Interviewed by Dennis Sloutsky
Today as a part of our Buka week special we've managed to have a chat with the Russian developer Targem, the creators of Battle Mages, an upcoming blend of RTS/RPG genres, that is to be published worldwide by Buka Entertainment in Q4 2003.
Hi, please introduce your company to our readers.
Hi! Thanks for your interest in our project.
We are a Russian company ┬┬źTargem┬┬╗, PC games developer. ┬┬źBattle Mages┬┬╗ is our first large project, and ┬┬źBuka Entertainment┬┬╗, one of the most prominent Russian game publishers, will be the publisher for it.
Please briefly introduce Battle Mages and its concepts.
The game was planned to be a project including the best features of such masterpieces as Heroes of Might&Magic, Warcraft, Dark Omen. We also would like to make gameplay not a boring repetition of monotonous actions, but a great thrilling adventure. Therefore, we have tried to introduce into the game as many various missions as possible – from brief fierce skirmishes to long and thorough exploration and developing of whole provinces.
What is the main storyline behind the game?
Player must stop the imminent Darkness striving to plunge his world into Chaos and enslave all the inhabitants. Unlike most such stories, the Player doesn't act as the single savior of the world, but is one of the many mages struggling against Evil.
How many sides can the players select from, and what are they?
No selection is provided. We play for a battle mage of Human Empire, but during his adventures he gains many allies of different races: elves, orcs, goblins.
How much attention will be given to magic in the game?
As this is a game about Battle Mages, magic cannot be excluded from it, of course. Even if the Player decides not to focus on studying magic, learning combat arts instead, the list of spells available to him will be impressive.
How many missions will the game include? Can you give us an example of a mission and its objectives?
It's hard to announce the exact number of missions. The global campaign and many separate maps with individual plots are present in the game. As an example, we can give a mission where the Player has to gain one mighty hermit mage's trust to bring him on Player's side and for his help in future battles.
Is the campaign linear or dynamic?
Campaign structure is linear. We pay the most attention to dynamic passing through the missions themselves and diversity of ways to achieve the global objective.
Battle Mages is advertised as a hybrid RTS/RPG game, could you please elaborate on that?
We've introduced the role playing element in addition to classic tactical battles: through fighting, Player's units gain experience and new skills and abilities with it. Moreover, the Player himself also accumulates experience points and has an opportunity of developing different abilities affecting his style of passing through the game.
What will be the size of a typical battle map?
It will be sufficient for two confronting armies to fight and perform tactical maneuvers: building defense lines, striking from ambushes, securing dominant heights.
How smart will the enemy AI be?
Usually the enemies count on numbers. But as far as it comes to defending key points, enemy AI becomes resourceful at most attempting to resist Player's units in a most effective manner considering his tactics and troops.
What is the maximum amount of troops the player will be able to command?
The amount of troops under Player's control is limited only by his leadership abilities. But even 5-6 units under his command is a fair army capable of smashing most of the enemies.
Is the game more similar to Myth series (where no resource-gathering is included) or to Warcraft (where collecting resources is a large part of the game)?
We can say that conceptually our game is more similar to Myth. The main tasks for the Player are fighting monsters, carrying out quests and exploration of the world.
What are some of the unique features of the game?
We consider live environment to be the main feature of our game. There is the Player with his ambitions and abilities and there are inhabitants of the world – city folks, monsters, brigands. Residents are smart enough to feed themselves, build dwellings and defend against enemies on their own. They also react to our warriors adequately – they can nurse some grievance against them or, quite the reverse, help fighting a monster.
What graphics engine is used for game development?
Our programmers created an engine of their own, which, in our humble opinion, compares well with high-tech engines on the market.
What are the strengths of this particular engine?
This engine allows to display vast open spaces covered with forests, a lot of various structures and their inhabitants, flavor the picture with present-day special effects and keep acceptable fps value while doing it.
What kind of music will the game feature? Will music change according to gameplay?
We pay a great attention to creating musical themes for different races and game situations. Undoubtedly, music will change according to gameplay: you'll hear enchanting elfish songs approaching Elvin settlement, and you'll hear battle drums when combat begins.
Will the game offer multiplayer support, if so which modes will be available?
The game allows 4 players to engage through LAN. They may fight in ┬┬źdeathmatch┬┬╗ or enter into alliances as well. Global gaming via Internet is not planned.
How many people are working on game development and when was it started?
The project was started in spring 2001 by five enthusiasts. Mainly, they have been working at creating a powerful engine and test models of structures and units. As for now 15 persons are working at the game – programmers, artists, musicians, script-writers.
How far along is the game in development now?
We hope to realize all our ideas in the game by autumn 2003.
Any last words for our readers?
It's almost a year left to the moment when our game will get to shops. We hope that your interest to the game will not slacken by the time, and we will spare no efforts to make the ┬┬źBattle Mages┬┬╗ as exciting to play for you as it is for us to create it :-)