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Interview - posted by Saint_Proverbius on Tue 20 January 2004, 02:13:14Tags: Akella; Alexander Filatow; Metalheart: Replicants Rampage
1.) Can you tell us a little bit about the setting of Metalheart? It's been described as cyberpunk, so what typical cyberpunk themes are being used?
Well, actually it is not quite cyberpunk. Not cyberpunk in its â€˜coreâ€™ meaning, not Gibson of Sterling-type cyberpunk. Metalheart: Replicants Redemption utilizes cyperpunk elements and mixes them with some kind of â€˜postnuclearâ€™, â€˜scorched earthâ€™ aesthetics. Among the typical cyberpunk themes we can mention the main thing: hi-tech in the world of decay, hi-tech things which are used by the beings from the life bottom. It is the â€˜coreâ€™ thing that came from the cyberpunk literature, from the definition of â€˜cyberpunkâ€™. Mixture of â€˜cyberâ€™ and â€˜punkâ€™, things which sometimes are hard to imagine to be mixed in one. Talking about â€˜localâ€™ cyberpunk moments, we can see cyberpunk attributes like implants, special gadgets, cyborgs and genetical mutations.
2.) Can you tell us a little bit about the back story of Metalheart? What about it will draw the player in to the world? What will keep him interested in the world? The screenshots look like mostly barren, deserted locations, so what type of cyberpunk is this?
Two main characters arrive, after the spaceship crash, on the strange planet. The planet is controlled by the Empire, â€˜cause it is the only place where the tactonium substance could be found. Some part of the planetâ€™s population is struggling against the Empireâ€™s reign, â€˜cause they cannot live like the slaves anymore. But it is not actually the thing that worries the player most of all. The main quest is to survive and find your way home. Which is not that easy on the planet of the slaves, inhabited by a very odd society moving towards the revolution. The characters will be thrown into the whirlwind of events and finally they will participate in all this rebel stuff. But only because it is the only way to escape from the planet. Finding way home is the thing that drives the characters, not the â€˜save the worldâ€™ stuff.
3.) Previously, Akella has mainly made real time CRPGs. Can you tell us why you've decided to make a turn based game? What about turn based combat should people look forward to in this title? What does it add to the gameplay?
Why not? We also mostly produce â€˜navalâ€™ titles. But we have games like Axle Rage which is definetely not naval. Real-time is great, but we need diversity, new ways of developing our skills, our ideas. New experience. Doing the same thing over and over again is boring.
Turn-based combat in Metalheart is close to what can be called â€˜classic styleâ€™ in CRPGs. You know, APs and all that stuff. We are following the traditions of games like X-Com and Fallout. Classic and effective battle scheme.
4.) Can you tell us a little bit about the typical combat round mechanics? What will determine how many actions the player can take in his character's turn? How far he can move? Firing time?
The combat system is turn-based in vein of classics like Jagged Alliance, X-Com and Fallout. Action points and all that stuff. Everything depends on the characterâ€™s skills and abilities and their combinations. There are 16 attributes in the game and most part of them reflects on the battle. The parameters work together when it is needed to, for example, get the hit probability. Perception, agility, dexterity, state of the character, implants, weapons - everything is carefully calculated. Lots of parameters to calculate make the gameâ€™s combat system really complex, and it is great, â€˜cause Metalheart is very battle oriented.
5.) In combat, can players interact with the environment? Can they climb walls? Use height advantages? Shoot through windows? Any other interesting uses of terrain tactics?
The interactivity level is not very high actually. You just can pick something during the combat, lay down on the groung if you need to, but no things like hight advantages or thing like that. The combat system is complex without that. Calculating all the attributes, all the implantsâ€™ effects. Though, if we start work on something like sequel, sure weâ€™ll add even more depth to the current â€˜not-so-simple-as-it-my-seemâ€™ system.
6.) Metalheart sports four races. Can you tell us a little bit about these races? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each race? Can players switch races in the middle of the game, like a human becoming a cyborg? Or a mutant?
The main races are nomads, mutants, cyborgs, and replicants. All of them have their own story background and models of behaviour. For example, cyborgs are a bit dumb, but their strength is really awesome. So if you have them in your party your tactics will be more straightforward. Nomads are more â€˜intelligentâ€™, so the tactics will change and become more... mmm.. tactical. Speaking of the behaviour - well, you will see the defferences between the races as the story develops.
The â€˜cyborgâ€™ problem is a very interesting thing. It add more interestion twists. There some kind of â€˜implants maniaâ€™ on the planet. So the racial differences sometimes are almost vanishing. A mutant with tons of implants on him is a half-machine isnâ€™t it?
7.) Can you give us a little information about the character system? How many attributes like Strength, Intelligence, etc? What do these attributes do for the player? Are there any noncombat skills? If so, what do they do?
There are 16 attributes in the game. Most of them are used for â€˜combat puposesâ€™. But some of them serve for noncombat ones. The attributes define hit probability, level of communication, implants acceptability and so on.
8.) What types of skills are there in the game? What are some of the effects of the skills? Are there quests based on having a high skill or multiple ways through a quest depending on skill set ups?
Skills are mostly implant-based. There are slots for implants, you place them in and you can expect some new effects when they work in the combination with different items and weapons.
The quests have no connection with the character level. If you cannot accomplish a certain quest, well, you should develop your character more, until youâ€™re able to finish your task.
9.) What does the term, "Free-generated story quests" mean? What about this feature will make Metalheart stand out from the pack?
Well, we have a quest-generator in the game which automatically creates quests for the player if he really wants them. The â€˜quest patternsâ€™ are actually a bit typical for RPGs. So we canâ€™t say we will show you something extremely original, we donâ€™t want to lie about that like some others do. We just offer the things you like. Things typical for RPGs, but the variations of these things are huge. The quests are not very original, but there are about 14000 variations of them, so the player definetely wouldnâ€™t be bored if he will choose to make a step off the storyline and just to â€˜travelâ€™ in the Metalheart world.
10.) Can you tell us a little bit about the factions in the game? For example, if your character is a Nomad, the story has differences than if you were a Human. Can you elaborate on this?
Lets make things clear. There are two main characters. Pre-generated characters. They are humans. And just cannot be nomads os somebody else. You can develop them in lots of ways, but in the end youâ€™re playing the role of a man trying to survive and escape. The factions in the game, as I said before, have their own behaviour â€˜patternsâ€™. And the world in Meatalheart is alive, so you have to build relationship with different races, different groups.
11.) The combat is said to be the core of the game, so can you tell us a little bit about the weapons in the game? How many are they? Are they just ranged weapons or are there other types? How are they balanced?
Yes, Metalheart is combat-oriented. Though it is still RPG, not just tactical strategy or action or something else.
Thereâ€™ll be about a dozen of weapon types. Pistols, rifles, sniper rifles, machine-guns, blasters, grenades, â€˜special weaponsâ€™ Each type is few weapons with different characteristics. Weapons are also divided in â€˜traditionalâ€™, which use bullets and things like this, and energy weapons, mostly utilizing tactonium power. Weâ€™re working on balance right now, but weâ€™d be able to tell you the exact information on it a bit later.
12.) Can you tell us a little more about the other items, such as implants? What do they do for the player? How does a player go about getting them? How does the player go about using them?
Implants can change charactersâ€™ characteristics in a dramatic way. Some of the implants help you in the battles, some of them are useful even when youâ€™re not fighting. For example â€˜redtooth communication systemâ€™ will allow you to see exactly what other memebers of the party see. The â€˜grenade assistantâ€™ helps you to throw grenades to the exact place you want to. And things like â€˜hacker chipâ€™ allows you to hack the security panels. You can improve the characteristics of a character with all that stuff and even a weak one can become a useful member of the team. Whatâ€™s interesting about implants is the visualisation of their effects. One of the best examples is an implant for night vision. You choose the character with this implant and the screen turns green, like in the nightvision googles.
The process of getting implants depend on the level of the implant. Level 1 implants can be implemented without any assistanse. Level 2 will require assistanse of a person with some medical skills. And level 3 implants (like lungs, digital nerve system) will be available to you only after visiting the special clinics
Thanks to Alexander Filatow and Alexander Shcherbakov for taking the time to answer these questions about Metalheart!