This interview was a team effort, with answers from Jeff Birns (Lead Artist) and Jason Zisk (Lead Programmer).
2. What is the story behind Line of Sight: Vietnam?
This is what the PR says:
“In 1968 the U.S. Army assigned a young sniper to the 5th Special Forces compound in Nha Tong, Vietnam. His mission: disrupt the enemy’s command structure, scout Viet Cong positions, and ambush the enemy in the dead of night. For him, success depended on a rifle, a target, and a clear Line of Sight. “
The game has a little more story than our previous games. Most of the missions take place right after one another, or within a few days. This gives us a chance to develop a story as the game progresses, and gives the missions more cohesion. The story basically follows your Special Forces group’s attempt to find out why there is suddenly such an enemy presence near your firebase, and of course things keep getting crazier as the game progresses.
3. Why did you choose a sniper in Vietnam to be the basis for this game?
We realized that most people who played DD1 and DD2 loved being the sniper, so we decided to focus the game around that role. It works out really well because of the huge levels and tons of foliage, you really feel like a sniper trying his best to take out his target. Not all of the missions are sniping though; there is a nice mix of action and stealth to break things up.
4. Do you not fear negative press or the fact that certain retail stores may not carry your product due to the recent “sniper killing” events.
Actually we don't feel this is much of a problem being that the game is focused on an actual military conflict. I’m pretty sure people won’t even relate the two.
5. When can we expect to see the game appear in stores?
The game should be available now.
6. Your previous product was Deadly Dozen 2, Will we see anything from DD2 carried over in the LOS: Vietnam? Anything you learned from previous title that you decided to fix/do better?
LOS is similar to DD2 in many areas, it is still squad-based, the controls are basically the same, and it still is mission-based. But the actual game play feels quite different. Sneaking is a lot more important, as is finding a good sniping spot and taking out the enemy without them seeing you. The squad is smaller too, you generally are either alone or have one man with you, so the game ends up being more action-oriented rather than squad strategy.
7. What type of graphics engine did you use for LOS: Vietnam? Homebrew or Licensed? And why that choice?
The engine is an upgraded version of the DD2 engine, which is entirely our own. We really enjoy using our own technology for our products; it gives the game a unique feel. Also it allows us to do some things that you really can’t do in any other engine, such as the extremely lush jungles that go on for miles.
LOS’s engine was upgraded to DirectX9 in order to take advantage of some advanced features on modern 3D cards. Little did we know that by using DirectX9 it would also speed the game up quite a bit and eliminate some annoying little compatibility issues we were having because of the old DirectX7 engine we used in DD2.
8. Can you give use some info on the weapons in LOS: Vietnam? What is your personal favorite weapon in the game, and why?
We have an interesting assortment of weapons because the game is based on Special Forces. A lot of people play the game and say “where is weapon X? Every soldier in ‘Nam used that!” But you have to remember that these guys had special hardware. For instance your spotter will generally have a CAR-15 rather than the usual M-16. I’d have to say that everyone’s favorite weapon is the grenade launcher. It’s a blast to use, bad pun intended. ?
9. Are you planning any kind of ballistics to the weapons?
All of the weapons use a fairly realistic ballistics model that includes drop and takes the inherent accuracy of the weapon into account. We also use “accuracy indicators” made famous by Rainbow Six. Small read lines around your crosshair that move in and out, the further out from the center the worse your aim is because you are moving or turning.
10. How real will the game world be? Can trees be knocked over etc?
The world itself can’t be modified too much. We have the usual assortment of destroyable objects like crates (not too many crates I swear), barrels, bottles, etc. But the actual foliage and rocks are static. The environment does affect game play greatly; walking through thick brush will cause noise. The same goes for the enemy, if you listen you can hear them and use this as an early warning indicator. Stealth is not just about being unseen, you have to also be silent.
11. How about the maps? How large will they be? Will they all be outdoors, or will it be an indoor/outdoor mix?
Generally the maps take place outdoors in the jungles of Vietnam. Most are huge, some as big as a full square mile. There are a few indoor areas, seamlessly mixed with the outdoor levels. One mission takes place almost entirely inside a cave complex.
12. How challenging with the AI be? Will you have different difficulties settings to the AI?
The AI is quite good. These guys do some really cool stuff. It is split into two parts; the first is the non-alert AI. This is when they are just patrolling or standing around and don’t know you are there. They use fairly complex eyesight and hearing algorithms to determine if they can see or hear the player, allowing for some realistic sneaking situations. When they do see you then the alert AI kicks in and they go into “kill the enemy” mode. You’ll see them drop to the ground and fire from the prone position, roll around to dodge bullets, some guys will try to sneak up on you from behind, some will fall back and hide to set up an ambush. The AI is very complex and as you play you’ll sometimes see some scary realistic things happen.
13. Does the single player part of LOS Vietnam consist of a campaign, will the missions be linked or are they totally independent from each other?
The campaign is 12 missions long and is linked, unlike our previous games. It tells an interesting little story. It is set up so that after each mission your character reflects on what happened in the previous mission and maybe talks about the next mission a bit, generally moving the story along on a personal level. One of our main goals was to inject a little more story and characterization into this game.
14. Will LOS: Vietnam requires you to do specific actions like sneak or have special mission objectives that must be met or you will fail? Or can you just run and gun through out each level?
The level design is our usual “do whatever you have to just don’t get killed” style. Some missions are a little more focused that our previous games so there are a few “run and gun” type levels, but most of them are very large maps with a bunch of objectives and you can take them on any way you want. Sneak up and snipe, run in guns blazing, use lots of explosives, there are always many ways to complete the mission.
15. You said there will be multiplayer, what are some of the game modes you will package with multiplayer? Are the multiplayer maps different from the single player portion or just adapted for multiplayer?
The best part of multiplayer has to be cooperative mode. Playing through all 12 missions with a few friends is a blast. We learned a lot from the multiplayer mode in DD2 and applied that knowledge to LOS. The missions are better suited for playing in coop, with more enemies and more areas where teamwork will help. The other multiplayer modes are deathmatch, CTF and what we call “mission mode”. Mission mode is sort of like coop, but instead of fighting against enemies other players will be defending the objectives. Its very cool, but requires a lot of players on both sides to be effective.
The deathmatch and CTF maps are entirely unique maps, coop and mission mode use the single player missions.
16. What about the MOD community? Will LOS: Vietnam allow mods? Does it ship with an editor?
LOS allows the creation of user-made missions and maps. We have a pretty active community on the forums with lots of user missions for our previous games, We hope LOS will be no different.
17. Is there anything that you wanted to have added but did not make it in the final product? Can you give some examples? And why did it not make the cut?
This is a tough question because there were so many things we wanted to get in but didn’t have time to. I think the biggest thing was that we originally planned for 20 missions but simply ran out of time and had to cut it down to 12. Not that this means the game is short, it’s still just as long as DD2 (about an hour per mission), just that we wanted to add in a bunch of smaller missions to flesh out the story more.
18. What will the next nFusion project be after LOS Vietnam? A totally new product? Addon?
We’re not sure yet actually. We’re basically relaxing and trying to figure out what’s next. It has been a very long road for us, over the past few years we’ve been working on squad-based military games exclusively. We worked on Deadly Dozen, then Deadly Dozen 2 then LOS: Vietnam without a break between any of them. We’d love to try something new, but of course the urge to continue refining this one genre is strong.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what comes along next.
19. Will you release a LOS Vietnam demo before the game appears on store shelves?
We’ve already finished making and testing the demo, it should be available any day now. It will include mission 3 from the full game, as well as a deathmatch and CTF map. All four multiplayer modes will be available as well as playing through that mission in single player.
20. Finally is there anything you would like to add? Perhaps something I missed?
We’d like to thank the fans for sticking with us through all three games and coming to our forums on a daily basis and helping out the newbs. We’d also like to thank all those folks who take the time to send us emails or post on our message boards saying that they enjoyed the game.
And what would our game be without the hard-working beta testers? Actually the beta testers know what the game would be like without them, that’s why they sign NDAs so they can’t talk about it. ?
More articles about Line of Sight: Vietnam