[Julian] - Julian Gollop (Codo Games)
[Yurg] - Yuri Bushin (Freelancer)
[Yurg] Many readers know about sorrowful events concerning closing Dreamland project. But you've mustered your strength to realize a new project - Laser Squad Nemesis. Why is it Laser Squad?
[Julian] Laser Squad was a great tactical game for 2 players, and is the basis of our later projects, such as X-Com and Dreamland. We had a new idea for a tactical combat system that would have the benefits of both pure turn based games, such as the original Laser Squad and X-Com games, and real-time games, such as X-Com Apocalypse. This new system would be ideal for multiplayer gaming, which we wanted to promote using the internet. Although we have a new combat system, LSN is basically a two player tactical war-game in a similar way to Laser Squad, so we thought that our new project is really a successor this game.
[Yurg] The second question is - why is it e-mail game?
[Julian] There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, the turn based nature of the gameplay is ideal for email. The system uses a central game server which receives incoming emails from players, processes the game turn and then mails the results to each player. Basically, email is just used as the most reliable medium for transmitting the game data. The second reason for using email is that it allows anybody to challenge someone else to a game of LSN as long as you know their email address. However, LSN does not have to rely on email. At a later date we will be upgrading the system to allow logging on to our servers for quick matches and larger scale campaigns involving many players.
[Yurg] Please, tell something on Codo Games. How many persons are working at Laser Squad Nemesis?
[Julian] Currently there are three full time members of staff. Nick, my brother, and Steve (ex-Mythos) are the programmers, and I do various bits, including artwork and database programming. Then we have some help from others on a part time basis, including Simon, the artist, and Paula the web designer.
[Yurg] Would you describe the world of the new Laser Squad?
[Julian] LSN is set far in the future when the human race is battling for survival against an alien menace, know as the Spawn, and the Mechanoids who are descended from the AI defense systems originally intended to protect the human race against the Spawn. Each of these three forces are represented in LSN with unique strengths and weaknesses.
[Yurg] Fans of X-Com are really numerous, and it is Laser Squad Nemesis that is the only hope for them now to play something similar. How will it be close to the traditions of the first X-Com?
[Julian] I think the tension of close combat, the need to explore terrain and the uncertainty of the enemy position are all factors very similar to the original X-Com. However, the simultaneous, real time execution of the moves creates many more exciting situations. There is both the stealth of X-Com and the mayhem of real time combat in LSN.
[Yurg] Will the LSN engine support multi-storey feature and will there be destructible surfaces, as it was in X-Com?
[Julian] 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.
[Yurg] 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?
[Julian] Initially there will be five unit types for each faction, and each unit type has unique attributes, such as weapon type, armor, etc. Each unit type costs force points (FPs) to place in your squad. Some units will cost more FPs than others, but the important thing is to build a squad to suit your tactics, the scenario objectives, the terrain and your opponent. For example, Sniper units are very useful when defending positions surrounded by open terrain. There is no equipping phase as each unit comes with the equipment for its type, and the Mechanoids and aliens have built in weapons.
[Yurg] So, we can control a group of several soldiers. What are their abilities? What are the orders besides moving and firing at enemy that a soldier of LSN will be able to carry out?
[Julian] The basic orders consist of move to location, fire at location, fire at enemy unit, and pursue enemy unit. In addition to this, each unit can be given special reaction orders that dictate how they will behave when an enemy unit is spotted during a turn. Some units have special orders, such as heal, in the case of the Medic, or 'eat corpse' and 'lay egg' in the case of the Spawn Queen.
[Yurg] Will there be campaigns or just separate sceneries, on-line tournaments or also the game vs. computer?
[Julian] Initially there will be two player games only, but players will have the opportunity to take part in the world LSN league, which will rank players according to their victories and defeats.
[Yurg] What are the technical requirements?
[Julian] The minimum requirements are a Pentium II, DirectX v7 and a 3D card. In the future we will have client software for lower spec machines and pocket PCs. A basic internet connection with email is all that is required. The client software can be downloaded from our website and will be no more than 6Mb in size.
[Yurg] How many people potentially will be able to play through the Codo Games server?
[Julian] Initially we will be able to cope with about 20,000 game turns per day. The average game lasts 20 game turns, so that is 1000 games completed per day. It will be very easy for us to increase this capacity by adding more computing power and bandwidth.
[Yurg] In X-Com, the strategic component was shown as the Earth's globe and as supporting and fortifying X-Com bases. Are there any chances for these elements to be included into the game in the future?
[Julian] Yes, we plan to expand LSN continuously. Currently we have plans for a campaign mode which allows a large number of players to take place in a war spread over several planets. We will also be developing a single player version of the game which may include some strategic elements.
[Yurg] Could you give us some details and if it's possible tell something about plans of updating the game?
[Julian] On the client side we will be introducing a full 3D client with fully animated graphics, and also a one player version of the game with a scenario editor. There will be more frequent developments on the LSN server, including new scenario types, new units, new factions, random maps and a massively multiplayer campaign game.
[Yurg] Will the game pack include set of utilities for creating additional maps?
[Julian] We will be releasing the map editor shortly after the release of the game to allow people to create their own maps and scenarios. These maps can be made available to everybody and rated by players.
[Yurg] Do you plan to conduct the public open beta-testing of LSN and when can we expect of this gaming system to be opened?
[Julian] There will be an open beta test some time in November which should last for a few weeks before the game goes commercial only in December.
[Yurg] And the last question, Julian, have you really seen any UFO or taken a great interest in ufology? :)
[Julian] No, I haven't seen one, but I have certainly read a large number of UFO books. Initially this was only to research ideas for the game, but I became interested in the subject so I read some more.
[Yurg] Thank you!