(hx) 11:46 AM EDT - Sep,10 2002
GGMania got a chance to talk with Deep Shadows' project scenarist and dialog writer Alexander Khrutsky, as he answers a few questions regarding to Xenus, the upcoming action role-playing game which is powered by new version of Codename: Outbreak’s Vital Engine. He graciously filled us in on many details in this Xenus Interview, which is accompanied by six new screenshots.
GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on Xenus?
Alexander Khrutsky: Hello. My name is Alexander Khrutsky. I’m project scenarist and dialog writer.
GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team working on Xenus. Is the same team who worked on Codename: Outbreak for GSC Game World?
Alexander Khrutsky: Sergey Zabaryanskiy and Roman Lut, who made Codename: Outbreak, are the main body of out team. Now, Xenus team consists of nine persons.
GGMania: From where did you get the inspiration to make this game?
Alexander Khrutsky: The idea of the game was born in May 2001. It was decided that next project would be PC 3D Action RPG game that takes place in the nearest future on the huge not-subdivided territory. We wanted to simulate investigation process in the world where there are a lot of contra forces that fights for the power. Colombia – this is a country with long and rich history, beautiful nature and very unstable political situation in our days. There are a lot of counter forces in this country. That situation is fit to our game conception.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the storyline for the game?
Alexander Khrutsky: The story begins when Kevin Myers receives a call from magazine his sister works for. He is told that she didn't contact them more than 10 days and they are afraid she missed in Colombia during her journalist investigation. Kevin departures to this country to rescue her. You must rescue the sister and keep alive. The scenery that looks banal in
the beginning step-by-step gets mixed up and finally becomes semi-mystic.
GGMania: What is the gameworld like, what kinds of environments does it include?
Alexander Khrutsky: Game will take action in huge territory of 650 sq. km. There are no "locations" in Xenus. You may freely
move on the territory. You will lay your way thought jungles, towns, mountains, swamps, river banks, military bases, rail stations, hidden plants and airports,
Indian villages, ancient ruins and some others. All types of environment is full-interactive and realistic – you can meet birds in jungles, lizards in mountains, rats in towns, etc.
GGMania: Can you tell us more about the Columbia of Xenus?
Alexander Khrutsky: There are a lot of counter forces in this country. In our game they are introduced by six sides: officials, guerrilla, narco mafia, Indian, bandits, CIA. When you help to one of the side you inevitably spoil your relations with others. So, you must balance in your action between them to reach the goal. Also, there are a lot of NPC that don’t belong to any of that forces, but want hero to help them to reach their own goals. All NPC live their own life, also they will interact one with another without hero.
GGMania: Can you tell us a bit about RPG elements in the game?
Alexander Khrutsky: Players will have nearly 20 different parameters. We choose the skill-based system, so you will improve that skill that you use a lot. Your will be able to speak with any person in a game. There are a lot of persons with more than 100 phrases in a dialog. Most of problem will have more than two way of solution.
GGMania: Will there be much in the way of NPC interactions and objects to find and use?
Alexander Khrutsky: The world of Xenus is full of interaction. Investigation requires to gather the facts and then to make a conclusion. That’s why you have a deal with computers, phones, diaries, paper
messages, etc. You will need to speak with great number of different NPC – every with his own character – to move ahead through the plot line.
GGMania: Well, in the world of Xenus everything costs money, how player can earn enough money?
Alexander Khrutsky: The main way to earn money – to take and accomplish missions from one of six country counter forces. For any of accomplished missions you will receive amount money. That amount will depends from force attitude to you – rather attitude to you higher, rather more money you get.
GGMania: What kinds of weapons will be available in the game? Will there be an upgrade system or alternate firing modes?
Alexander Khrutsky: There are nearly twenty types of weapons that you can use during the game from cold weapons to heavy. Among them Desert Eagle, AK-47, SVD, etc. You can upgrade any of your weapons –
improve accuracy, ammo capacity, rate of fire, reload time. Also, you may upgrade some weapons with such things as silencers, optic and laser sights and some other. All this cost money, of course.
GGMania: What kind of enemies can players expect to find in Xenus? How will the enemy A.I. function?
Alexander Khrutsky: Your will fight with soldiers of different forces – officials, guerrilla, narco-mafia, etc. Don’t forget about angry jungles inhabitants – crocodiles, jaguars. As for battle AI - all enemies AI use “virtual vision” and “virtual hearing” algorithms. The virtual hearing algorithm allows rivals to react upon sounds spread around a level. Thus, for instance, the sound of skirmish or explosion will attract a patrol that have heard it, or if the player passes behind the backs of a patrol, the noise produced by his steps may end up in the soldiers turning back and
opening fire. Also enemies have different models of behavior – as for different types of enemies (bandits, officials, guerrilla), as well as for different
conditions (wounded, under effect of cocaine, etc).
GGMania: Will the gameplay include some "stealth" elements?
Alexander Khrutsky: Yes, you will be able to hide and to trick enemies in many ways.
GGMania: I have read that all the game's vehicles (helicopters, different kinds of cars, and tanks) are drivable. That's great, because I really hated "endless" walking in Codename: Outbreak :) Can you tell us about vehicles's physics?
Alexander Khrutsky: There will be nearly 10 types of vehicle’s in the game – different cars, buses, tanks, helicopters, even motor boats. We try to make cars physics as close to reality as possible. Now we end testing of vehicle physics and we are fully satisfied with it.
GGMania: How many hours of gameplay can we expect from the game?Alexander Khrutsky: Really hard to say how long is the game while it's still unfinished. But certainly, Xenus is not "one
evening game" – depending of playing style it will take from 50 to 150 hours of playing.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the engine that is being used for the game?
Alexander Khrutsky: Xenus is based on the second iteration of Vital Engine. Vital Engine 2 is significantly improved version of the first version. We completely rewrite render code and significantly changed
physics code. Here are the main features of the engine:
GGMania: What about music soundtrack and effects in Xenus?
Alexander Khrutsky: All music will be in Latino style. As for sound effects the powerful scheduler allows playing an unlimited number of sounds on level. The library supports both static and streaming
sounds. Moreover, it is supported not only by A3D/EAX cards, but also by any "common" card without level geometry limitations. When leaving a room ambient
sounds are not muted immediately but smoothly fade out as the distance grows. The shouts of every enemy are numerous and chaged depending of his condition – wounded, scared, etc.
GGMania: What the current system requirements are for Xenus?
Alexander Khrutsky: Minimal system requirements for Xenus are: 1Ghz, GF2 MX, 256 MB. With such configuration you will be able to play, not only to start game. Recommended system requirements: 1.6Ghz, GF3, 256 MB.
GGMania: What multiplayer options will be put into the game?
Alexander Khrutsky: Cooperative, CTF and Death-match will definitely be in the game. Cooperative will have RPG element, certainly. As for other modes we have quite some time to decide what to include.
GGMania: Currently what is the status of the current progress of the game and when can we expect to see it in stores?
Alexander Khrutsky: We plan to finish the game in Q1 of 2003.
GGMania: Do you plan to release a playable demo?
Alexander Khrutsky: Yes, in two month before the game release.
GGMania: Will Xenus offer any support for the mod community? Do you intend to release any tools such as a level editor?
Alexander Khrutsky: We pay a great attention for mod community of Xenus. The game will have significantly simplified editor that will allow easily create new worlds and new characters.
GGMania: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview, is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
Alexander Khrutsky: Thanks for your interview, we will make our best to justify hopes for players that wait our game.
- Unique technology of rendering huge (but very detailed) territory 50x50km
- Skeleton animation with blending between up to 3 bones
- Facial animation
- Multilayered textures 512x512
- 5000 faces per character
- View-independent progressive mesh for models and
view-dependent progressive mesh for level geometry
- Rigid body physics comparable with Math Engine (a set
of predefined models: car, helicopter, box, player).