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Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra Q&A
(hx) 07:40 PM CET - Jan,01 2006

We got a chance to talk with Denis Teplyashin of Step CG as he talks about Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra, their upcoming sci-fi adventure game.where you play the role of Earth's secret agent, helping human coalition in the struggle with alien invaders. He provides us with pretty interesting information and 9 exclusive screenshots!

GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra? What games have you made previously?

Denis Teplyashin: Hello! First let me tell you a little about our studio. 10 years ago our studio produced an adventure game called "Star Heritage" for ZX Spectrum platform and it became extremely popular in Russia. We had a lot of plans and began developing new projects for ZX Spectrum but soon it surrendered at IBM's discretion. So Step CG crew had to gain new experience and develop games for PC. The first game made for PC was "Deactivation", it was a 3D arcade which appeared in December 2003. In July 2005 we produced an animated quest with arcade elements "Alice's Adventures" based on a story of a famous Russian sci-fi writer Kyr Bulychev. "Evenings On Farm Near Dikanka", a cartoon quest based on the stories of a Russian classical writer N.V. Gogol, was put on the market in December this year. There are more projects of ours to be announced at the beginning of 2006, so follow the news.

GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team working on Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra?

Denis Teplyashin: Almost all members of Step CG contributed to the making of "Star Heritage", some of them took part only in a couple of projects before, others have a really huge experience in game developing, such as Yury Matveev, the ideologist of the project and Ilya Chudakov, our scriptwriter and game designer and of course the lead-artist of the project Yury Khokhlov, whose astonishing graphics you can see on the screenshots widespread in the internet.

GGMania: Can you give us an overview of Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra, telling us what the game is all about?

Denis Teplyashin: First, Star Heritage 1: Black Cobra" has very interesting settings and world-famous history of the universe. Second, unusual science fiction plot makes this game different from the others and offer a player wide range of options. Third, first person view helps to appreciate the great graphics. RPG elements and different fights make the game more dynamic and less easy to play. Moreover, the feature of changing weather and time of the day make you feel really enchanted. This game is not one you finish and forget in one moment. The world of Star Heritage is so different and unique that you will return certainly: to finish the game following an alternative branch of the plot, to find more information which make clear some mysteries in the game, to meet and solve new puzzles, to feel the astonishing atmosphere of Star Heritage.

GGMania: What can you tell us about the storyline of the game?

Denis Teplyashin: Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra is a game with world-famous history of the Universe and non-trivial science fiction plot. You can read prehistory of game events in the original short story which the game is based on.

In brief: two centuries have already passed since toad-like creatures, possessing the most powerful weapon and technologies conquered the Universe. During all these years people were secretly preparing for war. They transported weapon and equipment to unprotected planets using space trading lines. Secret agents were carrying out the missions of the Center. The Dauntless, the main hero, is one of them. After the fight with the Artangs' patrol (to obey their orders meant to die) he finds himself on an unknown planet not registered in any space catalogues without a ship, arms, contact with the Centre or anyone else.
In the beginning of the adventure the only purpose of our hero is to stay alive and to get out from this planet as soon as possible. But as a result of a range of surprising discoveries Dauntless got to know extremely important information which can become a key in struggle against the Artangs...

GGMania: You claim that this is a non-linear adventure game. What does it mean for players?

Denis Teplyashin: Non-linearity of the game declared in our press releases is realized, as we call it, 'at all fronts'. Moreover, the freedom of players in the new Star Heritage is substantially increased. For example, there is a possibility to pass to the side of Artangs and even to make a career!

Non-linearity of Star Heritage can be divided into four kinds. First, many game problems can be solved in different order, which, owing to RPG-elements, can essentially influence the difficulty of passing the game. Second, it is possible to attain some purposes by several principally different ways. For example, to get to Taran city from Pulsar city is possible in two ways. Third, a player can make the decision, which radically changes the entire plot, as I have told before, and move to the side of aggressors - the Artangs. Fourth, the game events can be influenced by the time of day: for example, in one play location, at night, the player is subjected to attack of night predators and is forced to defend himself, though during daytime he can easily continue his way.

GGMania: What are the different types of locations players will see?

Denis Teplyashin: The locations of "Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra" are really different. Wild places of the unknown planet look friendly at day and scary at night. The cities of Pulsar and Taran strike our imagination with their architecture; the village of exiles looks depressing… The desert of Tempor, where time and space… but stop, sorry, the rest you'll see in the game. The locations are highly animated: flying insects, clouds, pedestrians in the streets and lots of other things will please your eyes and probably cause associations with Myst.

GGMania: Your website claims that the game will feature "Specially designed battle system" Can you explain it further?

Denis Teplyashin: So, this feature is easy to explain: sometimes you have to fight the enemies. For this sake we developed a special battle system, which is based on "hit-block" principle. The result of a battle will depend on your skill of using your health level and on your reaction. Though many adventure fans are against mixing of genres, we couldn't help introducing fights in the game. To our minds it makes the game more unpredictable, real and dynamic.

GGMania: What kinds of puzzles are primarily found in the game? Were there any types of puzzles you specifically wanted to avoid using?

Denis Teplyashin: The puzzles of the game are classical: they are based on logical manipulations of objects, and they don't make the player try all possible combinations. Moreover, solutions of some of the puzzles depend on the time of the day; this feature, we hope, will be new to many players.

GGMania: Will it use mouse for inventory management and manipulating things in the environment or is it all keyboard controlled?

Denis Teplyashin: Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra is a point-and-click adventure as we suppose it has the interface most suitable for gamers with different preferences. Also one has small and big maps in our game and can use the numbers on a keyboard to choose the preferable answer in dialogues. The menus are pullout. And remember that fights in Star heritage have their own original interface (as we call it 'a special battle system').

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

Denis Teplyashin: The engine was made by Step Creative Group. We keep improving it to use it in the other project, an adventure game called "The Island: The Earthling", based on the story of the same name by the Strugatsky brothers.

GGMania: Why did you decide to choose 1st person view?

Denis Teplyashin: "Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra" is not a typical adventure game thanks to the special atmosphere of it. Moreover, we never show the hero of the game to let the imagination picture him. We think that 1st person view makes the most favorable conditions for it.

GGMania: Who is doing the voice acting and music for the game?

Denis Teplyashin: Speaking about the voices and the music I can say that we could afford more than 15 famous actors to make the game sound brilliant. Judging by the responses we succeeded. The game includes over 20 musical tracks, part of them are remakes of the original music used in ZX Spectrum "Star Heritage" 10 years ago. Some tracks can be downloaded from our official website.

GGMania: When will it be released in English speaking territories? Will it be released in North America?

Denis Teplyashin: We are negotiating publishing of "Star Heritage 1: The Black Cobra" with a range of companies in North America and Europe. We haven't reached definite agreements yet, but we have a lot of positive responses from all over Russia and Ukraine, this is why we hope that soon the game will be available to players of English-speaking territories.

GGMania: What is your personal favorite adventure game? Favorite other game?

Denis Teplyashin: It may sound strange, but I am not a fan of adventures in the full sense of the word. Last games I played were "The Return to the Mysterious Island" and our "Evenings on Farm Near Dikanka". My favorite games of other genres are Civilization, Warcraft and Heroes of Might and Magic.

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?

Denis Teplyashin: Thank you for the questions and on behalf of Step Creative Group let me wish you exciting gameplay, interesting plots and hard but sweet victories. Happy New Year and good luck in 2006!

related links: product page, six musical compositions from soundtrack of the game

genre: sci-fi adventure game
release: 2006/Q1
developer: Step CG
publisher: homepage

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