We got a chance to talk with Denis Teplyashin of Step CG as he talks about
Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra, their upcoming sci-fi adventure game.where you
play the role of Earth's secret agent, helping human coalition in the struggle
with alien invaders. He provides us with pretty interesting information and 9
GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little
bit about what you do on Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra? What games have you
Denis Teplyashin: Hello! First let me tell you a
little about our studio. 10 years ago our studio produced an adventure game
called "Star Heritage" for ZX Spectrum platform and it became extremely popular
in Russia. We had a lot of plans and began developing new projects for ZX
Spectrum but soon it surrendered at IBM's discretion. So Step CG crew had to
gain new experience and develop games for PC. The first game made for PC was
"Deactivation", it was a 3D arcade which appeared in December 2003. In July 2005
we produced an animated quest with arcade elements "Alice's Adventures" based on
a story of a famous Russian sci-fi writer Kyr Bulychev. "Evenings On Farm Near
Dikanka", a cartoon quest based on the stories of a Russian classical writer
N.V. Gogol, was put on the market in December this year. There are more projects
of ours to be announced at the beginning of 2006, so follow the news.
GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team working
on Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra?
Denis Teplyashin: Almost all members of Step CG
contributed to the making of "Star Heritage", some of them took part only in a
couple of projects before, others have a really huge experience in game
developing, such as Yury Matveev, the ideologist of the project and Ilya
Chudakov, our scriptwriter and game designer and of course the lead-artist of
the project Yury Khokhlov, whose astonishing graphics you can see on the
screenshots widespread in the internet.
GGMania: Can you give us an overview of Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra,
telling us what the game is all about?
Denis Teplyashin: First, Star Heritage 1: Black
Cobra" has very interesting settings and world-famous history of the universe.
Second, unusual science fiction plot makes this game different from the others
and offer a player wide range of options. Third, first person view helps to
appreciate the great graphics. RPG elements and different fights make the game
more dynamic and less easy to play. Moreover, the feature of changing weather
and time of the day make you feel really enchanted. This game is not one you
finish and forget in one moment. The world of Star Heritage is so different and
unique that you will return certainly: to finish the game following an
alternative branch of the plot, to find more information which make clear some
mysteries in the game, to meet and solve new puzzles, to feel the astonishing
atmosphere of Star Heritage.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the storyline of the game?
Denis Teplyashin: Star Heritage 1: The Black
Cobra is a game with world-famous history of the Universe and non-trivial
science fiction plot. You can read prehistory of game events in the original
short story which the
game is based on.
In brief: two centuries have already passed since toad-like creatures,
possessing the most powerful weapon and technologies conquered the Universe.
During all these years people were secretly preparing for war. They transported
weapon and equipment to unprotected planets using space trading lines. Secret
agents were carrying out the missions of the Center. The Dauntless, the main
hero, is one of them. After the fight with the Artangs' patrol (to obey their
orders meant to die) he finds himself on an unknown planet not registered in any
space catalogues without a ship, arms, contact with the Centre or anyone else.
In the beginning of the adventure the only purpose of our hero is to stay alive
and to get out from this planet as soon as possible. But as a result of a range
of surprising discoveries Dauntless got to know extremely important information
which can become a key in struggle against the Artangs...
GGMania: You claim that this is a non-linear adventure game. What does it
mean for players?
Denis Teplyashin: Non-linearity of the game
declared in our press releases is realized, as we call it, 'at all fronts'.
Moreover, the freedom of players in the new Star Heritage is substantially
increased. For example, there is a possibility to pass to the side of Artangs
and even to make a career!
Non-linearity of Star Heritage can be divided into four kinds. First, many game
problems can be solved in different order, which, owing to RPG-elements, can
essentially influence the difficulty of passing the game. Second, it is possible
to attain some purposes by several principally different ways. For example, to
get to Taran city from Pulsar city is possible in two ways. Third, a player can
make the decision, which radically changes the entire plot, as I have told
before, and move to the side of aggressors - the Artangs. Fourth, the game
events can be influenced by the time of day: for example, in one play location,
at night, the player is subjected to attack of night predators and is forced to
defend himself, though during daytime he can easily continue his way.
GGMania: What are the different types of locations players will see?
Denis Teplyashin: The locations of "Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra"
are really different. Wild places of the unknown planet look friendly at day and
scary at night. The cities of Pulsar and Taran strike our imagination with their
architecture; the village of exiles looks depressing… The desert of Tempor,
where time and space… but stop, sorry, the rest you'll see in the game. The
locations are highly animated: flying insects, clouds, pedestrians in the
streets and lots of other things will please your eyes and probably cause
associations with Myst.
GGMania: Your website claims that the game will feature "Specially
designed battle system" Can you explain it further?
Denis Teplyashin: So, this feature is easy to
explain: sometimes you have to fight the enemies. For this sake we developed a
special battle system, which is based on "hit-block" principle. The result of a
battle will depend on your skill of using your health level and on your
reaction. Though many adventure fans are against mixing of genres, we couldn't
help introducing fights in the game. To our minds it makes the game more
unpredictable, real and dynamic.
GGMania: What kinds of puzzles are primarily found in the game? Were there
any types of puzzles you specifically wanted to avoid using?
Denis Teplyashin: The puzzles of the game are
classical: they are based on logical manipulations of objects, and they don't
make the player try all possible combinations. Moreover, solutions of some of
the puzzles depend on the time of the day; this feature, we hope, will be new to
GGMania: Will it use mouse for inventory management and manipulating things
in the environment or is it all keyboard controlled?
Denis Teplyashin: Star Heritage 1: The Black
Cobra is a point-and-click adventure as we suppose it has the interface most
suitable for gamers with different preferences. Also one has small and big maps
in our game and can use the numbers on a keyboard to choose the preferable
answer in dialogues. The menus are pullout. And remember that fights in Star
heritage have their own original interface (as we call it 'a special battle
GGMania: What can you tell us about the engine that is being used for the
Denis Teplyashin: The engine was made by Step
Creative Group. We keep improving it to use it in the other project, an
adventure game called "The Island: The Earthling", based on the story of the
same name by the Strugatsky brothers.
GGMania: Why did you decide to choose 1st person view?
Denis Teplyashin: "Star Heritage 1: The Black
Cobra" is not a typical adventure game thanks to the special atmosphere of it.
Moreover, we never show the hero of the game to let the imagination picture him.
We think that 1st person view makes the most favorable conditions for it.
GGMania: Who is doing the voice acting and music for the game?
Denis Teplyashin: Speaking about the voices and
the music I can say that we could afford more than 15 famous actors to make the
game sound brilliant. Judging by the responses we succeeded. The game includes
over 20 musical tracks, part of them are remakes of the original music used in
ZX Spectrum "Star Heritage" 10 years ago. Some tracks can be downloaded from our
GGMania: When will it be released in English speaking territories? Will it be
released in North America?
Denis Teplyashin: We are negotiating publishing
of "Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra" with a range of companies in North America
and Europe. We haven't reached definite agreements yet, but we have a lot of
positive responses from all over Russia and Ukraine, this is why we hope that
soon the game will be available to players of English-speaking territories.
GGMania: What is your personal favorite adventure game? Favorite other game?
Denis Teplyashin: It may sound strange, but I am
not a fan of adventures in the full sense of the word. Last games I played were
"The Return to the Mysterious Island" and our "Evenings on Farm Near Dikanka".
My favorite games of other genres are Civilization, Warcraft and Heroes of Might
GGMania: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Is
there anything else you'll like to tell our readers about?
Denis Teplyashin: Thank you for the questions
and on behalf of Step Creative Group let me wish you exciting gameplay,
interesting plots and hard but sweet victories. Happy New Year and good luck in
musical compositions from soundtrack of the game