Chicago 1930

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Strategy

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'Chicago 1930' - Developer Interview & Screens

by Rainier on May 20, 2003 @ 9:11 a.m. PDT

Q. How did the idea of CHICAGO 1930 game concept came up?

AG. Tactical games perfectly match with Wanadoo's publishing policy, which provides games mixing renowned gameplays and large audience themes. Consequently, before the release of Robin Wood, the Wanadoo publishing team thought about various new tactical and strategy environments. Among them, the mafia scheme during the Prohibition got the full agreement of all of them. More than the well-knowned universe, it is appealing since it can provide a very action based game with fire weapons, and in a city environment. And this is new compared to Robin Wood. Furthermore, they immediately designed a gameplay which reinforced the stealth features. Naturally, they asked the highly creative team at Spellbound to develop the game.

Q. Can you give us more details on the developers of CHICAGO 1930?

AG. Spellbound Studios. Spellbound Entertainment AG and Spellbound Studios GmbH create innovative and highly acclaimed computer games. In the same genre they have created "Desperados – Wanted Dead or Alive" and "Robin Hood – The Legend of Sherwood". They therefore have much experience in games combining tactical infiltration and combat action. The graphics in their games and the AI have earned a lot of appreciation in the press and by gamers.

Q. Have you used any factual info and done any research?

AG. The game is based on the historical events in Chicago between 1921 and 1931. In the mafia campaign, the player takes the role of the right arm of a Mafioso. His goal will be to take control of the city, eliminate his opponents and make his boss the king of Chicago. In the police campaign the roles are reversed as the player is a federal agent who must free the city quarter by quarter from the iron fist of the Mafioso almighty. To add depth and credibility to the game, we have studied several books about this era: Schoenberg's Capone biography, the Eliot Ness biography by Paul W. Heimel, and last but not least the book "The Untouchables" by Eliot Ness himself. Furthermore, our artists are doing a lot of historical research concerning architecture, fashion and so on.

Q. What is the player required to do?

AG. The player can compose his mission teams from 17 hoods in the mob campaign or 16 federal agents in the police campaign. In both campaigns, the player conquers quarters by playing missions. The mission goals vary from case to case. For example in the mob campaign the player must destroy a rival brewery, escort The Boss out of a brothel during a police raid, spy on a meeting of rival gangsters or eliminate a prosecutor. In the police campaign, he has to investigate a murder, arrest a group of gangsters, protect an important witness or raid a restaurant. Many missions are inspired by historical events, such as the Massacre on St. Valentine's.

Q. In a few words, what is the idea behind this game ?

AG. After having the basic idea of creating a mafia game, we had about a million ideas, and the design work was (as always) to make clever choices. We decided to focus on the ideas that contributed to the infiltration and combat action and on the differences between the gameplay in the mafia and police campaigns. It is not wholly "peopling based" or "weapon inspired", but more of a combination: The game is about people using weapons against other people who are sometimes drinking and gambling.

Q. Are resources a big factor in the game? What resources/commodities will you be able to use and acquire?

AG. The resources on the map of Chicago play an important role, but the gameplay focuses on the missions. The more quarters with resources that you have conquered, the more possibilities you will have in the missions: You must, for example, possess one equipment to use pump guns and switchblade knifes, two to get Winchesters, chloroform and throwing knifes, and three to have access to pineapple grenades and the Thomson sub-machinegun. Other resources provide new recruits, character upgrades, better popularity etc.

Q. AI must play an important part in the game. How do you test the AI to ensure it works? How do you pull in the gamer?

AG. Like every other feature in the game, AI is constantly tested by the team during development, and also passes intensive QA tests during the debugging phase. The enemies will show different combat behaviors, depending on the situation and on their orders: open fire, hide behind a desk and fire from the cover, attack with close combat weapons, run to get more ammo, attack player characters from different sides, run to get help, run and hide, surrender, menace the player characters etc.

Q. What are the major differences between Robin Hood-The Legend of Sherwood- and Chicago 1930 ?

AG. You have several differences :

  • You can choose your side: play the mob or the cops & manage a team of 5 characters
  • Characters have five different features: shooting, close combat, throwing, charisma, first aid.
  • At the end of a mission or after a training session, the player can choose how he wants to attribute the points he won
  • In scenes where there is a lot of action happening at the same time, you can use the slow motion mode in order to handle the five playable characters more efficiently.
  • Improved Artificial Intelligence. Indeed, all enemies can do all actions (shoot, throw, run away, etc). They have different types of reactions according to the situation (alone, in a group, far from their team, etc)
  • Non-playable characters have more realistic behaviour (for example the witness of a murder will run away and will later recognize the killer, etc)
  • A dynamic lighting system improves the feeling of immersion and is an element of the gameplay. For example breaking a lamp will allow the player to hide in the dark.

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