Oleg Yavorsky of GSC GameWorld chats with Computer Games Magazine about Cossacks II, their upcoming historical RTS game sequel.
Next week, Cossacks II, the historical RTS game from developer GSC GameWorld and publisher CDV, is released to stores. Computer Games Magazine got a chance to chat with GSC’s PR manager Oleg Yavorsky to find out more about the game.
Computer Games – First, was GSC Game World pleased with how the original Cossacks came out?
Oleg Yavorsky – We were very happy that gamers loved Cossacks. The team put so many efforts and their expectations in this project. So when we saw that our first game was highly respected by gamers internationally, that gave us impulse to continue our work. Up-to-date there have been over 2.5 million copies of Cossacks I sold worldwide (with another 1.5 million in ex-USSR). Cossacks was the first big hit for us and basically allowed the company to grow and develop more titles.
Computer Games – What were some of the things the development team wanted to improve on for the sequel?
Oleg Yavorsky – No major points to mention here, but for one thing maybe: we wanted to make warring in the game less rush and more structured, organized. Therefore in the sequel we capitalized on the best elements Cossacks is remembered by: massive battles, crisp graphics, realistic physics and variety of possibilities for gaining victory. The gameplay balance was also shifted into the side of combat, as opposed to economy and resource micromanagement.
Computer Games – What can you tell us about the single player campaigns in Cossacks II?
Oleg Yavorsky – There are two campaigns in Cossacks II. One is more of a tutorial, where during 15 story-based missions the player will master all the nuances of the game. Once the learning missions are over, the player will be ready to start playing as a true commander in Battle for Europe mode. In this particular section of the game the player will fight over the continent of Europe split into a number of sectors. The goal is to conquer the entire continent and the fight takes place on two levels: so to say global (when on the geographical map) and local one (when actually combating). Once the player has chosen a nation to fight for (out of six) and a military commander to lead his troops, he gets down to accomplish the conquest. The direction of attack is fully up to the player and he can choose which way to advance onto his foes. All the commanders represented (true historical personalities provided for each nation with the adequate bio) start in the rank of lieutenant and can take command over the basic 4 formations of troops. By conquering territories, accomplishing missions and side quests the player’s commander, so as troops will gain combat experience to allow the commander gain promotion, while soldiers to harden their morale and make them tougher troops to defeat. There is no upper limit for the troops’ experience, which means you can march them through the entire continent, mission by mission and turn the squads you started playing with into highly moraled supersoldiers. When the player commander’s rank grows, he is entrusted more troops to command, so as more types of them (i.e. not only infantry, but cavalry and artillery as well). Such a system ensures a smooth learning curve, while making the player feel a real commander when leading 25 or so regiments of 120 soldiers each into battle. The means to gain victory in Battle for Europe mode do not end on battling merely: there’s extensive diplomacy system, possibilities of sabotage, so as economic blockade which will help the strategists to win by any means preferred and are sure to diversify the gameplay.
Computer Games – What nations will be playable in the game and will each have any special features or abilities?
Oleg Yavorsky – There will be six nations in total – France, Britain, Russia, Prussia, Austria and exotic Egypt. Nations have some bonuses in development, for instance Britain has powder production plant (powder is consumed with each shot) and Russia has farms that enables more food production. But most importantly, all the countries have unique units, which gives the player an enormous space for maneuvering. Two armies are never the same, each with its strong and weak points, so the victory will be granted to the true strategist.
Computer Games – What are some of your favorite units in Cossacks 2?
Oleg Yavorsky – There are certain types of troops which appeal to me most. One of those is the renowned grenadiers, an elite type of troops, strong in virtually every way of combating. Grenadiers were roughly an equivalent of modern special forces. In the game they are not only strong and skillful in hand-to-hand and ranged attack, highly moraled, but also possess mighty grenades to use against both enemy soldiers and structures. A truly cool troop to have. Another remarkable type of unit to me is Egyptian archer. Endless arrows, firing ones against buildings, and reminds me of Cossacks 1. A kind of nostalgic unit.
Computer Games – What kinds of missions and battles can we expect in the sequel?
Oleg Yavorsky – The main idea of Cossacks II is free gameplay and intense tactics. Missions are implemented for tutorial campaign only and their main idea to make the learning curve gradual and easy to adopt. The main single player campaign for the player, as mentioned before, is to conquer Europe. On top of that, the players will find the standard Skirmish mode, and, interestingly, historical Battles reconstructed in the game. As far as the battles go (10 of them in total, including battles of Austerlitz, Ulm and more), these are about tactical warfare purely: the player is given a certain set of troops and resources, which he is to use smartly in order to outplay the enemy. This is THE mode to rewrite history in. It is in battles that all the war skills of the player as commander will pay off.
Computer Games – What are some of the more unique gameplay features in Cossacks 2?
Oleg Yavorsky – I think it’s a unique type of strategy gameplay that you gain with the game, at least it’s unlike any experiences I had before. First of all, we did our best to implement combat as realistically as possible. The troops on battlefield are affected by a number of factors, such as fatigue, morale, combat experience, hunger and so on. The fatigue factor, for instance, makes it impossible to have the troops march from one map corner to the opposite without getting tired. It is only when moved along roads that the troops can move without penalties. Otherwise (on battlefield), you have to give your soldiers some time to restore their physical strength. On top of that, we have implemented realistic physics calculation for bullets, cannonballs, so as natural obstacles (terrain, trees etc) are taken into account when combating. For example, units standing behind trees get extra protection against bullets, cannonballs stuck in muddy terrain etc. Therefore, the real-time combat in Cossacks II resembles more a game of chess, where you move troops as figurines, trying to adopt the most advantageous positions for attack, outmaneuver the enemy, while at the same time caring to keep up the high morale of your soldiers. That is an original combination of gameplay elements I haven’t seen in any strategy game to date.
Computer Games – What improvements has GSC Game World made to the graphics engine for Cossacks 2?
Oleg Yavorsky – On the graphics side, the engine has gained a boost with supporting the nice eye-candy, such as shaders, we’ve got cool smoke effects etc. The game uses a smart combination of 2D and 3D, i.e. units, architecture + landscape. The use of 2D units provides for crisp and extremely detailed graphics, so as for enormous number of units possible to put in a battle (the population cap here is whopping 64000).
Computer Games – What can you tell us about the current progress of the game’s development and a possible release date?
Oleg Yavorsky – We are fully done with the game, look out for it in stores!:) To my knowledge, the game has either been released already or is to be released in US shortly.
Computer Games – Is there anything else you want to say about Cossacks 2 before we sign off?
Oleg Yavorsky – Just a couple of words of thanks to the community who’s been contributing to the game and eagerly anticipating it. We really appreciate your support! I hope that the game will be interesting to not only fans of the series, but also fans of Napoleonic history and every other strategy player out there. Enjoy!
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS CONTENT:
Date of publish: 21.04.2005
Author: John Callaham
Language of publish: english