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Blitzkrieg II Interview
(hx) 12:32 AM CET - Dec,05 2003

GGMania got a chance to chat with Nival Interactive's PR manager Larisa Baklanova, as she talks about Blitzkrieg II, the upcoming WWII 3D real-time strategy game where players can command famous aces and units, strategically plan battles in multiple theatres, choose their reinforcements and use a wide range of new unit types such as aircraft and ships. She 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 Blitzkrieg II?

Larisa Baklanova: My name is Larisa Baklanova, I'm PR Manager for Nival Interactive. I work with Nival's team for as long as I can recall myself :)
Although I'm not a programmer or game designer, my role in the project is very considerable.I make sure that all ideas and feedback from our players flow unhampered to the project's team, that is I stay in touch with you on behalf of these dedicated people.

GGMania: Can you give us an overview of Blitzkrieg II, telling us what the game is all about?

Larisa Baklanova: As in the original, the game's action takes place during WWII. Blitzkrieg II is based on real events of that tragedy, most of its missions depicting real battles. The player can fight for four different countries (Germany, Great Britain, USSR, and the USA) in four different campaigns that cover all theatres of the Great Second.
We are striving to give the player maximum of strategic freedom and are giving a lot of thought to it. In Blitzkrieg II, successful accomplishment of missions will influences your further battles and undertakings, that is elimination or capture of enemy airfield enables player to call for more air support and give him/her additional advantage. Other escalations in strategic planning may include a greater variety of units and the ability to call for ground reinforcements. Blitzkrieg II also presents real historical heroes who will either act as highly-experienced units or will increase combat capabilities of the player's army.
New totally 3D engine will add up to the game's detail both in looks and game play. The players will also be able to fight with each other through the stand-alone multiplayer server and LAN networks.
There are other new ideas that we've put into the game. Some of these ideas will be revealed in further questions, the others we'll be kept secret for now to surprise you with them later on. :)

GGMania: Were you pleased with the reactions that the original Blitzkrieg game received?

Larisa Baklanova: Yes, we were. Blitzkrieg enjoyed very good ratings in game reviews all over the world. Blitzkrieg communities came to life in different countries. Yet many players asked for more of tactical abilities, more of 3D, greater variety of units, more war theaters, they also asked for the multiplayer to get better and cooler.
We took these ideas into account. Moreover, we found out that they coincided with our image for the sequel. Well, I guess it's only natural since we here in Nival are all seasoned gamers :)

GGMania: What are the biggest game play changes in Blitzkrieg II over the original game?

Larisa Baklanova: One of the biggest changes in the game play is that each mission in Blitzkrieg II has multiple primary and secondary objectives that are connected to other missions to provide limitless strategic choices. The player now can choose what type of reinforcements he would like to get and when, which depends not only on his actions in the mission, (for instance the retention of the train station), but also on his success in previous missions of this campaign. As a matter of fact, experience in previous missions means a lot for the game play: the player earns promotions (which allow him to use more units in further missions) for his success. As in the original game units gain experience and upgrade the more the player uses them, but now they get much more abilities with the experience. That will make the player to give more thought to each tactical move. He will value his veterans and will have to be careful not to lose them in an unfavorable skirmish.
We also added more RPG elements to the game. There are real historical leaders now (say, Peter Churchill), and some real elite forces (USA 101 Airborn Division, Commandos and so on) that the player can use in some missions. Some of these special units are an additional bonus for the success on the battlefield.
Blitzkrieg will feature furious inshore warfare as well. You'll be able to use main caliber guns of friendly ships to support your war efforts.

GGMania: Will Blitzkrieg II allow gamers to build of units?

Larisa Baklanova: The ability to build units is an interesting element, but in Blitzkrieg it will ruin the original concept. One of the main things that Blitzkrieg II has taken from the original is its historical authenticity. In REAL War officers couldn't just make, let's say, more tanks “from air" to defeat the enemy. They had to deal with the exact units and equipment they had; and this is exactly why some of them are called great strategists! Nevertheless, Blitzkrieg II will still provide the player with some additional resources: he will be able to call for reinforcements, the amount and the posture of which is variable. So we deepened the strategic element but still kept the game in the frames of historical accuracy. Furthermore, I guess harvesters will look ridiculous in Blitzkrieg :)

GGMania: What combat units we can expect in Blitzkrieg II?

Larisa Baklanova: Surely, most units presented in the original game will live on in the sequel, though some new things will be added: ships, motor boats, new types of infantry, heroes (that actually are specific units with many advantages), new tanks and artillery modifications which haven't been covered before. All in all, there will be over 300 different units, including American and Japanese units, and 60 types of soldiers. I should also mention that some of the original units have changed their abilities, some have got additional abilities: engineers, for example, can now build bunkers. Planes can do various maneuvers and sharp turns almost like in flight simulators, so the air battles should be looking really good! :)

GGMania: Can you reveal a bit more about the heroes in the game?

Larisa Baklanova: They are famous people and commanders of WWII, such as, Pokryshkin, Peter Churchill, Michael Wittmann and others. All the leaders are units with some special qualities, which are based on real events /like almost everything in Blitzkrieg II!:)) /. For instance, Peter Churchill will be able to dress in enemy uniform and walk through their positions giving important reconnaissance information to the player.
The enemy will also have some real generals world-famous for their strategy talents, so watch out! :)

GGMania: What AI improvements shall we see in Blitzkrieg II?

Larisa Baklanova: Blitzkrieg shall definitely have AI improvements. The enemy generals will act much rougher and smarter. They will be able to call for reinforcements, choose the types of units that would make the best countereffort to the units you have. Path finding and unit behaviors shall be revised and get better. Probably some more issues will rise up during the development process, the AI concept has not been “frozen" for implementation into the game. Let's just say that you will not have to use your significant strategic talent for insignificant details...

GGMania: Would you say what's the hardest part of making a game like this, getting the AI right?

Larisa Baklanova: We consider all aspects of the game equally important and pay very close attention to all of them. The AI is certainly very important for the strategy genre (that is obvious), but I would say that the hardest thing about development is to put all aspects into one seamless concept, multileveled, deep and enthralling. In this regard, the game may be compared to a living thing and as its creators we make every effort to make it healthy, capable and resilient :) When the game is resilient, it means it has good gameplay which resides in every element: graphics, storyline, animations, models, units, AI, interface, music and etc. Sure, we'll create a good one :)

GGMania: Will be graphic, interface, path finding improved over the original game? If so, how?

Larisa Baklanova: We'll improve them all. Now we have much more animation for units, terrain objects and weather effects. For example, bridges and buildings will have multiple stages of destruction to make their collapse look really gorgeous :)
There will be many types of animated deaths, movements, sea tides and river flows, animated explosions and many more.
We have implemented different times of day, so missions will also take place at night, dawn, and nightfall.
Some other details will be added to make the game even closer to life. As for the graphics, it all will be in 3D. As for the interface, it will be improved to get more ergonomic and easy-to-use.
As for the path finding, we will put much attention to it. See, while a single unit moved to the destination point with no problems, once there was a number of them moving to the same point, it sometimes resulted in a hold-up. The units will actually calculate the shortest and the quickest way to a point of destination. One of the other path finding features is that formations of units will move with one speed (say, tanks will slow down not to overrun the infantry). Formations and units will also be able to turn to the best position for the combat actions automatically on the player's request.

GGMania: What historical missions from the World War II will be in Blitzkrieg II?

Larisa Baklanova: The majority of Blitzkrieg II missions will be based on the original battles of World War II. You'll lead Soviet troops in the defense of Odessa and Sevastopol, in British campaign you will participate in Havre assault, as an American leader you will struggle for the Philippines… These are just few of the historical missions you'll be able to fight through in Blitzkrieg II.

GGMania: Could you tell us a bit about the multiplayer in Blitzkrieg II?

Larisa Baklanova: Players will be supported by a matchmaking server with a rating system. In the multiplayer mode the player fights for one of the countries with equal initial abilities provided to each player. We have changed the flag control mode of the original Blitzkrieg. Now the players will capture different objectives that would give them different bonuses in terms of reinforcement strength. We are also allowing the player to choose what reinforcements to call for, giving him more strategic control over the situation on the battlefield.

GGMania: Can gamers expect a huge improvement in graphics? Can we finally expect zoom-in/zoom-out feature?

Larisa Baklanova: Yes, there definitely will be a big improvement in graphics. The game will be totally 3D, meaning all the objects, terrain and effects will be volumetric :). The effects and animation will also be much more detailed: spatters of dust from moving wheels, smooth dance of sea waves, fire, smoke, explosions, rain – they all will look very beautiful and natural. Each individual soldier will also be done in 3D, which allows us to have literally hundreds of animations giving each soldier unique and easy identifiable look and behavior.
And there also will be a zoom-in/zoom out feature, so you'll be able to examine the landscape from any distance. It will help players to zoom out from tactics to strategic planning, to say nothing of the opportunity to enjoy full panorama of a battle.

GGMania: What kind of hardware should players have in order to experience good game performance?

Larisa Baklanova: So far, the requirements are approximate, they may slightly change in the process of the game development. As for now, they are as follows:
Minimal requirements - PIII 800MHz class computer with 128 MB RAM; GeForce2 MX class video card with 32 MB video RAM onboard, 2GB of free space at HDD. Recommended: P-IV 2GHz class computer with 256 MB RAM; GeForce3 class video card with 64 MB video RAM onboard, 2GB of free space at HDD.

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

Larisa Baklanova: Its current status is close to Alpha-version. We are planning to take some time and hit the shelves with it at the Q1 of 2005. As you understand, the exact release date is still to be announced.

GGMania: Will a demo be made available before the official release of the game?

Larisa Baklanova: Yes, sir! :) The demo-version is a must, it's kind of a standard procedure to us here in Nival. We will probably carry out the beta test as well.

GGMania: Why should we rush out and buy Blitzkrieg II when it hits the shelves?

Larisa Baklanova: What a cunning question :)! Blitzkrieg II will be interesting not only for the fans of the original game, but for all RTS and war gamers as well. The WWII setting is becoming more and more popular our days, and Blitzkrieg II takes this tendency further, offering the player real battles, real heroes and real strategy. Above all – real challenge for those, who are ready to take it! Plus it will all be technically polished to the highest standards of computer games: an addictive gameplay, thought-out design, 3D graphics – every detail has been meticulously worked through. We are putting a lot of effort to make Blitzkrieg II one of the best games in its genre. I would even say, we are straining every nerve to make it a masterpiece! So if you like to figure out your strategy, to shoot and bomb, to give orders and to enjoy your hard-earned victory, then, yes, you should run out and put your hands on this game the day it gets released! :)

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

Larisa Baklanova: You're always welcome! In the nearest future we'll be able to tell you much more about Blitzkrieg II. Thank you for your questions, play and enjoy games!

genre: WWII 3D real-time strategy
release: 2005/Q1
developer: Nival Interactive

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