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East Front Q&A
(hx) 03:31 PM EST - Dec,18 2004

We got a chance to chat with East Front lead designer Dmitry Glaznev to find out more about East Front, the upcoming first person that takes place in the world of the alternative World War II. The main character, who was involved in the experiments carried out by Nazis to create a Perfect Soldier, happens to be in the German Resistance and fights against his creators.Dmitry provided us with pretty interesting information and three exclusive screenshots.

GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on East Front?

Dmitry Glaznev: Hi. My name is Dmitry Glaznev. I'm East Front lead designer; my part is scenario, concept and gameplay.

GGMania: Can you give us an overview of East Front, telling us what the game is all about?

Dmitry Glaznev: East Front is a 3D shooter in alternative world of WWII. Game universe combines realistic environment and fictitious elements. EF is a story of a German officer who revolts against Nazi regime by virtue of tragic circumstances. We tried to make EF gameplay to the maximum fast, spectacular and exciting.

GGMania: What was the source of inspiration for the East Front concept?

Dmitry Glaznev: As for games, it is probably Call of Duty and Counter-Strike. I personally was also inspired by Shogo: Mobile Armor Division. Source of inspiration for scenario was Fatherland movie with Rutger Hauer.

GGMania: What is the storyline of the game?

Dmitry Glaznev: The story starts with historically real German expedition to Tibet. In 1938 Ernst Sheffer's expedition equipped on money of an occult Nazi organization Ahnenerbe reached its destination point - Tibet town Lhasa. Despite hospitable reception provided by Tibet monks, Ernst Sheffer didn't find anything what Ahnenerbe had counted on. He returned to Berlin with empty hands.

That is how it was in our history. In EF universe everything went differently.

In Tibet Ernst Seffer's expedition found knowledge that revealed secret of bringing dead people back to life. During many years of experiments within the precincts of Ahnenerbe Sheffer found out that death shock empowers human mind with supernatural abilities. It was decided to use these abilities in Perfect Soldiers - almost invulnerable and fearless killing machines. Many years were spent for creating an aggregate that can reanimate dead, and when it was done Sheffer found that what was source of power of Perfect Soldiers was at the same time their weakness. After death shock part of brain responsible for subordination and call of duty died and reanimated soldiers weren't able to carry out orders. But, finally, at the end of summer 1943, when Germany's positions on fronts became shaky as never before, Sheffer found how to solve this problem…

The protagonist, Karl Stoltz, accidentally takes part in doctor Sheffer's project. But trend of developments is broken by intervention of German resistance and Karl starts to fight against his former owners…


GGMania: What is the range of different locations in which East Front takes place?

Dmitry Glaznev: Variety of EF maps is great - from a chemical factory to a real submarine. All of them are united by a hardcore-industrial style with lots of Nazi and German symbolic of that time. We tried to create such an atmosphere in which a player feels heartlessness, aggression and partly mysticism of the Nazi war machine.

GGMania: How many missions or levels are you looking to include in East Front, and what sort of objectives can we expect to undertake in these?

Dmitry Glaznev: The game consists of a little more than ten missions. They are quite large, so quantity shouldn't confuse you :-).

During missions there can be lots of various tasks, but as a rule they do not exceed the bounds of simple and easily understood "penetrate the building", "destroy N objects", "mine object Z", "hold position N minutes". We want EF to be plain and easy understood game and don't make our aim to experiment with objectives. Imagine an objective - "Stop the train". A player would ask: "How? What exactly I need to do?" That's why we propose: "Mine and blow the railing up to stop the train."

Thus, we accented our attention on the process of carrying-out missions while player's aim is always clear, and that's the main point! Besides, clearness of the aims does not influence the scenario flow, which sometimes can be very surprising!

GGMania: Is the game linear or nonlinear?

Dmitry Glaznev: I guess it's difficult for FPS developers to speak about nonlinearity, because this feature is more common for RPG games… But we have something to say about this point!

One of the declared features of the game is non-linear events' development in some missions depending on player's actions. We invented a system of "decisions" for this. During a mission a player meets situations where she should make a decision within some seconds. For example, in one of the stealth-missions the hero suddenly becomes revealed. An enemy officer tries to arrest him and a player needs to make a decision quickly: be arrested (then hero appears in jail without weapons and continues to play from there) or resist arrest and fight.

GGMania: What kind of enemies will appear in your game?

Dmitry Glaznev: First of all these are Wehrmacht soldiers and SS troops. I think it would be wrong if we made a game about WWII without these guys! All soldiers and officers are dressed in authentic uniform and have authentic equipment - we paid special attention to it. Several types of privates, officers, flamers, technicians, man-of-war's men, SS troops, paratroopers - that is not complete list of your enemies! All of them have different weapons, AI, health.

Besides, taking advantage over common "realistic WWII games" in conception of alternative universe, we added more variety to gameplay by creating several never existed enemies with unique abilities. But it's too early to speak about these guys!

GGMania: How will the enemy A.I. function? Will enemies interact with each other, hide, run if hurt badly, etc?

Dmitry Glaznev: We think that smart AI is a very important part of the gameplay! That is why we spent lots of time on it and now our soldiers surprise us with their behavior! For instance, you will often meet situations where one of the enemies fires intensely on you to give his partner time for retreat or taking advantage-ground. Usage of covers, retreat (if you have tactical advantage or they are wounded), looking for a safe place for safe reload - all these things make EF soldiers really alive.

Besides, we combine team and personal AI with scripted actions to achieve maximum eye-catcher and element of surprise.

GGMania: The weapons arsenal, always important in first person shooters. What kind of weapons will we get to use in the game?

Dmitry Glaznev: We use 14 weapons existed in 1943. These are German, American and Soviet models. These weapons were made with help of photo-textures after deep investigation of museum examples. No WWII game can do without MP-40 or Luger Parabellum, but we tried to make arsenal various adding some exotic weapons like Czech antitank rifle s.Pz.В-41 and heavy models like grenade cup discharge Panzershrek, flamethrower and heavy machine gun MG-42.

GGMania: Will there be vehicles in the game players can use?

Dmitry Glaznev: No.

GGMania: How interactive is the environment? What type of interactivity can players expect?

Dmitry Glaznev: The base of EF interactivity is its physical engine. It allows a player not only to interact almost with any object in the game and throw small items - I think right now this will not surprise anybody. Its real feature is really immense quantity of physical objects on the map. One could say that we didn't know what a player wants to destroy and made destroyable everything except brick walls! For example, you can destroy such "indestructible" things as window-frames.

Besides supporting of great amount of complex objects, our physical engine (if comparing with Havoc), in my opinion, makes objects fly more smoothly, and components of the objects doesn't fall through the floor. Weapons and ammunition of the enemies and the hero himself are also physical! The last fact gives several interesting gameplay effects, which we think, will appear in games next year (we hope we will be the first!).

We tried to use destroyable objects as cover for the player as often as possible, so now only very thick walls allow you to feel safe!

We also use physics for new decisions in standard situations like gathering med kits. What would you say about a med kit that is lying on top of a bookshelf and it's necessary to destroy it to get the med kit, or to shoot in the med kid so that it fall down (it is also physical)?


GGMania: I've heard that "the players will be able to choose the type of the script before the game - realistic or fantastic". Can you explain this?

Dmitry Glaznev: No. We abandoned this idea a long time ago.

GGMania: The press release claims that East Front will feature "The emotion engine Liv Kristine". Can you tell us a little bit more about the engine?

Dmitry Glaznev: This is one of the main features of the game. It's not a secret that during playing people experience different emotions. The idea is to stimulate these emotions so that game experience becomes much more pungent.

Right now Liv Kristine is being tested, so it can change, but anyway you will feel it in the game.

GGMania: What can you tell us about the 3D engine that is being used for the game?

Dmitry Glaznev: EF engine is a worked over Kreed engine. Our programmers worked hard on it for a year and now it supports all modern graphical features: DX9.0, Bump and Parallax mapping, dynamic shadows on physical objects and persons, great amount of post-effects. We use at about 3500-4000 polygons on a model.

GGMania: Two of the big things being introduced into first-person shooters at the moment are soft-body physics and interactive environment "physics". Are you including this sort of technology in East Front?

Dmitry Glaznev: Yes, I've already mentioned above our physical engine. Of course, it supports rag-doll technology. By the way, a player can take dead enemies and use them as a shield. I can also add that traces from bullets and other influence remain on object surfaces depending on type of the surface - for example, blood on dead or alive enemies. This is only one consequence of our total physical model of the world…

GGMania: What forms of multiplayer will be available, and what can you say about them at this time?

Dmitry Glaznev:
We plan to include a couple of common multiplayer modes like deathmatch and assault, but right now we are concentrated on single part of the game. Anyway, some of the features of the game can make our multiplayer really interesting!

GGMania: What, in your view, is the most exciting aspect of East Front?

Dmitry Glaznev: EF has all features of an up-to-date shooter - amazing graphics and astonishing effects, powerful physical engine, qualitative sound and smart AI… But its best part from my point of view is its gameplay, which we tried to make really interesting, various and dynamic. I also think that our experiments with gameplay (I repeat – we have some surprises!) leave trace in history of genre development!

GGMania: What's the current status of the project, and what remains to be done? When will it be released?

Dmitry Glaznev: Programming is 80% finished, missions are being worked out. Release is planned on spring 2005.

GGMania: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview, is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

Dmitry Glaznev: Thanks for reading this long interview to the end! Hope, you were interested in our project. Good luck!


genre: first-person shooter
release: 2005/05
developer: Burut
publisher: Russobit-M / Game Factory Interactive

last 10 comments:

xxxx(08:22 AM EST - Dec,20 2004 )
Wow, very dark game we can hardly see the weapon...some nice scenery.

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