Available: 30 September 2002

Article by Andreas "Interman" Misund

As a fanatical gamer politics haven't interested me a great deal. I do watch the news and everything, but it tends to be a bit too boring for my taste. But, what if you could play the life of a hardcore politician, without having to leave your chair? This is what Elixir is attempting to create, and from what we've seen so far it seems to be an incredibly innovative game. In fact, Republic - The Revolution has won several awards after this year's E3 expo, including Best Strategy Game and Most Innovative Game. The game takes place in an oppressive state in a fictional Russia. The current president is terrible, and it's up to you to win the people over, and finally oust the current president. What's great is that you can do it in a whole lot of ways, for instance by force, as a good-guy, or something in between. As you play you need to watch three bars especially well, Force, Money and Influence, which is basically your basis. Also, in the enormous city that you reside in are basically three kinds of people, being worker, middle and upper class citizens. You need to use several strategies to win them over, but by doing so you get added force from workers, influence from middle-class citizens and money from upper-class citizens. We were allowed to ask five questions to the Elixir development team, so we hope you find it interesting.

Please elaborate on the features of the AI in Republic?

We use augmented transition networks (ATN) as an abstract representation of an agent's behaviour. Designers manipulate a very large database of agent behaviours through a graphical behavioural AI editor. Because the system is data driven it makes it easy for the designers to create a very rich and extensive set of agent behaviours.

How about the graphics engine, and how it's supposedly capable of pushing infinite polygons?

The number of polygons drawn isn't infinite - it can't be more than the graphics card is capable of. But the polygons that are drawn are chosen to best represent a scene of essentially unlimited detail. The time it takes for the artists to model all this detail, and the space it takes up on the CD are the real limiting factors.

How does the actual controlling of the character work, and what game(s) would you compare it to? And can you control for instance a sniper's scope as you assassinate someone?

Each and every character in the game has their own daily routines, they go to work, go home, go shopping, etc. By recruiting a character to your faction you may ask them to carry out tasks. However, there is no direct control, such as you would expect in a first person shooter. You cannot therefore control the aim of an assassin's rifle. However there are tweaks, which appear on-screen during an action. These allow you to influence how your characters perform in action. For example, controlling how your character responds in a conversation; determining how violent someone is during an assault action; or dealing with hecklers during a rally.

Could you explain how the gamers could choose to finish an objective like "create a martyr"? And what makes Republic so open-ended?

There are many ways in which a player can finish an objective. They may have to recruit a particular character or gain a certain percentage of prole support in an area. They may have to successfully complete a particular action, or amass a certain quantity of money, or gain the support of an influential section of the community.

What makes Republic open ended is the number of different styles of play that a player may choose to play the game. Do you want to incite the people to revolt? Perhaps you want to use the military or perhaps you think working your way up from with the system is the way forward? Whichever you choose there are many different goals along the way to completing the game which will result in a unique open-ended gameplay experience.

How much is left of the development, and when can we expect to see the game on the shelves? Will it be a PC only experience?

Development will be finished towards the end of the year. Currently it is being developed as a PC lead platform- but watch this space!