Available : Aug./Sept. 2003

Vietnam War: Ho Chi Minh Trail © E-Pie Entertainment

Interviewee: John Fuhrman, Director of International Development

Hi, can you tell us about yourself, and the game please?

We are a game developer based in China that creates games for gamers around the world. Ho Chi Minh Trail is what we've got in the pipeline now and will be releasing this summer. It's a game we took a lot of inspiration from movies like "Apocalypse Now" and "We Were Soldiers" to make.

What kind of game is 'Vietnam War: Ho Chi Minh Trail?

Ho Chi Minh Trail is a single-player, fixed-position FPS kind of like Beachhead, except HCMT takes place in the Vietnam War. Different levels have different objectives, with infantry coming at you, armed peasants charging, tank attacks, supply truck movement, and aerial assault. To achieve your objective you must not only use what weapons you have on hand, but also call in for backup like napalm drops and artillery barrages.

Why should our readers buy the game?

This game has high replayability, good visual effects, should sell at a reasonable price, and you won't need a dream machine to run it. The different mission objectives change up the levels and give them all a different feel - from stopping supply lines to defending friendly Hueys to cutting down waves of charging infantry, all with different kinds of weather. As for visuals, we got inspiration as well as reference materials from movies like "We Were Heroes" and "Apocalypse Now," especially for the napalm explosions. Soldiers collapse and get whipped around differently depending on where the bullet hits.

Tactical combat simulations usually have to straddle action with realism - how have you found the equilibrium between both in the game?

One thing that put realism and action into balance is making it a fixed-position game. That way we eliminated the need to constantly render an ever-changing background, which allowed us to give animation of enemies more clock cycles. You'll find that in a field of attacking enemies, gunfire, napalm, mortar, and artillery all have different effects on different bodies, giving the game both action and realism.

Did the development team find it difficult to find the proper balance? Did they want it biased either way, such as more action, or more realism?

Finding a balance that makes everybody on the team happy is hard, but we think we found a pretty good solution by focusing on enemy animation and going with a fixed-position FPS.

How long till we see the game on shelves?

It should hit stores in the US around August or September.

What games do the development team enjoy?

Around here you'll mostly catch us playing FPS games, including some of the classics like Counterstrike and Quake.

What games have they looked to for inspiration for creating the game?

For HCMT it was really a mix of Hollywood and the game world with Beachhead, Apocalypse Now, and We Were Soldiers standing out particularly.

Anything you would like our readers to know about the game?

The weapons and units were taken from war-time Vietnam for both the player and enemy forces, and that combined with effects like realistic, intense napalms drops, enemy troops reacting differently to explosions and bullets, and different level objectives make Ho Chi Minh Trail an action-packed game that you'll want to replay again and again.