You should pay attention to Risen 2. Granted, fantasy role-playing game Risen 1 was awful on console and only decent on PC. But from the outset the game was a modest attempt by Piranha Bytes to find its feet after acrimoniously splitting with JoWooD, the long-time publisher of its Gothic games.
So the studio has pedigree, and the conditions for Risen 2 are considerably better. It's the most expensive project Piranha Bytes has embarked on. It's based on pirates rather than on the overused traditional fantasy tripe. And the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions are being part developed in-house.
Risen may even be known as Gothic again somewhere down the line, as Piranha Bytes owns and only rented the licence to JoWooD. But whether PB wants the hassle of washing away the bad taste left by ArcaniA - A Gothic Tale remains to be seen.
Risen 2 is currently pre-alpha. There's no fixed release date and Piranha Bytes wouldn't be pushed on confirming Risen 2 as a 2011 title. The luxurious label of "when it's done" applies here.
How much better will Risen 2 be? Eurogamer put lead Risen 2 game designer Michael Hoge and brand manager Daniel Oberlerchner in the chair.
Eurogamer: Was Risen 1 your best work?
Michael Hoge: No, absolutely not. Risen, especially the console version, was done quite poorly. It was our first console project. The PC version was all right, though. With Risen our main goal was to produce a role-playing game in time and in budget.
Daniel Oberlerchner: [Piranha Bytes] wanted to recover from the feedback they got for Gothic 3. Gothic 3 was their previous project before Risen 1. The feedback from the community and also the press was abysmal for Gothic 3 because the project lacked a lot of time and polish. It was a huge world but it wasn't really filled properly and there were many bugs.
We wanted to get rid of the bugs and polish it down for Risen 1. And I think we succeeded with that.
Eurogamer: Why was Risen on console was done "poorly"?
Michael Hoge: There are several people involved in that. Our part, of course, was that it was our first console production so obviously mistakes were made that cost time that, as usual, ran out at the end of the project.
Then there was communications with another team, because another team in France did the console production. There were a couple of reasons, but the most important is that it was the first time we did it.
Daniel Oberlerchner: One major reason for the console version not being that good is that we at Deep Silver decided very, very late in the development of the game to do a console version.
Right from the beginning Piranha Bytes worked on a PC-only game, and mid-production we thought about doing a console version and we found some French guys who were crazy enough to do the game in like eight months! Ha! Which is a very, very short time for an open world RPG where you can have so many decisions, etc.
So this time, the reason why Risen 2 is going to be better is because simply that we have done multi-platform development right from the start.
Eurogamer: Is the console development of Risen 2 in house?
Michael Hoge: Parts of it, yes. Everything that has to be done to the game data on console in order to run it smoothly - we do it in house. With Risen 1, due to time constraints, [the French studio] chose to go the hardcore way and just reduce all the assets by 75 per cent to let it run.
And you know the result. What we're doing now is we have our own guys in house who do data reduction and data adoption for the console.
Eurogamer: There's a PS3 version this time around, too.
[Deep Silver has contacted Eurogamer and confirmed development of Risen 2 on PS3 as well as on PC and Xbox 360 -Ed]