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Dominions Interview
(hx) 03:32 PM CEST - Aug,02 2001

Dominions is a turn-based strategy game from Illwinter Game Design set in a fantasy world of magic and mystery, allows players to take the roles of Gods fighting for supremacy. I recently conducted an interview with Johan Karlsson, the game's main programmer, about some of the game's features. Here is our discussion:

hx: To begin with, please introduce yourself * Illwinter Game Design to our readers. What games have you made previously, and are you currently working on other projects in addition to Dominions?

Johan: Illwinter Game Design is a newly started company located in the south of Sweden. The staff consists of only three people and I'm responsible for the programming. Dominions is the first game produced by Illwinter Game Design, but the same people have also created Conquest of Elysium. CoE is an old game which is now being maintained and improved by Illwinter as well. We are working on out next game as well. It will be quite different from out previous game. It will be an OpenGL 3d game, but still we will try to retain the depth that is our trademark.

hx: What is the basic concept of Dominions, and what are the main genres from which it will draw inspiration and elements? What do you consider the main influences on its design?

Johan: Some influences for Dominions has been vga-planets, Masters of Magic and good old role playing games. Vga-planets has a good play-by-e-mail system that we have been inspired by. It allows all players to play their turns at once and battles can be handled automatically by the computer. MoM is a traditional fantasy game with spells and magic items and I find it quite addictive.

With these things in mind we tried to make a game that is even better and has the features that we felt was lacking in these games. Some of these features that we have implemented in Dominions are

* Huge battles. In Dominions you can pit hundreds of troops against each other in a single battle and still be able to inspect individual soldiers.

* More stuff. Dominions has more different magic items, spells and units than any other similar game.

* Modern network support. You can set up an Internet Server that automatically hosts the game at certain intervals.

hx: Could you tell us something of the background story of Dominions?

Johan: The old God has died and his servants now fight among themselves for godhood. You take the role of one of these God wannabes (called pretender Gods) and fight to be the sole survivor. Each pretender God spreads his divine dominions in addition to conquering land. This dominions affects the land it occupies to become more similar to the god. That is a god of death will make the world die as he gets more followers.

hx: What is the primary target market for Dominions? Do you feel it will attract both power gamers and casual players?

Johan: I would say that it only attracts power gamers. Dominions is a complex game that takes some time to learn and it has none of the movie sequences that thrives in today's games.

hx: What makes Dominions unique among today's turn based strategy games?


* Huge graphical and automatic battles. You give your commanders orders before the battle starts and after all battles have been executed you will be able to inspect them in detail and see how things went.

* The sheer number of features in the game. Dominions has over 300 magic items, 400 spells and 600 units. The spells have quite unique effects and the spells vary in power from a fireball (can kills about 3 people where it hits and set people afire if they are to close to the impact) to Wrath of the God (lightning bolts will strike at enemies throughout the world constantly until the ritual is dispelled or the mage who created it is killed).

* Mercenaries are bought on a global market and all players bid for the same mercenaries.

* You are able to design your own God by choosing his magical and divine powers and what being he is. The beings to choose from ranges from the immobile sacred statue to the mighty Cyclops or the immortal lich. The latter ones will be able to conquer land by personally bashing their enemies in melee or by magic.

hx: How linear or non-linear will the game be overall?

Johan: Very non-linear! Especially if you play against human opponents.

hx: What graphics engine is Dominions on?

Johan: Standard Direct-X for Windows or X-windows and DGA for Linux.

hx: How many cutscenes Dominions includes?

Johan: Zero!

hx: Tech-stuff, What type of system should gamers need to run the game well?

Johan: Nothing fancy. Any Pentium computer should do. But if you will also be able to play the game on Sparc computers (and soon sgi and pa-risc too).

hx: What about music and sound effects? Do you support 3D sound?

Johan: We have no 3d in our game. But stereo sound is supported at least! In battles you will hear the sound effect coming from the correct location with normal stereo sound.

hx: How magic works in Dominions? Can different nations have access to significantly different spells and magic items?

Johan: There are eight paths of magic in Dominions. These are the four elements plus astral, death, nature and blood. Every nation excels at different paths and so the spells and magic items for each nation will most often be completely different. All magic apart from blood magic requires magic gems for the powerful spells or for rituals. To get gems mages must search for magic locations in your provinces. Blood magic is quite different and requires that you capture blood slaves that must be sacrificed in order to cast even a simple blood magic spell.

 hx: How will the interface handle all of the game's complexity?

Johan: Quite well I hope. Almost everything can be done by clicking around with the mouse and our intention was that it should be possible to play the game without reading the manual. But still I think that you will miss some thing if you don't read it.

hx: How many levels in total will we have to play in the single player game?

Johan: There are no campaign and no levels. However there is a limited amount of maps to play on, but there is so much randomness that it is no problem to play the same map over and over again.

hx: How will multiplayer games be handled? Online peer/peer or client-server? Possible for players to act as their own hosts (ala Quake). Gamespy support implemented? Any cooperative multiplay possible?

Johan: Client-Server via TCP/IP. It is very easy to set up your own multiplayer server and currently that is what you have to do. But we hope to set up a public multiplayer server at Illwinter in the near future. But it is also possible to play by e-mail if you do not have a permanent connection to the internet. No gamespy support but cooperative multiplayer is definitely supported. Dominions is a game that is good for alliances, treaties and trade.

hx: How do you feel about community? Will there be any in-game support for guilds or other types of groups? What kinds of things are you planning for out-of-game community support?

Johan: We plan to support the Dominions community as best we can. We will publish maps and updates on the home page and announce any independent Dominions site that might appear.

 hx: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Is there anything you want to add that we didn't cover?

Johan: Make sure you find many human opponents for Dominions. It is at its best during large multiplayer games!

genre: turn-based strategy
release: June 2001
developer: Illwinter Game Design

last 10 comments:

Normalposted - Sep, 10 2001 - 17:39
Good game.

Gerard Mulderposted - Sep, 21 2001 - 16:52
A briljant game. I have never seen so many possibilities that are yet so easily gradually explored. Start off right away as a traditional sword and buckler god playing Ulm and bit by bit discover the pleasures of playing all powerfull magic wielders like Pangea... A gem!

hxposted - Aug, 02 2001 - 16:19
hehe I think this game is dedicated to hard-core fans of BBS online games :)

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