Gordon Van Dyke can go on and on about how sword-fighting was really done back in the middle ages.
The producer of War of the Roses will tell you tons about armor and how light it was back then. And how during the real 15th century War of the Roses, knights didn't use shields, because their armor was so good it made shields obsolete. Arrows would bounce off the best armor, unless the arrows were fired into the gaps in a knight's armor. Like in their armpit, for example.
Armor back then, he recently told me, was at an "iPhone-like level of refinement."
This is the kind of guy we want producing our upcoming multiplayer computer games about people fighting each other with swords and crossbows in the 15th century (the simple description remains the most apt: medieval deathmatch.)
Van Dyke visited Kotaku's office to show off the game and to reveal the price of the game. Thirty bucks!
He also explained that there will be a single-player storyline worth playing through, one that follows a fictional character through the real War of the Roses, introducing them to the conflict between the houses of York and Lancaster.
Van Dyke spent much of his visit showing the game's extensive character editor. This is the kind of game that lets you pick not just your shield (if you must use one) but the bump on the middle of your shield. Hint: the one with the point can be used for stabbing. You can pick the steel of your blade (Damascus steel can cut more than one person.) You can arm yourself with a dagger, possibly the Bollock Dagger, which Van Dyke swears is a historically accurate short blade with a handle shaped partially like "a pair of nuts". (The soldiers were kind of perverted back then, Van Dyke explained. Some of them put phalluses on their helmets, though that won't be in the game.) You'll be able to pick the groove that goes down the side of your sword, the quality of wood in your axe handle. It gets a bit ridiculous, but in a good way.
In combat, you'll be doing some historically inaccurate circle-strafing around other knights while doing some historically-accurate swinging of sharp weapons. The collision detection in the game is so precise, Van Dyke said, that the game will be able to tell the difference between a sword swing that hits the side of a helmet and one that slips through the eye-slits of a helmet. (The latter being bad news for the helmet-wearer.) Flashes of certain colors on the screen will indicate if a sword strike has cut only through armor or also through cloth or flesh.
War of the Roses is a Paradox Interactive game, which means it feels like the product of nerds—nerds in the sense of people who are hardcore about knowing everything they can know about a thing and then want to share it with you. This is a compliment.
The game goes into public beta in the beginning of August. It will launch later in the year on PC with Mac to follow by year's end.
Oh, and it has guns. Spelled "gone." They're more like mini-cannons, Van Dyke explained. A piece of pipe with a fuse on one end. You light it and then you wait a few seconds for it to fire a shot. It's hard to use, slow to fire and makes a knight prone to being sliced in two. You probably won't want to try it often. Stick to the swords. Damascus Steel. And get to slaying.