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Rabid Dogs Interview
(hx) 05:41 PM CEST - Oct,12 2002

GGMania got a chance to chat with Development Director on Rabid Dogs², ZUXXEZ's upcoming turn-based strategy game with a twisted story about corruption, crime, sex and money. The topic include the storyline, the characters, the weapons, the enemies, the gameplay and the current status of the game's progress.

1) Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on Rabid Dogs²?

About our company:
ZUXXEZ acquired the games division of the former TopWare Interactive AG some time ago,  as well as its award-winning development team Reality Pump - known worldwide for products like Earth 2150, Heli Heroes or World War III. Our work began by looking for promising projects – often still in the conceptual stage – then we sign them, and play a decisive role in product development, management, finance and marketing. In this way, both developer and publishers profit from our know-how and experience in the computer game business.

About me:
I work as Development Director at ZUXXEZ and I'm also involved in other projects. Each of us at ZUXXEZ, has his or her own priorities and project(s). Of course "my baby" is Rabid Dogs². My main task in this project is to make the game- and mission design. Together with the programmers we develop the combat and the dialog system. The graphics artists take care of the character design and I have to think about character relationships and development. Additionally there are lots of other small things which have to be done throughout  the project so believe me - it never gets boring ;).

2) Can you give us a little background on the development team working on Rabid Dogs²?

Nekrosoft is a relatively small team of 5 people. Besides the “permanent staff” three additional freelancers are also working on this project. Some years ago Nekrosoft did titles like “Reservoir Dogs” ( which cannot be seen as the a precursor of Rabid Dogs²) or like "With Fire and Sword" - both turn based strategy games. 

Additionally we hired In Images - a second team consisting of 16 people - all experienced graphic artists - doing the in-game graphics (maps, characters, weapons and items). In Images finished their work on Frontline Attack: War over Europe a few months ago, an RTS title published by EIDOS Interactive.  

3) How many people are currently working on the project?

As I already said: at Nekrosoft there are 5 people and 3 freelancers, additionally In Images has 16 graphics artists. There is currently one dialog writer, two musicians composing the soundtrack, 3 people at Zuxxez (me included) and soon an external, experienced TV Production company making the movies. That means - 30 people in total (not including the TV Production company). 

4) How did the idea for Rabid Dogs² come about?

The inspiration was real life situations and events combined with fictional elements from famous movies and renowned books. Rabid Dogs2 introduces black and wicked humor – similar to that found in today’s crime and road movies. The work and thoughts of Quentin Tarantino’s work also played a role. 

5) What can you tell us about the storyline of the game?

Rabid Dogs2 is a turn-based strategy game with a twisted story about corruption, crime, sex and money. The storyline and the mission-lines are allusions to international contemporary policy, current events, to the most famous – as well as infamous – people, events and situations in real life and fictional work like movies and literature. There are references to front-page politicians and celebrities, characters from well known films, games and books. The game reflects today’s reality in a mirror of black,  gallows humor where "Good is Bad and Bad is even Worse."

6) You said there are references to front-page politicians and celebrities, characters from well known films, games and books. Can you give us some examples?

Important characters come from the higher echelons of American politics and the British Royal Family and are main elements of the total plot. Unfortunately, at this point ... the secret must be kept. Other in game events contain elements from remarkable movies like Air Force One or Ocean’s Eleven. The characters are mostly based on famous movies. One of the game’s main heroes  is Vincent “OK” Mega. This character is heavily based on Quentin Tarantino’s work and thoughts. Other characters reflect personalities from well-known books like “The Jackal” from 1974.

7) Seems you are a bit influenced by Tarantino films. Well,  I have nothing against him, he simply rocks. But I would like to know how bloody/ violent/ obscene will this game be?

The degree of violence in Rabid Dogs² can be compared with titles like Jagged Alliance or Fallout. Jagged Alliance 2 has had a big influence on “Rabid Dogs²”. - Rabid Dogs²  is more a sequel to this title, than to anything else.

8) I noticed that Rabid Dogs² gameplay is somewhat similar to the one we experienced in the Jagged Alliance or Fallout series. What are the main similarities in terms of gameplay?

Rabid Dogs² has some parallels to Jagged Alliance as well as Fallout Tactics. Some basic elements of the turn-based combat system and some elements of character development and character relationships are similar. Although the basic conception is similar to JA and Fallout, the player will see lots of differences in game play, not only in the combat system, but also in the dialog system, in character development and in AI behavior. Of course, the graphics and sound engine are much more advanced and will set a new standard for turn based strategy games.  

9) How much choice and what kinds of choices will the player have in the starting player character and in how it develops through the course of the game?

The player starts off by creating his own main character (male or female). Creation starts off by distributing points to the basic stats: body (combining strength and stamina), intelligence dexterity and so forth. The characters will be molded as the player acts. They can be evil, chaotic or neutral, cooperative or lone wolves. The player also has the possibility to find others to teach his heroes and help them improve his skills.

10) Can you tell us a bit about the character psychology?

Besides the general effects like fear of combat or of snakes the characters have also a unique individuality. That means each character has its preferences which have a direct influence on the game and can change as the game progresses, depending on the player’s behavior. Each character is unique, has special attributes and his or her own mentality. As mentioned above the characters can build up relationships which affect their skill development and overall team moral and efficiency

11) What type of variety can we expect to see in terms of weapons?

The game is based on reality, of course the weapons too. Over 100 types of weapons, from knives and pistols to bazookas with real characteristics (hitting power, range, accuracy etc.) are at the player’s disposal and give him a variety of possibilities from silent hunting to “demolition warfare”. Vests and different types of armor are also sure to be used. Of course, different weapon extensions can be mounted on the most guns, some are normal, some have special attributes and do not fit to every weapon. Besides the most prevalent weapons like AK47, Glock, Smith & Wesson and Berettas we have also implemented different crossbows, electroshocks (like Air Taser), various knives and other close combat weapons.

12) What can you tell us about the enemies in Rabid Dogs²?

In Rabid Dogs² we have implemented various types of enemies: from weak enemies to really cruel ones - you will find the whole palette. Enemies will also use group strategies – e.g. sometimes they will send someone ahead to wait on a corner. They take into account properties of their weapon - some will try to attack you from close range, but depending on the weapon used  and on their APs they can also shoot from a longer distance.

13) How will the enemy AI function? Can you give us an example?

It is impossible to tell you all about the A.I. (improvements), but I can give you an examples of outstanding behavior of NPC's: playable characters as well as NPC's make use not only of their sight, but also of their hearing. Under consideration of this option the player can develop various strategies. 

14) How does Rabid Dogs² handle the actual combat?

At this point I cannot explain to you the whole combat system - it is very complex and cannot be described in a few words. 
The game switches from real-time  into turn-based mode, and at that moment the player and the enemy have "eye contact. BTW: it’s irrelevant who see who first. Who of the both will finally take the first turn, depends on who saw the other first. 
If for example an enemy guarding a gate is turned with his back to the player, the player will be able to take his turn before AI. Of course, we have also implemented the possibility for the player during combat - depending on his APs - several options for moving and targeting.

15) What other gameplay elements does the game have?

I'll just give you some example of a huge variety of included game play elements: 

Character development: the characters will be molded as the player acts. They can be evil, chaotic or neutral, cooperative or lone wolves. The player also has the possibility to find others to teach his heroes and help them improve their skills.

Character commands:  Besides the “standard commands” like walk, run, crawl, hide and seek, and targeting, the player has the possibility of combining found or bought objects with each other. That opens up for the player new ways and possibilities of developing new strategies for accomplishing missions successfully. Additionally we have also implemented sub quests and Easter eggs which give the player the potentiality to improve his efficiency.

16) How many missions will there be, and how varied will they be? Will most quests involve criminal actions?

Rabid Dogs² has 15 missions in total. All mission scenarios are played in real locations and in well-known cities around the world - from Germany to Hong-Kong, from London to L.A.  There are two types of mission in Rabid Dogs²: urban and rural.

Urban: these missions require more cunning and resourcefulness, as the player cannot equip the band with heavier weapons. Mercenaries go on urban missions only with small arms and have restricted access to bulletproof vests. The danger of getting involved in serious conflicts with the police is too high with such noticeable heavy weapons and armor. 
: on the other hand, rural missions are designed to give full enjoyment of heavy firepower – rifles, SMG's, machine guns, bazookas and different types of grenades are required.

The different mission types make the game even more addictive and enjoyable. Missions do not only vary in theme, place and story but also in the way they are played. This adds completely new strategies to turn-based combat games.

17) What sort of interface have you guys prepared for the game?

Most games of this genre have a very complex interface and unclear control elements. In RD² we have included an animated interface, allowing the player to see the health status of his team members at any time. Each character has its own control buttons (with tool tips on mouse over, explaining to the player the action caused). Of course tool tips can be switched off ;). Each character has its own inventory and can carry a predefined number of objects (depending on his skills) etc.

18) How difficult will it be for someone new to this genre to get into the game?

Most games of this genre have very complex interface and control elements. The player needs a long time to learn how to handle the game. Consequently we have facilitated, especially for Casual gamers, the entry point and tried to make the game self-explanatory. Additionally, we have included 3 levels of difficulty (easy / normal / hard) to make the game suitable for each kind of player: beginners as well as experts. 

19) What can you tell us about the graphic engine for the game?

The graphics engine is based on DirectX 9.0 technology. The game uses 2D pre-rendered backgrounds, because the detail level is much higher and the graphics quality much better, together with 3D characters. 

20) In terms of cut-scenes and full-motion videos, what can we expect to see?

As I already said - the movies will be made by a skilled TV Production company. I cannot tell you actually too much about the content of the cut-scenes and the full motion videos but I promise you - ... they'll get under your skin!

The game starts with an intro movie explaining the story and the story background. Additional cut scenes are shown before each mission, explaining the mission task and giving the player some hints... 

21) What about music for the game?

The persuasive soundtrack is made by an experienced sound studio located in Mannheim, Germany well-known from other successful game projects like Earth 2140 or Frontline Attack: War over Europe. It combines several music genres like hard and soft rock, pop, orchestral and classic elements with each other. 

22) Will Rabid Dogs² feature a multi-player component? If so, what are you looking at for multiplayer options?

Yes, a turn-based multiplayer mode will be implemented. With this mode we want to avoid the “Hack’ n Slay” principle. Using DirectXTM’s DirectPlay technology we are relying on the widespread TCP / IP protocol. The player will also have the possibility to play over the Internet using a dedicated server. 

23) What do you think are the coolest and best aspects of the game?

The combination of all game play aspects, in-game elements, hidden quests, together with the storyline, the character relationships and their development makes the game outstanding and guarantees the player hundreds of hours of game play. The non-linear game system motivates the player to try out several strategies and to play the game several times.

24) At the moment, what is the current status of the game's progress and when do you expect the game to be released?

Most parts of the AI are nearly finished. We are actually working on the mission and map designs, on the in-game graphics, the character relationships and the dialog system. We will soon start with work on the movies. The game will be released in Q3/Q4 2003. 

25) As you've probably guessed, we're all itching to see the game in action. Will there be a video demo so we can see a bit of the action, or maybe an actual playable demo released in the near future to keep us hyped up and possibly get an even wider audience interested?

We will soon release a trailer for Rabid Dogs². To release a playable demo will still take some month, but I'll keep you informed ;)

26) Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Finally, is there anything else you wish to say about Rabid Dogs²?

The most important questions are already answered but one important thing should still be  mentioned: the game world is not fictional – it is based on reality. The game takes place in a parallel reality in which good is bad, and bad is even worse. The game world reflects the seamy side of reality and the darker side of life.

The locations are famous and well known all over the world. That makes it easier for most players around the world to identify with the characters in the game. This characteristic gives the game a special and a highly addictive touch which cannot be found in any previous turn based strategy game.

genre: turn-based strategy
release: 2003/Q3-Q4
developer: ZUXXEZ

last 10 comments:

modhaposted - Apr, 07 2003 - 13:47
from wehere i can dawnlod this game demo

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