Interviewed by Dennis Sloutsky
With Will Rock right around the corner in most stores in North America, we've managed to conduct an extensive interview with Matthew Karch of Saber Interactive about many aspects of the game, so you could know more about it before buying it. And if you didn't do so yet, check out the recently released Will Rock demo.
Hi, please introduce yourself and your company to our readers.
My name is Matthew Karch and I am the President of Saber Interactive. We are a game company with offices in NYC and St. Petersburg, Russia. Most of our team members have an average of 10 years experience in the game industry and have contributed to over 100 different titles.
How many people are currently employed by the company to work on Will Rock?
We had up to 20 people working on Will Rock at one time, with an average of about 18. We were able to complete the whole game, from start to finish in a period of 14 months.
What is the storyline/plot behind Will Rock?
The story concerns the efforts of a student of archaeology - Will Rock - to penetrate the lost city of Olympus (city of the gods) and defeat hordes of opponents in an effort to save a damsel in distress. The story does a good job of setting the scene and explaining why Will has certain powers at his disposal (that we refer to as “Titan Powers”). It gives the player a little extra motivation to go out and kick some major ass.
Please briefly introduce the gameplay concepts of Will Rock.
Will Rock’s gameplay is simple – it is about battling hordes of opponents in a wide variety of beautiful settings. The game is first and foremost about action. You do not need to look for opponents in our game. They find you – fast and often. We deliberately kept it simple and straightforward – we were not looking to create a game that will redefine the genre, just one that would keep fans of the style happy.
Which books, movies and games inspired you to make Will Rock?
From a gameplay style we need to look back to the heyday of tough guy action films – the 80’s. Remember the Rambo movies? Remember how awesome it was to watch enemy after enemy get mauled down by Stallone? Well, if the enemies had an IQ slightly above the teens the action would have never worked – the opponents would have hidden and we never would have witnessed the cool slaughter action scenes. The game takes it cue from the Stallone, Arnold, Chuck Norris movies of old, where masses of opponents come straight at you. The sole purpose of their existence is to get mowed down...
From a visual standpoint we looked at movies like Indiana Jones and the Mummy. This comes across pretty clearly in the game. We are really pleased with the visuals of the game. We had to make sure the game would run on low end machines, so it is pretty remarkable what we were able to accomplish with those limitations.
What game can Will Rock be compared to?
Two of our major sources of inspiration were Serious Sam and Doom. We are big fans of the arcade style shooter and Croteam put it back on the map a few years ago with Serious Sam. We wanted to do something similar with its own unique twists. I think those that play it will see that we have done a very good job of that.
Which kinds of weapons/vehicles will be available in the game?
There is a wide variety of weapons in the game, ranging from simple pistols and shotguns to heavy duty chain guns. There are also a variety of weapons that utilize our shatter and morph effects such as the acid gun, the flaming crossbow, the medusa gun and the atom gun. There is plenty to choose from among the weapons and they add a lot of fun to the game.
What kinds of enemies will the player encounter in the game? Any mythical creatures?
Most of the enemies come from Greek myths and legends. Although our publisher has indicated 15 opponents, the total is actually a lot closer to 25 when variations of particular opponents are taken into account.
Where will the action take place?
In large outdoor and indoor environments in the mythological area around Mt. Olympus. We have stuck pretty closely to the Greek theme and it works really well with the storyline and the opponents we have selected.
Originally a “Medieval Russia” episode was supposed to be included in the game, what made you remove it from the game?
Russia is too vast for cursory treatment. We would love to explore its myths, legends and rich history in a sequel or perhaps another game :-) . We wouldn’t want to “obidet” our loyal Russian fans by throwing in just a level or two.
Which graphics engine are you using for game development?
We are using our own proprietary tech we call the Saber3d Engine. It has been developed in-house by two of the brightest minds in the business – Andrey Iones and Anton Krupkin.
What are the particular strengths and unique features of this engine?
The engine supports pretty much every feature that is supported by the top engines – shaders, bump-mapping, shadows, detail textures. In addition, we have added cool morphing and breaking physics which is put to good use in many aspects of the game.
Which video GFX cards will it be optimized for: nVIDIA or ATI?
In short, both. We have a co-promo with ATI – they are very cool guys with unbelievable tech. We have worked very hard with nVIDIA as well. Their dev support has been nothing short of amazing and their new line of GeForce cards really rock.
How “moddable” will the game be? Will you offer support to the mod community?
The plans are to support the mod community. Our tools are mod friendly, and depending upon demand it is something that we would definitely love to do. More great stuff comes out of the mod community than out of the mainstream dev pipeline, so we would love to see modders hop on board the Will Rock train.
What kinds of multiplayer modes do you have to include in the game?
What about a coop campaign mode? We will have deathmatch and a variation called “treasure hunt”. We will also support coop mode.
What will be the maximum of player that will be able to play the game over network or Internet?
Theoretically no, in reality 16-32 players....
In short: what makes Will Rock stand out from the hordes of other available/upcoming FPS games?
Where do I start? Visually it looks awesome. Gameplay-wise there is nothing out there now for release that compares to it. We have incredible special effects, huge indoor and outdoor levels, extensive multiplayer support, tremendous action scenes and all for a price of $19.99. I can guarantee you that you will not find any AAA titles being released over the next 6 months to a year for this price. 30+hours of gameplay and tremendous replay ability for the price of a DVD movie.
Will UbiSoft distribute the game worldwide?
What is the current projected completion date for the game?
It should be in the stores in the beginning of June 2003.
Do you have any immediate plans for a sequel or addon to Will Rock?
We would love to do it. The plans are to continue the series. We haven’t actually begun to start a sequel or add-on yet, however.
Any last words for our readers?
If you are looking for a budget-priced game with quality that exceeds most full-priced titles, give Will Rock a whirl. It is a ton of fun whether you are playing alone, coop or in deathmatch. We wanted to take it back to the basics and we are very pleased with the results. Get ready to Rock!