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by Gas Powered Games


Dungeon Siege is an action fantasy role-playing game that combines the immersive elements of a role-playing game (RPG) with the intensity of a real-time strategy (RTS) game. Dungeon Siege attempts to plunge players into a gigantic, continuous 3D fantasy world on a massive quest to stop a mysterious evil that has been unleashed.

Founded by Chris Taylor in 1998, Gas Powered Games (GPG) is devoted to creating immersive, cutting-edge games that push technological boundaries.  He says: I think the main reason the (Dungeon Siege) world is different is in the ‘feel’ that is created through buttery 3D graphics and the continuous world - no loading screens! You never get pulled out of the game experience. You glide seamlessly into and out of houses, and go from outside to inside and vice versa without any stopping or pausing. Monsters can chase you into a dungeon or out of one. The continuous nature of the world make it seem much more realistic. We have also added rain, snow, wind, and running rivers. Smoke pours realistically from chimneys and we have beautiful snow covered landscapes with ice bridges that span massive chasms. Then there is the fact that with the Siege Engine, we can go in any direction, even straight down! Spiraling staircases was one of our early goals, and the ability to travel deep into the depths of the darkest dungeons. We are really excited about this because anyone who wants to can design their own world and it will be really cool to see what people can come up with.

Starting out with a single character, players can travel through the world, gathering a party of up to 10 different characters, or choose to face the challenge alone. Dungeon Siege's fusion of action RPG and RTS controls impels the player into one over-the-top battle after the other as the storyline unfolds and a larger plot begins to reveal itself.  You'll begin as a simple farm boy whose chickens, cows, and livelihood have been destroyed by wicked marauders. Then it's off to exact vengeance and embark on a life of hack-and-slash adventure.

The main goal of the player is to take the hero and discover why hordes of monsters have suddenly started invading the surrounding local communities. As the hero battles across the world, the mystery unfolds and the larger plot begins to reveal itself. All this time, the characters are developing their fighting, magic, and archery skills. The player may strike out into the world alone or hire Non Player Characters (NPC) to help.

Dungeon Siege pushes the role-playing game (RPG) envelope with fully animated 3D characters, over-the-top battles, intense special effects, and awe-inspiring vertical landscapes. With true 3D environments, a particle system for effects and spells, and dungeons that can extend in all three dimensions, Chris Taylor and Gas-Powered Games are injecting the RPG genre with the same level of intensity found in RTS games. Dungeon Siege takes full advantage of the RTS gaming experience with a broad array of familiar game controls like drag select, waypoints, and formations.

The game takes place in a fantasy world of warriors, sorcerers, and all manner of strange and deadly creatures, both alive and undead. Within this world, players will battle a multitude of exotic creatures, and explore the most fantastic places imaginable.  Besides placing the player in a large continuous world with a dynamic skill system which changes as the player battles the forces of evil, the game also turns the heat up with new levels of challenge and excitement as the player controls a multi-character party which reacts autonomously when engaged in battle. The player decides the party size and how each character's skills develop and may hire helpers to assist with gathering the spoils of battle or a mule to provide the ultimate solution to the treasure problem.   Says Taylor: We are serving up a delicious variety of the most bizarre monsters we can think up. I know everyone likes to say they have incredible AI, but this is one area we are really pushing on. For example, if you are fighting a mob of monsters and one of the characters in your party drops dead, one of the monsters might grab a weapon they were carrying and run off and hide somewhere. Now you have to go on a monster hunt to get that cool sword back. This is a simple example, but it demonstrates that not all monster AI is about the way they attack. One of our goals has been to make the monsters seem like they actually have a purpose in the world… and that they belong in each of the environments where you encounter them.

Dungeon Siege is engaging, yet easy to understand; action packed, yet easy to control; deep and involving, yet quick to learn. You'll get into the action quickly, without bothering yourself with too many decisions. Since your character develops all the skills you'll need to win as you adventure, you don't have too worry about making too many decisions up front. With a simple learning curve and no complex puzzles, you can concentrate on doing the fun stuff-battling monsters, exploring dungeons, and advancing your character.  Taylor: The whole game is like one big quest with little mini-quests as you play. From a design perspective, my goal was to draw the Player into the story as they play. I am not a big fan of long-winded monologues where NPC characters ramble on and on. If NPCs can’t tell me the important stuff in just a few short sentences… then forget it!

Dungeon Siege's proprietary "Siege Editor" gives gamers the freedom to change, manipulate, and rework nearly every aspect of Dungeon Siege, making this not only a game—but also an RPG platform for those wishing to create their own characters, spells, dungeons, and even entire worlds. Fans can publish these user-created files to the Web, making them available for anyone to download and explore or to play in the multiplayer game.  Taylor describes the Siege Engine as a new kind of engine that allows us to do virtually all of the things that we set out to do. Seamless indoor/outdoor transitions, a gigantic 3D world that has no loading screens, large dungeons that can descend into the depths of the world, paths that climb up the steep slopes of mountains and pretty much anything that we have been able to imagine. The camera can be moved 360 degrees and zoomed in and out. And that’s not all. Our weighted vertex animation system is amazing and allows us to have really awesome looking character motion. I could go on at length, but that gives you an idea. We support DirectX and both 16 and 32 bit color modes and will also run in any resolution.

GPG also plans to release the Siege Editor, the tool they are using to build Dungeon Siege. This will allow gamers the ability to create their own worlds and design their own “story sequences”. A story sequence is when the game engine is used to tell a part of the story like a mini-movie. In addition to creating gigantic worlds of any size, the Siege Editor can also be used to create small maps for quick multi-player games called "Short Games". These games are highly configurable and are meant to be played inside of an hour or two. Also included is something called the "Gas System". This includes all the files that the user can hack or edit to add new content to the game including new spells and special effects.

Dungeon Siege will support up to 10 players via LAN or the MSN Gaming Zone, with players taking part in both "short games" and the more traditional, widely played "campaign" style of play.  Multi-player will be a huge component of the game. And yes, there are scads of configurable multi-player game scenarios to choose from, including cooperative and deathmatch.

 --Al Wildey