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Hammer & Sickle

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: CDV
Developer: Nival Interactive

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'Hammer & Sickle' - Developer Q&A

by Rainier on Nov. 18, 2005 @ 1:16 a.m. PST

Hammer & Sickle is a tactical RPG set in the spring of 1949. The player will assume the role of a top Soviet spy on clandestine duty in the British-American controlled sector of Germany during the early years of the budding Cold War. In a world where no one is quite who they appear to be, the player is trapped in a hellish ploy that could trigger a third world war, this time between the United States and Soviet Union and their respective nuclear arsenals. Gamers will have to navigate a web of intrigue and make decisions that could determine the fate of the world.

Q: Who is the developer of Hammer & Sickle?

MK: Nival Interactive, the critically acclaimed developer of the original the Blitzkrieg and Silent Storm series is developing Hammer & Sickle in conjunction with Novik & Co. The title originated as a community-driven mod and was jointly enhanced by both teams.

Q: Were the members of the mod-team hired on at Nival?

MK: Novik & Co. is not a studio or a company per se, but rather a creative team of soul mates who gathered together to create an exciting “sequel” based on one of their favorite gaming systems. The idea was initially born as a fan mod and showed such potential that Nival decided to combine efforts in making it a full game. All the members of the Novik team are currently acting as subcontractors to Nival, but Hammer & Sickle, to date is their only project.

Q: What are the key features of Hammer & Sickle?

MK: Key features in Hammer & Sickle include:

In true RPG fashion, the player’s alter ego can be completely customized in appearance and abilities, and grows in capabilities. Although a secret agent, six distinct secondary professions are available and determine the main character’s abilities and tendencies. Characters gather experience and may apply these to more than 25 unique skills ensuring a different experience each time the game is played.

In Hammer & Sickle, the player enjoys a great degree of freedom as to how to solve the various in-game challenges and multiple endings are possible based upon the player’s actions. Players can choose to act directly to achieve mission goals or “do their homework” by completing various secondary missions and information gathering tasks in order to more easily achieve their primary objectives.

Hammer & Sickle includes some 90 different authentic weapons that look and function as their real-world counterparts from the post-war era, including prototype and secret arms. Weapons may jam and require remedial action, while ammunition is tracked and reloading is required. Shots may be fired quickly with little or no accuracy, while a time-consuming “aimed shot” may result in the successful incapacitation of a key enemy across from long range.

Certain times of day may make some missions easier to complete. An infiltration of a home to search for secret documents is much easier when the occupant is away for the day (or night). The purchase of weapons or the preparation of forged documents may only be possible during “business” hours. Daylight also impacts combat and stealth, providing a greater opportunity to sneak up on an enemy or to be caught in an ambush.

Player actions and events have a persistent, global impact. A thoughtless act of violence in an isolated area, for example, may unexpectedly bring law enforcement or enemy reinforcements throughout that region. Regions can be explored and most can be visited (and revisited) as the player prefers, with new events triggered as the story unfolds.

There is no “complete this mission and all is forgiven” found so often in other games; actions in the initial missions have a potential long-term consequence. The player’s alter ego is a secret agent in “enemy” territory, thus each player action that is inconsistent with that premise will gradually draw the unwanted attention or ire of non-player factions. This reduces the player’s ability to forge needed alliances, to maintain stealth and secrecy, and eventually to avoid the escalation toward another world war.

The player may respond to characters encountered in a myriad of ways; all interactions and responses have an impact on the game world and on the characters encountered. This includes their initial and subsequent attitude, hostility, and willingness (or refusal) to help. Through player actions and team-member temperament, characters, even within the player’s team, may clash with each other causing them to defect, or they may become particularly adept at attracting new allies of compatible personality.

In addition to observed actions, non-player characters respond to character dress, possession of documentation and the carrying or concealment of weapons. Disguises and appropriate documents may ease the player’s progress, while the open brandishing of weapons or missing identification will lessen chances for success or result in arrest by authorities. Objects in the game may be destroyed or employed, hindering or aiding subsequent mission completion by eliminating existing or creating additional problem solving options.

Q: In general, how does Hammer & Sickle differ from earlier Silent Storm titles?

A. Hammer & Sickle shares the latest Silent Storm: Sentinels engine, but its setting is in post WWII Europe. Unlike the Silent Storm games, there are no science fiction elements to the game, so you won’t be seeing units such as Panzerkleins (extremely powerful robot-like units) in the game.

Q: Will mods, maps, new units or other downloadable content be available?

MK: Nival and CDV are strong supporters of the mod community. This game itself originated as such a creation. We fully anticipate extensive community created content to follow.

Q: Will there be any multiplayer options for H&S? If so, what will the game types be, and how will they work?

MK: There will be no multiplayer in Hammer & Sickle.

Q: What's the maximum size of a player party in the game?

MK: The maximum size is seven, but when you follow the “best scenario” possible (with the best ending and such) the maximum number would be six.

Q: How "big" are the maps, or, how much area does a map typically cover?

MK: The size of the maps is about the same as in Silent Storm series, 100?80, 80?60 tiles on average, per region.

Q: What sorts of changes were made to the game engine for H&S?

MK: There were some slight changes implemented, most of them concerning balance and some other minor fixes.

Q: Is the game engine from Sentinels, or the first Silent Storm game?

MK: The game is an enhance version of the Silent Storm: Sentinels engine (which actually was a modified Silent Storm engine)

Q: Will there be any vehicle control? Such as players driving cars or other vehicles?

MK: No. Vehicles and tanks exist in the game, but they cannot be operated by the player.

Q: Will the final game be branded with "Silent Storm" in any way? If not, why isn't the Silent Storm name being used, since it carries strong brand cachet with fans of the series.

MK: While Nival holds the rights to the concept and engine, another publisher still holds rights to the Silent Storm and Silent Storm: Sentinels brands. We also feel that this title takes the series in a decidedly new direction with much greater focus on solving problems intellectually rather than through combat. Really, Hammer & Sickle is a great game in its own right and has become more of a sibling or cousin to the original rather than a sequel.

Q: Is the skill tree the same tree used in the original SS games?

MK: Largely, with some minor changes.

Q: Is there going to be any sort of sci-fi aspect to the game, i.e. panzerkleins making an appearance?

MK: No. The most sci-fi aspect is the ability to use some weaponry that in 1949 was experimental. Other than that, the game is based on historical equipment and weapons of the time period.

Q: What are the hardware requirements for the game?

Minimal configuration:

• Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 9.0
• 1000 MHz Pentium III / Athlon
• 256 MB RAM
• 32 MB 3D video card GeForce2 MX/ Radeon 9000
• DirectX-compatible sound adapter
• 3 GB hard disk space

Recommended configuration:

• Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 9.0
• 2,2 GHz Pentium 4 / Athlon
• 512 MB RAM
• 128 MB 3D video card GeForce 3 / Radeon 9700
• Dolby Surround 5.1
• 3 GB hard disk space

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