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Stalingrad Q&A
(hx) 03:47 PM CEST - Jun,11 2004

GGMania got a chance to talk with Petr Prohorenko, game designer and scenario writer for Stalingrad, the upcoming WWII real-time strategy game that will be published by 1C Company. He provided us with pretty interesting information and four exclusive screenshots. The game is scheduled to be released this autumn, but there's no US publisher yet.

GGMania: Please start off by introducing yourself and giving us an idea of your involvement with Stalingrad
Petr Prohorenko:
Petr Prohorenko, game designer and scenario writer for Stalingrad.

GGMania: From where did you get the inspiration to make Stalingrad?
Petr Prohorenko:
Most of the contemporary realtime strategy titles try to reconstruct the entire WWII, or global operations on a certain front. That's why developers have to leave out details. If you want to embrace 6 years of conflict on different continents, you will need a lot of resources. We chose different approach. We decided to take one battle and scrutinize every minutest detail of it. With this method, we could bind abstract missions to real battles; create maps based on real archive documents, reconstruct unique objects and architecture. In result, we end up with a game that would look like an interactive encyclopedia of come particular episode of WWII. We chose Stalingrad battle, which fits this idea pretty well. It spanned around 100 thousand sq. km, and involved over 2 million people. The outcome of the battle was also very tangible. One of the most battle-worthy army of Wehrmacht was eliminated. Military historians believe that Stalingrad battle was the turning point for German campaign at the Eastern front. That's why we chose it for the game.
GGMania: How authentic do you believe the models, maps to be, especially compared to a lot of your competition?
Petr Prohorenko:
We are aiming for maximum authenticity. Maps and missions are created according to aerial photos and tactical maps used during the war. Units are precise copies of the real military machines, and missions are created with help of memoirs written by participants of the battle. I can add that we have conducted a serious historical research for Stalingrad. To write the scenario, I have read dozens of books, studied archive photos and scanned lots of dedicated websites.

GGMania: How many different kinds of units are there and do they gain experience, abilities or skills over time? What is one of your favorite units?
Petr Prohorenko:
Stalingrad features over 150 types of infantry units and vehicles. Unlike their Blitzkrieg counterparts, Stalingrad units are unable to gain experience and with each mission, you take command over a new detachment. My unit of choice is German experimental SP-gun Panzerselbstfahrlafette V "Sturer Emil" - huge clumsy monster resembling an elephant. It's absolutely deadly for opponents, though.

GGMania: Will there be persistent heroes in Stalingrad?
Petr Prohorenko: Some missions feature real generals and heroes of the Stalingrad battle (14th tank division commander Ferdinand Heim and Russian sniper Vassily Zaitsev). However, for realism's sake they are no different from the other units. They are introduced for authenticity and do not form the core of player's forces.

GGMania: Could tell us a bit about the combat in Stalingrad?
Petr Prohorenko: Combat system of the game has been revised and tweaked for more realistic combat. We changed units' firing range and almost every other parameter they had, world parameters were also adjusted. In result, although Stalingrad and Blitzkrieg look alike, combat system became pretty much different than that of the original. Tanks are much harder to kill now; they attack from significant distance and do not tend to "fence on their guns". Infantry units were also changed.

GGMania: Could you describe the difference between Blitzkrieg and Stalingrad interface?
Petr Prohorenko: We changed layout of interface buttons, enlarged some elements (health bars, ammo bars) to make them easier to spot and redesigned in-game screens.

GGMania: How many campaigns/ missions will there be, and how varied will they be?
Petr Prohorenko:
Stalingrad features two large campaigns made of 7 chapters. They total 43 missions. We wanted to make them as diverse and as impressive as possible. In Stalingrad, you'll encounter large-scale battles with dozens of tanks and battalions of infantry, and also stealth missions, where player commands over ten to twenty soldiers.

GGMania: Can you give us an example of specific missions in the game?
Petr Prohorenko: We are currently finalizing a mission where player (in a role of reconnaissance detachment commander) conducts secret operation behind enemy lines. He should scout crossings north to Stalingrad, which could be used by German troops. Player is assigned a small force (2 airborne platoons) and should leave landing zone ASAP, so that Russians wouldn't spot him. After that, he must cross the road that is crammed by Soviet tanks and proceed to deserted mines. Down there he will contact German undercover agent (who looks like an ordinary villager), who reveals ammo depot location and reports current situation in the region. After that, unit commander disguises himself as a NKVD (that is soviet secret service) officer and explores piers at the Volga river. After that, saboteurs should blow up heavy artillery battery. I'd like to add that this doesn't go against the story of Stalingrad battle; Germans did send airborne saboteurs to that region on August 23, 1942. As you can see, this mission looks much like a quest in some RPG game rather than conventional RTS mission. Stalingrad features a lot of diverse objectives, so it's not about only special Commandos-style operations. Large-scale battles are also present, where bigger army means better chance to win.

GGMania: What other gameplay elements in the game do you consider to be important and/or unique? Will there be anything new that we've never seen before?
Petr Prohorenko: It's not separate elements that make Stalingrad unique, but their combination that does. It seems that no one ever tried to reconstruct a single battle in such detail as we do. I can recall Close Combat 5 by Atomic Games, but in that game player could change history, and his actions directly affect the "storyline". Stalingrad offers a kind of "time travel", where player is able to participate in battle and see bloody bath of the 1942 by himself.

GGMania: Stalingrad will utilize Blitzkrieg engine. Can gamers expect a huge improvement in graphics?
Petr Prohorenko: You shouldn't expect too many changes in graphics. In Stalingrad, buildings, units and objects are modeled with more attention to detail than they were done in Blitzkrieg, but the core technology remained the same.

GGMania: Why did you choose slightly dated Blitzkrieg engine?
Petr Prohorenko: Blitzkrieg project is the first attempt of Russia-based firm to create an open architecture engine, which can also be used by other developers. Several other projects based on this engine were announced recently, which indicates that it was the right choice for us. Although we suffered some setbacks, we would like to thank Nival for cooperation and technology they provided. We could concentrate on making the game, not the engine for it.

GGMania: What type of music will be played during the missions?
Petr Prohorenko: We have an exclusive soundtrack created by St. Petersburg-based band SKAFANDR, who play dub-metal. It's rather dynamic and hardcore music, which we think fits bloody battle of Stalingrad well.
GGMania: Will the game have a multiplayer mode? If so, what will it include?
Petr Prohorenko: Multiplayer mode will be implemented in a special patch that will be shipped after the release of the game.

GGMania: What's the current status of the project, and what remains to be done?
Petr Prohorenko: We estimate that the game is 70-80% ready. We have finished all units, most of the units and objects. Soundtrack is finished. All we've got to do is remaining art, finalize and implement videos and test the project. We hope the game will be released Fall 2004.

GGMania: Which elements of Stalingrad do you feel you are the most proud of?
Petr Prohorenko: I believe players will appreciate our efforts in reconstructing one of the pinnacle battles of WWII. We are proud to work on Stalingrad battle, which we recreate in the virtual world of a computer game.

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?
Petr Prohorenko: We are glad to see that press is interested in our project. We hope to deliver the game that will live up to expectations. Stalingrad offers unique possibility to participate in epic battle that took place over 50 years ago, so don't miss it.

genre: real-time strategy
release: 2004/Q4
publisher: 1C Company

last 10 comments:

shadow(11:05 PM CEST - Jun,12 2004 )
first an intro: ive been reading your great site for about a year hx
i love the constant updates and i check it out at least twice a day, your reviews are well judged and i know i can trust them

but these strategy game Q & A's and interviews are just lame yo...seriously man isnt there anything interesting to put on anymore? How bout hardware reviews or something?

shadow(11:08 PM CEST - Jun,12 2004 )
i dont mean to sound like a dick , but they are really boring

(12:30 AM CEST - Jun,13 2004 )
I've been so busy with work on forums/comments that I've had no time at all to play/review a game/hw. But I plan to write a couple of reviews next week. So stay tuned.

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