Interview

Human Head Studios Opens Up on Rune and Letting Players “Experience The Game the Way They Want To”

Rune

Originally titled Rune: RagnarokRune is an ambitious Viking brawler set in a massive open world teeming with monsters and rival gamers alike.

Back in the year 2000, developer Human Head Studios created an action-packed RPG called Rune for PC and PlayStation. Now, 18 years later, Human Head is back with a re-imagining of the franchise. Thankfully, the developer was able to answer some of OnlySP’s more pressing questions regarding the new title’s ongoing development and Human Head’s openness with the community.

After Rune achieved such a successful cult following back in the early 2000s, the spawning of a sequel, though long awaited, came as little surprise for fans. When asked why the company had decided to revisit the Viking world after all this time, Human Head stated that a successor had been in the works for many years and had seen various iterations. While the current build of the game is a relatively new concept for the company, the idea of a Rune sequel was always in mind. Human Head further elaborated that now was the perfect time to start work as a full team dedicated to the project as well as a partner willing to fund it, allowing for more creative freedom.

The decision to drop the Ragnarok subtitle earlier this year was made not only to invoke the connection to the first title, but also to open up more opportunities for the project. Human Head explained that having Ragnarok in the title limited the content’s potential. Removing the subtitle meant that the developer was free to expand beyond the mythological event of Ragnarok and provide room for growth in the current build of the game and potential post-launch updates.

Human Head has never shied away from showing followers the ins and outs of the development process. Beginning with the update vlogs known as the Rune Recaps, Rune has had an open production, which continues with ongoing live streams showcasing the latest developments. Much of the game’s content and changes are directly influenced by the project’s close community.

“We received a great deal of outreach and fan letters requesting another Rune. So, it’s fitting that we’re able to work with the community to shape what that looks like. The feedback we’ve received so far on our blogs and videos has been essential for our development team, and we’re even more excited to get people into the game during Early Access.”

What feels unique about Human Head’s relationship with the player base is the honesty that comes with each update. The various uploads on social media are not only informative to players, but also take a more light-hearted approach, often featuring gifs and clips of comedic bugs found during playtests. The Human Head team admitted it finds the glitches hilarious and wanted to share that with its followers, further building on the inclusiveness with fans.

The aforementioned livestreams and preceding Rune Recaps have also been an excellent source of information about what gamers can expect from the final product, as well as why the developers made certain changes or decisions. Many of the earlier recap episodes put an emphasis on player customisation and abilities following overwhelming demand from the fan base. When questioned about the level of detail in character creation, Human Head revealed it is much more in-depth than previously thought. At the start, gamers will be able to choose gender, skin tone, hairstyles, hair colour, “and so forth.” Characters can also be outfitted in a number of ways, including the option to choose a helmet with or without horns for those who prefer a sense of either realism or fantasy.

While physical customisation is an important factor in Rune, many of the abilities and magical elements of a player will be determined by which Norse God they align with. Alignment is key when deciding what playstyle a character will specialise in. For example, choosing to worship Thor will result in greater combat skills with a hammer, whereas Hel’s followers are more attuned to axes. The exact stats for some of the gods have been made available on the website, with details coming for Freya and Loki after the Early Access phase.

With the promise of an increase in scope for the project and with the community’s wishes in mind, Human Head boasts that Rune will provide something for all gamers. Not only will Rune feature a large-scale multiplayer experience, but players will also be able to choose to play entirely locally, either solo or with friends. The option to easily group up with friends was not a feature in earlier versions, but was later added after player demand. Quests, raids, and several storylines—all playable either in either a PvP or PvE environment—can be found throughout the massive online world. Indeed, the Human Head team has put a massive emphasis on player freedom and a “play how you want” attitude:

“Setting up the game this way allows players to experience the game the way they want to. If you love crafting and building cool stuff—great, do that! If you want to roam around the world in PvP looking for other players to duel, please do. If you want to spend the next 17 years tearing limbs from your enemies and beating them to death—go for it.” – Human Head Studios.

With plenty of content for fans to tuck into, OnlySP asked about the types of environments players will be able to explore, as the previous title received high praise for its detailed and rich settings. The level design team decided to focus more on places in Norse mythology rather than using actual Scandinavian landmarks. As a result, Rune will feature landscapes inspired by the raging fires and bitter frost that are said to consume the Nine Realms come Ragnarok. Human Head insists the world will be an excellent spectrum of biomes, from frozen tundras to barren environments to explore, full of “creepy and weird” secrets for players to discover.

As well as featuring locations drawn from Norse mythology, the enemies and wildlife scattered throughout Midgard will be influenced by the same mythos. Players will face rival Vikings (both players and NPC), re-animated corpses, wolves, boars, giants and even dragons throughout their playthrough. Players can also take the battle to the high seas with Rune’s naval combat. Solo players can choose to create simple rafts but larger groups of gamers will be able to utilise the larger Viking longships. With long-range weaponry being limited to throwing spears or bows and arrows, boarding enemy vessels may well be the climax of many combat scenarios.

With so many exciting features on display in Rune, all gamers are sure to find something to enjoy. Human Head is eager to let fans in on the Early Access experience through regular beta key giveaways and open playtests. Rune can be pre-ordered or wishlisted on its Steam page and the latest information from the Human Head team can be found either via the  mailing list or by following OnlySP on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

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