The studio behind Broken Roads, an upcoming isometric role-playing game set in a ravaged future Australia, today announced that longtime tabletop and computer RPG designer Colin McComb will be joining the project as its creative lead. McComb was formerly a part of Black Isle Studios, working on Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment, and more recently a writer on Wasteland 2, Wasteland 3, and the creative lead for Torment: Tides of Numenera.
Broken Roads models itself on classic RPGs like the ones McComb is known for, and leans heavily on using Australian settings, iconography, and language. It has an emphasis on exploration, dialogue trees, and turn-based party combat, but its most distinguishing feature its morality system, which distinguishes actions based on four unique philosophical categories: utilitarian, existentialist, nihilist, and Machiavellian. An early demo of the game was one of the best games we played at PAX Aus 2019.
In speaking to GameSpot about the appointment, game director Craig Ritchie said that the studio, Drop Bear Bytes, had been looking for an experienced designer to help bolster their newly-formed team. “The high concept work in Tides of Numenera and the depths to which certain themes were explored really stood out to me, and (Colin) felt like a great talent to try to get on the team.”
“I contacted Colin and we got talking, simply by reaching out over Twitter. It felt like a long shot, but I sent him the link to our reveal trailer, we started discussing the game in general and the possibility of him being involved,” Ritchie said. McComb said that he and Richie “fell almost instantly into discussing our philosophical influences and it spiralled from there. Next thing you know, I’m signing an NDA and helping him amend his company’s drug and alcohol policy.”
When asked about his thoughts about Broken Road’s unique take on RPG morality systems, McComb said: “It’s always going to be difficult to capture the depth and breadth of human thought, but what I’ve seen of the early design, Broken Roads is going to have a thoughtful and reactive system that will allow players to chart a mental journey that gives them the freedom to explore new avenues of thought without constraining them to a specific path or punishing them for their choices. I look forward to long arguments about the nature of reality, perception, and the common good, and then tying all those things to fast-paced yet thoughtful gameplay.”
McComb and Ritchie also spoke about the recent resurgence of isometric CRPGs, which are paving the way for projects like Broken Roads to exist. “Between 2019’s successes and the games coming out in the next few years, it feels like it’s a golden age (for CRPGs)–I don’t know if I can remember a time when we’ve had such an embarrassment of riches all at once. It’s exciting and gratifying to see,” said McComb. “Pillars of Eternity and Shadowrun Returns really opened things up again both for CRPG developers and for the fans”, Ritchie added. “Just look at what InXile, Larian and Owlcat Games are up to at the moment. CRPGs may be niche, but they’re strong… It’s an interesting full circle, having titles like Fallout 2 and of course Planescape: Torment being such big influences on Broken Roads, and now having Colin on the team.”
Broken Roads is currently slated for a 2021 release. The team at Drop Bear Bytes also recently hired narrative designer Alexander Swords as their lead writer. Swords’ recent projects include work on Ubisoft’s game based on James Cameron’s Avatar.