Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Infinite Interactive

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'Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria' - Developer Interview

by The Six Billion Dollar Man on June 25, 2003 @ 1:25 a.m. PDT

1. Who has the honor to talk to us? State your name, rank and occupation!

My name is Steve Fawkner. I run the game studio, Infinite Interactive. I’m the lead designer of Warlords IV.

2. What was/is your involvement in the development of Warlords IV, how many people are on the team?

SF : I’ve been designing the Warlords games ever since Warlords 1 back in 1990. In those days I was a one-man-team, now things have grown a bit, and with Warlords IV, we have a team of 10 people (though it was probably around 20 people when we were doing the bulk of the artwork).

3. Give us a little background information on the Warlords IV game story.

SF : One of the most cataclysmic events in the history of the Warlords world of Etheria was a disaster known as the Sundering. A Dark Elven mage messed with powers beyond his control, and the result was a series of earthquakes that almost destroyed the world. Now, somebody is messing with those powers again….

4. What is the current status of Warlords IV? Any idea on when it will be released?

SF : We’ve just entered beta-testing. The game should be out early in the fourth quarter this year.

5. From SSG to Infinite Interactive, have there been any changes to the game concept after the SSG demise, new developer, and ending up with Ubisoft? What happened there? Does the development team still consist of the same people?

SF : SSG was always split into two offices, 500 miles apart. I ran the Melbourne office – we were concentrating at first on Warlords 1-3 and then later on the Warlords Battlecry RTS games - while Warlords IV was being developed out of the Sydney office, along with Reach for the Stars and Ardennes Offensive.

It was decided that the best thing would be to split into two separate companies, with the Melbourne office (now Infinite Interactive) taking control of the Warlords series, leaving Sydney free to work on the historical military games they enjoy.

When we took over the Warlords IV project, we stripped it right back and started again with a fresh approach.

6. Warlord IV looks quite similar to Warlords Battle Cry II. Have you used the same graphics engine and just modified it, or is it a totally new engine?

SF : It’s a completely new graphics engine – a hybrid of 2d and 3d. All of the effects and lighting and terrain in the game are done with 3d, while the characters are all based off 2d sprites.

7. Will we see any of Warlords Battle Cry II units in Warlords IV? Will you be able to import your Warlords Battle Cry II hero in Warlords IV?

SF : There will definitely be some familiar units, since its set in the same world after all! The units in Warlords IV are all upgradeable though… so there might be a familiar-looking Dwarven axeman, but when he gains a couple of levels, he gets lots of armor and a bigger axe which makes him look totally new.
Although there will be no possibility of importing characters between Warlords & Battlecry, in our next incarnation of Warlords games, we will give careful consideration to this.

8. Why did you scale back the number of races you can be?

SF : We actually increased the number!

The original Warlords IV design only had 6 races. We now have 10 races.

9. Will Warlords IV come with an editor as Battle Cry II did?

SF : Yes – we will include a full scenario editor.

10. Warlords will be turn-based, correct? Why did you implement this style of gameplay?

SF : Turn-based gameplay is traditional for the Warlords series, and although I’m also a big fan of RTS games, I must admit to also enjoying the chance to sit back and plan my strategy in turn-based game.

11. What multiplayer options will there be? Will you still have complete control over the game settings, as shown in Battle Cry II?

SF : As usual we have lots of options including a full random map generator. We have tried to include everything for multiplayer (including play by email & hotseat play), by allowing players to go through the campaign in a cooperative mode. This has proved great fun so far.

12. Can you elaborate on the new “Tactical Battles” in the combat system?

SF : Because a Warlords game has literally hundreds of battles in the course of one scenario, it was necessary to invent a new, faster, way to resolve tactical battles (if we were going to add them). Our new system (STS – Speed Tactical System) has the feel of a Collectible Card Game, where players choose which troops to commit to a battle in which order. The interplay of special abilities in the game makes this a tactician’s dream.

13. Will there be adjustable difficulty settings for the AI?

SF : Currently we have 4 levels of AI. I’ve only beaten the top level once so far – it’s pretty tough!

14. Will the unit class and profession system return in Warlords IV?

SF : No – we have a brand new system.

When you create your persistent Warlord, you choose two abilities from the following list: Combat, Divine Magic, Nature Magic, Runes, Summoning & Necromancy. You can even choose the same one twice if you REALLY want to specialize. These two choices determine your class and will influence the way you play the game.

Stay tuned! Next week, we will have part 2 ....

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