Jan Beuck, Managing Director of master creating and one of the lead designers of 'Restricted Area'.
2. How long has Restricted Area been in development? How many members are on the development team?
JB : The game itself has been under development since March 2002, however, the concept and the IRIS engine have been under development since summer 1999. There are currently nine members working on the title.
3. What is the current status of Restricted Area? When can we approximately expect to see it in stores? Do you have a expected ship date besides late 2003?JB : We are mainly working on graphics and mission design now. There´s no expected ship date yet, but we hope to release it in autumn.
4. Can you give us any info on the main story?JB : Sorry, not yet...
5. Can you elaborate on this new IRIS engine? Why did you decide to make this in-house (?) engine? Was there no suitable engine out there you could license?JB : No, there is nothing comparable to IRIS. It is the fastest and most advanced engine ever written for an isometric game. The main difference to other engines is, that instead of using C++ it´s entirely written in Assembly language (low level machine code) which makes it much faster than anything similar. As a result, RA is probably the first game featuring TRUE VSYNC, as every time the monitor refreshes the screen, there´s a new frame. This results in the smoothest scrolling you have ever seen. In 1024x768 we reached up to 1000 FPS on a normal PC! This extreme speed advantage results in the possibility to create tons of unseen yet effects but I don´t want to tell too much for now. ;)
However, it´s the heart of the project without IRIS the game wouldn´t be possible as it is.
6. What sort of sound standards will you support? Who do you have on board to develop the sound portion of the game?
JB : The engine supports CD Audio, WAVE, MP3, Ogg Vorbis and some less important sound formats and features it´s own 3D sound system. Currently we think that we will use MP3 for music and WAVE for sound effects. The soundtrack is created by several international composers, while the sound effects have been produced by the Academy Award-winning company Todd/Soundelux which made the sounds for movies like “JFK”, ”Braveheart”, ”Gladiator” and ”Face/Off”.
7. Restricted Area resembles games such as Fallout and Jagged Alliance, what is different about your game? Did you learn anything from similar game’s in the genre.
JB : There are lots of differences. In fact I think it doesn´t resemble Fallout or Jagged Alliance very much, they just had comparable scenarios. A main difference is, for example, that we have real time combat. The game plays much more like Diablo 2.
We learned a lot from the games in our genre, but mainly from the fantasy titles. We found a lot of things they did right, but also a lot of things that could be better. We are in close contact to the fan communities of these games and try to create the game with the players, not only for them.
8. Will the game consist of one main story line, like a campaign, or will there also be a tutorial and skirmish maps? Will you have one main quest and a slew of little mini quests, or can you make your own story up?
JB : There is one main non-linear story line, however, it can be experienced different with every character as you have to solve the same problems in different ways. Additionally - and that´s what makes it really special - there are unlimited sub quest. These sub quests are as detailed and unique as a real mission, and you can play as many as you like. These feature will adds a lot of reply value.
9. “Computer generated levels” Does this mean every time you come back to a board it will be changed? Can you give us an example of how the story changes?JB : It doesn´t really effect the story. Every place you ever visit will look the same if you go back, but if you play again (with a new character) the places will be different. We thaught the program architecture, so it creates believable buildings.
10. What sort of system resources will it take to run Restricted Area?JB : Most effects are optional, so you can run it on old machines as well as on new ones and always get the best out of it. It currently runs on a PII 300 with a TNT2 16 MB VRAM and 128 MB RAM, but for best quality we recommend a fast graphics card (like GeForce 3 with 32 MB VRAM), 256 MB RAM and a PIII 500 because of the fast engine the CPU speed is not very important.
11. Will each character have their own story as well? Meaning you would have to play again as another character to view the main story in its entirety?JB : They all have their own background story and experience the main story from a different point of view in fact you may meet some of the others as NPCs! Also some mission have to be solved different.
12. Can you tell us some of the skills each character will be able to learn?JB : The skills of the weapon expert will concentrate on the use of firearms. He covers range combat based fighting skills like aim, reload, throwing and critical hit as well as one skill per weapon type to enhance it.
The female tech can make use of a personal robot, identify cyber- and bioware and repair equipment but mainly has skills that are essential when you are in the Cyberspace, such as detection, attack and guard.
The PSI covers the metaphysical, magic-like abilities. These are for example: Healing, Spirit Shield, Mind Flash, Paralysis, Confusion, Invisibility and Teleport.
The martial arts master has close combat abilities, mainly melee combat and athletics. Good examples are: Evade, break through, jump, two handed combat, kick away, attack speed, regenerate life and running.
In general, it´s very important to us to avoid useless skills and give every character a different game play as well as different possibilities of being played.
13. What sort of multi player are you planning to add to the game?JB : Support for cooperative network and Internet gaming. A stabile and easy to use multi player mode is very important to us.
14. Can you give us some info on the world of Restricted Area? For example, what can you expect to find in regards to settings, locations, indoor/outdoor environments etc…?JB : 2083 - The world’s cities have been grown larger and larger until they merged together; the entire planet becomes covered by one large city. The only exceptions are the oceans and the so-called Wastelands, contaminated deserts with ruins and shelters where only mutants live.
The companies have become more powerful than the global government and the large organizations now rule the world. To protect their secrets from criminal free lancers who steal them for other companies, they build large fortresses far out in the Wastelands.
Technology is now far more advanced - cyber implants and genetically enhanced organs replace most external equipment and can be bought to increase your abilities, going far beyond the possibilities of a normal human. The weapons didn't change much, except for some powerful but rare energy weapons. Smog covers the atmosphere over the mega city so the light is always dim, but lots of colorful commercial projections and lanterns more than make up for the lack of light. This stands in contrast to the merciless, continuously shining sun over the Wastelands. Humans discovered a science fiction similar to a kind of magic - PSI. It is a form of Para-psychological abilities like telepathy, psycho kinesis and clairvoyance. Also most buildings have an internal network called Cyberspace, and with the right skills you can hack into the security systems and travel there like in a totally different world.
15. What sort of monsters/enemies will Restricted Area have?JB : All sorts ;). You´ll fight against mutants, robots, cyborgs and humans.
16. How many weapons categories will there be?JB : About 10 the exact number is not determined yet.
17. Will all the weapons be available to all class’s but suffer a penalty for using a weapons that you are not accustomed to? Or will there be separate weapons for each class?JB : There are some weapons which are available for all classes and some which are only available for a certain character.
18. How will leveling system be presented in Restricted Area? How many grades of leveling are there?JB : The player character gets experience points for dispatching enemies and maybe also for completing quests and finding secrets. The experience for a certain kind of enemy will be decreased with every enemy of this kind that he kills. For a certain amount of experience he will receive a level up. The experience needed to get the next level up is always higher than the last one. The highest achievable level is 100. After a level up it is possible to increase attributes and skills. Unlike in Diablo 2 it´s theoretically possible to learn all skills at their highest level.
19. How many weapons/items can you carry at any one time? Will it be similar to Fallout’s inventory setup?JB : The number depends on the size of the items. You can carry up to 49 small items plus two active weapons at once. The number is limited because a scroll bar would make the inventory less overviewable. However, you can store nearly as many stuff as you want in your flat no small chests here ;).
20. How many playable characters does the game have? What are their differences? How many characters can you have in a party at any one time?JB : There are four playable characters as well as about 30 NPCs. They are very different: While the weapon expert prefers direct confrontation with big guns, the martial arts fighter concentrates on close combat with cyberclaws and Japanese swords, the PSI fights with magic and the computer expert is guarded by a flying drone which can be controlled by the player.
21. Will Restricted Area be turns based or Real time? Why did you choose for that specific setup?JB : It´s real time, simply because we think that´s more fun.
22. What kind of Battle/Damage system will you have?JB : We use a complex damage system developed by the police to determinate where you hit an enemy (or where he hit you) and differ between several kinds of damage, such as impact and ballistic. Also environment like weather and light effects combat.
23. Can you give us some more info on your “cyberware and bioware” items?JB : There are a large number of items that can be found. Items are classified in the following categories: Cyberware (technical implants), bioware (genetically enhanced organs), weapons (everything from a pistol to a flamethrower), consumable items (like med kits) and resident items (items that don't disappear after use, for example quest objects). While weapons play the same role as in traditional fantasy RPGs, the armors, helmets, shields and boots are replaced through implants, either cyberware or bioware.
Basically you can replace your entire body, piece by piece. A better heart for more vitality, mechanical legs which make you run faster and so on - the possibilities are endless.
24. Are you planning on releasing a demo before the game hits the shelves?JB : Yes. We are very satisfied with the game and don´t see any reason to hide it. Also game features like the smooth scrolling and the animations can´t be captured with screen shots or even movies, therefore we plan to release a demo however, if this will be short before or short after the release is unclear yet.
25. Thanks for taking the time to answer our annoying questions.
JB : I hope it was interesting to read and that you´ll like the game. :) Please note that the game is not completed yet and that some facts may change.
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