N-Fusion and 505's Ember is Totally Going to be the Next Ultima
Recently, I was invited to check out N-Fusion and 505's upcoming RPG title, Ember. Set in the land of Domus, you'll be embroiled in a rich story with over 70 quests, a ridiculously expansive skill tree, and gorgeous landscapes. You play as aLightbringer who is trying to save the embers - which the world covets to the point of war, of course.Jeff Birns, CEO of N-fusion, walked me though his work and it was obvious that this was truly a labor of love. And he was happy to answer a few questions on his beloved game.
148Apps: Ember looks like a fantastically deep game. Is it hard to learn how to play?
Jeff Birns (JB): Similar to an Elder Scrolls game, players will start off in a small dungeon that teaches them the basics through tutorials. Shortly after escaping, they are set free in the world to explore and learn more about Ember's advanced gameplay features at their own pace. By avoiding the use of forcing verbose information and by allowing them a good deal of leeway, we hope that Ember players can develop and progress through the game's systems without feeling overwhelmed.
148Apps: What would you say was the inspiration for Ember?
JB: The top inspiration is a very old and classic PC game that we hold near and dear to us - Ultima VII: The Black Gate. Ultima VII came out in 1992 and was built to run on computers with less RAM and processing power than most of today's modern kitchen appliances! Despite that, the game is regarded as one of the finest RPGs with its deep story, interesting characters, and fully functional world. In fact, this interactivity pertains to one of Ember's main pillars: to maintain a fully-simulated RPG world with day and night cycles, lively NPCs with daily schedules, and tons of responsive objects that would behave as a player would expect of them. We figured if this level of interaction could be achieved on a computer with 4 MB of RAM, then we should be able to do it on a tablet!
Another big inspiration was the Baldur's Gate series of games, as its combat system is a major influence for Ember's "pause and play" style. We also fell in love with the rich interaction with NPCs in the series, as it allowed the player to truly role play to their heart's desire.
148Apps: So what do you think your next project will be? Are we done exploring Ember or will there be sequels?
JB: The engine powering Ember is very flexible and could be used for many different types of games; a sequel is definitely under consideration, but we also have plenty of ideas that can be further developed and realized with our internally developed engine. Whatever the future holds for our next project, we promise it will be worth the wait!
After seeing the demo and talking with Jeff, I cannot wait to play Ember. I was a huge fan of theUltimaseries, and Ember takes that style game and improves on it with its touch contols and graphics. But they've also faithfully recreated some of my favorite aspects of Ultima, such as being able to pick up anything in the game. I mean anything. You can even do things like pick up a bag of flour and a bucket of water to make bread.That said, the crafting system is complex and will be a joy to explore.
Ember is set to release sometime in the middle of this year, but there is no official date as of yet.