Man of Prey Interview
Interview - posted by Jason on Fri 16 January 2009, 08:39:24
Q: What is Man of Prey in a nutshell?
A: Man of Prey is a story-driven tactical game with strong RPG elements. It follows Ahmet, a common denizen of a small South Ural city, in his struggle to survive and secure a decent living after Russia has collapsed.
Q: Can you give us an overview of the source material? There's not much information available (in English, at least) on Berkem Al Atomi's Marauder.
A: "Marauder" has been published relatively recently, but had a strong following for a long time before that since Berkem Al Atomi made it available online. It is a dystopian vision of the Russian Federation having fallen apart and taken over by foreign "peacekeepers". Needing little else than petroleum and other resources, the new powers secured those and pretty much forgot about the rest of the country, where people survive as they can without electricity or civilization. One of those unlucky provincial citizens is one Akhmetzyanov, a common man in his fourties, dwelling with his wife in a South Ural town commonly referred to as "Tridtsatka" ("Thirty"). He must survive the years of hunger and cold, banditry and cannibalism, petty tyranny and brutal infighting, in order to… well, stay alive.
Q: Is it set in Russia or will there be other former Soviet state locales?
A: Actually, it is set in a single small town, which used to be a closed city due to a chemical factory producing strategic nuclear resources, and its close neighbourhoods. It is no secret that the city is based on Chelyabinsk-40, now known as Ozersk :-)
Q: Is the game purely tactical? Any strategy layer?
A: There is no strategic layer in the game, but it's not purely tactical either. There are dialogues, optional sidequests, some nonlinear problem-solving tasks and other typical RPG fare. It is not a freeform sandbox like 7.62, but neither a strict sequence of mission briefings and debriefings like in 7.62: Reloaded (although the game is linear in its core).
Q: What sort of RPG elements will we see?
A: Party management, vicious tactical fights and exploration of various dangerous, trapped and loot-filled locales! OK, there are also dialogue trees, sidequests and some "choices and consequences", for people who think RPGs were invented in 1997 :-)
Q: How will the player gather "family" members? Are they hired mercenaries as in Brigade E5 or characters added via plot/quest lines?
A: Followers are acquired strictly through the plot events. Once they join, in every mission they can be taken into party or left behind to guard Ahmet's house.
Q: Have there been any tweaks made to SPM (Smart Pause Mode)?
A: SPM itself was generally unchanged, but underwent some minor simplifications. Instead of "snap aiming", "rough aiming" and "precise aiming" firing modes (which differed by precision/time spent relation) there are now two, quick and aimed. Likewise, two movement modes, "fast crouching" and "fast running" were scrapped and the plain crouching and running made faster. The system of character attributes was completely overhauled, characters now have "levels" (which aren't really that much different from "experience" of earlier games, but their effect is more visible), get various perks, etc. Melee combat was improved, healing and engineer skills are way more important since there isn't a global map to spend weeks on restoring hitpoints, and locations have a lot of mines and locks to pick.
Q: The PR blurb on Buka's site mentions "a double-barreled gun and a handful of cartridges", sort of evoking a Road Warrior vibe. Will weapons and ammo be plentiful or will they be difficult to come by? About how many different weapons will there be? Can they be modified?
A: There are far less weapons than in Brigade E5/7.62, since we wanted to stay in setting. The inventory is limited to mass-produced Soviet/Russian guns, about 30 in total. The system of "attaches" remained intact. There are some unique weapons and special modifications of stock models to find if you look hard enough, and you may order a merchant on a market to upgrade some of the weapons for a price.
Ammo is relatively scarce, as it serves as cash in the world of Man of Prey. There is always a difficult choice of whether to waste another bullet shooting or keep it to spend on buying something else later on. Weapon clips, something usually taken for granted in games, are also hard to come by in Man of Prey.
Q: Is there anything you can divulge on the storyline and if/how it effects gameplay?
A: The storyline closely follows the book and is centered on the theme of survival. Ahmet doesn't go crusading on a quest to kick out the invaders or something, he sits in his house with his wife (and later, followers) and reacts to the challenges that rise – protecting his household from an attack of marauding neighbours, going in an expedition to a remote missile base to fetch some heavy machineguns to fortify his home, and so on. As time flows, Ahmet's house gets gradually upgraded with minefields, blocked passages, static heavy machineguns, which helps in further "defense" events. The cutscenes on engine and hand-drawn videos serve to accentuate important parts of the story or to pass "calm" times.
Q: Can we expect a linear campaign or something more open? Will locations and encounters be fixed?
A: The story and locations are fixed, with the exception of some sidequests which are available at certain points of time and may allow to visit an earlier location. Mind it, however, that a couple of years could have passed by ingame timeline, so an excess AKM you dropped there is unlikely to remain around :-). Some locations may have a kind of random encounters with marauding bandits and packs of wild dogs.
Q: How do you rate the replay value and what elements, if any, make it replayable?
A: As a novel adaptation, Man of Prey is strongly linear and has precious little in the way of replayability, other than the enjoyment of its setting and combat engine. Still, we managed to sneak in two alternate endings and some moral dilemmas, if that's your kind of fun :-). As for me, I'd prefer a game to be replayable due to its sheer entertainment value, not because something was missed on the first playthrough :-)
Q: What about the estimated game length?
A: About 20-30 hours, I estimate. Since fights take up most of the playtime, length strongly depends on the difficulty level.
Q: Do you have a North American publisher signed up yet?
A: None yet, I think. I am sure if our publishers will find an interested partner, they will make it available outside Russia :-)
Q: Will 7.62: Reloaded make it Stateside?
A: Likewise, this is something to ask the publishers of Reloaded, not us. From what I see, it is very unlikely.
Q: Speaking of 7.62, how does the team feel it turned out? Is there anything you would've done differently in retrospect?
A: A difficult question :-). We would either cut down on features much earlier than a month before release, or took like a year or two more to properly implement AND test everything we wanted in. If wishes were horses, we would probably join Grimoire, Duke Nukem Forever and The Sith Lords: Restoration Project :-)
Q: Is there anything you can say about future projects?
A: We have another unannounced project in the works, also a modern warfare tactical game but very different from our previous projects. There are also plans and pre-plans for some other projects, but time will tell…
TCancer would like to thank Dimitry Donskoy and Apeiron for the interview.