Triangle Studios was formed in 2005, roughly a week after co-founder Remco de Rooij graduated from college. After developing several projects for iPhone, Wii, and DS, Triangle is embarking on its most ambitious project to date.
The Dutch developer is laying the groundwork for Cross of the Dutchman, an action-adventure game about their country in the 16th century. I talked to de Rooij about the story behind the game and he was happy to expand on the game’s backstory.
“In the 16th century, a Frisian farmer with the name Pier Gerlofs Donia was known for his formidable size and strength,” explains de Rooij. “After the murder of his wife, Pier formed a group of pirates named ‘The Arumer Black Hope,’ who for five years fought many battles, often with a positive outcome for Pier and his men. Because of his actions, Pier quickly became renowned for being untouchable, until at the pinnacle of his leadership, he went to sea with a small fleet of fishing boats. He fought and sank over a dozen Dutch cruisers, who at the time were masers of the seas. This gave Pier his most famous nickname ‘Cross (or Grave) of the Dutchman’.”
Cross of the Dutchman will follow Grute Pier (Pier the Great) on his journey to liberate the land of Friesland from Saxon rule. As Grute Pier ventures through villages, he will recruit an increasing number of natives to his cause. This will lead to battles featuring dozens of soldiers on-screen simultaneously.
“To maintain a nice overview, battles will have about fifty soldiers fighting at the same time,” said de Rooij. “However, multiple battles can take place in one scene, creating different objectives for the player.” Mixing up objectives will help avoid the inherent tedium of repeatedly hacking and slashing for a long period of time, something de Rooij anticipated after testing battles of up to 200 soldiers. Regardless of the objective, however, look for Pier to always be the one to end a battle. “In battles, Pier will be the decisive factor,” de Rooij explains. “We’ve created a system that will maintain a battle until Pier intervenes and swings his huge blade to decide the outcome.”
With historical context being one of Cross of the Dutchman’s main selling points, Triangle Studios has been tirelessly conducting research to recreate the 16th century atmosphere. “Even though we have created a very unique style for the game, we’ve made sure that we’re using accurate materials for village and city architecture,” said de Rooij. “The layout for all of the towns has been designed upon the maps that we were able to find from that time, but we’ve adjusted them to fit with the quests that take place in a specific area. Landmarks will be very clear, but because most of the landmarks were either windmills or churches, we will have NPC’s point them out to the player, and explain their uniqueness.” In addition to recreating Friesland, look for Triangle Studios to expand their scope beyond the villages of Friesland by having Grute Pier journey throughout Holland and to neighboring Germany.
Triangle Studios has worked with the Unity engine for several years, implementing it into a number of their products. The most recent update (version 3.5) has given a big boost to Cross of the Dutchman, allowing numerous corpses to remain on the screen and leading to insane ragdoll physics in battle. “The system Unity uses is actually pretty fast,” says de Rooij. “So even though you’re sending five soldiers flying with a single blow, you won’t see your performance drop because of it.”
Cross of the Dutchman is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign, in hopes of using the funds to add voiceovers, cutscenes, and more in-game content. Triangle Studios is seeking to launch the game’s beta on September 1, with the final version coming soon after. Cross of the Dutchman will release on PC and Mac, and Triangle is actively seeking support for eventual PSN and XBLA releases.
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