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Rising Kingdoms Q&A|
(hx) 10:57 AM EST - Mar,22 2005
GGMania got a chance to chat with Ivko Stanilov of Haemimont Games (Celtic Kings makers), the lead programmer and designer on Rising Kingdoms, their upcoming real-time strategy game which focuses on empire development and dynamic tactical battles. He provided us with both pretty interesting information and three exclusive screenshots. Rising Kingdoms will be released on the European market on May 27th (there's no word on whether the game will be released in North America).
GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a
little bit about what you do on Rising Kingdoms?
Ivko Stanilov: Hi,
everyone, I'm Ivko Stanilov and I have the honour (and of course the trouble) of
being both the Lead Programmer and one (thankfully no the only) of the Lead
Designers for the Rising Kingdoms title. My schedule, as you can guess, is very
tight, as I work on the game engine, create tasks for the developer team,
resolve design and game balance issues, play the game, and in the meantime fix
bugs, work with the publisher and give guidelines to the art team.
And if someone cares about that, I'm 26 years old, weird-looking and I have a
GGMania: Can you give us an overview of Rising Kingdoms, telling us what the
game is all about?
Ivko Stanilov: Rising
Kingdoms is a real-time strategy game, focusing on empire development and
dynamic tactical battles. The game stays true to the basic principles of
traditional RTS games, so it's really easy to start playing, but we have added
new twists and features that provide the player with a unique gaming experience.
For example, throughout an average game, the player will be capturing 3-4
independent colonies from the game's five secondary races, thus obtaining
numerous strategic options. Each of the secondary races has a choice of three
powerful special abilities and several special units, which can really turn the
game in your favor.
Rising Kingdoms has all the features a player would come to expect from a modern
title, adding to that a great diversity of gameplay elements and a rich fantasy
setting with 3 primary and 5 secondary races, each having its own environment
and gameplay value.
GGMania: Were you pleased with the reactions that the Punic Wars (Nemesis of
the Roman Empire in US) game received?
Ivko Stanilov: I am
not directly involved in the making of Punic Wars, but we are really content of
the results we had - it did very well on the market.
GGMania: From where did you get the inspiration to make Rising Kingdoms?
Actually, this could turn out to be an interesting story. Back in 2001, when we
were working on Celtic Kings - Rage of War, I and a colleague of mine - Dimo
Zaprianov - weren't satisfied with the results, mainly speaking of gameplay. We
met several times at my place, and we came up with the concept about different
hero classes that could be developed in different ways like in an RPG. We even
designed the hero classes and proposed them to the Celtic Kings designer Gabriel
Gabriel is a brilliant guy, and he solved the gameplay problems of the time all
by himself (as you can see from the game's success), but these hero classes
remained and were the foundation on which we built the Rising Kingdoms design
with Dimo. Of course they are completely different now, but there are still
several skills that remained.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the actual plotline of Rising Kingdoms?
Ivko Stanilov: How can
you tell something about a plotline in a couple of paragraphs? It is a story
about the creation and history of a whole fantasy realm that is unveiled piece
by piece uncovering surprising twists and unexpected events as it unfolds. One
thing is for sure - you will be surprised when you play the campaigns, but I
won't tell you anything specific yet as I don't want to spoil your experience. I
will only say that we tried an unconventional way to tell the story, and I
anticipate seeing the player's reactions.
GGMania: What are the biggest changes in Rising Kingdoms over the strategy
games you made previously?
Ivko Stanilov: In the
technical aspect, we tried to push the 2D technology upon which the game
functions to the limit. Rising Kingdoms uses 3D terrain, TrueColor video, alpha
blending, fog effects and fully 3D particle systems to create graphics rich in
detail and quality. It's also the first game we made, which is so complex that
it required a change in the whole process of programming the units, which are
now implemented 100% in a script language.
From the game's point of view this is really the richest game we've made in
terms of game mechanics and thus the most complex for development. There is a
whopping quantity of more than 80 different champion skills, not to mention the
unit and colony specials. The whole game is designed around the concept of
diversity, with the idea to make each game different from the last. It's a game
of exploration, I have to say; there are so many things and combinations to try
GGMania: How many different kinds of units are there and how will they differ
if we compare different races?
Ivko Stanilov: I
actually may be having some problems answering that question. As I just said,
the game is very diverse. We have 3 primary (playable) races - Humans, Foresters
and Darklings. Each primary race offers a choice of four Champions as well as
between 8 and 11 different units, not counting the ones that can be summoned by
spells. We also have 5 secondary races with colonies that you can capture and
then use to train new types of units. Each secondary race has between 2 and 4
such units available, with four of them being very powerful legendary creatures.
If you want to calculate the total figure, go ahead, I already lost the count.
As for the units of each race, Humans generally have weaker units that help each
other very well, Foresters have more powerful, but slower units and Darklings
have average units that regenerate their health with time. The gameplay of each
race is also largely determined by the Champions available: Humans have leader
champions that help their weak units, Foresters have a lot of tricks available
to compensate their lack of speed and Darklings - champions with raw power
capable of dealing tons of damage quickly.
GGMania: How will resource management be handled in the game?
Ivko Stanilov: We kept
the resource management very simple, as the game focuses more on tactical combat
and expansion through colony conquest. Workers or buildings collect the two
basic resources - gold and gems. The third and most important resource - glory -
is obtained by capturing the independent colonies on the map. In addition, once
you capture a colony it provides you with a new way of obtaining glory,
depending on the race of the colony. More often than not the winner is that
player who manages to gather the most glory points, while also keeping up with
the other resources.
GGMania: I've noticed the game features two modes - "strategy mode" and
"adventure mode". What's the difference between them?
Ivko Stanilov: This is
just the terminology we use in all our RTS games with role-playing elements. The
"strategy" mode represents games played against other human or computer players,
starting on equal terms on a single map with the goal of eliminating all
opponents (or all opposing teams in a team game).
The "adventure" mode is only available in single player. In this mode the player
experiences the story, going through a number of maps each with its own mission
GGMania: Can you reveal a bit more about the heroes in the game?
Ivko Stanilov: Heroes
(they're called Champions in the game) are very powerful and play a key role in
the game. The Champions you choose and the way you develop their skills are very
important for your strategy. A Champion has seven skills to choose from - 4
basic, 2 advanced and 1 ultimate skill. From these only 4 can be learned. The
Champion development system is extremely flexible allowing the player to develop
the skills of each champion in 12 different ways.
Another interesting feature is that Champions don't learn their skills by
gaining experience, but require Glory.
GGMania: How is combat handled in Rising Kingdoms? In terms of scale, are we
looking at massive numbers of units engaging in combat, or will it be more of a
Ivko Stanilov: Rising
Kingdoms is a game in which the armies are relatively small and decisions made
in combat are very important. We tried to create tactical battles that are easy
to control while requiring the player to act and micromanage her units. Warcraft
III for example requires clicking like crazy in combat and this really
frustrates many players (myself included). In Rising Kingdoms there are no units
other than the Champions that have special actions in battle, or if they have
any, they use them automatically. This leaves the player with enough time to
move her units and select targets while also using Champion skills and the
battles are still very interesting.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the engine that is being used for the
Ivko Stanilov: I
already partially answered this question above and all I can add is that we used
our existing engine from Celtic Kings and brought it to a whole new level with
the numerous improvements we made. The engine is now being implemented anew,
using the same proven concepts, but this time in 3D for our next games.
GGMania: What type of music will be played during the missions?
Ivko Stanilov: The
music, like most soundtracks for films or games, combines many different styles.
It is made to capture the spirit of the various races in the game and the mood
of battle. The soundtrack will be available on the second of the game's CDs.
GGMania: Could you tell us a bit about the multiplayer in Rising Kingdoms?
Ivko Stanilov: The
game supports multiplayer custom games over LAN and also over Internet. In
addition, you can try your hand at the Online Battles, where you can compete
with players from all around the world for a place in the global rankings. The
Online Battle system gathers statistics from all games you've played and matches
you against players with a similar ranking in order to make the games
interesting for all participants.
GGMania: What are some of your favorite aspects of Rising Kingdoms?
Ivko Stanilov: One of
my favorite aspects is how all games you play are very different. With the
random secondary race colonies around your initial base and their powerful
special abilities, you have to adjust your strategy for each game. And I really
enjoy the graphics. The game is not fully 3D, but I think our art team managed
to prove that this doesn't necessarily mean it can't look great.
GGMania: What's the current status of the project, and what remains to be
done? When will it be released?
Ivko Stanilov: We
don't have much programming left to do; we're currently working on the last
Online features and on the main interface. Rising Kingdoms is currently in Beta
stage and will be released on the European market on May 27th. We will also
release a public demo on April 18th, try it out!
GGMania:Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Is there
anything you want to add that we didn't cover?
Ivko Stanilov: Well,
thank you for this interview, and to all the gamers - I will be expecting you in
the Rising Kingdoms Online Battles! Just look for "ivkost".