Its not often that game developers make their way down to New Zealand (well maybe they do but they sure as hell don't tell anyone) so we jumped at the chance for an audience with Chris Taylor (creator of Total Annihilation). Chris is down in the Antipodes on a whirlwind tour to spread the good news about his companies upcoming action RPG Dungeon Siege.

The presentation was held in the basement of an Auckland church that was dressed up to look suitably... "dungeony". The atmosphere was very cool but I couldn't help feeling a little sorry for they beefy characters they had dressed up as medieval soldiers. Maybe they offered to wear that heavy looking armour in return for a copy of the beta. The latest version of the game was available for a hands on and Microsoft had put on the free drinks to keep everybody in a good mood. Seeing as this reporter was on the 'V's' I can assure you any favourable reports are genuine.

The presentation proper kicked off with a short introduction from Wilf Robinson, consumer marketing manager, Microsoft New Zealand. Wilf took some time to introduce Chris Taylor and give some of the newbies/clueless in the audience a bit of his background. He talked about his first steps in the industry working on some well known sports titles then went onto the part that for gamers like me pretty much makes the man god. He made Total Annihilation. The argument that Total Annihilation is the best RTS game ever made (it is and I can prove this scientifically) is best left for another time but even gamers who weren't fans can still no doubt admit that this a pretty impressive feather to add to the cap of a developer. The recent history of the departure from Cavedog and the formation of Gas Powered Games was also covered.

After Wilf's glowing introduction the exceptionally humble and good-natured Mr Taylor strolled up to show us what we all really wanted to see ... his game. For those of you who don't know anything at all about Dungeon Siege your first point of call should be the official site. If your too lazy to check out the site then we'll swipe the answer to the first question in the FAQ for you.

Dungeon Siege is an action Fantasy Role Playing Game (FRPG) that takes place in a continuous and gigantic fully 3D world. The design philosophy is to combine the immersive qualities of a FRPG model with over-the-top combat and non-stop action. Starting with a single character, the player adventures throughout the world, adding as many as 7 additional characters to their party along the journey and developing their skills in any way they see fit.

The game draws elements from RPG classics like Diablo 2 and Baldurs Gate and combines them with an engine designed for fast-paced action-packed gameplay. It has a top down view (very similar to that of many RTS titles) with a fully rotatable and zoomable 3D camera. Rather than talk up the single player game most previews have focused on the multiplayer aspects and opportunities to modify the game.

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