Available: TBA
Developer: Nival
Publisher: TBA

Interview by: Kurt Knudsen

Before we start, can you please introduce yourself and what you do?

Greetings, Dmitry Zakharov speaking, project leader for Sentinels and the original game. I administrate the game development process and make the things move within the project. In the long run, this is I who ensures that our players get qualitative and enthralling game.

Please briefly introduce Silent Storm and its expansion, Sentinels.

In short, Silent Storm is a new-generation turn-based tactical game set against the backdrop of WWII. In two non-linear campaigns for Axis and Allied Special Forces, you're leading a squad of seasoned professionals through a range of covert operations and investigate into the ultimate danger hovering over the war-minded humanity. The game features full 3D engine and makes use of the most up-to-date technologies, like totally destructible environments, bullet tracing, invert kinematics and advanced physics simulation, providing players with tactical and strategic freedom.
As the expansion, Sentinels are meant to boost the original concept with all those ideas we've come up with during the development process of Silent Storm. The game's main action takes place after the WWII, years 1946-47. Both Axis and Allied operatives become mercenaries and join a secret organization to smash the old, but remaining threat - Thor's Hammer, a paramilitary group hungry for power over the humanity. Operatives call themselves Sentinels, as they defend the cause of peace :-)

How will SS: Sentinels differ from the original?

Sentinels will have several distinctions from the original.
Major distinction will reside in team management system. Sentinels is not a governmental organization and it means that combat equipment and weapons are not a free stuff anymore. Money makes the world go round now. As a leader, you manage resources of your group, raise money through specific missions, hire better mercenaries, and buy new weapons, equipment and even valuable information sometimes.
Furthermore, combat arsenals will be supplemented with new weapons and prototypes, developed by the end and immediately after the war. These will include such models as AK-47, Korobov TKB-408, Sterling SMG, RPD machine gun and some others. Their improved range and/or damage parameters will eventually present new tactical possibilities and additional firepower to your squad.
We've also implemented weapon reliability factor into the game, in order to add an element of surprise and make the gameplay feel more real. Certainly, it doesn't mean your firearm will break down or jam at every step now and then. It will be well balanced.
As in real life, characters will be able to undo jams during a combat for a cost of additional APs. Actual breakdowns will vary in complexity and therefore, will require more time and resources, as well as the engineering skill.
Still further, Sentinels will also introduce customizable difficulty level with various saving, AI and damage options. The end of each mission will be followed by statistics with sensitive info on achieved objectives, body count and so forth. Statistics will be preceded by a unified loot interface, allowing players to choose what equipment to take or sell directly from the fighting scene. It will make the game easier to play eventually adding more fun.

Will there be any graphical improvements on this game? I?m not saying that there was anything wrong with the original, but there is always room to improve.

I fully agree that there is always room for improvement. And we will use that room to its fullest. Some textures, lighting and models will be improved. Besides, graphics engine will be meticulously revised and tested several times again to improve compatibility with various chipsets and videocards. That will boost its performance at different configurations.

Speaking of graphics, how will this add-on perform on low-end machines? Some people complain about low frame rates in heavy battles, will these issues be resolved?

We?re also continuing our efforts to increase frames-per-second ratio and improve performance even at relatively slow computers. That will surely make the game run smoother and faster. However, you must understand that computation of, say, destructible environments and character path-finding require appropriate speed and power from your system. Alas, this is the price players pay for realism, sophisticated game mechanics and graphics.
For users with low-end systems, I'd recommend to use latest drivers, switch off anisotropic filtering, anti-aliasing, set lower resolution and texture quality. That will do the trick, though it's better run both Silent Storm and the add-on at recommended configurations.

You talk about having improved AI. How so improved? Do they communicate with each other? Do they try to find the best vantage point to hunt the player down?

Improved AI will mean the following: our brave opponents will prefer to avoid spots with dead bodies, suspecting ambush or possible crossfire. Sure, they will do better tactics, including envelopments, flanking and surprise attacks. We will also make them duck and cover under heavy fire, look for better position in order to hold and suppress your group.
Moreover, AI will exercise combat management and control over the tactical situation. It will virtually communicate to its subordinates and give orders. For instance, it will be able to send reinforcements, guard vital positions, withdraw and harass the player with surprise attacks. That means that new AI won't let you take an easy walk down the street, you?ll have to watch your back :-) .

What new weapons will be available?

Complete list hasn't been settled yet, we're going to add more. We will introduce about a dozen of post-war pistols, SMGs, assault rifles, MGs, grenade launchers and combat equipment, like Smith-Wesson M-459, Volksgewehr, RPG-2 and timed explosives. These weapons will expand your arsenals and will help you wage your war more efficiently, not to mention new tactical advantages.

You mention that your weapon can have jams and breakdowns. Will there be a skill that can give the player an advantage in fixing these issues?

As in the original game, characters will have engineering skill. The skill level will define the availability and quality of repairs. Besides, players will have to carry special tools, needed to field strip and repair weapons. Furthermore, engineer characters will be the best choice for these tasks. Some of the most complex repairs will be done at your homebase for money.

Multiplayer. Will Sentinels support it? I know the original didn?t, but MP in a game like Silent Storm would just be phenomenal. If there is no multiplayer in Sentinels, maybe in any future products or patches?

Actually, no. The reason is the same as for the original. We exercised several play-tests for Silent Storm and found out that multiplayer takes too much time for players to come up with a tactical decision and make a turn. In our opinion, it's not as dynamic as we want it to be. Although a few players would enjoy such multiplayer, we don't want to dissappoint others.
Besides, a full-fledged multiplayer cannot be added on the fly, it requires additional time and testing far beyond our schedule, we don?t want to make it in a fuss.
However, if you still want to try it, check out the Australian fan site s2hq.com. It has got a detailed description of how to play a hot-seat session using several simple console commands.

How will the game play differ from the original? The basics will still be there, but will there be any surprises or changes?

All in all, economy and management of team resources will change the gameplay significantly. You will notice the difference from the first steps you take. Since every serious mission will require considerable firepower, expensive equipment and new experienced team-members, players will eventually look for the ways of getting money. They will gather loot, take side quest and missions to scrap a few coins for a particulary good sniper rifle or a crate of hand grenades. It will make you esteem every soldier in your team and every piece of equipment. That will improve the game with the same concern about the assets and, say, mountaineer equipment you get in real life. It will be very pleasant to see your team improve with every effort
you make.
Sentinels will also provide you with such feature as full re-dress. Player will be able to buy and change clothes and combat outwear for the whole team. That will make your party look the way you like.

Will there be any new skills to build upon?

Skills, perks and RPG mechanics will be derived from the original game. They proved to be so strong and flexible that even the change of the game concept and storyline didn't make us revise it. Besides, our players claim that these skills are clear and comfortable and they don't want to see them changed too much.
However, we will probably balance secondary skills and attributes, in order to better reflect the specific features of every profession. For instance, marksmanship capabilities of a sniper and demolition traits of an engineer.
Still further, the introduction of weapon reliability factor and more engineering equipment will make engineers much more useful and versatile than in the original Silent Storm. Your team will welcome them with cheers and tapping on the shoulder :-).

You stated that there are new mission objectives, can you elaborate on them?

In addition to the common objectives like "kill-em all", steal documents or capture an informer, the add-on will challenge players with infiltration, murder and total demolition missions. For example, demolition mission will require an actual elimination of a well-guarded enemy facility, personnel included. The game will leave it up to you whether to kick open the main door and reduce everything to ashes or send silent engineering pairs to plant explosives and set the whole place ablaze later on.
Infiltration will require lots of stealth action, patience and care, as your characters will be encouraged to move unnoticed into the heart of an enemy base and start an onslaught when the keypoints of the mission have been secured.
Story missions will have several primary and secondary objectives. Your team will be paid for the accomplishment of these objectives and it will be up to you whether to blow a gasket and earn more money or withdraw for other sensitive missions.

Story-wise what is the game like? What is the purpose of the game?

The general purpose of the game is to eliminate the remaining parts of Thor's Hammer and stop the way to its new cunning plans for global dominance. Missions in Sentinels are tree-structured and more story-driven in comparison to the original game. Apart from the main missions, you will still have a remarkable number of random locations and encounters to polish your combat skills and get more loot. Moreover, the storyline has prepared several good surprises for you, so you?d better buckle up before you reach for the mouse :-)

Will Sentinels support a more stealthy approach?

At its core Silent Storm was developed to offer both stealth and rough action. In Sentinels, mission design, objectives and the story will surely encourage you to get stealthy, though we never wanted to limit your tactical and strategic choice. If you feel your team is strong and proficient enough to face your enemy in the open, please do so. This is what we call freedom, which is the tradition we?re coming after in the add-on.
To make your stealth approach even more articulated, we have added some interesting equipment features, like wire-cutters and more. These will make your infiltration even less pompous and will fulfill your dreams of sneaking behind the enemy like in action movies :-) .

Silent Storm is a fantastic game. Bearing that in mind how do you feel this add-on will do? Would it be able to reach the same level of perfection as Silent Storm did?

I'm sure it will, since the add-on relies heavily on the advantages the original game has to offer - destructible environments, perfect graphics, engaging plot, RPG play and unlimited tactics. "Silent Storm. Sentinels" will boost them further. It will refresh the gameplay with economy component, new weapons, new opponents, new missions and story line.
Besides, the best part of the changes we?re introducing in the add-on is based on the feedback and letters of our gamers. They will surely be pleased to get the game they needed.
In my opinion, the add-on has a good potential and it can easily surpass the Silent Storm's level of perfection.

How do you feel fans will react to this game? The core game play is there, but the story is different as are some new additions. Do you feel Sentinels will be as popular, if not more popular, than Silent Storm?

I can say that fans and gaming communities are very active with Sentinels. They like and appreciate the changes we?re making in the add-on. Gamers make every effort to help us make the game better, they open their own brainstorming sessions at our forums and often come up with useful and very smart suggestions. On our side, we make polls and votes on sensitive game issues and support the inflow of additional feedback. In other words, we're working in close cooperation with our game communities and it will definitely help Sentinels become a good and thourough game.

Thank you for your time, is there anything else you?d like to add?

Enjoy your Christmas and take the best of your winter holidays. May the Force be with you, lads :-)