Summary: Today we have an interview with Diarmid Clarke of BioWare regarding the upcoming PC version of Jade Empire.
FiringSquad: First, how did the idea come about to develop a PC version of Jade Empire?
Diarmid Clarke: A big motivation was our fan community. BioWare has a terrific community of over 3 million members, many of whom are PC fans who let us know how eager they were for a new PC game.
FiringSquad: How was Gray Matter recruited to help develop the game?
Diarmid Clarke: I keep in contact with a lot of development studios so that when a project comes up I already have a short list of good people to go to. LTI did an evaluation demo for us of Jade working on the PC, which they presented to the original Jade team at our Edmonton offices. They did a great job of that.
FiringSquad: How hard was it to port the content of the original Xbox game to work on the PC?
Diarmid Clarke: To get something working on PC from Xbox is pretty straightforward. The hard work comes from adding all the enhancements to the PC version so that they make the game closer to the original design vision. For example, I’m very happy with how the game has been re-balanced to make the players’ second-to-second gameplay experience more enjoyable.
FiringSquad: What sort of new single player missions, if any, have been added to the PC version?
Diarmid Clarke: Jade PC remains absolutely faithful to the original story our writers wanted to make, so we didn’t want to add arbitrary new content which would not fit with the writing vision. But we did focus on adding 3 main layers of development: 1) Providing the PC player with the technical improvements that they expect and demand, such as improved resolution and great keyboard and mouse control, 2) New content such as cool fighting styles and monsters, and 3) Really enhancing the combat and balancing to improve the gameplay experience.
FiringSquad: What kind of new enemies and monsters can we expect in the PC versions?
Diarmid Clarke: I don’t want to ruin the surprise by telling you about all the new enemies, but one of my favorites is the Rhino Demon. He’s one of the elder demons, and he can mow you down with his horn rush, or squash you with a big stomp attack, and other things like that. He’s pretty resistant to magic so you really have to get up close to attack him, which is dangerous because he’s got a long reach.
Diarmid Clarke: One of the first things you’ll notice is the high resolution graphics and the stunning new visual effects that simply weren’t possible before. One of our biggest development goals was to produce a great keyboard and mouse control system, and we’ve been fine-tuning that since a very early development stage. We also allow the players to re-define the controls to suit their own preferences.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the graphical upgrades that are being made for the PC version?
Diarmid Clarke: We’ve upgraded a lot of the textures and effects, so you’re getting ultra-crisp visuals, smooth frame rates and it all loads very quickly. It looks absolutely fantastic on a high resolution, widescreen monitor, but it’s completely scalable so it will also run smoothly and look great on lower end machines as well.
FiringSquad: Will there be a demo of the PC version released?
Diarmid Clarke: We haven’t made any decisions about that just yet.
FiringSquad: What is the current status of the game's progress and when will it be released?
Diarmid Clarke: So far it’s looking absolutely terrific. We’re well into the final stages of development so it’s mostly just polishing at this point. We’re hoping to have it out around January of 2007.
FiringSquad: Are there any plans for a Jade Empire 2 to be released at some point?
Diarmid Clarke: We’d certainly love to continue working on the Jade franchise, so you never know…!
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Jade Empire for the PC?
Diarmid Clarke: We’ve really tried to design this new version of Jade Empire to be an amazing experience for our PC fans, but we think our original Xbox fans who have already played it will really enjoy the changes we’ve made to the game. We’re looking forward to seeing it on PC, and our publisher, 2K Games, has been wonderful to work with.
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