WP : Who has the honor to talk to us? State your name, rank and occupation!
Hi, I'm Michael Rowland, Community Liaison Officer for Perimeter….and all our other PC Action titles too ;)
WP : Can you give us some info on the story behind Perimeter?
MR : From our about game section on the new website:
The world as we know it is no more! Traveling through inter-dimensional portals, huge mobile cities pass through space in search of their destination.
Guided by the Spirits, a race born with knowledge of vast technologies, nine immense ships set out on a great exodus, a journey taking them from planet to planet. The journey is fraught with many perils including that of this new dimension's native inhabitants, the Scourge.
The journey has taken many centuries with generations of inhabitants following in the footsteps of their ancestors, but for a few this journey is nearing an end. Some of the Exodus are beginning to doubt the Spirit council, with rising political tensions forcing the Exodus to split into many factions, some wishing to return home, some determined to follow the spiritual quest of their forefathers and others with their own agenda entirely. And so begins the War.
In Perimeter you will get to experience this journey from the point of view of all factions.
WP : What is the current status of Perimeter? This title has been in development for a while, only recently has a publisher (Codemasters) been appointed, what is taking so long?
MR : Codemasters signed up the title at the end of 2003 so we've had a few months to settle into the game and build up a good working relationship with KD-Labs. We've had to input our own ideas into the game and bring the game along to appeal to the western gamer. We're basically sharing knowledge with the development studio so that they can make the best game they can that will appeal to all. The game is coming along nicely with current work taking place on balancing units.
WP : Why did you choose the SCI-FI theme for Perimeter? What inspired you to create a game like Perimeter?
MR : Currently there are very few Sci-fi games out there on the market. This is something that is close to the hearts of the design team and something that they themselves wanted to play. The whole idea of terraforming as a key part of the strategy, to go along with the unit functionality was very appealing. And with the latest technology available now, designing a game made from dreams and ideas is much more simpler to do.
WP : What 3D engine did you use? Is it a licensed engine or in-house developed? Why that particular choice?
MR : The engine was developed by KD-Labs in house and they have been working closely with ATI to get the best out of the graphics technology available. This new engine was developed specifically for the game's main features, the terraforming of the planets, plus new unit functionality. This technology is one that can push over half a million polys at any one time within the landscape and allow for the terraforming technology to function as it does.
WP : What sort of game modes will you have? Single player/skirmish/multiplayer?
MR : At the moment we have a number of game modes from the single player campaign where you get to play as all the factions in game with their differing technologies, to multiplayer where you can play up to 3 others simultaneously on the same map. This is incredibly fun when you have a thousand units battling it out in the middle of the map. We also have a battle mode that allows you to take on the CPU, and if you're feeling daring, up to 3 CPU players simultaneously.
7. Since this is a RTS, will the game play follow in the footsteps of games like Warcraft 3 and C&C? Or are you planning something unique and new for Perimeter?
MR : The game, in our opinion, is the next step up in RTS gaming, with added elements that make the game unique. This is certainly something that Warcraft and Starcraft fans will like, with its sci-fi themes, but also with the complexity of the strategies that can be used to get one over on opponents. The multiplayer is something I would like to see expand especially at LAN events, and online. We will be supporting the game fully to assist such events like these. This is a game that has a good learning curve but once understood, is highly entertaining to play and watch.
WP : What will the types of units be? Are you planning a full compliment of land/sea/air? Will there be infantry (or some units that constitute as) in Perimeter?
MR : The unit structure one is probably the most important aspect of the game. We will have the standard core units consisting of soldiers, officers and technicians, of which you require the specific factory, which act as they can in this state. We then introduce the ability to morph into other units, again depending on the labs you have researched and built. So we then open up a new set of units from flight, laser and rockets and bombs. All of this is going on while you are collecting energy from the terraformed land, which again uses separate units and buildmasters.
It all sounds confusing at first but once you understand the core role of the units it becomes a lot easier to understand. Did I mention the subterranean units? Well we have those too :)
WP : Can you tell us some more about the function of units? If I understand it correctly combining certain units can create more advanced weaponry?
MR : Yes, as opposed to the quick build and destroy units of past RTS games, we have built a new system encouraging unit preservation, though this isn't always possible. The idea being, that you build up a certain number of core units, the officers, technicians and soldiers. In the right combination and numbers, these core units can then morph together to form a different unit, which has it's own traits and skills, for example a subterranean vehicle. This can then burrow below the defences of the enemy, morph into something else, and then destroy key structures. The number of units will be released in more detail on the website with more explanation later. Keep a close eye on www.codemasters.com/perimeter for more information and news on these units.
WP : How many missions will Perimeter contain? How many sides will there be in the game? Can you play multiple sides?
MR : We have around 30 different maps in the game and about 28 Scenario driven missions in the game, plus 8 multiplayer maps. The story itself contains a number of different factions built into the game, and you will control a small number of these. These will be the Exodus, Empire and the Harkbackhood factions, but this may spoil some of the plotline. Of course you will also encounter the Scourge, which are native to the Psychosphere worlds, believed to be created from our own minds. You will be given the opportunity to play through the game as each of these factions and allowed to sample their shared technology, plus also their own unique creations.
WP : Lets talk about Multiplayer, What game type's do you have planned? Will multiplayer maps be different from the campaign one's or the same only "adapted" for multiplayer purposes?
MR : The multiplayer maps will be slightly different in that you can get up to four separate factions playing at the same time either online or over LAN. The idea is to kill the enemy or capture the enemy territory. You can also form allegiances with other factions and combine forces to overcome the opposition. The strategy you use is up to you. Again you will have to either react to what the enemy is doing or take a pro-active approach and lead the enemy into a particular strategy.
WP : Most RTS AI's are lacking, how are you planning your AI, and will it actually use tactics or just build unit after unit like most AI opponents? Will you be able select/adjust the difficulty of the AI?
MR : The AI is something we have looked into extensively with the team putting in some long hours. The result is something quite special, though annoying (being outsmarted by the Computer doesn't do much for my credibility in front of journalists). It can react to your tactics and form it's own in response, or it can take the lead and force your move. One good scenario I have witnessed, it wasn't me by the way, was a great little manoeuvre in cutting off a key energy transmitter. Whilst concentrating on attacking the base with sniper units, my colleague was too busy to notice a small enemy unit of snipers working it's way up to the left of his chain of energy cores, left undefended I hasten to add, and work there way to an isolated transmitter. Once destroyed power from the cores was lost and due to the AI's positioning of energy cores, it took over these extra cores and controlled the larger bit of land. Was Andy gutted? He sure was, being the game designer and all :)
WP : Are you planning any kind of unit limit? i.e. the amount allowed and amount able to be selected? How will you manage your "armies" if they become large in numbers? Will there be pre-defined formations the player can select?
MR : There will be a limit of around 250 basic units for now. We have had over a thousand on screen in multiplayer, which turned out to be a huge massacre in the center of the battlefield. You will have the ability to create separate squads with the building of command centers, and by selecting the squad leader on the User Interface you get control of the entire squad. The AI will choose the most suitable formation dependent on it's current unit type. You will have the option to select combat states too.
WP : What will the resources be in Perimeter? If so, which and how will you gather your resources? If not, how do you restrict or allow constructing new buildings/units
MR : The resource in Perimeter is the energy you retrieve from the terraformed land. This is essential in unit building, structure construction, and maintenance. Most importantly though it also powers your perimeter, the protective shield you can activate to protect yourself from the enemy. Energy is collected through energy cores and fed straight into the Frame (mother ship/city). Energy transmitters are used when the frame is too far away from the energy cores, and boost the signal. One of the core strategies is to maintain enough energy to do all the necessary building plus maintain a defence, so inevitably the one that controls the land has the upper hand.
WP : How large will these maps be? Will you have different sizes?
MR : Maps do vary in size throughout the game with small training maps helping you into the game. Map design also differs between psychosperes as does the environments. Maps not only vary in size on the horizontal, but they also vary on the vertical which means that your terraforming units will either excavate and dig down to reach the energy level, or build up to the desired energy level.
WP : What sort of terrain, landscape will you traverse as you make your way through the game? How does the terraforming affect game play?
MR : The terrain is a treacherous one, from mountains and valleys, to islands across a vast nothingness. There's something for all hikers here. But this isn't the only obstacle in the way, far from it, you are also challenged with the unpredictable earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and meteor storms that can damage land and resources around you, not to mention the local inhabitants that will attack from air, land and from beneath.
Some land you will find is too hard for your units to terraform, so some quick thinking and experimentation will be the port of call, as you urgently find those energy spots. Terraforming is a key element in the game and will therefore help in determining the victor if used well.
WP : How realistic will the game world be? Can you destroy buildings? Will units leave wreckage and will explosions leave craters?
MR : The game has a very good and new engine behind and uses the latest DX 9 technology. In fact I believe Ati have used the game as a showcase for their latest technology in their graphics cards. This engine allows the game to render around half a million polys per second on the landscape, which can be seen in one of the terraforming screenshots. This allows the ground to be terraformed in front of you, the way you want it to. This also means that when attacking a destroying a building, such as an energy core, the ground beneath it will also be damaged in the destruction, requiring terraforming again.
WP : Are you planning to support the Mod community? Will there be an editor with the game?
MR : There will be full support with the game, as I believe once the multiplayer takes off, there will be demand for new maps, updates and other issues that may have popped up. A map editor is likely to be released at some point but not with the retail version of the game. Of course if the community demands one of us I'm sure we can be persuaded to release one post launch, plus we can spend a bit of time on it too.
WP : Is this a one-time product? Will we see any add-on, or are extra goodies saved up for a sequel?
MR : Who knows….if the game does well and is liked by the many I'm sure that a sequel may be on the books. It shouldn't be discounted. Add-ons are also quite possible, from additional units, to maps, to more story based missions. We will have to wait and see ;)
WP : Will we see a demo before the game is released?
MR : This I can answer directly…Yes! We will be releasing a single player demo in the next month or so, letting you get your hands on some terraforming action. We should also be releasing a multiplayer demo very close to release. Watch this space for more news on that :)
WP : Is there anything you would like to add? Perhaps something I missed?
MR : All in all we are hoping to bring to you a fresh new idea with some new options in RTS gaming. Whether you're a sci-fi fan or not, I think you will like the concept behind this project. All I can say is try the demo and se if you like. After half an hour you should have a basic idea about what is going on. If you find yourself wanting to learn more, you've got the Perimeter bug.
Just give it a little time ;)
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