Gameguru Mania got a chance to talk with IMC's Ingo Horn and Torsten Hess as they talk about Sparta: Ancient Wars, their upcoming real-time strategy game based on the historical background of Spartans high culture.
They will demonstrate the game at the E3 2005 in Los Angeles. Producer
Torsten Hess (they guy who worked on The Settlers series) will manage the
presentation of the game which will last about 30 minutes and will demonstrate a
first view on the game mechanic, the ecologic frame, the battles and of course
the abilities of the "Ancient Wars engine".
GGMania: Please begin by introducing yourself and giving us an idea of
your involvement in Ancient Wars
IH: Hello readers of ggmania.com. My name is Ingo
Horn and I am the responsible PR Manager for "Sparta - Ancient Wars". I have
worked on Sparta now since its early beginnings last year, when we met the
development team and got the point about the high potential of the game. Now
I've planned the complete worldwide PR announcement and I am responsible for the
E3 coverage of Sparta-Ancient Wars. Beside that, I was responsible for the name
of the game (idea) and worked out big parts of the story and timeline.
TH: My name is Torsten Hess, I'm the lead
producer of Sparta. I have been working with the team since early in 2004 and
since this time, workflow and development of the engine have proceeded quite
well. Everything regarding the game is going through my hands, so if there is
something about Sparta to know - I'm the man who knows it!
GGMania: Can you give us an overview of Ancient Wars, telling us what the
game is all about?
TH: "Sparta - Ancient Wars" is the first game
from a series of hopefully many games with a historical appeal. It takes place
at the time, when the Spartans were the leading faction around the Mediterranean
Sea, bringing high culture, brilliant tactics and health to its inhabitants. As
being a RTS game it will deliver stunning battles with no unit limitation and a
flexible 3D engine, supporting all latest Direct X features, self-shadowing,
shader 2.0 technology and a brand new physics engine.
IH: Beside that it will give the genre some cool
new ideas and elements that will be unveiled at E3! But for now, we already can
tell you, that for example the player can vary its transporting units with its
load. Based on the units, e.g. placed on a ship, the ship will be capable of
ranged attack (archers on board), able to move faster (workers on board) or even
be a siege ship (catapult on board). But beside this, you actually can see the
units on board - so it is possible to fight against an enemy, while seeing what
he has loaded on board. For all kind of tactics this is a very new feature.
GGMania: What playable sides will the player get to use in Ancient Wars?
TH: Of course you will play the mighty warriors
from the city of Sparta - the Spartans. Beside them you will have two other yet
not unveiled factions, you must defeat - so in total you will have three
GGMania: How many campaigns/ missions will be there, and how varied will
TH: So far we have worked out three campaigns
with separate civilisations, and each one will have at least ten missions. But
we aim to twelve for each race!
GGMania: How many different kinds of units are there and do they gain
experience, abilities or skills over time?
IH: Sorry, but this is still confidential and we
will unveil that later.
GGMania: What kinds of upgrades will be available in the game?
TH: We keep some ideas as a secret for now, but
what I can tell you is this: We will not have different periods like in so many
other RTS games, because we would like to keep the realistic appeal. It will not
be a game with an evolution of your civilisation - but we will add something
else, what makes much more sense and even more fun! But I am sure; you will see
that with your own eyes at this year E3 in L.A.
GGMania: How will resource management be handled in the game?
TH: "Sparta - Ancient Wars" is a modern real
time strategy game, where resource management will play a big part. We have
developed quite a wide range of improvements to the "normal" procedure to
harvest goods and to work on them, but this special feature will also shown at
GGMania: How is combat handled in Ancient Wars?
IH: Drag the units you like to control, click on
the enemy you like to attack, watch the cool battle! ;) Of course there will be
some slight enhancements in battles as well, but I mentioned one of them already
above with the example of equipping transportation units. Beside that we will
have something more to be unveiled later on, because we are still in development
of some cool features that will make it into the game, hopefully.
GGMania: What other game play elements in the game do you consider to be
important and/or unique? Will there be anything new that we've never seen
TH: Well, with the Havoc engine, the highly
anticipated AoE III already announced physics in their game. But Sparta will
feature an own physics engine that will affect ALL elements in the game. Beside
the effect on units and buildings, where e.g. chariots could crush through enemy
lines, we will use physics on wind, weather, buildings and the environment, so
even trees can break under heavy fire! So the tactics you can use will differ
from each other and the range of possibilities is so much bigger, than in any
RTS game before. Imagine some player specialized on harvesting wood, being
crushed with catapults breaking down the forest - so he is not able to harvest
any more wood! This is only a small example.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the engine that is being used for the
game? Can gamers expect a huge improvement in graphics?
TH: I think I don't have to tell much about that.
When you have a detailed look on the current screen shots you see the result,
which is quite amazing. The "Ancient wars engine" is a total new engine, which
has never been used before in any game. So it is in production especially for
the Ancient Wars series. It features a high level of detail, enormous effects at
still good frame rates are the key features of the engine. But as it is still in
development, we can surely await further more things from its power! So far, it
features Shader 2.0 effects, latest Direct X 9 features and the already
GGMania: Will the game have a multiplayer mode? If so, what will it include?
IH: We are still experimenting with several
things and modes, so we are not able to actually tell something. Of course a RTS
game must be delivered with a multiplayer mode, so surely players will be able
to fight cool ancient battles against each other in 2006!
GGMania: What's the current status of the project, and what remains to be
done? When will it be released?
TH: We are no friends of saying "It's so and so
many percent done!" because there are always many things to be aware of.
Technically, the game is very far, but in terms of testing and editing the
missions, there is still some way to go with it! But for a game with a
historical background it is very important to spent much time for correcting the
pre programming stage - otherwise every gamer will laugh about the story of a
game, that has nothing to do with history he leant in school!
GGMania: Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview. Is there
anything else you'll like to tell our readers about?
TH&IH: Thanks for your interest in our game, we are
happy that even from the first few information about the game, there was such a
huge feedback. We are looking forward to releasing a game that will bring many
hours of maximum fun to every player, so the first part of a successful brand
line is only the beginning of many brilliant games to follow!