[Andrew] - Andrew Belkine (Akella)
[Q:] - Yuri Bushin (Freelancer)
Alexandr Loginov (CoolWeb)
[Q:] Please, tell something about balance of powers and possible tactical moves during battles. How can an ordinary vessel spot a sub-marine or destroy a balloon?
[Andrew] In spite of such differences between units, it was not that difficult to reach balance for every certain mission or campaign. Firstly, units like sub-marines and balloons will not be numerous in the game, and they will appear in the game even more seldom. Moreover, due to mission editor, parameters of every unit can be tuned for a certain battle by setting the level of damage in the beginning, quantity of shells (in contrast to vessels, the quantity of shells on boards sub-marines and balloons will be limited) and so on. Then, in contrast to "classical" real-time strategic games, the player will not be able to 'produce' new units during battle, which is why it is necessary just to balance only units for certain battles. As to advantages and drawbacks of sub-marines and balloons, then the former is extremely slow and, as it has been already said, has limited quantity of ammunition (floating mines, that can be put on water surface) and cannot exist long without a carrier-ship, i.e. after this ship destroyed, a sub-marine would not be able replenish mines and would not be able to overpass big distances quickly. But it is impossible to spot it while it is underwater. As to a balloon then it is armed with some very powerful gun-powder charges, but they cannot be replenished, and moreover, it can move only down wind or on a small angle to it. This unit can be shot down only by gunners firing from a deck of a ship; hence the one who control a balloon should be extremely careful directing it to a vessel.
[Q:] Will there be any spontaneous natural forces (like storm, tempest, and tornado) in the final version of his game and how will they be able to affect battles, movements of players and the end of the battle?
[Andrew] Yeah, the whether can change heavily and that can happen absolutely unexpectedly. There will be tempests and decuman waves, fogs and rains, and all of them will affect speed of ships, sharpness of gunners and so on. Efficiency and combativity of the fleet lowers extremely during the rage of elements. Although, most likely there will be no tornado a la Sea Dogs.
[Q:] How does "Privateer" fall into a general universe of Sails/Sea Dogs? Do you have any plans in the future to do like Westwood do widening this theme releasing products from one universe but of different genres?
[Andrew] As to me it does fall into the universe quite harmoniously. It's neither a war game nor a piratical epos; it is something between that was made to widen the already created universe. What will happen later - the time will show, although there are big chances that "Privateer" is not the last game from the "nautical universe".
[Q:] Its too hard not to ask about engine of the game. There is no doubt that you've improved it and, I guess, refined it. How much will it be different from that of "Sea Dogs 2", and could you name some most interesting novelties?
[Andrew] "Sea Dogs 2" game is based on Storm 2 - the absolutely new engine done for 3D accelerators of the last generation. Privateer, as well as Age of Sails II, is based on the first Storm that was first used in legendary 'Sea Dogs' and heavily modified since that time. We are constantly polishing and optimizing code, as to Privateer than we added spontaneous natural forces to this game. So, now we can state that Privateer is the most beautiful naval strategic game in the world. It is that way.
[Q:] How do you plan to set the storyline? Will you give the player an opportunity to influence on course of events? By other words, is there any non-linearity in the storyline?
[Andrew] There is a possibility for that. All three campaigns are build on the "branchy" scheme, i.e. there are several possible variants of completing them. Each campaign is built on approximately following scheme: there is the one common storyline, heroes, opposing sides, an entanglement and final, all is divided into separate missions-battles, as result of victory or defeat the player moves on one or another 'branch' of completing campaign. Between battles the player gets into shipyard where he could purchase/sell/repair vessels, to raise the level of the crew and so on. Besides, depending on the player's success, his hero can be awarded with valuable gift, and sometimes, it is search for a certain item is the goal of the whole campaign.
[Q:] Please, tell about the mission/campaign editor. Will it be sold together with the game? Will you support MOD creators?
[Andrew] The editor will be supplied with the game. It is quite popular tool that allows creating one's own battles and campaigns, to edit existing ones, to edit units' parameters, to adjust conditions of victory and so on. At the same time, special skills and knowledge are not required. A user will be also supported with a powerful help system. Support of other countries' flags import allows creating absolutely unique battles. Besides, the editor allows adjusting lighting, whether conditions, landscape, power and direction of the wind, to assign certain ways of moving to ease AI work and many other things. Supplying such a powerful tool with the game, we, first of all, want by this to rouse interest in it of as many people as possible, and we'll be promoting creation of some community of enthusiasts to this game in every way possible. Perhaps, when the game will be released, we conduct some best level or best campaign contests or, most original flag contest: in general, there is a big field for activities.
[Q:] So, the tastiest question - on multiplayer mode. As we know it will be "special". What will be this "special"? How will we play through the net, and what will be the modes?
[Andrew] Studying numerous comments we'd been receiving after release of Age of Sails II, we have arrived at a conclusion that it is the multiplayer mode that caused such long-lasting popularity of this game in the West and gave rise to numerous fan sites and non-formal organizations devoted to the game. That is why we paid special attention to making net-element of the game "Knights of Seas". As a result, up to 16 players can fight each other on one server through the local net as well as through the Internet, with Game Spy search system support available. Moreover, about the same quantity of players can join the battle as observers. Session system of the net game allows players to join the already started battle without restarting game server. This system also allows share vessels between players during the battle. We think, that especially popular thing, however, will be a system of user's information. It allows not only enter the player's name, but to import his photo together with his unique flag that will be visible to other players on the server. As to different modes of the game we can say that due to the system of adjusting victory conditions for each storyline, and new scheme of scores counting for each player, besides standard battle of one player's fleet with another's one there are such kinds of team game as: "vessel capturing" (there are some neutral ships on the map , if the player captures them he gets control over them - so, the goal of every side is to capture as many vessels as possible); Defense/attack of forts is close to team fortress - each squadron has its base that must be being defended together with destroying enemy's fortress; "Death regatta" - one team must get to a certain point while another one must not let it get there. In general, abilities that the editor provides to players are so wide that we won't be surprised if fans create some new variants besides planned ones.
[Q:] At what stage of development "Privateer" is now and when will this 'miracle' be released?
[Andrew] It's in the final stage. Most likely, the game will take shelves this autumn/fall.
[Q:] And last question. When can we await a demo-version?
[Andrew] There are a lot of changes for beta-version to be ready in October.
[Yurg & Alexandr] Thank you!
Go to PART I