Available: 5 October 2002

Article by "Da Munkee" M.Burrell and Mike "Supreme" Boughton

For most of us, the first thing that comes to mind with a title like Gladiators are images of Roman coliseums and Russel Crowe beheading some poor chump while dodging tigers. Thankfully, the tradition of men fighting for their lives in front of roaring crowds and pompous emperors died along with the Roman republic... At least on Earth. The new game "The Gladiators: Galactic Circus Games" presents an alien landscape in which you control one of three races fighting for entertainment and survival somewhere in the uncharted depths of space. Unlike your typical RTS game, Gladiators provides a captive audience of aliens who cheer or boo you as you battle with your troops in giant "arenas". The game is still very early in it's development stages, but the developers are promising the game will push the envelop of RTS games with humour and innovative game design. Recently, we got a chance to talk with Alexis Le Dressay of Eugen Systems about the title and here's what we found out.

Please introduce yourself and tell us what your role is in the development of The Gladiators.

Hello, I’m Alexis Le Dressay, lead game designer of “The Gladiators” and chief manager of Eugen Systems, the company behind the game.

The story on your website talks about a "Deathbowl" tournament, in which the winner claims the throne. Could you elaborate on what the Deathbowl is, and if the entire game is played within the tournament?

As the emperor dies, there is no legitimate heir to the Throne, so a great tournament, the Deathbowl is created to select the next ruler of the galaxy. The three contenders will have to choose their champion. The next emperor will the one with the best gladiator. The game is set within the tournament. But the cut scenes and stories spread beyond the arena.

From what I've seen, there are at least three different races; the Human, Magic, and Galactic. Will each of these races be playable, or is the main focus only on the Human race?

All the races are playable and each has a specific campaign. Campaigns share the same storyline, which focus on the Deathbowl and the original interactions between Callahan, Maximix (hero of the Galactic) and the infamous Fargass (hero of the magic race).

How will Greg Callahan be tied into the game, and will he be able to gain new powers as the game progresses?

The choice of those completely different races was made to allow the main video games universes’ to clash rather than letting disproportioned firepowers unbalance the gameplay. Callahan’s army uses conventional weapons. During the game, as a Gladiator, Callahan is able to grab Power-Ups like : healing, heroism, bombing C-4… Each gladiator has specific Power-Ups.

What types of weapons, enemies, and defences will there be?

All races own infantry units, large units (Abrams tank, Zorg bipods…) flying units, special Power-Ups. Concerning the defences, maps are full of buildings, vegetation… that provide damage protection, better shooting spots, and camouflage…

According to your site, The Gladiators will be a real-time strategy game. What will set this game apart from other RTS titles?

We aimed for The Gladiators to be the fastest paced RTS game. We tried to “distil down” all common RTS features slowing down the pace of the game (i.e. building bases, collecting resources…) All resources management or building units systems in The Gladiators work the fastest and easiest way possible.
Another great point we craved to have in the game was to have the player solve tactical enigmas during the maps rather than just building bases, grabbing resources and destroying AI armies. Our game benefits from a strong level design to contribute to this game style. Finally it gives to The Gladiators an instant action entertainment. The player is always involved in intense and unique gaming sequences…

Concerning the multiplayer gaming, we have a completely different approach from other RTS’s. First of all, The Gladiators as a fast paced game offers 5 to 20 minutes game sessions. Secondly The Gladiators is the first RTS which allows players to connect and disconnect during session without breaking the game, just like in current FPS’s.

The graphics seem pretty nice from the initial screenshots. What engine did you use for the game? Did you create one from scratch?

We’ve created our own 3d engine for this game. We made that choice to have the flexibility to meet our gamers expectations. We also wanted to achieve to create graphical environment quite different to what can be seen in other RTS’s.

Will your game resemble standard RTS-style gameplay? How will the combat system work?

As I said just above, The Gladiators is fast action paced, but in an other hand, it has a lot of strong tactical features : real line of sight, real 3d ballistic computing engine. For example, every object in the game can be destroyed and is fully interactive. Climbing on buildings (depending on their shape) improve your units’ line of sight, gives them a longer attack range and better damage protection

What about the controls? Will the game mostly be played with the mouse, or will you have a number of keyboard commands also?

Depending on your playing style, you can either play all the game with the mouse. But we have special shortcuts for gamers and players familiar with RTS games...

Did you consider a multiplayer option during development, and will there be one when the game is released?

The Gladiators allows up to 16 players simultaneously for rampage. We also managed to get the multiplayer mode the early in the process to tune units and to polish the gameplay.

Will The Gladiators be a world-wide release? If not, where will it be released?

The Gladiators is to be a world-wide release on the October 5th 2002.

Were there any big hurdles or problems during development? Did anything funny happen?

The most funny thing during the development of the game happened during the process of finding the publisher. We met our publisher, Arxel Tribe, at the E3 in LA before realising that their office was in the same building two stories beneath ours.

Any final thoughts or comments? Anything you would like to add?

Just that we hope you’ll enjoy the game.

The Gladiators Homepage
Arxel Tribe Homepage