No Truce With The Furies is an upcoming detective RPG developed by ZA/UM Studio. You have a case to solve but can do so however you like, with the freedom to fail and succeed just like real life. Something that I’m very interested in are the innovative systems in place; you have an inventory for your thoughts, your dress sense affects dialogue and doing what you might in another game might not necessarily work out in this one. It’s also funny.
I got in touch with ZA/UM to find out more on their take on storytelling, genre and role-playing.
CE: Please tell us about the team working on No Truce With The Furies.
Olga & Helen: We realize that, in this age of tech startups, saying that we’re not just another company is pretty trite and clichéd, but, then again -- ZA/UM is not just a studio, it’s a cultural movement, and a very colourful one at that.
We have people from all walks of life who can boast a wide variety of skills and experiences -- published authors, artists with an education in classical painting, code-whisperers, and all kinds of poets, tricksters, hustlers, and D&D evangelists -- united in our ambition to take isometric story-based RPGs to the next level.
CE: In your game you play the role of a detective. I’m very much a fan of detective stories, especially deconstructions of the genre like Inherent Vice by Pynchon or Pulp by Bukowski. I’d like to hear your thoughts on detective fiction, especially how you see No Truce With The Furies fitting into the overall landscape.
Olga & Helen: There’s something very charming about stories whose imperfect heroes (or antiheroes) who are compelled by duty (and talent, and, quite often, a dollop unhealthy curiosity) to stick their noses where they’re not supposed to go -- and stick their necks out for the truth. And not just the truth of facts, but also Truth in a metaphysical sense, however loath they may be to admit it. It’s also a fantasy of justified voyeurism -- detectives must remain somewhat aloof, observer characters who narrate the lives of others, even as they inevitably become entangled for the purposes of dramatic tension.
In No Truce, being a detective, as one might expect, gives you a set of very specific goals for the sake of which you get to stick your nose into everyone’s business. However, your efforts are undermined by the fact that you start out as an utter failure -- sort of childlike and helpless, forced to investigate yourself and basic information about the world around you alongside the case itself, and, furthermore, monstrously hungover.
CE: I’m intrigued by your Metric system – how the character is built – especially the aspect of how being ‘good’ at something can also be ‘bad’. Could you go more into that?
Olga & Helen: Basically, your skills can be unreliable advisors -- they can lie to you and force you into rather unpleasant situations. Encyclopedia, which you may assume should supply you with facts about the world, may prove to be biased on one point or another. Drama, helpful in identifying when someone is lying to you, may suggest that you lie just for the hell of it. Half Light, your fight-or-flight skill, may force you to clock some dude who’s annoying you, allowing you to express your pent-up rage, but not really helping you advance your objective.
But all of this is not necessarily a bad thing -- failure may prove to be a much more interesting outcome than success. In the writing and design process, our goal has been to provide diverse but equally rich and satisfying experiences for all kinds of character builds. The player shouldn’t have to feel the need to reload after failing a skill check or choosing to follow some skill’s unreliable advice. In the end it’s same in life - not all is good or bad, black or white, and sometimes we just have to accept all the conflicting voices in our heads.
CE: Most works of art are quite linear or singular. When writing a story with multiple outcomes, how do you go about communicating your overall intention, the soul of the work?
Olga & Helen: Well, in some ways this multiplicity itself is a way of communicating our intentions. In our daily life this same multiplicity is present in the way we are created and recreated by the choices we make -- the beliefs we entertain, the behaviours we engage in habitually, the stupid jokes we can’t help but tell at inappropriate moments. In a video game, role-playing a character who has the opportunity to redeem himself in the aftermath of some god-awful choices he has made is just an intensified, compressed version of that very same human experience of free will and responsibility.
But of course, we also believe multiplicity makes the experience more fun for the player. It’s fun to explore all the different outcomes of a situation and try on different hats -- some silly, some serious. We hope to supply the player with a whole funky hat rack. That’s -- hopefully -- where the game’s replay value lies.
Thanks to Olga and Helen for answering my questions!
No Truce With The Furies will be out in 2018, add the game to your Steam Wishlist by clicking on this link and support innovative storytelling.