Available: November 2002
By:Strategy First

Interviewed by by Dennis Sloutsky

A few day ago we got to speak with Ryan Valade, the Producer of G.I. Combat down at Strategy First and bug him with our boring questions about the game... Enjoy! :-)

Would you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us what is your part in making of G.I. Combat?

I work as a producer at Strategy First. For GI Combat we worked closely with the Freedoms team and helped test the game.

Can you tell us about Freedom Games and its history?

Eric Young and John Davidson started Freedom Games. They both worked on the Close Combat series in which Eric was the lead game designer. Most of the rest of team at Freedom also work on the Close Combat series at one point. GI Combat is the company’s first independent game title. There are already plans for 2 successors to GI Combat.

What is the biggest difference of G.I. Combat comparing to the Close Combat series?

3D, the geometry of the maps and units creates many new strategies for gameplay. Line of sight plays a whole new role because of the hills and terrain. There is also a free roaming camera that allows players to zoom right into the action and get all the details of the combat going on or they can zoom way up high and get a full outlook of the complete battle.

Will G.I. Combat be as accurate as Close Combat in terms of realism (ammo counted for each soldier, damaged vehicles, etc...)?

9oooEric Young being the designer of the Close Combat series has brought over all the realism those titles had. I would have to say the game is twice as realistic because of the visual realism the game now has. You can zoom right into soldiers to view the guns they are holding or the armored vehicles that are all modeled to be as realistic as possible.

In Close Combat since it was a 2D game it was always easy to notice the enemy or know if the enemy has noticed you. How is Line Of Sight managed in G.I. Combat?

It works very much in the same way, you only see enemy units when they are in your soldiers line of sight. Users can still use smoke to hide their movements as in close combat.

Are the missions based on actual events of WW2? What about the environments?

The Grand campaign plays out from the allied landing at Pointe Du Hoc to the assault on St Lo. All the maps are realistically designed and plotted based on the real geography of the French landscape.

Will there be a linear storyline (i.e. you must one mission before advancing to the next one) or will the next mission depend on your troops' progress like in Close Combat?

The Grand campaign is dynamic. Meaning the next battle you fight and where you fight it will depend on the previous battles outcome. When playing as the allies if you win a battle you will advance inland towards St Lo. When playing as the Germans it is exactly the opposite and you must hold your ground.

Will the surviving troops be carried on from one mission to the next one?

Yes, Not only do you get to keep your squads, you have the choice to award the medals yourself at the end of each battle. Soldiers with medals will see their moral levels go up.

Will soldiers be able to pick up their dead comrades' or enemies' weapons when they run out of ammo?

Soldiers do scavange ammo and certain weapons from dead comrades. If the soldier carrying the Mortar in the squad goes down, another soldier in the team will pick up the mortar. If your squad is out of ammo soldiers will also pick up the ammo left from dead soldiers.

Will there be any technical units on the battlefield that would be able to fix light technical problems with the vehicles, such as thrown tracks on a tank? How about medics?

Nope, most of the game is played out in heavy combat. It could be a little unreal having technical “mechanics” trying to repair vehicles in the heat of battle. After each battle however any injured soldiers and damaged vehicles will be back for another round. So in a way there are medics for in between battles, but there aren’t any healers for during combat... kinda doesn't fit in. 

A lot of hardcore RTS gamers can't stand the new genre of 3D RTS games because of the bulky camera controls. How will the Point of View controls be managed in the game?

Yes, the camera controls are something to get used to. If you like to keep your camera down low and close to the action, you will inevitably be spending a lot of time moving the camera around. In GIC you can simply zoom up the camera to a height of 200 meters and play the game with very little camera movement, but then again you don’t get any of the visual goodies.

How many players will be able to play the game in multiplayer mode?

It is a 2-player game.

Which multiplayer matching services will G.I. Combat support, if any?

We are using Gamespy Arcade for matchmaking.

How easy can modifications/new maps be done for the game? Which tools will come bundled with it?

There is a scenario editor in which you can design out your own battles and objectives while choosing which units both players can choose from. The amount of mods going out for the game is incredible to see. Even on the demo we put out a week ago already there are a dozen mod sites... many of them can be found through the forums at GICOMBAT.COM. We also will be hosting mods from the Strategy First website.

The promised and eagerly awaited G.I. Combat playable demo was delayed twice already... When can we expect to see it?

It’s out now... my mother always said, “good things come to those who wait” Hopefully she's right, I’ll let you be the judge.

Is there a precise release date for the European version of the game that will be published by Mindscape?

Haha ... I see someone's been on the forums... its only been rumors up to now. But yes, the game is already being translated into French, Spanish, Russian, etc. The game will be released worldwide. Mindscape will be distributing the game in UK.

Are there any immediate plans for an expansion pack or a standalone product based on the Russian front?

We are planning for 2 successors to GI Combat along with a whole slew of add-ons.

Would you have any exclusives for our readers?

Well I have no goodies to give, but here's a tip for our German fans... Remember your Panzerfausts... they may be your only saving grace against a US Sherman.

Thanks for your time and we wish you all the best with the game. I know I will be one of the first to buy it when it gets to my local store. :-)

Cool I hope to see you on the multiplayer boards... I’m very competitive and hate to lose..

Cheers, its been fun.