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Etherlords II Interview|
(hx) 10:36 AM EDT - Jun,21 2003
GGMania got a chance to chat with Nival Interactive's Project Manager Andrey Yemelyanenko to find out more about Etherlords II, the upcoming sequel to their fantasy turn-based strategy game. He graciously filled us in on many details in this Etherlords II Interview, which is accompanied by three exclusive screenshots.
GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little
bit about what you do on Etherlords II?
Andrey Yemelyanenko: I'm Andrey Yemelyanenko and I
was the Project Manager for Etherlords and now Etherlords II. When I'm not
cleaning up after my Jack Russel Terrier, I'm making sure that the whole
development team is staying on schedule and making the sequel even greater than
the original Etherlords.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the storyline for the game?
Andrey Yemelyanenko: I can't give away the ending -
which should come as a complete surprise when you finish the game. We created
this incredibly rich and interesting world in Etherlords and we really wanted to
get you much deeper into it with the sequel. You play a hero from one of four
races that inhabit the Etherworld and from the start of the game you are faced
with dire circumstances that threaten your people, the origins of which no one
can fathom. Throughout the game as you advance and play for other races you're
continually gathering more and more information about what is happening, how it
concerns each race, and eventually how to overcome the menace. The best part
about the story is that, like any good mystery, there are a lot of twists and
turns - so that when you get to the end, the final revelation won't be even
close to what you might have thought when you started the first campaign. There
are a lot of very fundamental changes that we made to Etherlords II and the
story is a very important part of these.
GGMania: What are the biggest changes in Etherlords 2 over the original
Andrey Yemelyanenko: The biggest change has been
taking the game from strategy to adventure. This was a great opportunity to
rethink many central elements of the game like interface, story and maps.
Etherlords was a very complicated game with a rather steep learning curve. We
wanted to make Etherlords II much more accessible without giving up the depth
that attracted many hardcore fans. This led to us moving a lot of the interface
off to the map and letting the game handle repetitive tasks automatically so
that you now spend a majority of the game either exploring or fighting. Speaking
of fighting - we made a lot of changes to expand how you approach tactics in
combat. With the addition of the colorless or Pale creatures and magic we've
added to the different combinations that each player can use for any duel. We
also upped the number of active spells to 16 and changed the entire spell
purchase and use interface so that now you can change between your active and
reserve spells either before or after a duel - this opens up all kinds of new
options to try out different mixes of creatures and magic to find the most
effective ways to destroy your adversaries. We really had one major goal in mind
when making any change in the game from big to small - minimize management and
maximize the fun.
GGMania: Could you describe some new spells, monsters and heroes? What is
your favourite one? :)
Andrey Yemelyanenko: All of the original spells
creatures and heroes are also included in Etherlords II as well as the new
colorless creatures and their magic, which we call the Pale. There are 15 new
Pale creatures and 45 Pale spells, all of which can be mastered by any of the
four races. These new creatures and spells not only complement your own magic,
but can also used against you by other heroes and Pale monsters. This new force
brings a whole new element into the game as even the least "expensive" of the
Pale creatures are very powerful against almost any Etherwordly foe, but in most
cases in order to use them you have to sacrifice one of your own creatures or
discard spells. Their magic and special abilities, on the other hand, are more
useful against other Pale creatures and largely ineffective against color
creatures. This brings in a wealth of new tactical possibilities, making combat
even more interesting. The Pale creatures and monsters are inspired by very
earthly ancient and medieval cultures like Egyptian, Hindu, Feudal Europe and
Japan as well as Native American and somehow tend to look even more menacing
than many of our original creations for the first game! Their magic is largely
based on their abilities to return to their own dimension - while there they
appear as ghosts and are unaffected by any Etherworld magic. On the other
extreme you can eventually acquire magic spells that will both harm and kill
them even when they are in their own dimension, at which point you will be able
to say that you truly have mastered their magic. One of my new personal
favorites is the Pale Slayer - He has 6 arms holding a number of battle-axes and
swords and a truly hideous face - of course with almost 130 creatures and over
320 spells in the game - you can afford to have many favorites.
GGMania: How many campaigns will there be, and how varied will they be?
Andrey Yemelyanenko: There are four different races
in the game - the Chaots, the Vitals, the Synthets and the Kinets - each use a
different strand of Ether that affects their magic abilities as well as their
look, environment and culture - and of course, each have their very own campaign
- as in the first Etherlords. There is also a fifth campaign for Diamanda - a
central character to both games. Her campaign came about because of the story -
here is where you solve the great mystery that has been driving your heroes
through each campaign - and it also contains one of the most popular fan wishes
- a character that can combine and master the magic of all four races as well as
the new colorless monsters. The structure of the campaigns is a little different
from most games out there - you have a choice between the first two - the Chaots
and Vitals, then the next two, the Synthets and Kinets, before going on to the
fifth - meaning you can play 3 campaigns to get the full story, but you can also
go back and replay the other two campaigns to master their very unique magic.
Each campaign has distinct heroes, goals, side-quests and characters, and of
course, plenty of great combat :)
GGMania: What other unique gameplay aspects will be featured in Etherlords
Andrey Yemelyanenko: This one could very well be my
longest answer - but I'll try to stay focused :) Although many people who played
Etherlords didn't specifically say that they wanted to play an RPG - the
association between fantasy and the genre are well known, so we received many
requests for a single hero, NPC's, side-quests, a journal, inventory, etc. etc.
These RPG elements fit in perfectly with what we are trying to do with
Etherlords II - and unlike most feature requests, actually helped streamline the
design - not just the gameplay, but also technical decisions like interface,
which I mentioned earlier. Now movement on the adventure map is done in
real-time, you control a single hero that you keep throughout an entire
campaign, and that hero grows in level and experience, and even in appearance -
becomes more powerful and faces even tougher challenges. You have a journal that
keeps track of your adventures, side quests, conversations and combat as well as
an inventory for your spells, artifacts and specializations. The new inventory
system doesn't just help you keep track of multitudes of different magic and
creatures that you can summon during combat, but also lets you change up your
reserve and active spells, so you can change your tactical approach before any
combat - increasing your chances of success. The new Pale threat also presents a
unique challenge in the game as Pale does not only refer to specific magic
spells or creatures themselves, but to environments as well. Paleness can also
affect place, which in turn disrupts your race's magic and makes it do really
screwy things, this keeps you on your toes tactically as you learn how to deal
with all the different elements of combat. I knew when I started answering this
question that I would have a hard time stopping - so I'll just say that we have
a lot of surprises in store for both new fans and old alike.
GGMania: Can gamers expect a huge improvement in graphics?
Andrey Yemelyanenko: Yes - especially in the
adventure portion of the game because we are providing you with an entirely new
close-up view while still retaining the look and feel of the first with many
recognizable elements. We have also designed some new battle arenas for combat
as well as new monsters and spell effects. As good as the first Etherlords
looked, Etherlords II looks even better.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the multiplayer portion of Etherlords 2?
Andrey Yemelyanenko: Fans of Etherlords enjoyed
online combat so much that they kept asking for more - so we're giving it to
them! To start off with we are adding our own matching and tournament server
that will include personal stats for any gamer who plays Etherlords II online.
The server will feature auto-ratings and track your success in both informal PvP
duels as well as ladder tournaments.
Etherlords II will also have two additional multiplayer modes called Sealed and
Draft. Sealed pits 1 player against another where they both draw from a random
"deck" of spells and then face off against each other - as opposed to normal
combat where each player handpicks their cards.
Draft is a little more massive, allowing up to 8 players to get in on the action
in Olympic-style elimination rounds. Somewhat similar to Sealed - each player
draws his spells from the same deck, the difference being that as each player
draws one spell, the deck is passed to the next player and so on until the deck
is gone, then the match begins!
We've also added the ability to record and even add commentaries to recorded
battles so that they can be used for showing other players different tactics or
just to show your buddies what a vicious killing machine you can be :)
GGMania: Currently what is the status of the current progress of the game and
when can we expect to see it in stores?
Andrey Yemelyanenko: We're in the home stretch -
we've finished the campaigns and we're adding in voiceovers for the characters
and NPC's, (we have some great voice work for the English version!), maps are
being enhanced, some graphics and effects are being improved and we're doing a
lot of testing - especially on the multiplayer modes and new server. You'll be
able to grab a copy from your favorite store sometime in early fall.
GGMania: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview, is
there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
Andrey Yemelyanenko: We've put a lot of effort into
making Etherlords II more accessible for players, including a new tutorial
system for beginners to card-style combat, streamlined interfaces, recordable
online matches with commentaries and of course - incredible graphics - after all
a lot of eye-candy never hurt! We hope to show a newer generation of gamers that
the turn-based genre has a lot of kick left in it.
|Hjarry||posted - Jun, 22 2003 - 01:03|
|Blech. The design is heading too much in the direction of Blizzard with its latest childish Warcraft look. Where is the dark, gruesome aesthetic of Starbreeze Studios? That's what a game called "Etherlords" should have - not this toy doll look.|
|CrasHNBurn||posted - Jun, 22 2003 - 04:02|
|Hey I beta tested Etherlords one and that was a great and unique game.
It sounds like the game makers have been listening to the players ideas and will make Etherlods 2 a great sucess.
|Wiseman||posted - Jun, 22 2003 - 16:14|
|I will be one of the first buyers of this game. I liked the first one. this game smells quality and fantasy|
|flush it!||posted - Jun, 22 2003 - 17:13|
|If the characters look cool and i can import my own characters after making them then i buy it. Otherwise i scratch the disk ,cut it up. Then i spill lots of gasoline on it. then i put in in fire pit and burn that bloody disk. after that i take the box and burn it. Then i take the ashes put them in a envelope and mail it back to them. enclosing a letter saying "IM DONE PLAYING THIS GAME IT SUCKED YOU CAN HAVE IT BACK". |
|Zeorymer™||posted - Jun, 25 2003 - 04:12|
|Nice Game! kewl!|
|NATO||posted - Jun, 26 2003 - 06:20|
|I sounds a little bit more like Magic the Gathering, but I think i am not the first realizing. Etherlords 2 is developing even more into that direction as it seems, hopefully the Etherpool and Ethergaining system stays as it is, its the major improvement of Etherlords|
|KnBt||posted - Jun, 26 2003 - 06:21|
|@ flush it !
plz wait till u are at least in the tens before posting comments.
The game stands and falls with being balanced or not.
Putting much effort in a more detailed strategic map is a waste in my opinion. People will try the zoom once or twice in the beginning and thats it. A waste of precious developer time.|
|Adi||posted - Jul, 01 2003 - 07:22|
|I have played Etherlords I and it was great. Being a big fan of trading card games, I even appreciate more the ideas in Etherlords II. Looking forward to getting it soon!|
|Balor||posted - Jul, 02 2003 - 17:57|
|Well, I played first one (original Russian version - which is called Demiurges in Russia) - I liked it a lot except for rather simplified combat system (comparative to MTG - no interrupts, for e.g., and too few spells) and strange one turn - one action system of movement. I am happy that they "fixed" that issues somewhat and that balace shifed toward RPG - I like RPGs the most. Only thing I didnot like that they removed global spell system which I really liked... However, it's not very major feature, and I'll be happy when the game will come and buy it at once :)|
|Concerned consumer||posted - Jul, 10 2003 - 06:41|
|It takes a great deal of effort to balance the spells in a game like this. With balance a priority, more spells is better. No. 2 sounds like an improvement on an already innovative and fun game. However bugs,glitches,conflicts are a sign of poor programming. Gamers the world over are screaming out for games that dont need patches or bug fixes[too bad if you dont have internet connection]. Maybe we need a programming revolution!|
|michael||posted - Jan, 15 2005 - 01:25|
|Anyone that does not like this game can stuff it in there @$$!!!, I liked Magic The Gathering but never got in to it, But I have played Etherlords 2, And im hooked I hope they make an Etherlords 3. Cause I'll buy it. |
|Nathan||posted - Feb, 28 2006 - 08:38|
|Etherlords 3 ... hmmm is there a Etherlords 3 in the works ? There are some improvements that I'd like to see, all of which have already been posted numberous times on other sites.|