Interviewed By Andreas Misund Berntsen / Tomislav Lovrekovic
Recently we've have the time to cath up with Ajith Ram from Candella Software and ask him a bunch of questions about their upcoming game ' Chariots: The First Olympics'. They were also kind enough to provide us with some exclusive screenshots and a wallpaper of the game, which you could see in our gallery.
Hi, please introduce yourself and your company to our readers.
My name is Ajith Ram. I act as the producer of Chariots: The First Olympics. It is my job to coordinate all the activities of the development team. This is the first game being developed by Candella Software Ltd. Although the company is registered in Britain, most of the development work for Chariots: The First Olympics is carried out in Ukraine.
On what project are you currently working?
The company currently only has this game as the current project. At the moment, our focus is on the PC Windows and Linux versions of the game.
Could you tell us a bit about Chariots story, setting etc? Why did you choose this particular time of history?
Chariots is set in 776 BC at the time of the very first Olympics in Ancient Greece. The eight city states of Athens, Sparta, Macedonia, Elis, Crete, Troy, Thebes and Carthage are participating in the Olympics. This setting was chosen for two main reasons. Firstly, Ancient Greece was a period in human history which witnessed great advancements in most fields of human activity, particularly art and architecture.
This allows us to recreate some of the most stunning landscapes ever seen in a racing game. In addition to some of the spectacular locales in Greece which can still be seen today, you will see legendary monuments from the Hellenic world like the the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus and Lighthouse of Pharos.
Secondly, we wanted to create an innovative racing game which harked back to the golden age of the arcades – pure adrenaline pumping action and fun. We also wanted to make it different from the modern day realistic car racing simulations or futuristic hovercraft/anti-gravity type racers. The logical choice was a chariot-based racing game.
What kind of possibilities do the players have when racing in a chariot?
You can select from among eight different chariots. Each chariot has its own unique handling characteristic. Some are light weight and fast, but cannot sustain too much damage. Other chariots are more sturdy, but slower. So, depending on the type of chariot that you choose, you should plan your racing strategy.
Some of the racing levels can be quite difficult with sharp turnings and hidden obstacles. Therefore, if you have a chariot which cannot sustain much damage, you need to be extra careful.
In single player, you can choose between Arcade Mode, Olympics Mode and Time Trial. Olympics Mode is the toughest with more realistic physics and chariot damage modelling. It is also the only one with bonus levels. Arcade Mode, as the name implies, is only about fast, furious racing.
What unique abilities do the eight charioteers have, and do they improve over time?
Just like the chariots, you can also choose from 8 different charioteers, both men and women. Each person has a unique ability which allows them to be inherently better than others – but only at certain sections of the race. For instance, some charioteers will have more steering skill than stamina.
This is where your keen instincts must come in. You have to select the right section of the track in order to make full use of the skills available to you. A good way to do this is to take a few practice laps in the Time Trial mode and study the track. We are designing the tracks so that your driving skills will improve as you progress – even without you being really aware of it.
I doubt about it too, but, who knows... Will there be any RPG elements in the game?
We don't have a dedicated skills system like in a traditional RPG. We found out it is not particularly useful in a dedicated racing game.
Will there be some "free-drive-style" and would player be able to drive his chariot right throught ancient Atena streets?
Yes! You will be able to drive through the streets of ancient cities like Athens, Sparta and Thebes. This will be one of the most exciting aspects in the game.
What about accidents and managment? You know, something like if you dont feed a horse, it will run slow, or get sick, or even die... Maybe horse can even break his leg if he is to young & weak, and the chariot is heavy...?
The horses and chariot will definitely take damage. Some of the racing levels can be quite difficult with sharp turnings and hidden obstacles. Therefore, if you have a chariot which cannot sustain much damage, you need to be extra careful.
Your website mentions several juicy graphical features, could you mention the ones you feel have the greatest graphical impact? What kind of hardware requirements do for instance the shaders introduce?
In the PC version of the game, we are really pushing the boundaries of available graphics technology. For instance, in some levels, you have massive draw distances of up to three miles and over 400,000 polygons per frame. This means some truly spectacular vistas never seen before in a racing game.
We also use a lot of vertex and pixel shaded effects like swaying grass, blowing hair on the horses, volumetric shadows. rippling water surfaces with reflection, refraction, highly realistic waterfalls, flowing lava etc.
All these effects obviously do not come free. You will need a PC with at least a 64Mb T&L graphics card like the ATI Radeon 8500 or Radeon 9000. If you wish to play the game at high resolutions above 1024x768 with all features turned on, a more powerful graphics card like the new Radeon 9700 is recommended.
What kind of sounds and music can we expect? What does it offer for people with hardware accelerated soundcards and surround systems?
Audio is an area we are paying particular attention to. Sound effects in a racing game set in a classical era present their own unique challenges. Unlike a car racing game, you cannot just pop out of the office and record a few engine sounds! Neither is it that practical to organise our own real life chariot race.
Our aim is to include a uniquely different sound for each chariot. This is particularly useful in multiplayer games. Just by the sound of the chariot behind you, you will be able to tell who the nearest competitor is. This should allow you to change your strategy accordingly.
There is a similar problem associated with music. In modern or futuristic racing games, you can get away with techno or even heavy metal music. This sounds totally out of place in a racing game set in Ancient Greece. So, we decided to go with fast paced classical music, many pieces composed just for the game.
We support two channel, four channel and full 5.1 surround audio with environmental effects. Obviously, those gamers with the full 5.1 speaker setup will get the best experience.
Can we expect multiplayer? I mean, imagine that exciment. Maybe even one day Chariot multiplayer would become the first computer game in Olympics discipline :)
We have both LAN and internet multiplayer in the game. Up to 8 people can play against each other. There will not be a dedicated single host server. You will be able to launch your own server or join a server that gets listed in your search.
It is a nice thought to think of multiplayer chariot racing at the real modern Olympics! But I doubt it would ever happen.
Has anything particularly funny happened during the development?
Life itself is a funny game! The most funny request we have had so far is to include nude contestants – just like in the ancient Olympics. Although it may be authentic, I can already see the puritans inside Wal-Mart wrinkling their noses!
Developing the game for PC, Linux, Mac, XBOX and PS2 must require a great deal of work, how has working on so many platforms worked so far?
We are still a small team. Currently, our entire focus is on the PC-Windows and Linux versions. Development work on the Mac and console versions will start only in the New Year.
So far, the development of the PC version has gone off reasonably smoothly – except for a few minor mishaps like one of the PC’s PSU blowing up......In some areas, we are even ahead of schedule.
Is there anything else you would like to add before we wrap this up?
This game has become a passion for our team. We only hope that it lives up to our own expectations and those of the gamers.