Interviewed by Matthew_P
A few days after posting the first screenshots of the upcoming strategy game Massive Assault, we've had the chance to ask the game designer a bunch of questions about the game, mostly discussing the gameplay and more...
Can you explain us who you are, and what part you played within the development of Massive Assault?
I'm Victor Kislyi, the president of Wargaming.net, a privately held game development company. In Massive Assault project I acted as the game designer and executive producer.
Can you describe to us some of Massive Assault's unique features?
* Original rule system, based on secret alliances, guerrilla warfare and territory control, allowing the players to face new strategic situation in every game they play
* The game mechanics is easy to learn (a kid who played Risk can start playing Massive Assault)
*It's a turn-based strategy game with a powerful 3D engine and state-of-the-art graphics.
* Internet Play deathmatches aimed at hardcore strategy gamers
What aspects of gaming have you emphasized in Massive Assault?
In Massive Assault we combined global-scale turn-based strategy with the most modern 3D engine. Plus, playing Massive Assault is fun! The gameplay is smooth and dynamic - every single game will be a non-stop chain of purely strategic and tactical challenges - no stupid peasants cutting the woods, no needless "historic accuracy" or endless charts of economic and combat parameters. Nothing slows the process down - each unit is most of the time engaged in real action.
Why do you think Massive Assault should be sucessfull?
We think that the players will be absorbed by the rules and the way the game flows. Playing a couple of games, they will surprisingly discover that each time they should solve a unique strategic puzzle. 6 years of prototype existence make us sure that Massive Assault provides literally endless replayability.
And we also think that our players will love Massive Assault's 3D graphics and effects.
How much does the team play RTS strategy themselves, and what games did they look to for ideas?
You know, the whole development team consists of computer game fans (especially strategy). I would dare say that as a whole our team has not missed any substantial strategy, role- playing or first-person-shooter title for the last 5 years. As for borrowing ideas, I would rather put it like this: our team has played too many games to make sure that Massive Assault does not look like any of them. We were trying to create something totally new in terms of concept and gameplay. Regarding the 3D engine - yes, aimed to bring Massive Assault to the most modern level of 3D graphics.
Which part of writing Massive Assault was the most fun?
Testing - of course testing. Whenever we reached the next internal version, it was hard to tear the developers from "playtesting" Massive Assault and put them back to work. I have personally spent many dozens of hours, pretending that I was hunting for bugs, but in the reality trying to kick our PR manager Kirill.
Why did you choose the genre and who is the game aimed at?
Our 3D engine is technically suitable for a quality RTS, but we decided to make a turn-based game instead. Turn-based games still have great potential, because of the many reasons. For example:
* when you are acting as C-in-C in a global-scale war, the turn-based model is more suitable - the generals at the headquarters usually have time to look at the map,
consider multiple factors and options, and develop their strategic plans accurately.
* you are not rushed - you can take your time and get the maximum pleasure from the gameplay process, knowing that your success does not depend on mouse clicking rate.
* turn-based model is perfect for Internet play, allowing players from different parts of the world play the games at the most convenient time and pace, having dozens of games running simultaneously.
We call Massive Assault a "global domination strategy" because it really differs from many existing strategy games, which usually drop down to tactical clashes on relatively small battlefields. A player will command divisions, fleets and air squadrons on numerous continents, and in the seas, maintaining the frontlines, organizing supply routes, conducting massive offensive and naval landing operations.
As for the target audience, we think that all strategy computer and board game fans will find a bunch of fresh ideas in Massive Assault. Die-hard gamers will encounter worthy challenges playing "world war deathmatch" against live opponents. From the other hand, the game's concept and mechanics are easy, so that single player missions and campaigns will be interesting to anybody who watches Discovery History Channel, or who just played Risk boardgame.
Which part of Massive Assault have you most enjoyed working on?
Apart from testing, I really enjoyed composing the Design Document, because I have been dreaming of computerizing this game for so many years. Frankly speaking, Massive Assault is a result of hard work of the whole team, because we took it seriously: we were very much concerned about delivering this game as soon as possible, and I think, our guys did fantastic job, delivering what we already have in just 8 months. Maybe that was the most pleasant part for everybody - seeing our game growing rapidly, every day, every week.
At which stage of the development process are you with Massive Assault and what's the approximate release date?
At the moment we are conducting internal playtesting. The programmers, artists and sound guy are still adding visual and sound effects, but that does not change the gameplay. We may say that the version for network play is practically ready, and the worldwide online betatest will be launched within a week. AI is also in place, and it's already quite smart. However, as you know AI is never good enough, so we are still in process of adding new strategy and tactical "methods". We also need to design and insert new scenarios and campaigns for single player mode.
The whole situation looks like this: the version for Internet play (with several single player scenarios for training) will be ready by the middle of December. It will take another month and a half to make the version for retail market, and we hope that by the end of Q1 2003 Massive Assault will be in stores.
Who came up with the idea for the game?
Massive Assault's prototype is Iron Age, an amateur boardgame created by my schoolmates and I back in 1995. In 1996 we, as a group of enthusiasts created MS-DOS and then Win95 version of Iron Age. We've been playing this game for 5 years and haven't got bored by it. During this time we have ideally balanced the unit's parameters and the rules. The time has proved that the concept of secret allies and guerrilla warfare, etc. was excellent - we played no two games, which were alike - and in the beginning of 2002 we decided to bring this excellent idea to wide gaming community.
Closing, anything else to add?
I'd like to thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to the Gamer's Hell readers. You know, we are trying to do a risky thing with Massive Assault – we deliberately are not employing many traditional features and concepts typical for current strategy games, even though many of these games are successful. It's a sort of experiment – we want to refine the conventional flow of a strategy game, leaving a player with only the most interesting and challenging strategic and tactical tasks. And we hope that the gaming community will appreciate this Wargaming.net's attempt to bring a portion of fresh air to strategy gaming world.