Available: November 2003.
Developer: Geleos
Publisher: TBA

Interview by: Dennis Sloutsky

While we are waiting for the brand new demo-version of Ostrich Runner (it will be presented to the journalists in the nearest future), we've decided to give some questions to answer to the developers, these true fans of ostriches. All answers are below, so you may catch your breath and start reading! (And remember to check out some exclusive screenshots from the game!)

Good day! First of all, we would like to learn who are you and what is your exact role in this project, which will conquer the game space in some time?

Hello. My name is Grigor Grigoryan and I am project leader of the game “Ostrich Runner”.

Is it possible to learn more about your team, your story of formation? Who are you? Why did you come together? Game industry is longing to know as much as possible.

Well, first of all I want to say, that we have known each other for a long time. For example, our programmer and I were studying together at the same university, other fellows worked also in the sphere of multimedia and computer games. At that very moment there are 9 men in our team.

The main team has worked together since 1998. It doesn’t mean that all this time we worked at Ostrich Runner. Some of our colleagues took part in the development of such games as Killer Tank, Formula1 Racing, Clock Planet, Pizza Blast, SeeStorm Messenger, Nooks & Crannies, Puppy Space, Alladin, Magic Resort...

Ostriches are really great and nobody will debate on this. But there are not so many games about and with these flightless (but really quick cursorial) birds! That is why it is interesting to know why did you decide to use exactly these creatures as the main characters for your first game?

The idea of Ostrich Runner’s creation was born in winter 2001. At that time we were looking for fresh concepts for our future projects. We wanted to create something really extraordinary, funny, without blood and cruelty. So that is why we chose arcade racing as genre for the future game. Car racing is good, funny, but... typical enough. And it is really very difficult to reach such fun and crazy merriment in the car racing. The answer was obvious: the main characters would be animals, funny creatures by default. Our ostriches are the logically correct choice. It was the only right choice!

Of course it is reasonable to start with something simple and then absorb some difficult things. Was it the main principle you were following when you were choosing the genre for your first project. -or may be it is just small part of the main idea?

Actually we've had experience of working on a big and difficult project Killer Tank. This game was developed during 2 years. In those days we worked as a part of a big group of nearly 20 people. In 2001 I and several people separated ourselves from the main set and created our own game developing team. It was decided not to start with large-scale and colossal projects, but to begin developing an easy, interesting and unordinary game. Cartoon-style game. That is why we chose Cell Shading technology.

It can be mentioned that in arcade racing as well as in FPS games the plot was never the main focus (of course there are some exceptions). What can you say about your “ostrich-story”? How important will be the story for the game process and how will it be presented for the player?

Well, without the story the game would not be so interesting. And we think it will be really silly, if ostriches just run and collect eggs. There must be an intrigue. And it is desirable to make this intrigue as interesting as possible. That is what we did with the help of creation of the wonderful planet of ostriches. They are a peaceful nation, which is not thinking about wars and crazy acts of bravery. In fact it is better to arrange friendly competitions in order to learn who is more dexterous and smart. And then it is really good to come together near the fire and sing a song or arrange the picnic. But one fine day a terrible thing has happened and the mood of our ostriches was not very good. All of the ostrich eggs were stolen by the henchmen of a crazy Professor! Firstly our ostriches thought that somebody decided to make an enormous omelet, but even this guess was not as awful. The Professor is conceived to raise the army of cruel and heartless ostrich-warriors. That is why all of the eggs were stolen. However, Professor’s plan has failed! The snatchers’ bags have snapped and eggs started falling onto the ground, leaving a trail... And the ostriches feel that everything can be changed. But all detail you will know when you are in the ostriches’.

Is it possible to say that Ostrich Runner isn't a game targeted only at kids? Frankly speaking sometimes we long to play a special game, where there is no blood, no cruelty, where will be only fun, merriment and honest smiles...

The answer is YES! This game will be interesting for all target groups. Some people do not want to run around with a rocket launcher in their hands and kill everyone on his path. Ostrich Runner (from the very beginning) was developed not only for kids, but also for their parents. We made sure of it after some presentations where we took part, after receiving letters from parents and kids alike. And I can say that our split screen mode will help us in this undertaking! Just imagine: mother/farther have finished their work, took a rest and decided to play Ostrich Runner with their child. And everybody is happy! That is our goal.

In my opinion we've succeeded in developing a game that will be popular and interesting for a vast audience: kids, adults and even hard-core players. It was written about our game that “Ostrich Runner is a game which is good rest after the bloody fights of Jedi Knight II”.

There are a lot of realization methods for arcade racing. The easiest one is 2D graphics, pretty animation and static background. Other variant is 3D graphics, polygonal models and 3D tracks, this variant is more preferable and typical. But you chose another way, you chose the way of animation, using your home engine and Cell Shading technology. Why is it so?

From the very beginning we didn’t even think about Cell Shading. We wanted to create a classic 3D arcade and our first versions of the game looked like “ordinary” arcade. Then we saw that there were no dynamic, interesting features... It was lack of our own style... After we tried Cell Shading, everything took form of our ideas, our dreams came true. At once we created a lot of gags. And even the working process became more interesting and funny!

Let us know more about this technology – it really seems to be perspective and very attractive (as shown in upcoming XIII). Please, tell us more about cell shading in Ostrich Runner and about the possibilities of its use in other game genres.

The principle of cell shading is simple enough; that is why we didn’t need a long time to make a test version. And because of its good compatibility with the idea of our game, we've decided that Cell Shading is our choice. But there were also a lot of difficulties. The matter is that for the creation of high quality animated pictures (and we needed only high quality) cell shading is not enough. All of the special effects should be created for a cartoon style, and in 3D technology it is not so simple. Moreover we are not able to accept the optimal project views for the gags and special effects as one can make in the ordinary animation. It is necessary to let the player see where he is running. That is why we worked a lot at the balance between real beauty of the cartoon and amusing process of the arcade. Ostrich Runner is an extreme case, and in such a project as XIII, where there is only a hint of animation, there must be fewer problems. And anyway, if using such technology, it is necessary to be careful and to always remember that this choice can force you to even change the game genre.

Musical illustration is a very important part of any game. Music in racing is so important that wrong choice can ruin the whole feeling of the game. How did you solve this problem?

I agree. That is why we've decided what music will be in Ostrich Runner not so long ago. It is well known that in our game there are no Ferraris, but funny ostriches. We were unable to imagine that hard-core music would be relevant. Also we did not want to create only funny childish songs and melodies, because not only kids will play this game. After long debates and conversations we came to the conclusion that our choice is easy listening. Soft-core and good nameable melodies, which do not distract from the game process, but do create really good musical illustration.

Our musicians wrote an individual track for each level, with special sound, individual idea and so on... It is clear that on the hot road in Africa you will hear mind-bending rhymes, you will get up, dance a little and then go to Arctic with its cold music of fresh winter morning!

We know that there will be a split screen mode in Ostrich Runner, it means that there will be life-to-death struggles. But will there be any special and unexpected modes in multiplayer? Or have you decided to use an ordinary set of modes?

Of course not! There will be a lot of surprises. The player will be able to use not only the split screen mode, but also he will be able to collect the eggs in Internet and LAN. The player’s goals will be the same: eggs are everything and your goal to collect as many as possible. But it is true that some of the tracks will be non-linear in the multiplayer mode. For example the players will be able to get to some place where there are a lot of eggs, but also a great number of obstacles and traps. And this situation will make the players to do their best! Also there is an idea to make parallel tracks or a track with a finish point in the middle of the road. It means that there is danger to fall in with your rivals. If we have enough time, we shall realize all of our ideas. But even without too many tricks this game will be really funny!

And one last question. It is said that that race of Ostriches will start in early November. Is that true?

Who told you such thing?! We, however, have already suspected that you have some relation with the crazy Professor! But anyway, you are absolutely right. The Ostriches’ race starts in November. We hope that nothing will break our plans and we'll be able to start saving ostriches on time.

Thanks a lot for your time and for your answers, Grigor!