Hi, thanks for taking time to participate in this interview. To start things off, why don't you introduce us to the developing team, the reason behind you making a game, and how you got things started?
When starting this project we had to decide what genre we know the most, what kind of graphics will utilize our skills the best, what kind of game has chance to sell good. Most of the development team joined Mirage after working on Odium aka. Gorky 17 a game called revolutionary by important gaming sites and mags. First we wanted to work together on sequel of Mortyr, our first internationally recognized game. Pretty short marketing research told us this would be not the most exciting way to use our talents. We were looking at charts with topping 2D games with deeper story line than the average shooter we would do again. So, we got the top programmer from old Odium team, character modelers and graphic designers who made this game and brilliant story writer with Pythonian ideas. And we had knowledge about World War 2. What could be a better result than a WWII isometric RPG.
So what game exactly is Another War? We know it's a title for a role playing-game, but It'll take place in the WWII Europe, and this adds a lot of originality! Could you describe for us this game in order to give us an idea of what are you aiming for? For example, will AW be a thinking-RPG like Fallout 1,2, or will you lean on a more direct approach when dealing with combat and encounters like in Diablo and its sequel, or perhaps a compromise like in Baldur's Gate 1,2?
Being a creator of anything is a difficult task you have an idea that excites you so much you'd like to tell the whole world about it. Then it turns out your budget and time are tightly constrained, that things that seemed easy at first are extremely difficult, that your hardware and software is too limited to give results quickly and/or painlessly. I am writing this because we indeed wanted our game to go further than Fallout, deeper than Baldur’s Gate and have more action than all Diablos together. In fact we had to clip these expectations to the reality that meant we had to focus on one approach, now I feel the game is closer to Diablo than to any of the above mentioned games, but Baldur’s Gate is still a fair comparison. Possibly the greatest difference of Another War (besides background) is importance of the longe range weapons. On the beginning of the game player is forced to fight with knives due to scarcity and high price of ammunition clips, but later longe range weapons combined with explosives and special abilities are required to advance in the game.
What general games do you like playing? Did you get any kind of inspiration from other titles while developing your own?
Personally I started playing games at the time of Pac-Man, Asteroids and Tempest, so arcade games are my all time favorites. Recently I spent the most time on Silent Hill and R-Type Delta on PSX. Rest of the team is playing Planetscape: Tornment, Baldurs’s Gate, Fallout, Arcanum, Operation Flashpoint and Diablo every free moment (it means not too often last months).
Lately the WWII has come to the scene of gaming world with Commandos2, Return to Castle Wolfenstein and other titles...However no one chose the rpg-genre for this kind of scenery!Are you keen on history (and in particular of this period)or perhaps do you think classic medieval-fantasy setting has been a little misused by other titles?
Basically, WWII is one of the strongest images engraved in our minds. The whole team comes from Poland a country very deeply affected by WWII. Almost everybody had at least a war victim amongst family members. Even more importantly, WWII finished for us in 1989 when Eastern Bloc collapsed and our country started to recover from 50 years of the feudal oppression from totalitarian regime. So, our whole childhood was full of WWII, we had all kinds of movies and WWII heroes, we were taught about it and when getting older we started to realize there are very different visions of history, the one officially presented by our rulers and the one told by parents. This created almost schizophrenic dualism in reception of the reality and extreme need for a purification, catharsis as Greeks say. As creators we are trying to express things important to us using the media we know, we are gamers and games enable us to tell about WWII. We could live with a pacified, nice adventure for big boys where nobody gets really killed, blood smells like ketchup and love solves all problems but if i am to compare AW to other RPG titles the thing that hurts me is seriousness of other titles. You know, saving the world from a fireball throwing monster by using a magic potion fascinates me as much as a Power Rangers movie. With the difference there is much more irony in Power Rangers than in most games :-).
Will AW's graphic engine use any kind of graphic hardware feature (based on direct3d or other?) for any special effect (lighting, blowing, transparences...)? What kind of ambient interaction will be possible? The game play video showed a very good engine but it was subtitled 'very old', in the meantime did you make some noticeable improvements?
First the game was utilizing the hardware accelerators with effects like alpha blending or smoothing. Later it turned out that due to specific structure of data is it faster to leave graphics accelerators to what they were designed for, 3D games, and instead focus on 2D. So even when some of the mentioned effects are indeed present in the game (like snow, rain, some kind of smokes and fog, transparency) everything is performed by processor. Most improvements were made in terms of game optimization.
Also in the game play video you control only one character (not a party), this surely makes combat encounters faster. So why did you prefer using a single character?
This is all about angle of the game, we wanted to broaden RPG theme by getting it out of the “hard core games” niche and found our that the trick is generally in the controls. The more sophisticated controls, the more dedicated players it takes to get used to them. On the other hand AW is a story of the single guy and his friends, like in Bad Conker’s Fur Day or Zelda. Interaction between the hero and his companions are based on friendship rather than on ruling. It means that you ask your companions to behave in a certain way, not give orders. There are several reasons to this specific approach, the most important one is, I think, making the game lighter, less serious, more fun. I will repeat this forever it’s just a game, not combat simulator.
AW's combat will be in real time and it's been compared to Blizzard's Diablo in which you have to kill almost everything that is moving... Will there be more advanced tactical options in AW (like stealth or avoid combat)?
In our opinion these things are exactly what was lacking in Diablo and therefore such “special abilities” play a very important role in AW. First of all, developing the character enables players to use these special tactics. Most of these tactical moves are reserved for “Intellectual” who in the beginning of the game is a rather weak one. Later he can order a retreat described in the game itself this way: “Don't let your friends do everything for you. Let them rest for a while, and they come back to fighting totally refreshed!”. Thief specializes in sneaking, disarming and for example misinformation. You can attach yourself to the enemy phone lines and change the reports like: "...fugitive wears a black, leather jacket with the writing on the back "Death to Nazi suckers!..." to "...fugitive wears black uniform with a swastika on the arm..." A disciplined army where orders are followed without question is a must!
Will there be a character creation? What characteristics and skills describe our character? Will it be class-based (like BG) or skill-based (like Arcanum)?
In the beginning of the game the player chooses his type of character and advances him in a level based style, so possibly it is the closest to the Diablo.
Is the game plot non-linear? Will the player be able to change the story of the game? Will be there different choices to solve a problem in different ways (based on skill and statistics)?
Game plot is linear, possibly not in the classic adventure game meaning, but modern-linear. It means there are multiple choices, each class of characters has got specific paths to explore. Skills, statistics like luck and charisma are crucial for quest solving, but generally the game leads to one grand finale.
In-game movie conversations are handled by dialogue-tree structure with multiple choices.Will the player be able to chose an answer that mostly fits his playing style or perhaps a general argument ? In what manner will his answers affect the game play?
Conversations are the most important part of quests and therefore choices are determined by the goal of the quest. Statistics change the dialogues hiding or revealing specific branches of the dialogue tree.
What kind of soundtrack will be there in the game? Do you plan to add support for EAX and 3D sound?
From a technical point of view the soundtrack is recorded in MP3 format. Besides purely instrumental parts there are also some vocalizations. Spatial sound effects are supported, but due to the two dimensional structure of the game they are rather 2D than 3D. Additionally, sound emitters are calculated relatively to the display position rather than to the actual position of our hero's ears because rapid changes of the player's position present in our game made sound experience unpleasant.
In what state of development are you right now? Have there been significant variations to design/game play since the last game play video? What do you still have to do and when are you planning to have Another War finished?
Today we are bug fixing the game only. There are some things to do in terms of localizations (recording different language voices, translation to different languages, correction of already translated versions, etc.).
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about Another War, Mirage or other?
We do hope player will like our approach to computer games as an entertainment medium. We would love to hear from people they had real fun playing our product. And we would love to be able to create 'Another Another War'.
Thank you for your time