Interview: Talking Roadwarden with Maciej Gajzlerowicz

The third interactive release from Poland’s Moral Anxiety Studio, Roadwarden is a text-based fantasy RPG featuring a robust set of game mechanics, branching narrative structure, and some damn fine retro pixel art.

While still in development, a free demo is available for Windows/Linux from the developer’s website where players can also leave comments and feedback in a comments section. When we spoke with developer Maciej Gajzlerowicz he told us he expects the game to see release in 2020.

Everyone knows to stay away from the wilderness. Most people would never risk a lonely journey. Roadwardens not only accept this struggle, they embrace it. They deliver messages, assist merchants, burn human corpses and, if possible, get rid of beasts and highwaymen.

They live on the road, die young or retire early.

It’s a dangerous job, but a respectable one. And it pays well

To learn more about Roadarden and where Gajzlerowicz takes his influences, we got him on the line to answer a few questions.

What game genre would you put Roadwarden in? Visual novel? RPG? A bit of everything?

I actually wrote a blog post related to all the genres that Roadwarden contains.

I do love Visual Novels as a genre of video games. They’re very popular, especially in Japan. These games are usually very text-heavy and focused on plot and characters, but support themselves through limited graphics and other forms of communication – they can include animated or live-action videos, voice acting, mini-games, plot branching (like choose-your-own-adventure games), but each one of them is a bit different.

They merge so many forms of expression that sometimes they even get adapted into animated series. Roadwarden is closest to this I think.

How long has Roadwarden been in development and how large is your team?

The core part of development – programming, writing the first dialogues, testing various features – started February 2019, but the oldest version of the game’s design was written down in March of 2018.

I currently work alone, but many people contribute to the development by testing the game, sending me their feedback or even by commenting my graphics in social media.

There’s a chance that the game’s soundtrack will be completely replaced by an original score composed by another person, though there are still details to discuss.

Screen from Roadwarden

What was your inspiration to start developing and for the retro style of the game?

Baldur’s Gate, a game that changed my life,was released in Poland in 1999. Not only I fell in love with the entire series, but also with other RPGs published on PCs around this time – Planescape: Torment and the first Fallout.

Also, one of the largest inspirations for me was the first Gothic, pretty much unknown in United States, but extremely popular in central Europe. These games made me passionate about fictional worlds, interactive dialogues, building your character, exploring new realms… I could talk about it for an hour. 

Nevertheless, I want to focus on all the things that I find most interest in, and turn the combat into a significant part of the story – something, that changes both the protagonist and the world around them, and doesn’t just kill time.

There are many game features that set Roadwarden apart from other IF games on the market. Do you have a favorite?

The “Attitude” system is definitely my favorite part of the gameplay. Whenever you encounter a new character, you can select one of the five Attitudes – Friendly, Playful, Distanced, Intimidating or Vulnerable.

Attitudes influence your further dialogue – not only it sets the tone, it also shapes how other people perceive you. You can try to “intimidate” a group of bandits, but if you’re bluffing, it may turn against you. However, acting friendly or vulnerable would significantly change the context of such an encounter. And since Roadwarden presents the story of a traveler, not just a fighter, I’ve decided it’s essential to include systems that would make the traveling a bit of a challenge.

Time restrictions, obligatory sleeping, food, health, discovering the world one step at a time… I wanted to emphasize these details a bit more than most RPGs, which prefer to focus on battles and duels. 

Bringing your own personal interests to a new game is what it’s all about. Thanks for your time, Maciej. We’re looking forward to Roadwarden’s release.

Any time!

Moral Axiety Studios’ previous games include Tales from Windy Meadow and The Tavern. Roadwarden takes place in the same realm as these two games.

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StoryFix Media produces interactive fiction games and novels. Our sci-fi text adventure The Pulse is out now. Our novels New Horizons and The Blue Moon are available now.

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