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American Conquest Interview
(hx) 01:10 PM CEST - Sep,14 2002

GGMania got a chance to talk with Sergiy Grygorovych of GSC Game World as he answers a few questions regarding to American Conquest, the upcoming real-time strategy game from the same guys who worked on Cossacks: European Wars and its add-ons. He provided us with both pretty interesting information and five exclusive screenshots.

GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on American Conquest? What games have you made previously, and are you currently working on other projects in addition to American Conquest?

Sergiy Grygorovych: I'm Sergiy Grygorovych, the Project Manager of American Conquest. My previous development experience includes work on Cossacks: European Wars, 2 Cossacks add-ons and generally, all the projects developed at GSC Game World.

GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team working on American Conquest?

Sergiy Grygorovych: The team behind American Conquest is chiefly made of guys who worked on Cossacks: European Wars and its add-ons. The team is very professional and owing to the RTS development experience gained while working on previous projects, we are up to creating a real software masterpiece.

GGMania: What's the basic premise or concept underlying the gameplay, and what major themes or conflicts are involved?

Sergiy Grygorovych: American Conquest is about the history of American continent exploration. The game covers a period of 300 years packed with various historical events, starting from Columbus's discovery of the continent and up to the War of Independence in the United States. The game supports up to 16000 units on the map, which allows staging historical battles in their true scope. Making use of this possibility, we focused primarily on highlighting the major military conflicts of that time. These include Pizarro's campaign, 7 Years' War, War of Independence, Tecumseh's rebellion and more.

GGMania: Why was the decision made to have the game set during era between 1492 and 1813?

Sergiy Grygorovych: We intended to make a game about the period of America exploration, until the first established state was set up. This was the time when Europeans who came to America discovered a totally new world, a drastically different one to the society they were used to. Europeans learned a lot about the continent, their inhabitants, made friends and enemies with them. On the other hand, we wanted to show the indigenous American population, their interesting culture and traditions, along with how they opposed European invasion into their lands. We treated historical details with special care, so players will learn a lot of interesting facts about well-known events and personalities of that time while playing.

GGMania: What sort of missions will be a part of the single player game? How many levels in total will we have to play?

Sergiy Grygorovych: There will be 42 missions in 5 campaigns in single player. You will start playing as Columbus discovering the continent and then gradually move along the milestones of American history of the time. The difficulty curve will grow smoothly through missions. Initially in the game you, just as the first European travelers to America, will learn how to build fortifications, survive in the hostile territory, carry out exploration of the territory and establish diplomatic relations with Natives. Many missions in the game will be playable for the two sides, so you can choose which you like best. Playing for the Natives (the majority of game nations are Native Americans) will reveal interesting and unique features of their culture, as we paid special attention not only to their architecture, but also to battle tactics and peculiar set of warriors.

GGMania: How many different kinds of units are there and do they gain experience, abilities or skills over time as leaders do? What is one of your favorite units?

Sergiy Grygorovych: There are over 100 different units in the game, and each of the game's 12 nations has 3-5 unique units. Compared to Cossacks, units in American Conquest have several types of attack (both melee and ranged) and have a very detailed and, I would say, ideal animation. There are several factors impacting your units in the game. The key ones are morale and combat experience. Morale defines a probability for your unit to panic and is influenced by multiple factors, such as loss of squad's commander, standard bearer, fear of mob, fear of horses, friendly soldiers dying nearby, proximity to your own camp and so on. When the units lose morale, they become uncontrollable and flee the battlefield. Combat experience is a factor which makes your units less fearful - the more enemies your unit killed, the lesser is the probability he will run away. Every unit gets experience from battles, and successful commanders will have special bonuses, like boost of morale to the squad they are in charge of. Special informational windows in the game will enable easy check of the current state of your troops' morale.

There are many interesting units in the game. One of my favorites is the warrior with blowpipe. This is a Native American unit which spits poisonous darts into enemies. The dart strikes very lightly and does not deliver any serious damage, but then within a minute, if you fail to heal the troops, their life points will drain until there are only 10% of them left. Poisoned troops are very easy to crush then.

GGMania: What are some of your favorite aspects of American Conquest?

Sergiy Grygorovych: What I like most of all about playing American Conquest is that you can win even with a small group of troops, provided you use proper tactical maneuvers. For instance, you play for Spain and a large group of Maya warriors attack you. What you have available, is a squad of halberdiers, musketeers and a group of cavalry. You put musketeers in front and wait until the enemy comes very close (bullets in the game have real physics and lose force with the distance, so the shot power will be highest when you let the enemy come as close as possible). After that you produce a musket salvo to shoot down many of attackers and lower the morale of the remaining enemies. It will take more than 30 seconds for your musketeers to reload, so you take them behind the backs of halberdiers for safe reloading, while halberdiers restrain the attackers. Halberdiers assumed the stand ground position and therefore have an extra defense bonus allowing them to crush easily the Maya. At this very moment part of Maya troops, fearing defeat, start retreating. You move your shooters forward for another salvo. The attackers start massively panicking. High time to advance with your cavalry. Horsemen easily chase and kill the retreating enemy - battle won with minimal losses and valuable combat experience gained. After that, you can continue the offensive, move your troops forward, encounter the next group of enemies, repeat the whole operation and continue in this way until the very enemy base.

GGMania: What AI improvements shall we see in American Conquest?

Sergiy Grygorovych: Compared to Cossacks, AI in American Conquest will be better in economic development, carry out mass attacks with combined troops. AI will split its attacks into scouting actions, sabotage and main forces assault. Computer players can also arrange subversive actions to undermine your economy - kill peasants and destroy your mines. We also taught the AI to protect its own base more safely.

GGMania: Is American Conquest a major leap compared with Cossacks, or another same-engined follower of the Cossacks?

Sergiy Grygorovych: The gameplay is 50% Cossacks and 50% new. Taking into account a number of innovations implemented (doubled unit limit, units go inside houses, unit morale and experience, realistic animations, physics, water effects, photorealistic textures and so on), I see American Conquest as a step forward from original Cossacks. With American Conquest we did a slant towards tactical combat and reduced the role of resource micro-management slightly.

GGMania: Needless to say that strategy fans impatiently waiting for Cossacks II - Napoleonic Wars. What makes American Conquest different from Cossacks II?

Sergiy Grygorovych: The same what makes Civilized 19-century Europe different from 15-century wild America. Cossacks II will feature real European cities, with their peculiar system of government, taxes, regular armies etc. Cossacks II are likely to be even more focused on tactical combat, but so far it's too early to talk about it.

GGMania: What multiplayer modes are you including? What does American Conquest bring to the table that the online player hasn't seen before?

Sergiy Grygorovych: American Conquest will offer as old, so as completely new multiplayer modes. Thus, we will include the good old Deathmatch and Historical Battle modes of play, as well as Global Rating System, Automatic Championship System and Vizor game viewing system introduced in Cossacks add-ons. The original American Conquest multiplayer mode will be called War for America and will offer players possibility to fight for the bits of American land on-line. Here we created a model of American Continent split into numerous cells of area, where each of the game factions occupies a certain territory. Joining this or that nation, each of the American Conquest players can fight for conquering the land to make his nation the owner of the continent.

GGMania: Can you tell us a bit about Random Map generator?

Sergiy Grygorovych: Sure. The Random Map mode will preserve the best features of Cossacks, as well as add several new elements. Thus, in Random Map you can select a nation to fight for, choose color, set computer opponents, select AI skill of play (from easy to very hard), alliances, choose a type of map you will fight on, initial resources, starting conditions, peace time and other options to satisfy the most exquisite of players' tastes. In American Conquest we also created 4 special climatic Zones reflecting environment, flora and fauna of North and South Americas. Animals in the game will serve a good source of food, and some of the nations will procure food from hunting only, for example.

GGMania: I have read that American Conquest is still based on the venerable Cossacks engine. But you claim up to 16 000 units on the map (two-time more than Cossacks) incredibly huge maps, huge variety of landscapes, map zooming and many other features. How did you do it with the same engine? :)

Sergiy Grygorovych: You are right, it's impossible to attain all this without modifying the previous engine of Cossacks, so we re-made it 90%:). That basically allows us to say it's a different engine now.

GGMania: What are the system requirements then?

Sergiy Grygorovych: You will need a minimum of PII 450 and 64Mb RAM to run the game. Recommended specifications are PIII 1000 and 256 Mb RAM to play it smoothly with maximal settings.

GGMania: Do you plan to implement Cossacks' technology in some other games?

Sergiy Grygorovych: We will be making a mass of projects on the engine - everything from RPG to tactical RTS games. We also have almost completed works on the engine to license it, so it's possible we share the engine with other teams for their projects in future.

GGMania: What makes American Conquest unique among today's real-time strategy games?

Sergiy Grygorovych: I think this is the mass-scale of battles along with innovative gameplay, plenty of interesting historical information, over-detailed unit animations, photorealistic landscapes, rich flora and fauna, as well as advanced technologies used, that make this game stand out.

GGMania: Currently what is the status of the current progress of the game and when can we expect to see it in stores?

Sergiy Grygorovych: We are working on the beta version right now. German players can have the game closer to the end of 2002, while the rest of Europe and US are likely to get it in Q1 2003.

GGMania: Do you plan to release a playable demo?

Sergiy Grygorovych: Yes, the demo will come out soon and will be available for free download in the Internet.

GGMania: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Finally s there anything else you wish to say about American Conquest?

Sergiy Grygorovych: Thanks for the interesting questions. Our team would like to extend the cordial thanks to the gaming community supporting us. You can check regular updates on the game at the official web-site

genre: real-time strategy
release: 2003/Q1
developer: GSC Game World
the game is similar to: Cossacks
publisher: Russobit-M

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