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Alfa Antiterror Q&A
(hx) 01:08 PM CEST - Oct,18 2004

GGMania got a chance to talk with Yaroslav Astakhov, project manager for Alfa Antiterror, the upcoming tactical combat simulator that lets the player control Russia's special operations force through a four episode campaign based on the real life experiences of former Alfa members. He provided us with pretty interesting information and four exclusive screenshots.

GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on Alfa Antiterror?

Yaroslav Astakhov: My name is Yaroslav Astakhov. I work at "MiST land -South", a game developing company, and I am currently the Project Manager for "ALFA: Antiterror".

GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team working on Alfa Antiterror?

Yaroslav Astakhov: Developer "MiST land -South" was created in 1996 in Moscow, Russia. Over the past 8 years we have released projects including "History of Wars: Napoleon", "Paradise Cracked" and "COPS 2115: Power of Law". Our next project to be released is ALFA: Antiterror.

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

Yaroslav Astakhov: ALFA: Antiterror is a game about Russian Special Forces; the teams that protect us every day from horrible acts of terrorism. There are already numerous games on the market that deal with regular forces, but there is a gap in the game market for those who realistically address the existence of Special Forces and their tactics. Our game accurately reproduces combat operations and strategies used by the Russian special force ALFA. This does not mean that the game addresses only the Russian Special Forces. Multiplayer mode will allow you to choose form other countries special forces such as the SAS, SWAT and GSG-9. In case you were wondering, you can not play for the terrorists.

GGMania: What major events or conflicts are involved?

Yaroslav Astakhov: ALFA: Antiterror addresses many recent events. It includes the war in Afghanistan (1979-1989), the first Chechen war (1994-1996), the invasion of international terrorists into Dagestan (1999), the second Chechen war (1999-2000), the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan (2001), as well as fighting in the Middle East from 1983 to 2001.

GGMania: How historically accurate will the various game components and the story be?

Yaroslav Astakhov: At MiSt Land - South, we are trying to be as historically accurate as possible. Every mission in the game occurred at that specific time. Also, the types of guns available to the players are only the guns which were available at that time in history. For example, the PP19 "Bizon" was only available in 1985. This means that players will only be able to use this weapon in and after 'game time' 1985. During the creation of the game we have consulted regularly with ALFA team members, so there will be an accurate reflection of many of the Special Forces operations in the game. Some of the operations however have been altered because there are Alfa operations which are still blacked out and considered secret. For example, a famous operation occurred where Alfa had freed hostages from an airplane captured by terrorists. Such footage will not be seen in the game because many points of infiltration are censored.

GGMania: Could you describe the game's mission structure?

Yaroslav Astakhov: There will be one campaign that consists of four episodes. There will also be single missions occurring simultaneously that will open during the adventure-type campaign. There are going to be a total of about 15 missions in the game.

GGMania: Will character development be skill-based, level-based or something else? Will any skills and abilities be to particular professions?

Yaroslav Astakhov: Every soldier in the game has an assigned position (assaulter, sniper, sapper). The player will then grow in rank and be rewarded depending on their participation in the operations. Between missions, it is possible to send a fighter to practice certain skills so that those particular skills will improve. Players must remember that the ranks, awards and training abilities are limited and contingent on the way in which the player passed the mission.

GGMania: What type of variety can we expect to see in terms of weapons?

Yaroslav Astakhov: There are more than 100 types of hand weapons in Alfa (70 base models plus variations). Among these weapons there are standard weapons that are used by the army and by internal Russian forces. There will also be some special weapons that are available for Special Forces only. There will also be samples of foreign manufacturers in the game (H&K, Beretta, Glock, FN, Colt, Steyr, S&W). The types of weapons that a player can expect to see in the game are as follows: pistols, sub-machineguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, machineguns and grenade launchers - not to mention a variety of hand grenades. In ALFA: Anti Terror, expect to see many of the same weapons that were used on battle-fields from 1983 to 2001.

GGMania: Can you discuss some of the combat vehicles that exist in the game? What actions can players perform with them?

Yaroslav Astakhov: The combat vehicles will be solely scripted which means that they will be moving on a given route. We will possibly create playable vehicles in sequel Alfa games but as of yet they are routed.

GGMania: How is combat handled in Alfa Antiterror? Is the tactical portion of gameplay real-time or turn-based?

Yaroslav Astakhov: Neither. We have a phase system. In the planning phase, players (alive as well as AI opponents) give orders to their fighters and then a move is calculated. Simultaneously, players are observing how their orders were executed and what happened on the battle-field. Our system allows you to use advantages like in turn-based mode and as in real-time mode, there is enough time to think of orders. Similar combat models are used in games such as "Laser Squad Nemesis" and "Combat Mission".

GGMania: Will A.I. have enough power to put the veteran players into a decent challenge? How strong will it be?

Yaroslav Astakhov: There will be levels of ranging difficulty in the game. Every move in ALFA: AntiTerror will last 30 seconds. This means that during those 30 seconds players will not be able to interfere with what is happening on the battle-field. During the whole 30 second period, fighters will be under the control of AI which means AI only needs to be able to take literate decisions on the battle-field. There will be elements of control in the hands of the user in that gamers will be able to limit the actions of AI in certain situation, adding some freedom in their decision making.

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?

Yaroslav Astakhov: ALFA:Antiterror is a tactical game that attempts to emulate the spontaneity of real life combat situations, a feature unheard of in many other games. The game has many feature and components that help this along, significant refinement and interactivity of and with the environment and realistic physics allows us to reproduce a realistic fight. We do not have automaton battles at 3 meters distances that last for minutes. Soldiers will die from one successful hit into head or chest as they do in real life when poorly trained or carelessly deployed.

We find that the major accomplishment is that regardless of all its tactical depth and realism, ALFA: AntiTerror is an entertaining game. While viewing the action, players can evaluate at any speed and angle everything that transpired during any given phase on the battle-field. We have a special smart camera mode that identifies points and actions of interest and displays them in an interesting and effective manner to the gamer.

GGMania: Can you give us an example of specific missions in the game?

Yaroslav Astakhov: One mission is to destroy the leader of a terrorist regime. In this level a small village is located in the mountains. The aim of the player is to assassinate the terrorist leader who is entrenched firmly in the village. The player can organize a quick and dirty head on frontal assault and risk loosing a soldier or two by using assault squads to sweep through terrorists, or just send a single sniper in to destroy most of terrorists from a safe distance. The player can also arm his soldiers with silenced weapons and can invisibly liquidate the opposition. There are a lot of variants and the player can choose their preferred tactic.

GGMania: What can you tell us about the engine that is being used for the game?

Yaroslav Astakhov: It is our own engine, which we have been developing for the last couple of years. Here is the list of technologies used:

Scripting - Lua & self manufacture
Physics - Basic Physics, Collision Detection - based on Meqon
Lighting - Per-vertex, Lightmapping
Texturing Basic, Multi-texturing, Mipmapping, Projected, compressed texture
Shaders Vertex and Pixel
DX9 implementation uses Direct3D Effect Files
Scene Management General, Octrees
Animation Keyframe Animation, Skeletal Animation, Animation Blending
Meshes Mesh Loading, Skinning self based format
Surfaces & Curves - Splines
Special Effects Environment Mapping, Billboarding, Particle System
Networking System - Client-Server
Sound & Video Bink, 2D Sound, 3D Sound, Streaming Sound(ogg), Support DirectSound
Artificial Intelligence - Scripted (Lua)
Rendering support multiply rendering techniques, Render-to-Texture, Unicode Fonts

It is a truly impressive piece of technology which can be appreciated by viewing the attached screenshots ;)

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

Yaroslav Astakhov: The minimum configuration is: 1Ghz processor, GeForce3 video card, 256Mb RAM. It is recommended to have: 2Ghz processor, GeForceFX video card, 512Mb RAM.

GGMania: Will the game have a multiplayer mode? If so, what will it include?

Yaroslav Astakhov: Yes! In multiplayer mode the player has the choice of choosing from the rest of the world special forces teams, not only ALFA!! The SAS, GSG-9, SWAT are all included in the games and other special forces will be available in the form of official add-on modules as well as fan base created user modules. There will be different modes, such as usual deathmatch, or a mode called "zone control" where you will need to capture and hold important zones for victory. Replay of missions (single and multiplayer) can be saved to a hard disk, and then be watched by yourself or kept to show to your friends.

GGMania: What's the current status of the project, and what remains to be done? When will it be released?

Yaroslav Astakhov: The project is almost finished. ALFA will be released in Russia in the middle of November and first quarter 2005 for the rest of the world.

GGMania: Do you plan to release a playable demo?

Yaroslav Astakhov: Yes, we have that in our plans. It should coincide with the North American release dates.

GGMania: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about Alfa Antiterror?

Yaroslav Astakhov: Yes, we believe it is going to be a fantastic game. Each day we love it more and more. There is a general opinion that by the time a games meets its release date all the developers are tired of playing it. However, this is not the case with ALFA. We hope that everyone will be as interested in playing ALFA: Antiterror as we are when it is done!

genre: tactical combat simulator
release: 2005/Q1
developer: MiST Land
publisher: Strategy First

last 10 comments:

CaptStar(06:12 PM CEST - Oct,18 2004 )
Looks like a good game, and it sounds like a 3d version of jagged alliance

Hjarry(09:15 PM CEST - Oct,18 2004 )
If the graphics in this game don't get any better, then the terrorists have already won.

CaptStar(09:48 PM CEST - Oct,18 2004 )
Its not the gfx that matters, its the gameplay.

FX5900(10:06 AM CEST - Oct,20 2004 )
captstar, i bet you are cheap and dont have a great video card. changes are you still play cs. Buy a bleeding edge video card, and GRAPHICS WILL MATTER.

CaptStar(10:03 PM CEST - Oct,20 2004 )
Ok dumbass, first of all, I dont worship Nvidia like you do.
And second, I dont like CS, and I dont play it.
I do have a good graphics card, and no, gfx do matter a bit, but if the gameplay is good, I will play it.

FX5900(03:11 PM CEST - Oct,24 2004 )
You have a good video card. so good you don't need to mention it?

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