The guys at GSC Gameworld are very busy with some big projects they have in the works. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Firestarter are just a couple of the titles that have been getting some press. Today we have an interview with Oleg Javorsky about their upcoming RTS, American Conquest.
This is Part 1 of a 4 part interview about American Conquest.
Gameplay: Part 1
GameWatchers Network: What will the gameplay style be? Methodical setup, or rather quick paced action, or maybe both?
Oleg V. Javorsky (GSC):It will definitely not be a rush thing, as in Cossacks. Player’s base in the game will pose a powerful bulwark not easy to capture and destroy. So players will be encouraged to amass more troops and carry out massive attacks. In the battlefield, players will carry out more tactical maneuvers as morale and unit experience factors will allow winning battles with a limited number of troops under proper tactical combat. American Conquest has inherited from Cossacks its wide scope (up to 16.000 units in battle, over 300 upgrades, over 100 different units and 130 buildings) and the gameplay solutions best-loved by Cossacks players.
GWN: What decisions were made reguarding the management of troops (micro) verses the management of squads or companies (macro)?
GSC: The model of troop control has been chiefly borrowed from Cossacks here. I.e. you can control units individually or in formations. When in formation, units get a certain bonus to attack and defence, as well as to morale. Infantry formations can include from 15 up to 196 units, while cavalry ones can unite from 40 to 160 horsemen. You can select a formation with a single click on one of its units. Apart from that several formations can be joined into one group to create a truly huge army controlled as a single formation. To cup it all, we’ve introduced a special zoom-out mode, which provides a bird-fly view over the battlefield and allows controlling the troops as if in regular mode. Seeing almost half of the game map before your eyes enables both easy control over thousands of troops and effective tactical maneuvers.
GWN: How will one be able to keep track of all of his up to 16 thousand units on one map?
GSC: First off, you can assign numbers to groups of units for quick access to your regiments just as it is generally accepted in strategy games, using Ctrl key and 1-0 figures. Additionally, all your formations of units will be displayed with special icons in the left top of the screen. Clicking on such an icon will select the correspondent formation and hitting the Space bar will transport you instantly to the formation on the map. Making use of this easy technique, I doubt players will encounter any difficulties with handling their armies.
GWN: Will each unit recieve damage, and will the damage cause fatigue, slowness or loss of accuracy?
GSC: Every unit in the game is treated as an individual and will receive personal damage and combat experience. Unit’s morale is also calculated for each single unit, depending on his combat experience, proximity to his own base, whether the command of his formation is experienced or not, whether there is a standard bearer in his formation and a way more of factors. Fatigue and slowness have not been implemented, but will probably be introduced in Cossacks 2. Shot accuracy in American Conquest is always worse with the distance, as there is scatter of fire for shots.
GWN: Are all of the missions large army based or are there also smaller squad missions (recon, etc)?
GSC: The complexity of campaigns and missions grows gradually. Initially missions are pretty simple and don’t involve hordes of troops to cope with – players will learn the basic game rules here. For example, the objective of the first mission is to settle on the continent raising a simple fortification camp and build 50 peasants. The next mission asks the player to reconnoiter the area with a squad of some 30 warriors. Missions of the final campaign, for example, will require the player to besiege whole cities and assault them with troops available – the focus is shifted on battle tactics, rather than economic development there. Missions have 4 levels of difficulty and players can select which level of play they are up to.
GWN: What sort of historical accuracy do the units have? This considers weapon range, look, movement style…
GSC: Though the game is not a history textbook, we paid a rapt attention to the accuracy of each nation’s image in American Conquest. The sets of units for each game faction reflect the general principles of war each of the nations waged. There were dozens of books and Internet resources used when preparing sets of units for each game faction, their uniform and armament. We also asked for help from the game community and, pleasingly, players were very enthusiastic to assist us. As an example, there will be such a special game unit as warrior with airgun. This guy will spit poisonous darts at the enemy. The damage inflicted by the dart will be minimal, but the effect of it may be enormous – unless the enemy heals his units in time, his poisoned soldiers may lose up to 90% of their life points very soon to become an easy prey for the opponent. Just as in history, it takes shooters quite a long time to reload their guns and they can’t produce more than two shots per minute. Riders, armed with two pistols and a saber, produce two shots and then indulge in melee combat. The animations of units are extremely detailed (take a look at rifle or cannon loading, for instance). So, we tried preserving as much of realism as possible, without forgetting it’s only a game though.
GWN: What sort of vehicles or other ‘mounts’ will be available? Also, what sort of other artilery and movable war implements?
GSC: No special vehicles for that time. The game encompasses the 15 -18th centuries, where the most popular “vehicle” was horse. So, we’ll have horsemen and cannons. Horses will be available to all the Europeans, US, and some of the Native American tribes in the game. Such tribe as Sioux, for instance, will have virtually all the units mounted. Special gun-crews will take care of cannons (moving them over land, carrying ammunition, turning them around, loading and firing).
GWN: What about sea battle? Will that be available at all?
GSC: Of course, you’ll be able to play as on land, so as at sea. The basic battle vessel in the game is canoe (for Natives) and boat (for Europeans). Europeans additionally have bigger, but costly ships, modeled from the ships Columbus sailed on at the time of discovering America. The top powerful vessel will be frigate, able to produce mighty broadside salvos at long distances. Special ferry vessels will allow players transport groups of soldiers to the enemy shores when playing on island or other sea-encompassed maps.
GWN: Is there a choice between guerilla warfare tactics verses napoleonic tactics, or is that mainly chosen based on the mission?
GSC: We did our best to diversify nations as much as possible and make them unique as in economic, so as warring sense. To answer your question, first off, we have two big camps in the game – Native Americans and Europeans, whose battle tactics differ dramatically. The former one is closer to guerilla warfare, while the latter presents more of napoleonic-type approach. Native Americans fight on their own land, so they generally have advantages in numbers and speed, while newcomers from Europe excel in technologies. Most of the Native American nations take advantage of their numerical superiority already at the game beginning, while it takes time for Europeans to generate their real power in the game. Apart from the basic differences, each of the game factions will present his own peculiarities for warring and, we believe, after some time of gaming, players will find their best loved nations to play for.
GWN: You mention an advanced AI. What sort of amazement will we get out of your AI system?
GSC: We have four levels of difficulty for AI, from easy to very hard, and each of those will pose different opposition accordingly. Generally, AI in the game knows many how to attack and defend properly under various game situations. Thus, computer players will use massive combined attacks. When assaulting, computer can distinguish between scouting, sabotage and main forces attacks. AI players in American Conquest are also well-versed in subversions and will eagerly try to undermine your economy by killing peasants and blowing up your mines. At the same time we paid quite a lot of attention to the economic side of development for AI, as well as skilful encampment defen?e.
GWN: Will the NPC AI choose between tactics based on your own movements, and similar ‘realistic’ responses?
GSC: Depending on how aggressive your policy is in the game, computer will respond accordingly. If you play from defen?e – computer will try assaulting by most effective combining of troops and seeking least protected areas of your defensive line. If you play from attack – computer will adjust its play and defend its camp vigorously, before attempting aggression onto your side.
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS CONTENT:
Date of publish: 18.11.2002
Language of publish: english