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Highland Warriors Interview
(hx) 10:23 AM EDT - Jul,11 2002

GGMania got a chance to chat with Data Becker's product manager Andy Manson to find out more about their plans for Highland Warriors, a new 3D real-time strategy game scheduled for release in the fall of 2002.

GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on Highland Warriors? What games have you made previously, and are you currently working on other projects in addition to Highland Warriors?

Andy Manson: My name is Andy Manson and I am a product manager at DATA BECKER Corp. I have been working on Highland Warriors for a little over a year now and I am also working on other titles, such as America II.

GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team working on Highland Warriors?

Andy Manson: A German Company, Soft Enterprises, is developing the game. They have been in the game development business for over10 years and actually developed the first ever first person shooter game for the German market. The Highland Warriors development team consists of about 30 people.

GGMania: Why was the decision made to have the game set during "the great feuds between the Scottish clans and England from the beginning of Scotland in 843 A.D. to the battlefields of William Wallace in the 14th century"?

Andy Manson: If you have studied British history or have seen the Braveheart movie, you have a sense of the battles and the intensity of this time period. We felt that in the gaming world this had not been properly portrayed, and we hope to give gamers the chance to play out what they have only read about or seen on screen.

GGMania: What can you tell us about the actual plotline of Highland Warriors?

Andy Manson: The game takes you through the four main periods of early Scottish history. You begin as the MacKay clan, attempting to unite a divided, clan ruled Scotland under one flag. During the next campaign the player becomes English and is fighting to enslave Scotland for England. Following the English Campaign, William Wallace leads the Cameron Clans Campaign’s, sparking the Scottish revolution. Finally, gamers take command of the MacDonald Clan and with Robert the Bruce, finally unite Scotland under one crown. Today, you can read much more about medieval Scottish history at www.highlandwarriors.com.

GGMania: Will the story be the driving force behind the game or will it be a somewhat secondary feature?

Andy Manson: Well that’s up to the gamer. You can play Highland Warriors in the Single player mode, and Skirmish and Multiplayer modes through the Gamespy Arcade. The story certainly adds depth to a gamer’s experience, but if a gamer prefers he/she can jump right into Single or Multiplayer Skirmishs.

GGMania: Needless to say that it's quite hard to develop any good game for current market, what makes Highland Warriors unique among today's real-time strategy games?

Andy Manson: Quite a few things, but what I am most excited is the new level of detail Highland Warriors is bringing to the genre. The games that I find most amazing for detail are the FPSs, but my favorite type of game is an RTS. The thinking behind what we have done with Highland Warriors is to bring the FPS level of detail to the RTS genre. The Highland Warriors texture engine allows the video card to dynamically render the land/water textures used, so the end result is that you will have no tiling of textures making your surroundings highly realistic.

Added to the level of detail, Highland Warriors has a complex system of experience so it pays to know what soldiers are stronger than others, and when to back out of battle to save a battle worn group. This experience system applies to the Craftsmen and other characters as well. It allows the gamer to increase the skill level of different characters through repetition of tasks over time. For example, a Wood Cutter can, if cutting wood for long enough, become a Master Wood Cutter, and then he can cut wood more efficiently, but at the same time, he becomes less proficient at all other duties you ask him to perform.

The game also has a completely customizable interface. Buttons that you don’t use can be removed or repositioned on the screen.


GGMania: What is the primary target market for Highland Warriors? Do you feel it will attract both hardcore RTS players and casual players?

Andy Manson: Absolutely both. The game will come with a full tutorial for beginners. For the hardcore gamer, we expect them to be delighted with the initial 30 single player missions, online play and a full map editor. The game will have unlimited replay ability.

GGMania: Which engine is used in Highland Warriors?

Andy Manson: The ATLAS engine, developed by Soft Enterprises for Highland Warriors, continues to amaze us with its high poly counts. It has been developed specifically for Highland Warriors.

GGMania: I have read in the press release that the game's AI will allow characters to move and act naturally. Is it really true? Can you more specify this feature?

Andy Manson: One of the most frustrating things about the new generations of games is poor AI. Frustration grows whenever a gamer has to stop and ask why a game has slowed. For the RTS genre the biggest issue in speed has been path finding. In Highland Warriors we have dedicated a large degree of work to get the game to move naturally. For example, when a unit moves it will take the correct path to get to its final destination, without putting itself in harm’s way. So, let’s say a unit is standing in front of a hill, and the player wants him to move to the other side. The unit will know if it is faster to walk over the hill or go around it. What I like most about this feature is that if there are any enemy troops on top or around the hill the unit will avoid them as long as he is not set as aggressive or told to attack.

GGMania: Was there anything you wanted to do but couldn’t, either because of design issues or otherwise?

Andy Manson: We are almost at a solid beta, so I’ll have to get back to you on that. Of course we have the world planned as of now, but we will see when we get closer to the mastering date. One thing that is very important to me is getting the game out on time. Though I will not release an incomplete game, I believe that since we have told the gaming public a date (Q4, 2002) it is our duty to live up to it. So I am careful when promising features, and I need to know for sure if they will be in the final game before I promise them.

GGMania: What sort of missions will be a part of the single player game? How many levels in total will we have to play?

Andy Manson: For the single player game we will have 30 missions divided up between the Clans. These will consist of several different types of goals, so in some you will have to keep your township intact for a designated amount of time, while for others you will have to destroy all enemy units and buildings, and so on.

GGMania: What multiplayer options will be a part of Highland Warriors? Will Gamespy support be implemented?

Andy Manson: You will be able to either play over a LAN or on the Gamespy Arcade. Up to 8 players are allowed on one map.

GGMania: The interface is always the most important thing, especially in 3D RTS genre. How will the interface handle all of the game's complexity?

Andy Manson: Highland Warriors has two solid advantages in the interface category. First, it has a fully customizable interface. Buttons can be moved around and/or removed from the game so the gamer can set the screen up any way he/she chooses. Another advantage Highland Warriors has is a unit locator. With a mouse click you can get an overview of all units under your control and what they are doing. This works for the Civilian Units, Military Units, and even buildings. So, if you need a Master Builder to quickly to erect a defensive tower, with a couple clicks, you can have him on the job.

GGMania: Now some Tech-stuff. What the current system requirements are for Highland Warriors? How will the game utilize the latest Geforce 3/4 cards?

Andy Manson: Well, without a feature complete beta in hand, I don’t want to go shooting off at the mouth.

Here are some PRELIMINARY system requirements.

Windows 98,98SE,ME Pentium 500Mhz and 128 MB RAM

Windows NT(SP6),2000, XP Pentium 700Mhz and 128 MB RAM

Graphic Card: 32 MB 3D Video Card (OpenGL support) High Color 16-bit with 800x600 Resolution 32 MB

Direct X 8.0
800MB of free Hard drive space
CD-ROM
Mouse


FOR INTERNET PLAY:

56K Modem

Internet Connection
GameSpy Arcade 1.1 or higher


GGMania: How do you feel about community? What kinds of things are you planning for out-of-game community support?

Andy Manson: On our forum at www.highlandwarriors.com you can read postings between myself, the developers, and other interested gamers. And as I mentioned earlier, the game will have a full map editor that can easily be shared over the net.

GGMania: Currently what is the status of the current progress of the game and when can we expect to see it in stores?

Andy Manson: We are hoping to have the full version on store shelves in late 2002.

GGMania: Do you plan to release a playable demo?

Andy Manson: We should have our public demo ready in August. Other then that, we should have some more goodies coming out between now and the release of the game, such as teasers and trailers.

GGMania: Do you have any plans to bring Highland Warriors to the Xbox, GameCube or the PS2?

Andy Manson: Not at this time. Consoles and RTS games never really mix too well. As you point out, the game interface is extremely important, and you cannot have that point and click feel on a console.

GGMania: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Is there anything you want to add that we didn't cover?

Andy Manson: The realism of the game is what I am totally jazzed about. I walked all over E3 and I’m a player myself, and I just haven’t seen anything like it (yet). I believe Highland Warriors will push the RTS genre up more than one notch, which is great news to all gamers.


genre: 3D RTS
release: 2002/Q4
developer: Data Becker
publisher: homepage

last 10 comments:

Neil Harrisposted - Jul, 12 2002 - 21:16
The pics look like shit!

ChuMinhAnhT˙posted - Jul, 14 2002 - 08:58
1 game

Bodoposted - Jul, 15 2002 - 06:49
Look at the developers homepage for some really cool screenshots. Those in the report are not well chosen.

hxposted - Jul, 15 2002 - 13:10
Developers sent me these shots...

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