The comment section shines some light on the insight of the nightmare, as he continues to answers some very interesting questions.
The marketing department of Deep Silver was the only one with enough power to change the direction of the franchise.
I'm sorry for the wording. Of course I'm sorry for all sacred fans. This damn "3" in the title. I suggested to rename it to "Sacred - Brawling in Ancaria" or something like that... But the "3" obviously sells better.
I'm thrilled that this developed to a reasonable conversation. Didn't expect that. Thanks!
It did take me some courage to post here. The internet can be pretty merciless, so that scares a lot of other developers and that they could potentially lose their jobs if they share internal details.
Of course we played it. One of the level designers had a very deep knowledge of the whole sacred lore, but the whole story and chatter writing was outsourced (proof for that in the credits of the game I guess).
I bought the game, because it took my former employer some time to send me my steam key. So I had one extra key to give away. I also finished the game on day 2 (16h40m) on legend difficulty with a Safiri.
Atmosphere... most of the sacred 3 devs still like each other. Don't want to spill the beans.
The fan outrage didn't surprise me. I anticipated some rage, but it escalated a bit more than expected. Even with this anticipation, some things did hurt pretty hard. For me personally it was Totalbiscuits Holy Hannah!, RPS' Wot I Think and the steam tags of the german steam store (one tag is "Müll" which means garbage.
At least I unlocked a new passive skill (I hope): Rhino Skin
There are three difficulties from 1-25 and then our new game+ equivalent (deity). In the three lower difficulties the scenarios have their own recommended level, in deity all scenarios adjust to your level. So you should only play in deity mode.
Thanks for the kind words. "Outing" myself in this forum as one of the developers was a great experience so far. Didn't expect so much empathy and objectivity. Makes me love the "gaming community" even more.
As I stated before, there is no "black and white" answer for the question "who is to blame? Deep Silver or Keen?".
I don't want to create an "enemy image" or something like that. I don't want to tell internal details. It would be great for the community to have those details, but I'm certainly not the one who should give them to you. I'm not an official representative of deep silver or keen, I was just a Game Designers who built enemies and bosses for this game
If you analyze the Sacred 3 credits, you should recognize that there is always an extra "Lead Department X" entry. But not for the Game Design department. You won't find a Game Director, Creative Director or Lead Game Designer. Why? Because the project didn't have one.
Deep Silver owns the IP, they spent the whole money and had the financial risk on their own. Of course they say how it goes and in which direction. I don't have to have their oppinion, but it's their right to do so. They still paid salaries for us developers and our families, for a long time.
If a publisher owns an IP and would like to produce a sequel, he often gives other developers the opportunity to apply for this project. The interested developers then usually make a prototype, a high concept document and a production/budget plan. It's like a casting. In case of Sacred, keen did the best pitch and had the best prototype. Then they got the budget which enabled them to hire a lot of key personell and "infantry for the concent creation front". So no, the portfolio does not matter. Keen is an experienced developer with a lot of skilled individuals. Sometimes it's better to empower those people.
The player actions are very limited, yes and this was on purpose for couch coop party game reasons, but that does not mean that the combat is simplistic. We shifted the complexity away from the player to the enemies.
In the background works a solid "combat director" that stages the battleground, we spent a lot of time in finding the right enemy compositions that enforce different game dynamics, all enemy attacks have an anticipation animation that scales accordingly to the selected difficulty and so on.
But unfortunately you won't notice this on easy or normal difficulty... And sadly a lot of reviewers played it on normal (default) difficulty.
You will definately recognize the systems on hard and especially deity diffculty. There the game will become pretty challenging and demands knowledge of enemies, their attacks + animations, dodge/block timings and "super breaker" combat arts. The goal was to make a game that is beatable by everyone but provides a hard challenge for dedicated players. I think we did a pretty good job with that, but we did a really poor job in communicating the right difficulty level for every player. Normal is way too easy for core gamers and unfortunately people tend to not increase difficulty levels.