RPGamer Feature - Planet Stronghold - Interview
Planet Stronghold
Developer: Winter Wolves
Publisher: Winter Wolves
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Winter Wolves isn't exactly a household name in the indie RPG scene. Creator of several dating sims and adventure titles, this one-man developer has gone the extra mile to create an sim-RPG titled Planet Stronghold. The game recently released back on March 5, 2011, and we had the chance to catch up with Riva Celso to discuss the process of developing the game, and what RPGamers can expect when they give Planet Stronghold a whirl.

Howdy Winter Wolves, mind sharing with our readers a bit about who you are?
Riva Celso: I'm a typical indie one-man company, even if of course I work with several collaborators, from artists to proofreaders. I am a big fan of RPGs, though so far I have only released one other game with RPG elements before Planet Stronghold: it was Magic Stones (a card-battle RPG that I made back in 2005).

Can you give us some insight into the plot of Planet Stronghold?
RC: The story's pace is set immediately, when you're attacked as soon as you land on the planet. There are some mysteries to uncover, like who you really are and who is sending a strange signal that is driving the colony's robots crazy. There are some moral/ethical decisions to make later in the game, and each character has a separate romantic subplot that allows the player to discover more about their origins.

Considering the romantic aspects of the game, would you consider Planet Stronghold to be a sim-RPG? What makes the romantic options in the game special?
RC: Well I cannot deny that I was strongly influenced by Japanese dating sims, since it is a kind of game I know very well. The game doesn't have tilemap movement, except when exploring the planet surface with the ship, so I can say that yes, it is more a sim-RPG than a "pure RPG". The romantic options reveal some unexpected events within each character's past, and if you complete them you'll be rewarded by some very beautiful hand-painted scenes and achievements.

How important is choice in Planet Stronghold? Does it drastically affect the plot at all?
RC: Well there is one main choice early in the game that completely changes the plot, and several minor ones that change scenes and quests. In general it is impossible to make "wrong" choices (that affect the plot permanently in a negative way), but in the case of the romance subplots, some choices can also lead to quest failures.

In the game details, Planet Stronghold is classified as a turn-based RPG with tactical elements. Can you elaborate on this?
RC: The combat follows the rules of some popular JRPGs. Each side moves all his members in two separate phases, and there's an "aggro system." It means that during your turn you have to be careful not to gain too much attention to the wrong hero. For example, a Psionic using Heal power will see a good increase of aggro, and if he/she is the hero with highest aggro, they will be attacked during enemy turns, possibly KOing them. In general, I based the battle on the aggro mechanic, and the tank/damager/healer system that is present in many MMORPGs. Soldiers are tanks because they have highest HP, snipers can do lot of damage and have high accuracy but low HP, psionics can both heal and buff/debuff, guardians are specialized in heavy weapons, and so on. I think the battles can be played and won in several different ways.

How many different classes does the game offer? Are their ways to multiclass at all?
RC: There are four classes: Soldier, Guardian, Scout and Psionic. The game is purely skill-based, meaning that if you want, you can raise a Soldier's Psionic (soldiers are the class with worst starting stats for Psionic skills). However, on each level up you earn skill points, and based on hero's class, each skill point spent will increase the class-specific skills more so "hybrids" can be done, there are still some restrictions to avoid all the classes to become similar later in the game.

What are some more unique elements to Planet Stronghold that likely aren't seen in too many other RPGs?
RC: Well the sci-fi setting for example. If we talk about indie RPGs, I cannot remember another RPG with a sci-fi setting. The game also offers a good amount of replayability since if you side with the King you're going to have different quests and dialogues options than if you side with the Prince, especially during the long part regarding the alien races quests. Another point of strength comes from the game's length: if you play it on both sides, doing all the various sub-quests the game will guarantee you fifty hours of gameplay, which for an indie game is not so common.

What would you say is the most important aspect in developing an RPG?
RC: I think the most important aspect is the battle rules/system and the characters. I am not saying the story, because even if I tried to write a somewhat original one, it's really too hard to come up with something completely new. I think interesting characters are more important instead, especially ones that grab the player's attention. I was very pleased for example, to do the various characters romance/friendship subplots, and have the battle voices added, since they add more personality to the combat and story.

Do you have any upcoming projects at the moment that you'd like to share with our audience?
RC: I'm planning to do another RPG in the coming months, going in a more casual direction using a comic-style and fantasy settings. I have several other games in production but most of them are dating / life sims, so I don't know if they would be interesting for your readers! :)

How difficult would you say is it being an independent company trying to promote your games to a wider audience?
RC: It's extremely difficult, especially if you make a niche product like RPGs. The competition nowadays is much stronger than it was when the first shareware games appeared on the internet, and the number of different platforms is making it even harder, though I plan to support only PC, Mac and Linux for a long time.

Any final words you'd like to share with our readers?
RC: Well, if you like Planet Stronghold and want me to make more RPGs like that, buy it! I really need all the support I can get. And if you bought it already, spread the word so I have higher chances to be able to make an add-on for it or develop even more RPGs in the future!

RPGamer would like to thank Riva Celso for sharing all his insight into Planet Stronghold. RPGamers can purchase the game from Winter Wolves official website for $24.99. Check back with RPGamer for more coverage on Planet Stronghold soon.

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