Stefan Hertrich: First of all thanks for taking your time for this interview, my first questions shall reveal some facts about the add-on. We know that there will be units like Bavarian sniper, Prussian hussar, Ukrainian chaika, new battleship called Victory, a cutter, Venezian galleon and a frigate. What other units can we expect?
GSC: Apart from the above mentioned units, there will be Prussian 18 cent musketeer, 18 cent grenadier for Denmark, Bavarian 18 cent musketeer. Some more units will appear in missions only: merchant, Moldavian, general and flag bearer.
Stefan Hertrich: When will the add-on be released? (Germany and international)
GSC: The add-on is planned for August 2001, but we still haven’t a fixed date for it. (I guess this is the German release date – S.H.)
Stefan Hertrich: Will there be any features in the add-on you didn´t mention in any forums or towards any webmasters?
GSC: Naturally, we have kept back some features. If you remember all the stuff we promised to come up with in the forum, here’s something new: ability to play for one nation together; deathmatch starting with your nation completely developed; ability to reinforce your formations; experience for formations; cancel attack for towers; it will be easier to outline a rushing unit; and some more.
Stefan Hertrich: What about new music: will there be new tracks for the 5 new countries?
GSC: It’s a cat we wouldn’t like let out of our bag so far.
Stefan Hertrich: As far as I know you think about a game on the Cossacks engine, when will you start working on it, what will be the changes related to Cossacks and which epoch will be featured?
GSC: The work on this game has already been started. We plan the game to be focused on colonization of America and have it feature both European and native American nations. This title is going to be based on Cossacks engine, though largely modified. It will be different to Cossacks by the following: immense maps (4 times bigger), 16.000 units, nations consisting almost entirely of unique units, units having much more animations and are more thoroughly worked-out, a possibility to go inside a building and to defend it, cavalry formations, possibility to carry out diplomacy etc. Generally, we would like to substantially improve the graphics, enrich the gameplay with realism and with even more worked-out tactics, diversify the behaviour of AI by implementing friendly and neutral tribes.
Stefan Hertrich: What´s your opinion about 3D in strategy games like Empire Earth?
GSC: Computer output today does not allow making a strategy in 3D without any losses. The developer has to sacrifice unit detailing, their number, landscape detailing etc in order to make the whole thing fit the maximum of polygons, texture memory volume and so on. As far as we are concerned, we believe the necessity to force RTS switch to 3D is very questionable. On one hand a player gets an opportunity to revolve the camera and a more profound possibility of using the landscape 3-dimentioning, and on the other hand he gets fantastic system requirements, much lower graphics and environment detailing, ten times lower units and many other restrictions. (I think zooming in and out increases the micromanagement and therefore is not that positive… – S.H.)
Stefan Hertrich: Let´s talk a bit about the development of Cossacks: when did you first start to think about this game?
GSC: It was a time when were all crazy about Warcraft2, then it was Total Annihilation and then Age of Empires1. These were excellent games, which brought a lot into the genre, and which we new inside out. But despite all the advantages, these games had one huge drawback – the limit of 200-250 units and the game system based around this limit. This restricted a player in his tactical and strategic ideas. It was then when we started thinking about a global strategy with armies under your command and virtually any tactical or strategic device at hand. The development of Cossacks began in 1998. The historical theme appeared really fitting a global strategy and we opted for it hardly having any doubts. Initially we wanted to devote the game to our country – Ukraine, to the history of Cossackdom, but as we explored this period time we realized how abundant it is with interesting things, so we widened the range of nations and events the game is focused on. In the first playable version of Cossacks there were only four nations: Ukraine, Russia, Asian countries and Europe.
Stefan Hertrich: Did You plan any features we finally didn´t see in Cossacks (other nations, units etc.).
GSC: Yes, there were quite a lot of things we thought about but failed to implement: either due to lack of time or to the complexity of the game. In the course of development many publishers were pressing on us telling we make a too difficult game, that no one will play it, that everything should be remade and made the same as in AoE. For instance, we failed to make the ship boarding, diplomacy, rear and flank attacks, experience gaining for units, artillerymen at cannons and a number of other cool things.
Stefan Hertrich: Do you remember any good and any depressive moment during the development of Cossacks?
GSC: Well, game development is but a mere pleasant moment of playing, apart, from arduous testing maybe. Also, it can’t but please to see a positive reaction of players – this, probably, is top pleasing. And besides, you realize that you are not mad: the game you like to play is liked by someone else too. Bad moments is when several managers from influential publishing companies say that your game is too complicated, no one will play it and everything has to remade. To add the ill-founded misjudged reviews of some journalists – it’s a pity when a journalist hasn’t learnt the game ropes only to hurry with the article about this awful game.
Stefan Hertrich: Is there anything in Cossacks you don´t like and would like to do better now after months of playing?
GSC: This is probably cannons and artillery in general. I have to say, I feel quite satisfied with the artillery firepower, but I don’t like its numbers in the game – you can build too many cannons in Cossacks. All the rest will be fixed by add-on.
Stefan Hertrich: How did you personally come up with GSC and generally game development?
GSC: Our company was set up in 1995 aiming to develop multimedia software. We have created quite a number of interesting encyclopedia and teaching programs. Nearly all of us were staunched computer game fans and sooner or later it had to happen: about 1997 we started making some stuff, and it was in 1998 we focused entirely on computer game development.
Stefan Hertrich: Is it more difficult to develop a game in Ukraine and find a publisher than developing in other countries?
GSC: As for developing there is a big minus – a complete absence of experts with experience of work in the sphere of computer game development. All the staff working with us have learnt everything themselves. On the other hand, there is a plus: the expenses in Ukraine are lower, which substantially increases the probability of successful development completion. It seems not that difficult to find a publisher: if you have a good game, it will definitely be published. But there is one clause here – all publishers either openly or not make you realize that you are from a developing country and the approach to you will be as if to handicapped or impaired.
Stefan Hertrich: What strategy games of other companies being released soon do you expect with most attention?
GSC: I’m looking forward to Commandos 2, it would be interesting to have a look at Red Faction.
Stefan Hertrich: Last but not least: many thanks for your time and many thanks for your great fanpage support! That´s a thing I appreciate as much as your professional game Cossacks!
GSC: Thanks to all the game fans for their help and attention. Your good and bad comments, requests and wishes help us make the game even more interesting.