Battle Lord - The TCancer/Codex Interview
Interview - posted by Jason on Thu 15 June 2006, 20:11:15
Anatoly Subbotin, PR Manager, 1C Company
Dmitriy Gusarov, Project Leader, Katauri Interactive
1. Why did you decide to make a HoMM-like game after Space Rangers 2?
We would like to make many different games. Space is one of the easiest things to create in a game, because it has no territory. That is why we started with a space game. But time has passed, we have gained experience and now we are ready to make games that take place on earth and not in outer space.
We decided to make a classic adventure game. There are a lot of Tactic-RPGs on consoles. Why is PC deprived of this genre? We decided to fill up the gap. We took King's Bounty type of gameplay (which is well known to many gamers) as the basis and decided to create our own game.
2. Do players even need another HoMM-style game? What makes it different from HoMM and Disciples?
Players need a lot of good and different games J. I would rather transform this question into – Do players need a modern analogue of King's Bounty?
Our game differs, first of all, by gameplay. Our game is not a strategy, it is an adventure where a player has freedom of movement between different locations in real time and it goes into turn-based tactical mode when a battle starts. We don't have a huge army of heroes, no base building or resources.
3. Does it have a story, dialogues, characters you don't have to fight?
Of course any good adventure should have a solid storyline. We will have an interesting storyline and we hope to impress players with some unexpected twists and original elements. We have a rather advanced dialogue system and the players will not feel bored.
4. Tell us about the setting. Is it going to be different from the other bajillion vanilla fantasy games out there?
There are many fantasy games of different genres. HoMM, Age of Wonders or Disciples is a genre different from our game. Gothic or Oblivion are pure RPGs and again they are different. Spellforce and Heroes of Annihilated Empires can be also considered as fantasy games, but RTS. Battle Lord has a different setting. An adventure in real time, something similar to Diablo, and tactical combat with action points and special attacks similar to Age of Wonders. And of course everything happens in a fantasy world J.
5. The game is being labeled as a fantasy RPG. What role-playing elements does it offer?
I would rather say that our game is more an adventure with RPG elements. First of all we have an advanced spell system, which is non-linear or offers a choice between enemy parties. Some quests or options of their accomplishment will be connected with your character development. And, of course, there will be character development. The hero has about 30 skills and a traditional for RPGs inventory/doll.
6. What sort of statistics and skills will there be and what do they do?
I would like to tell more about the RPG system later since it will be worth a separate interview. We would gladly answer this question later. A short answer would be incomplete.
7. Tell us about the 3 classes: knight, mage, paladin. How do they influence gameplay?
The selection of a class defines the further development of a character and the overall flow of the game. Initial parameters and skills depend on the class of a character. It also defines the parameters and skills as well as some special skills available only to this particular class of character. A warrior commands a big army and lays stress on strengthening units, a magician relies more on battle and support spells and a paladin combines both magic and combat skills and his troops are very efficient against undead and demons. Moreover some quests or the way they are completed are connected with the class of character and his abilities.
8. Space Rangers 2 masterfully combined several genres into one game. Should we expect the same approach?
No, we do not plan such a thing in Battle Lord, but there might be some mini games.
9. Are there any castle / town building / management activities? Where do you get the units?
This is an adventure RPG. There will not be any building and management in it. Players will be able to hire troops by some local rulers, NPCs or in some special buildings. Moreover a player can get new forces as a reward for fulfilled quests or convince neutral troops to join you.
10. Tell us about the family feature. How does it affect gameplay?
We will not have any Tamagotchi-style girls in the game. That is for sure. There will not be any complicated relations with relatives either. A wife in the game means only:
- additional quests by marriage brokerage and during "family life"
- additional slots for items, different for different wives
- unique bonuses
- unique items given out sometimes by brides' fathers as part of dowry
11. Why turn-based? What are the advantages? Aren't you afraid to alienate mentally challenged people who think that turn-based is too slow and boring?
We have a turn-based mode only in battles and real-time mode on the map. This is our advantage of fully turn-based games – game dynamics outside from the battlefield and serious tactics in combat mode. A turn-based battle can be done more interesting and abundant from the tactical point of view. We are fully aware of the fact that not all gamers like turn-based battles but we always wanted to create a game like that and I really hope that players will appreciate that. At long last there is a possibility to switch the Quick Combat option on and this will eliminate all turn-based actions in the game. All the battles will be handled by the AI.
12. What turn-based strategy titles have had an influence on the development of the game? What about RPGs?
An incomplete list of these games would probably look something like this:
King’s Bounty, Heroes of M&M 2/3, Final Fantasy series, Fire Emblem, Warcraft 3, World of Warcraft, Guilds War, Diablo, Zelda, Age of Wonders, Fallout, Planescape:Torment and a lot of other different games.
13. What kinds of units can we get in this game? Will your character's class affect the units you can recruit?
We will have different races – humans, elves, dwarfs, orcs, undead, demons, different animals, dragons, etc. We will have about 60 unique creatures, dozens of additional varieties and several unique bosses.
A character's class will not affect the units one can recruit. But depending on the class of a character and his skills a player will be able to influence units of his army.
14. What about party dynamics? One of the previews mentioned that there could be conflicts between different units. Can you elaborate on that?
Different races have various relations with one another and this leads to creatures' morale changes. For example presence of undead causes human and elven morale decrease. Elves do not like dwarves and vice versa. Neutral creatures don't care with whom they fight along. Some creatures can influence others in a special way. For example an Ent takes it as his duty to protect a delicate Dryad and Emerald Dragons are enemies of Giants.
15. Tell about the combat system. Units have action points; are there different attacks / actions with different AP values?
Action Points are used to move units. 1 move consumes 1 AP and other types of actions whether these are shots or attacks, or special attacks consume the remaining Action Points. The similar system was in King’s Bounty.
16. How will initiative be determined?
There is a parameter the units have called initiative and it defines the priority of a movement. If the initiative is equal then the position of units and enemies and their level is taken into account. In case even these parameters match Leadership is taken into account.
17. We know that the battles will play out a grid. Can you gave us some more details about that? Will the maps be rather flat like seen in HoMM5 or are there going to be all sorts of terrain and obstacles on the maps?
Battles take place on a hexagonal grid. There will be different types of battlefields. They will differ by size and configuration. There are square, long and narrow ones or even the ones that look like a "T" letter.
We have different types of obstacles on the arenas – high, low and flat. It is impossible to get over high ones, flying units can overcome low obstacles and both flying and levitating units can overcome flat obstacles. There are also destructible and indestructible obstacles, relative obstacles (swamps or lava) and time, magic obstacles and the ones created by some units.
18. Can you use the terrain on the overland map to your advantage (hide in the woods, cross a river and destroy the bridge etc)?
We don't have forests or destructible bridges. But we do have other elements which can give one tactical advantage or change combat parameters of a unit. These are traps which inflict damage or lay different effects on a unit (for example a lightning altar which was shown in the E3 demo) and objects which give additional bonuses (for example a totem of fire defense or a magic source).
19. Describe the Rage Magic system. Is this a sort of "magical nuke" option?
We call it the Four Spirits of Rage which can be found by a player during the game. They can be summoned using "Rage". This is a parameter that is being accumulated during a battle when attacks are made. Spirit's abilities cost Rage and it takes some time for a Spirit to rest before it is capable of being summoned once again. The more powerful ability is used, the more Rage it consumes. Rage decreases outside of a battlefield. During a battle the Spirits of Rage gain experience and can increase their abilities with each new level or even learn new ones.
20. Besides Rage Magic, what other abilities will there be?
I didn't really understand the question well. There will be different schools of magic in the game.
21. When the game isn't in turn-based mode, you have the overland map in real-time. When in this mode, is it possible to stage ambushes and things like that on the enemy?
Usually it is the enemy who stages ambushes and other unpleasant things to capture or kill the hero. J
22. What kinds of gameplay modes are there? Multiplayer? Skirmishes? Random Maps?
We are currently working on single player mode. We would like to have a one big game with a good and interesting storyline at first.
23. Will players be able to customize maps in any way?
No. However during creation of a game some buildings, monsters and treasures are being generated randomly. This means that each time a player starts the game the map of game objects will be different.
24. Replayability is one of the hallmarks of the TBS genre. What are you doing to make sure that gamers will want to play Battle Lord a year or more after buying it?
Our game is not a strategy, it is an adventure RPG. This means that our methods are typical for this genre – objects' random placement and adjustment, non-linear quests and alternate storyline, different type of game while playing different characters, plenty of additional (non-story) quests including interlocking ones. And of course a lot of interesting small items and secrets which are fun to find and to study. There will also be a competitive element. As one finishes the game he sees a table of results and achievements which one can show to friends and boast the amount of wives he had during the game. J