Available: Q4 2003
Best Price: n/a
Developer: Mayhem Studios
Publisher: N/A

Interview by: Matthew Patterson

A short time ago Slovakian based Mayhem Studios known to us for Empire of Magic has announced a new project ? Shadow Vault, a turn-based strategy RPG set in a "nuclear war in progress" environment. We've had a chance to sit down with TomŠ? BenčŪk, the game's development director and ask him some interesting questions about it.

Hi, Please take a while to introduce yourself to our readers and tell us what is your part in making Shadow Vault.

My name is TomŠ? BenčŪk and I¬¬†am the CEO and co-owner of Mayhem Studios. Concerning Shadow Vault I¬¬†participate as game director and author of the game concept.

From what I have read about Shadow Vault, it talks about the end of the world. Can you explain more about it and give us a little bit of background on the story?

Story: The sky is blackened by dark clouds and planet Earth is nearing its sad end. Human, a creature so inventive, has already tried all the possibilities to avoid his doom. Unsuccessfully. Only one way still remains - a time tunnel leading back to the year 1958. Contingent, the new world's government, didn't hesitate and jumps into the tunnel with a great army to fight against their own ancestors. Gain the planet at any cost. The primacy of the contingent's modern units is extensive but the situation changes rapidly and the red sun rises above the planet. Nuclear war is in the air, a war that no-one expected. There is no way back and both sides are forced to continue fighting.

In Shadow Vault, every scenario is a story of itself. Campaign is a collection of stories that intersect and cross each other to be unfolded at last in a shocking ending. I shall not unveil more to not spoil the surprise. Though the story is quite linear, I think it could otherwise not be so catching. There are however some moments in the game where player influences the course of the game.

Considering the genre mix, can you tell us how is Shadow Vault different from similar games on the market?

Before we began working on the Shadow Vault project we made a¬¬†survey among computer games players. The question was, what would they like to see in a¬¬†game. The main concept of the game (and that is what makes it different from other games) looks like this: In the first place it is an easy-to-handle and intuitive controls. The player does not have to struggle with the manual and he quickly gets used with the game principles. Then a strong storyline that keeps the player concentrated on the game. This effect is strengthened by character advancements. When the player already mastered all the conventional weapons strategies he will have the opportunity to check out the paranormal abilities of dr. Black or some specialties of the enemy desperado. Furthermore, our testers agree that Shadow Vault has possibly the highest Kill Per Second ratio from all turn-based strategies, so there should not be any need for game dynamics (within the TBS genre, of course).

What graphics engine is the game based on?

The game uses a¬¬†new, modernized version of our engine used in Empire Of Magic. Graphics is izo 3D and we use Direct 3D for effects.

What about A.I? What is the level of A.I in the game?

Artificial intelligence is at high level, more or less autonomous, only with small interference from the script to improve and specify special actions. However, you will soon have the opportunity to find out its qualities for yourselves.

From the screenshots i have seen, i must note that the graphics are very impressive, what about the sound? Is it as creative and impressive as graphics?

Yes it is. :-)

Have you faced any problems while making the game? What was the hardest part?

No, we didn?t face any serious problems. Development of this title was surprisingly non-problematic. The hardest part was game balance and quests adjustments.

Can u talk in short about what the game is actually about? Characters? Missions? Settings?

The player mostly plays for the alliance (people from the past) that tries to tear the Earth out of the invader?s hands. In some phases of the game though, the player will have the opportunity to check out the game from the opposite point of view. Responsibility lies upon 6 to 15 units, depending on the scenario. It is up to the player to choose which units he will use and thereby influencing what special abilities he will have at disposal. For example ? a medic able to heal wounds, a sniper working on long distances, or a technician able to operate mechanical units.

Except for standard units there are also heroes in the game. My most favorite is the powerful and mysterious doctor Black, 9-year old boy with a¬¬†cynic point of view and paranormal abilities. Major Zuzka is also worth mentioning because he can be trained to become the most powerful unit in the game.

Characters have actions and skills. Actions are of various kinds ? from basic healing to targeting enemy units for the artillery, from installing and repairing mechanical weapons to using radar for enemy position locking, etc.

Units gain skills either from the merchants (by training or buying things ? objects also count as skills) or by completing a quest or advancing to a higher level. Buying is similar to that in Panzer General. Player is gradually awarded with ?prestige points? that he uses for ?buying? skills. Skills are for example: technical endurance, special first aid training etc., skills ? objects can be for example: spy-glass, bullet-proof vest etc.

Will there be a multiplayer game mode?

We are preparing 10 multiplayer levels for LAN.

What's the estimated release date? Will it be released at the same time in most parts of the world?

It depends on our distribution partner but theoretically Shadow Vault could hit stores this October.

Any last words to our readers?

I¬¬†hope you will like the game and it will take you to a¬¬†world of joyless human future and refined strategic RPG fun.