E3: Nokia Shows Off Rifts... and a glimpse at something new.
05.19.05 - 1:11 PM

RPGFan had a chance to speak with Kevin Siembieda, creator of Rifts, which debuted at GenCon '90, and Shane Neville, producer of the N-Gage game. Rifts: Promise of Power has had a two-year development cycle with a team of over twenty people.

400 years in the future, mankind is leaving a dark age. After a golden age of bionics, genetic engineering, and a resurgence of magic, interdimensional rifts open and destroyed everything humanity had gained. Rifts tore open and demons invaded the earth, leaving mankind devastated.

This is the world of Rifts: Promise of Power, the N-Gage game based on this popular series. In this world coming out of the dark ages, there is a divide much worse than that of the modern world's digital divide. Some groups have access to technology, while others farm dirt. This is just a glimpse of the world of Rifts.

Rifts is popular with hardcore pen and paper gamers, and developers Backbone Studios wanted to keep things perfect for them. Character sprites in Rifts are two-dimensional while environments are three-dimensional. The camera in Rifts is fully controllable and will zoom in and out, unique in the mobile world.

Combat in Rifts is somewhat akin to Stella Deus, but using the number crunching of the Rifts pen and paper game. Grids are huge, more than 50x50 squares, and most of the Rifts characters will be available for play. Exclusively in the video game is the Elemental Fusionist, who will additionally appear in the new Rifts rules revision to be released in August by Palladium Books.

Rifts will additionally feature multiplayer gaming over both Bluetooth and N-Gage Arena for up to four players. N-Gage Arena players will have a system similar to 'play-by-email' systems seen in games like Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. The N-Gage Arena server will save data and players will be able to make moves whenever they like. Multiplayer will not only feature melee battles, but also games like Capture the Flag and Siege battles.

Rifts: Promise of Power will be available in October for the N-Gage and N-Gage QD.

Nokia also revealed to RPGFan an example of their new graphics technology that they plan to use in future gaming handhelds, image viewers, and phones. Jarkko Kemppainen, Graphics Technology Manager for Nokia, said that the system would have a 640x320 touchscreen and would easily be able to compete with the PSP. The early video RPGFan saw was more impressive than the current DS technology, but Nokia noted that the technology was not completed yet.

The current slated screen is available on Nokia's 7710 mobile phone. Nokia plans to have their device be the primary mobile device of the users, not a secondary device like the PSP or DS.

John McCarroll