and we really only managed it because of our amazing production team of Andy and Zeb wrangling everything for us.
- I absolutely love the artwork in The Banner Saga as it breathes life into the characters. Has anyone thought of maybe bringing these characters to life in the form of film?
Matt: We have definitely talked about it. We would certainly love to see these characters make the jump to other media at some point!
- Last question. Now that the trilogy is done is there any chance we see some of these characters return? Possibly in a continuation or even a prequel? Or is Stoic Studio focused on moving forward?
Matt: Anything is possible. We absolutely love Banner Saga and it’s an important part of who we are as a studio at this point. Right now, we’re focused on supporting the trilogy and releasing Eternal Arena so we can make good on the promises we made to our Kickstarter backers. We are definitely looking at what we’re going to do next, but we aren’t ready to announce anything just yet. Stay tuned!
I would like to thank Matt Rhoades for taking the time and answering our questions. This Q&A meant a lot to me. I would also like to say a thank you to all the people at Stoic Studio for making such an amazing game.