Cossacks chat log from Daily Telefrag

by: Peffy
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Daily Telefrag recently arranged an on-line chat with developers of the Ukraine-based (former USSR republic) company GSC Game World, men behind the stage of Cossacks: European Wars and recently shipped add-on Cossacks: The Art of War (well, unfortunately, still to arrive to some countries – ed.). The chat mainly comprised some facts on new projects: the second add-on for Cossacks, new real-time strategy American Conquest, and yet unrevealed Cossacks 2. Here we present you the transcipt of the chat, along with the most tasty facts on Cossacks 2.

[DTF]MaxQ: Good evening everybody! Let the chat with creators of Cossacks begin. Please introduce yourselves for a start. :))

[GSC]Paramon: Hi everyone! I’m Dmitry Zenin, lead designer of this puppy.
[GSC]Anton: My name’s Anton Bolshakov. I’m the manager of the project.
[GSC]Drew: Andrey Shpagin, programmer of Cossacks.
[GSC]-GSC-: Sergey Grigorovich, producer.
[GSC]Z” Andrey Zavolokin, artist and scenario writer.

Anton: How many people were involved in creation of the first installment of Cossacks?

[GSC]-GSC-: We started as a team of three, although the credits list runs to twelve men.

Anton: How much time you needed to get alpha version going?

[GSC]-GSC-: First Cossacks entered alpha stage within three months.

Anton: And the bughunt?

[GSC]-GSC-: That took two years…

Anton: Who was the project manager/leader?

[GSC]-GSC-: It was me, Anton Bolshakov.

Anton: What were the estimations of time needed produce the game? Any hold ups on the way?

[GSC]-GSC-: When we’ve had alpha ready, we really thought the work was almost over. Later we had to spent really large chunk of time on polishing the gameplay, but nevertheless we met the schedule.

[DTF]MaxQ: What ideas were left aside of the first installment of Cossacks?

[GSC]Paramon: Ship boardings, for example. We also wanted to see the trenches, bulwarks, and much more stuff like that.
[GSC]-GSC-: We are planning to include well thought-out system of bulwarks into our next project on the list – American Conquest.

Zorge: What is Cossacks 2 and when do we see it in retail stores? (at least tell out the estimated date :))
a1x: Yeah, what’s so special about the second installment?

[GSC]-GSC-: “Cossacks 2” is not yet officially announced. We can only give out unofficial information. Right now, everybody’s very busy with American Conquest. All I can say is that Cossacks 2 will be powered by new slick 3D engine, which is based both on sprites and 3D models. Also in Cossacks 2 there will be free cam option, as well as zooming and panning. Estimated time arrival is year 2003.

Zorge: Do you make camera zooming similar to that in Settlers IV?

[GSC]Anton: No, it is totally different from what you got used to in Settlers – you will enjoy “pure” free zoom and rotate-able 3D-scenery.

Anton: Do you develop the engine from the blueprint, or use some third party assets?

[GSC]Anton: We started with next to nothing at hand, but it would be the very best engine when the game is out 🙂

Anton: What are the prominent features of your engine? How it stands out agianst Shogun, for example?

[GSC]Anton: Our engine is capable to deliver realistic sceneries, colored dynamic lighting, day/night change, and “real” water,as seen in NVIDIA demos. Objects will produce real shadows on the water surface , and we also think to throw some terraforming in. I’d also like to assure you there wont’be thousands of skew 3D units. It would real armies of 65000 units, each ideally rendered.

a1x: What are the system requirements then?

[GSC]Drew: 128 Mbytes of RAM and 16-Mbyte accelerator would be enough to get Cossacks 2 running. These are the minimal requirements.

[DTF]MaxQ: Why do you shift all team to American Conquest? Don’t you think Cossacks 2 is more promising and more likely to bring some income?

[GSC]Anton: Cossacks 2 is totally new project, not a simple add-on. Development of the new engine would take considerable time.
[GSC]-GSC-: American Conquest, on the other hand, is based on the venerable Cossacks engine, and will be delivered in a short time, according to the schedule.
[GSC]Z: American Conquest is being forged upon a fertile setting. We wanted to put your hands on it in the add-on, but came up with a stand-alone project after all.

[DTF]MaxQ: OK then, what makes American Conquest different from Cossacks?

[GSC]-GSC-: We have rehashed the strategy and tactics, and made American Conquest closer to the wargame or strategic simulation.
[GSC]Z: There are many novelties in American Conquest – we added forts and strongholds into the mix, map zooming, new environments, added lots of new units for nations, and tweaked the diplomacy. And that’s not all!

[DTF]MaxQ: Could you tell us more on that, and draw some examples?

[GSC]-GSC-: Yeah, sure. Here is the overview of some absolutely real situations that you may run into while playing American Conquest.

  • Division A wouldn’t attack division B seizing the right moment, since point-blank salvo is much more efficient than long-ranged shots.
  • Division A fights Division B, when A is suddenly attacked from behind by ambushing forces. Soldiers of A will panic and their morale drops down. Their paramaters are set to 1 then.
  • Division A stands still in front of the approaching Division B, which is likely to shoot point-blank. A is not lured into combat, since they’ve got a mortar behind. Thus A makes B march inevitably to their death.
[DTF]MaxQ: What AI improvements shall we see in American Conquest?

[GSC]Anton: We’ll introduce neutral nations, with their own AI settings. Some of the missions will be supplied with special mini-AI sequences, like those of the stronghold defence, naval battles. Pirates and overland bandits will do what they’ve gotta do good 🙂

[U309]PitS_1: Do we finally see AI on the rush?

[GSC]-GSC-: AI would never rush. People are not very good at rush tactics, too 🙂

[DTF]MaxQ: How many nations will there be in American Conquest? Are they all different (in tactics, units, and buildings)?

[GSC]Z: American Conquest includes 14 nations, but they are much more different from each other than they were in Cossacks.
[GSC]-GSC-: Besides, American Conquest sports a new unit limitation option. You can axe unit production on 50 units (limit of Age of Empires), 200 (Age of Kings), 500, 8000 (Cossacks), 64000 (American Conquest).

Mirlas: Can I place my archer units (or some other ones) up on walls?

[GSC]-GSC-: We’ll most probably do that in “Cossacks 2”.
[GSC]Z: There will be no walls in American Conquest, but strongholds. From inside them you may fire back with guns and hand-guns, but you’ve got to place artillery and soldiers there first.
[GSC]Z: You can also construct some buildings inside stronghold, like stables or something else.

[DTF]MaxQ: How’d you describe American Conquest yourself? Is that a major leap compared with Cossacks, or another same-engined follower of the Cossacks, or the best RTS of 2002? :))

[GSC]-GSC-: American Conquest is Cossacks multiplied by five, Cossacks 2 is Cossacks 1 twenty times as advanced. American Conquest fills in the gap between Cossacks and Cossacks 2.

[U309]Andrei: Any test versions of American Conquest planned?

[GSC]-GSC-: Yeah, we’ll be shipping a demo somewhere two or three months before the game is out. Right now, we are targeting for September 2002 release.

TheConqurer: Tell us more on the second add-on for Cossacks (that one between The Art of War and American Conquest). There were so few singleplayer missions in The Art of War…

[GSC]Z: The addon will be devoted to the 16-17th centuries, that is, late medieval ages.
[GSC]-GSC-: Most peculiar features of the second add-on are 100 singleplayer missions, and ofcourse new nations, units, and buttloads of novelties, including the ‘Net broadcasting system. Although given that, there won’t be so much tweaks in the game engine compared to the The Art of War.
[GSC]Drew: Yeah, and the broadcasting thing allows over 300 observers check out the battles between the two online.
[GSC]-GSC-: We shall also focus on the morale settings, and sneak and rear attacks.

TheConqurer: Any changes made to the balance?

[GSC]-GSC-: No drastic changes to this one.

[DTF]MaxQ: Are you going to limit the overall number of units in the second addon?

[GSC]-GSC-: Most likely, no. We don’t want to ruin the gameplay. Well, actually, we are still thinking it over.

[DTF]MaxQ: What’s the title for the second add-on?

[GSC]-GSC-: We didn’t figure it out yet. Go figure…:)

Mirlas: When do we see the second add-on in retail stores?

[GSC]-GSC-: Somewhere in Fall 2002.

[DTF]MaxQ: Well, do you plan to implement Cossacks’ technology in some other games?

[GSC]Paramon: We’ve got lots of ideas…
[GSC]-GSC-: We have got some ideas up the sleeve, but we can’t tell you much…
[GSC]Anton: Just wait up for our announcements

Zorge: Have you ever thought of making a wargame? Kind of Nival’s Blitzkrieg… But they are much ahead with it now…

[GSC]Anton: Blitzkrieg is a totally different game and belongs to a different domain.
[GSC]-GSC-: Besides, American Conquest will appear much earlier than Blitzkrieg, and it is more of a wargame than Nival’s creation. I’m sure of that.
[GSC]Anton: Pure hexagon-full wargame was never put on our list. But we are exploiting some of the wargame genre features.

[DTF]MaxQ: A question to the team. You are using only customly-created technologies. Why is that? You can licence existing engine from some other developer and make the game much quicker and even save money you provide for R&D.; Or maybe you want to sell engine’s licence?

[GSC]Anton: Who has the engine for sale which is capable of fleshing out something like Cossacks?

[DTF]MaxQ: So, it means that your ambitions deserve only homemade technologies, doesn’t it?

[GSC]Anton: The game only sells well if it has something that hooks player up. Engine taken from an already shipped off game (that is, older engine technology) is rarely able to produce stunning effect. I can mention Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds as an example here.
[GSC]Paramon: My thoughts exactly. I think that excess use of extrinsic technology is destructive for the game, especially for those having high pretensions.
[GSC]Anton: Besides, we wanted to make RTS genre more large-scaled. There were no engines to flesh out our ideas, and we still see no rivals.

[DTF]MaxQ: Well, thanks everybody for your answers, unfortunately, time’s out. We wish you luck and are looking forward for your new projects!

[GSC]Anton: Thank you! Good bye!



Originally posted: (LINK) (ARCHIVED)

Date of publish: 28.02.2002

Author: DTF

Language of publish: english

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