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News Article Title : Robin Hood : Defender of the Crown Interview
Category : Playstation 2
Date Added : 2003-01-17 09:17:27
Written By : Daniel Crabtree

Troels B. Folmann, Composer & Producer of Deffmute, Inc www.deffmute.com has been kind enough to answer some questions about the upcoming Cinemaware game Robin Hood : Defender of the crown.

Could you please tell us about the history of Cinemaware? 

Cinemaware Corporation was an active developer of award winning games on the Amiga, C64, Apple IIGS, PC, NES, NEC Turbografx and other computers and console systems.  

In 1991, after releasing over eleven games, four of which reside on CGW's "Top 150 Games Of All Time", Cinemaware Corporation closed its doors. One of the most known titles in the Cinemaware lineup was "Defender of the Crown". Which sold over one million copies. This was the hugest sale ever at its time. 

We haven’t heard anything of Cinemaware for ages, why the sudden return?

Cinemaware rested in peace for 9 years, until it was resurrected by Lars Furken Batista and Sean Vesce. There was no turning back. They wanted to remake: "Defender of the crown". 

What are Cinemaware currently working on? 

Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown 

Tell us more about this game. 

Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown combines the classic game loved by thousands with a legend known around the world for a gameplay experience unlike any other. Players take on the role of the legendary outlaw himself and must use strategy, cunning, and quick reflexes to overthrow a tyrant prince, rescue the true king, and reunite England. With the support of Little John, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian and his band of merry men, Robin Hood must use his mastery of archery, swordsmanship, jousting, siege warfare, and combat strategy to lead the people of England to victory. Along the way, his resolve and skills will be tested against such villains as the Sheriff of Nottingham, the mysterious and deadly Guy of Gisbourne, and Prince John himself. Cinemaware’s epic game production, Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown is currently being wrapped up at the company’s headquarters in Burlingame, California. The product is based on Cinemaware’s hit game Defender of the Crown, first released in 1986 on the Commodore Amiga and subsequently to a variety of platforms where sold over 1,000,000 units worldwide. Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown is a re-imagining of the beloved classic, with a deep storyline, a rich cast of characters, and the same commitment to stunning graphics and unique, varied gameplay that first made Cinemaware famous.

What are the some of the key features of Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown?

  • A unique blend of role-playing and strategy combined with thrilling action sequences.
  • Fund the war effort by lightening the purses of travelling merchants in thrilling archery ambushes.
  • Lay siege to imposing castles using mighty siege engines and Greek Fire.
  • Joust in majestic tournaments for fame, fortune and land.
  • Conquer England’s 38 territories as you command troops on the battlefield and manage Robin’s growing armies.
  • Swordfight through battlements, catacombs and towers in search of treasure – or to rescue a beautiful damsel.
  • Unique special events, multiple goals and non-linear gameplay make each playthrough a new experience.
  • An engaging story filled with action, drama, romance and high adventure.
  • Twenty minutes of rendered cutscenes and a full hour of recorded voice acting bring the characters and world to life.

What can you tell us about this fantastic soundtrack we have heard about?

Computergames have a tendency to go "low-budget" or "no-budget" on the soundtrack side. Even though the quality is certainly going up, so many games still lack fundamental quality on the music side. Anything from braindead breakbeats to repeating and psychotic childmelodies of Nintendogames. Cinemaware had high demands for the soundtrack. They wanted fully orchestrated symphonic music and they wanted a row of themes. Themes that players will remember and themes that will stick, but not seem sticky. Themes are often the hardest part in composing. Its not so difficult to do marchy rhythms or fastpaced violin sequences, but finding that one melody that just rocks is hard. Amazingly enough I came up with my best theme/melody to the whole soundtrack while bringing home a pizza.   

The original Defender of the Crown had some rather catchy tunes done by a composer called Jim Cuomo. Jim made a pretty nice job taken for granted he only had something like three channels to play around with. This was about 17 years ago. Todays track is made with over 320 channels and with a music system that needs more then 6 ghz of processing power, 600 gb of hdd and over 6gb of ram. The reason why it needs so much power is due to the fact that we are simulating a full scale symphonic orchestra. Cinemaware went through a hard time on choosing their composer for the job. They considered several very established composers, but ended up in finding a totally unknown composer known as "Deffmute". Sean Vesce (Co-founder of Cinemaware) describes the choice as: "...Deffmute tackled the creation of over 45 minutes of original "scored" and "in-game" music with passion and sense of style not found in any other composer we've worked with in past productions.  The choice to award Deffmute the contract for the full score was easy after comparing the styles, abilities, costs, and reputations of other composers providing similar services..." 

The soundtrack consists of over 45 minutes of digitally orchestrated symphonic music. All main characters have their own themes (which is an approach adapted from movie scoring) and the main themes incorporates music from the original game. The aim was to adapt the "feeling" of the old game and at the same time bring in new stuff. So we kinda had to go retro and present at the same time. The original game relied heavy on the use of the Harpsichord/Lute. This instrument was not invented at the time of Robin Hood, so we decided to go a little more easy on this particular instrument. 

The soundtrack is mainly divided into two parts. The first part is the pre-rendered cutscenes (hi-end graphics with orchestrated music) and the second part is the realtime ingame sequences. The cutscenes were hard to do because they had to simulate the lighting and mystery of the Sherwood forest. The soundtrack also reflects this. The cutscenes have a more intimate and personal emotion in the score and the realtime gameplay are much more powerfull and aggresive. Just wait till you try Siege, while a choir of 1000 computergenerated voices blasts out in apocalyptic hymns. Its a thrill! 

For more info and music examples of the soundtrack, please go to: http://www.deffmute.com/diary/diary.html 

What other games is Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown similar to and how does it distinguish itself from them? 

Defender of the Crown is absolutely a stand-alone game. In a world dominated by popular genres like FPS and RTS it stands out. Defender is foremost an action/adventuregame and yet a crossproduct between RPG, RTS, FPS with the main drive in the story and interactive plot. They are several ways you can complete the game and your behaviour is adapted through the gameplay. Defender is crucially different in many aspects. First of all the different games within the game. Defender have seperate gameengines for Jousting, Caravan Raid/Archery, Siege, Swordfighting, Open Field Battle and others. One of the new aspects is the 3-D card from where the games strategy part takes place. The old defender had a 2-Dimensional map, the new is in fully 3-D.  

What about the game engine, what can we expect in this department? 

The gameengine were done inhouse and doesnt drop below 60+ FPS at any second. This is crucial for the gameplay since many of the scenes are rather hectic and wild. Imagine swordfighting on huge wood tables, cutting off candlelights in a realtime rendered castle enterior. It takes power, but the results seemed rather wild to me. Not to forget the beautyful rendered maidens, whom most players will chase, take my word for it. 

How does the game play, are we going to like it or love it? 

The gameplay is in general different from other games as we know them. First of all because of the different gaming sequences. So the players will have to build up skills in all the different disciplines. Some people will enjoy archery more, some people will become masters at swordfighting. Siege and jousting and so forth. Jousting is - as in the old game - pretty hard. One of the cool features in jousting is the use of slowdown in timing. When the sequence is replayed it goes in slowmotion and you can really see all the details in how you controlled the lance - and enjoy the BASH. 

How immersive is the game world? 

The main game takes place on a 3D-map. England is divided into 38 regions, which each their graphical entities and Sherwood is divided into 8 regions. The player begins in Sherwood fighting the evil Sherif of Nottingham, but as the game evolves Robin find himself among a larger group of people. All the lords of england, assasins, maidens, prince john and other characters. 

What else makes this game special? 

Another important aspect of the experience of the game is in soundfx, voiceacting and music. Cinemaware did a pretty good job in finding voiceactors. Most of the actors were flown in from England. They needed the real feeling and this adds to the atmosphere of Sherwood, England etc. The music was also orchestrated with instruments from the period. Wooden medieval flutes, handdrums, more primitive stringinstruments aswell. When you are in Sherwood for example - most of the instruments playing are made in wood. Which we believed compliments the feeling of the forest.

Related Links:
Official Site
Deffmute








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