[Andrew] - Andrew Belkine (Akella)
[Q:] - Yuri Bushin (Freelancer)
Alexandr Loginov (CoolWeb)
[Q:] Please, tell about so big Akella's interest to naval themes. Are you going to shift to any other themes in the near future?
[Andrew] Moreover there are just few games on the naval themes. Together with that we do not speculate with pirates and Poseidon. We just love the sea.
As to the future projects - it's hard to say still; in general it depends from what side we take a look at this question. Even such projects as porting of the Red Guard to Playstation 2 and localization of Morrowind are linked with the sea. Perhaps, that's just a fate. As to the rest plans it is too early to say anything, although, perhaps very soon we'll announce our new "non-naval" project. But let's live it for another time.
[Q:] Please, tell in a few words about the basic concept of AOS2: The Privateer. Why did you make your mind to create it and for how long have you been working at it? What is its basis and originality?
[Andrew] We started developing a project with a working name that probably would become an official one - "Privateer" (for Russian working name there are some variants, like "Sea Knights") - approximately in the beginning of May this year and originally was planned to be an add-on to Age of Sail II. Although, right on the early stage that became clear that novelties put in the game would heavily change gameplay in whole that it would be hardly possible to call "Privateer" an add-on. So, the game changed into the stand-alone product.
The basis of the game is an idea of tactical simulator of fighting vessels, where the player acts as a captain of the fighting vessels squadron, so, it is on the player's strategic decisions the result of not only a certain naval battle, but also of the entire campaign will depend. Although aims of the player are not limited to destroying enemy squadrons. Goals can vary from mission to mission, so, among them can be the following: attack of an armed fort, capturing a flagship, and escaping from the enemy-seized bay and so on.
So, the game is a good real-time strategic simulator, but the feature that distinguishes this game from other species of this game genre is that the main stress is not on the historical precision but on the dynamics of gameplay in single player mode as well as in multiplayer mode.
[Q:] As far as we know, AOS2: The Privateer takes the player into a fantasy in the manner of Red Alert, where vessels together with first sub-marines reign. Could you shed light with some details on the structure of this world? What are the rules and laws?
[Andrew] It is not Red Alert, which is a dop... a well-done dop though. As to Privateer - it is just a bit freely interpreted real historical events. We did not invent any unexampled vessels; we have just diffused borders of epochs allowing ships of versatile epochs to battle with each other. The storyline core that unites all campaigns and single battles is not only the problem of military confrontation between some powers, but rather piracy, geographical explorations, as well as other cruises. The point is that the historical epoch used in the game cannot be called the peak of piracy as it is usually understood. The epoch of corsairs and filibusterism had become the past due to centralized control by leading world powers that became able to control almost the entire maritime space. "White points" on maps were decreasing in numbers, while scientific achievements were delving into the every day's life threatening to change it completely. But it is in this time, between epochs, some events, which hardly agree with general worldviews, in the history of sailing took place. These events have become the basis for campaigns that were added to the final version of the game. So, in one of them the player will have to set out in search of the mysteriously disappeared in the Northern Sea expedition, in another one he will have to find the gold of the legendary pirate Francis Drake. The biggest campaign in the game is built around adventures of a free captain that happened to get involved into the military confrontation of some sea powers in the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover there is a small learning campaign in the game - completing which the player will obtain all necessary skills for successful accomplishing of the game.
[Q:] The main theme in a naval strategic game is battle ships. How many of them will be in the game, and, what will they be like? Will they be invented one or analogs of real vessels of the past?
[Andrew] All vessels are based on real historical prototypes. Moreover, their models were created with using real design papers and pictures of those vessels. It should be noted that we have enough experience in that subject to create even several more games on this theme. In whole there are 19 battleship ships with such units among them like a steamboat, a sub-marine and: a balloon that is based or really existed units.
[Q:] What way of mission building have you stopped on - pre-made campaigns as in Age of Sail or on free wandering as it was in Sea Dogs? That would be interesting to hear your arguments on the chosen style too.
[Andrew] We use the same scheme as in Age of Sail II, although it was changed and allows creating complicated "branchy" campaigns with several variants of completing and with different endings, with possibility to improve one's fleet, purchasing new ships and selling old ones between missions. We've stopped on this way on account of different reasons. The basic one is that mission-based campaigns in general are more peculiar for tactical games and allows tuning the balance of powers faster. Free wandering is more peculiar to RPGs, and having a lot of advantages it is very difficult to be realized in the tactical game. The balance tuning can in this scheme can take too much time.
There are three campaigns in Privateer together with learning scenario for novices and set of single missions. But in fact there are a lot of changes. All three campaigns - search for the disappeared expedition in the Northern sea, captain Drake's treasure hunting and adventures of a free captain involved into military confrontation between some sea powers - are really saturated and full of action and missions are not limited with elimination of the enemy. Age of Sail II was a wargame in the finest sense of the word and there was always the same goal - to defeat the enemy, to destroy. In Privateer the player will have to attack armed forts, to board flagships, to escape from enemy-seized bay and so on. We suppose that such mission structure will not let the player to be bored together with not letting him become confused with events.
[Q:] Please, tell about the game's pre-history. Where and why the basic events take place? What is the position of the player in the game?
[Andrew] Terrain is destructible, but not multi-level. In future versions of LSN we will be introducing multi-level terrain, but not for the initial release. We think that it is easier for players to manage a single level playing area, and the interface can be simpler.
[Q:] Could you tell what are principles and rules of forming the squad, and what are characteristics and equipment that the player can adjust on his soldiers?
[Andrew] Events, preceding the game and having direct connection with it, can be divided into two big blocks: they are social and political events of that epoch, achievements of science and inventions as well as wars and big naval battles. As to the latter one they took place in Age of Sails II. These wars are - between England and France, Russia and Turkey and so on. The progress of science that began in the beginning of the 19th century affected the navy and led to invention of such experimental units as a sub-marine and a balloon: Although the latter is not really connected with sailing fleet, but we think that this unit can enliven the game.
[Q:] Please, tell about "strategy" in the game, i.e. what are the player's functions? Will have the player only to command his vessels or he will have to repair them, purchase, to change rigging, to mount stronger cannons? What will be the economic component in the game?
[Andrew] Strategic part of the game is realized between missions of campaign when the player is taken to the dock, where he can purchase a new more-advanced ship; sell captured ships, man a new crew, repair vessels and cannons and so on. We did our best not to overload Privateer with economy, so the strategic element of the game is not that big as that of tactic.
Go to PART II