Terrorists stole a nuclear-tipped missile and plan to blast away one of Europe's’ largest city: LONDON! The missiles short range is a problem, but money is not, and the terrorists find an accomplice, Ilya Rakov, son of a Russian billionaire and arms dealer. Aleksandr Rakov. Ilya agrees to supply the terrorists with a ship that will bring the missile within range of London. He also agrees to hunt down the only two people who are capable of foiling the plot: Steve and Sandy Fletcher. Steve and his sister Sandy are officers in the US Marine Corps. Aleksandr Rakov is horrified by his son‘s plan. Unable to take direct action, he hires the elite mercenary Austin Hawke to protect and assist Fletch…
Q: Firstly, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Some questions have been answered by Andrzej Wilewski – the manager and lead programmer of the team – and some by Jacek Matuszewski, the QA and test guy.
Q: Where did the idea of creating The Mark come about?
It was combination of people’s ideas really. We wanted to create a shooter that would stand out from the rest, especially futuristic and WWII games which are now common place. We wanted to create something that would represent modern day reality, taking into consideration the current political agendas and threats, in a plot that people could relate to.
It actually took far longer than expected to polish out the scenario themes but we are now happy with the story flow and we are finding it more and more exciting as new ideas and unique aspects evolved......
Q: We've seen a list of features for The Mark, could you give us more details on these?
The first feature worth raising to the player is that of the two lead characters. The story rolls alongside them both and they contrast well against each other. The first (Fletch) is the die hard marine type, and the other (Hawke) a professional mercenary. The heroes often fight alongside each other, yet certain missions they’re separated and have to play missions on their own. During game-play the player has opportunities to switch the character he plays and see the story from different perspectives (including different missions), so depending on your choice, the game can appear to unravel differently each time you play!
The game’s also very varied. When playing as one of the heroes, you own a plane and so can jump around Europe and the Middle East in order to save the day and enflict your vengeance. Level surroundings, enemies and gameplay differ a lot too offering the player many hours of fun. Still all this has a strong and unique plot, that holds the player tightly and keeps the entrigue button ‘switched on’.
Q: What can you tell us about the graphical and physics features?
Due to the different environments, a huge amount of attention has been put into graphics. We tried to make the locations as detailed as possible, with careful texturing and lighting. Obviously the places are based on reality, and adopted for gameplay – we used tons of pictures, even taking trips to places to document them on our own (for instance the in-game castles where we took hundreds of photos for the purpose of texturing alone!). On the other hand we wanted to avoid making the graphics overly drab and dreary, so we made our choice and selected them carefully.
As for the physics – apart from the obvious rigid body physics (realistically moving crates, boxes, cans etc) and rag doll physics (natural physics of dead characters, for instance) present in The Mark, we used physics for more spectacular tasks. Exploding a castle tower or an underground bridge with a huge bulldozer are the first that spring to mind !!
Q: What are the current system requirements for The Mark?
Not too big. Pixel shader 2.0 video adapter is minimal, though 3.0 pixel shader video adapter with 256 MB of RAM is recommended for the visual feast. A current P4/2,8GhZ class processor is fine. 512 MB of RAM is sufficient (1GB recommended for fluent play). Of course 3D sound card helps to hear directional sound and network adapter is required for network play.
Q: What kind of support do you plan to give once the game is released?
We already have already established a customer support e-mail system. In addition to any general support the publisher offers.
Q: Is it likely gamers will get a chance to try out the game before it's released?
This is very probable, although the final decision rests with the Publisher.
Q: The Mark has been in development for a while now, what has been the most challenging task for the team?
First of all we switched to the new 3D technology. A jump from the DirectX8 per-vertex lighting to the normal-map based, realtime shaded rendering is quite a significant one, and not only from the programmer's point of view. Its offers quite a different way of creating the graphics, in terms of level design and lighting. Also the game handles both indoor locations, where the player must be in focus and able to see every single detail in enclosed areas where shadow and dust looms. As well as huge outdoor areas with trees, houses, fires, vehicles and so on which we adapted to utilize and encompase all of these things.. The engine had to be as universal as possible but still fast and efficient. This was a enormous challenge, both to plan, and to develop.
We also put a lot of effort into the AI as we beleieve this to be very important and adds credability to game-play. After all, within the game, you play along side a computer-guided partner, and fight very different types of enemies. The enemies look different and so it should be paramount that they fight and react differently to you actions. Out whitting opponents is what makes gaming most enjoyable – be it playing two player or against the computer.
Q: With terrorism in the news lately, how do you think this will effect the game?
Unfortunately in the past few years Terrorism has now become a real and present threat for many countries and people throughout the World, with an increasing numbers of terrorist groups and “soldiers for hire”.
By creating The Mark, we are reflecting this trend based around a ficticious act of terrorism against London, and thereby it is important for credibilty and realism that all enemy groups within The Mark can be related to! Hence all of the adversaries are either terrorists or mercenaries, be it ex-Spetsnaz commando squadies, Muslim warriors, or post-Serbian soldiers of fortune.
Q: Can you give us an assessment of the health and long-term viability for The Mark?
The Mark comes with its own set of tools to allow people to continue recreating the game. We hope the future players create their own mods and maps which should make the game live on!
Also, we’re already planning further adventures/roles for at least one of the heroes.......
Q: Could you tell us about the weapons that we'll see in the game?
The Mark features an array of the world’s most famous guns, from the infamous Heckler & Koch MP7 and Colt Commando M4 (lightweight version of M16), to the vz61 Scorpion and AK47 favoured by terrorist groups.
We have also included the modern FA Mas, standard issue to the French armed forces and the “heavy” fire-power of the M-72 Light Anti-tank weapon (LAW) and the Heckler & Koch HK69a1 Grenade Launcher.
The two hero’s Fletch and Hawke have their own special weapons, with Fletch using the Desert Eagle and Hawke using the versatile H&K P2000 and the Remington 870 CBG 12 gauge shotgun.
Also we could not miss the opportunity of including Z300 semi-automatic combat gun, which although the exact characteristics are shrouded in secrecy, fires explosive ammo !!
The team have concentrated on making the weapons as realistic as possible. In fact we went to extraorinary lengths to ensure it! Their looks, cast animation and effects are only limited by the ‘fun’ of gameplay (we didn’t want to over complicate their use and obstruct ammusment by making them to difficult to use). Other than that, it was our ambition to ensure the real feeling of each of the weapons - one of our designers is former military after all! With additional effects like motion blur, sounds, and the usual attention to detail, you can almost feel the kickback!!!
Q: Which kind of terrorists will we see in The Mark?
As stated above, all of the enemies in-game can be considered terrorists one way or another. That said, there’s a wide range of targets - from typical Middle-Eastern fanatics (suicide bombers utlizing vehicles as a mode of attack) - to shoot post-Yugoslavian ex-military thugs, hired as mercenaries! You'll meet tough ex-Spetsnaz troops and semi-pirate mariners (also recruited after the Yugoslavia conflict). The only non-terrorist troops in the game are the main villains personal guards, and the mysterious and deadly, heavily armoured, Buria death squad!!!
Q: Could you tell us a bit about the single-player aspect of The Mark?
The Mark in single player is action-packed. The games an FPS through and through. But it’s not a straight, linear shooter. The game follows the main plot, which dramatically changes a couple of times, typically when you're sure you're doing well!
There are lots of varied enemies, battling in varied environments – varied not only visually, but also tactically. There are huge halls and wide corridors, dark and dusty underground caves, colorful and detailed castle chambers, wet and rusty dungeons, open spaces and even a small city. Every one of these require a totally different approach. Enemies also fight differently, using obstacles, vehicles, and their obvious knowledge of terrain against you as the player!
The single player mode is very challenging, but playing with a partner helps you stay alive!
The gameplay also changes depending on who you play, as Hawke protects the player, while Fletch is more of an attack pitbull. Each of them also has their unique, personal weapons and combat skills, to increase the fun factor.
Q: As a gamer, what's your favorite part of The Mark, what makes you proud to have helped create it and why is it a game fans will want?
Ah, this is a tricky one as I could be here all day J
- Without giving the game away, the plot runs at a fast pace with a few unexpected twists and turns, to keep the player guessing!
- The different chapters and varied gameplay ensures that The Mark is interesting throughout – ie. The opportunity of playing either Fletch of Hawke (with partially different plots) makes you want to check what happens when playing the each of them.
- Very nice ingame cinematics, two strong heroes with totally different (and sometimes opposing) motives.
- The strong story line and gameplay is supported by beautiful ingame cinematics, which pulls the player in and holds him tight!
Q: What's the currently release date and is it possible we may see some changes in the future?
The game is to be released in fourth quarter of 2006. With game tools included we hope to see the game live a long and prosperous life.
Q: We've come to our last question, is there anything you'd like to say to the fans of The Mark which are eagerly awaiting the release.
We’ve put all of our enthusiasm and creative flare into developing The Mark, which have included weeks of fun playtesting it. We surely hope that you will enjoy playing The Mark as much as we have had creating it!
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