Interviewed by by Nezar "XaiNoX"
Hello, please introduce yourself, the company you work for and your role in the development process.
My name is Petr Petoukhov, I’m the managing director here, at Primal Software.
Please introduce the game to our readers, its genre and the background story. How did the idea of developing such a game come up?
The genre is 3D Realtime Strategy. We have a very flexible engine that we used in our previous game, The I of the Dragon, and we wanted to do something rather different from the previous game to show its power. Huge areas, beautiful landscapes, smooth graphics with smart LOD that makes possible to show a lot of things at the same time... It just naturally lends itself to building a strategy game.
The story is based to some degree on real history. We have two races that most people know: Vikings and Cimmerians. Here we stretch it a bit and put them in the same time and place where they live and work side-by-side. It all starts when Cimmerian leader called Konin tries to find long-lost magic item, the Sword of Krom. He leaves the country with his brother who decides that he would be a better ruler...
What are your expectations of this game? Why should I invest my money buying this game?
We are not trying to re-invent the wheel. The game is a strategy and it stays within the genre borders. We have added a few cool innovations, though: from pure eye candy (grass, nice water) to some gameplay things. First of all, as the name says, there are sieges. To make a siege interesting it’s not enough to build a few units called “walls” and put an army inside. In a typical strategy game you just send a lot of units that you have at hand and let them hack at those walls with their swords or shotguns. In a few minutes you are back to square one: no walls, no town, just two crowds of units. No strategy, no tactics, just another tank rush.
Our game is different: there are proper walls that you have to break with some siege machines and there are quite a few ways to defend your town effectively. The result is proper sieges that are fun to play from both sides.
Another thing is the way that you prepare your army. You build a house for people to live in – and they get born in it over time and go to work. Each house accomodates a few workers. You can build, say, an archery (if you know how and have resources) – and then tell some of your workers to go there and learn archery. They exit with bows and arrows and you can use them for fighting.
What graphics engine did you use in the development process? Which games were developed with this engine, if there's any? Mention some of its unique performances.
The Besieger is our second game after The I of the Dragon. It uses the same engine (modified, of course, with some new features). It has terramorphing (seen to some extent in the video on our site), huge areas – so huge that it takes a unit tens of minutes to travel across (we won’t include such areas in the single player campaign for the fun’s sake but some people like to play it big in multiplayer), beautiful scenery with grass and water and smooth performance even on average computers.
How will the characters look like? Are they skill based? How many races will be available and what are they? Is it possible to develop the character by time and by experience?
There are two races: Vikings and Cimmerians, characters are pretty archetypical for those races: big red-bearded people and strong tall people in armor. They all start as simple workers and then learn new skills. You can build some vehicles for them. As they fight they get battle experience and advance to new levels (it’s automatic – you don’t have to distribute any points) where they have some nice bonuses. You can take some of your best warriors to the next area most of the time so it’s worth to train some kind of special forces.
Tell us about the missions, is there going to be a campaign for single player? How many main missions will it include? How many options will the player have (except campaign)?
You’ll start the single-player game as one of the Vikings (yes, there would be “main heroes” that have extra strength and abilities but should be saved at all costs). The story is not linear, it’s shown from two points of view. You’ll have to go through events as Viking and then return back in time to see what was going on on the Cimmerian side, and then you’ll have them both under your command... Don’t worry, it all fits as a jigsaw puzzle. There would be about 30 missions total, very different in their goals and methods to achieve them.
What weapons will be in the game? Will these weapons develop with time?
Of course, it all starts with simple things: bows, lances, pikes, javelins... With time you’ll be able to get some new sophisticated weapons: balloons equipped with flamethrowers, arbalests mounted on wheels, battering rams... If you upgrade your buildings – your units get some extra upgrades such as speed and firepower (and a lot of others, of course).
What range of time will this game deal with? Will the game aspects change with time?
No, the game is realtime (a few weeks of “real” time in total).
When is the game scheduled to be released? Where will it hit first? European or US market? Will these two versions differ?
The release date is provisionally set for the first half of 2003. No details are available yet about its exact release schedule and regional details.
What are the minimum requirements of hardware and software needed to run the game properly? What do you recommend as an "extra" for playing this game in all its glory?
600 MHz AMD / Intel Processor (or compatible)
32 MB Direct3D Compatible Graphics Card (comparable to GeForce or above)
128 MB RAM
Recommended (medium graphical detail):
1000 MHz AMD / Intel Processor (or compatible)
32 MB Direct3D Compatible Graphics Card (comparable to GeForce3 or above)
256 MB RAM
About 56Kbit of bandwidth for each player on server
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The game would have another important side: multiplayer. We will provide quite a few types of network game: Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Cooperative, Hold Artifact, King of the Hill, Alone against all. And we’ll provide (either in the box or on our site) the full set of tools that allow everyone to design his own levels with scripted scenes and all the features that we ourselves use. The level editor is fully visual (it’s in 3D, just like the game itself), very easy to use and yet very powerful (you can spray-paint a mountain on the surface of your level in a few moments).