Gameguru Mania got a chance to talk with Dmitri 'Zak' Zakharov, the Head of the PC Development Department in Nival Interactive, as he talks about Night Watch, their 3D tactical combat role-playing game set in the epic universe of Others, created by Russia's modern yet already classic science-fiction writer Sergey Lukyanenko and shown in the blockbuster movie Night Watch.
GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a
little bit about what you do on Night Watch?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: Hi, my name is Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov, I am the
Head of the PC Development Department in Nival Interactive. Our department
helped CDV with the release of the English version of Night Watch and with
localization it to the other languages.
GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team working
on Night Watch?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov:
The Night Watch development team consisted of over 30
men and women - programmers, artists, modelers and designers, producers and
localization managers. The majority of them have significant TBS experience from
other Nival projects, such as Silent Storm and Silent Storm: Sentinels. Night
Watch was developed using the Silent Storm engine and the team has was able to
implement some innovative improvements to the technology in order to create a
more immersive user experience. Also many members of our development team are
fans of Sergey Lukyanenko's books and his "Watches" trilogy (Night Watch, Day
Watch, and Dusk Watch) in particular.
GGMania: Can you give us an overview of Night Watch, telling us what the
game is all about?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: The game is about the eternal fight between
Light and Darkness, between Light and Dark Others. There are people in our world
who are different - they call themselves "Others". These people have special
magic abilities The stories and fairy tales about mages, werewolves, vampires
and witches are the reflection of the real events happening from the beginning
of time. Depending on personal qualities, an Other becomes either a Light or a
Dark, a protector of good or evil. These two sides are in a permanent conflict.
The balance between the two was settled by an ancient Agreement concluded long,
long time ago. So that neither side would break the Agreement Light Others
created Night Watch to guard the dark forces of night, while Dark Others made
Day Watch to watch for the Light Others.
Yet even bounded by the Agreement both Dark and Light Others try to obtain an
advantage over the other side executing secret operations or searching for not
uninitiated Others. The Inquisition, as impartial as the Gloom itself, watches
them both, but even they can not prevent the Watches from their conflict - for
this conflict between Light and Dark, Good and Evil is as old as the world
GGMania: What can you tell us about the storyline of the game?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: We made up a new story that would be
interesting to the gamers who have seen the movie or read the book. The game's
storyline has many references to the original story, since the events take place
in the same universe and the same location. You will be able to meet many
familiar characters. The main hero is a new character to the universe of Watches
- he was not present nor in the movie nor in the game. He is as new to the world
of the Others as the player himself, and together you will learn to use your
power, to enter the Gloom, a parallel layer of reality filled with magic, and to
reveal the complicated intrigues of the Great Mages.
Working on the plot we also tried to make it as complex, interesting and
mysterious as the original books by Lukyanenko.
GGMania: Which characters from Night Watch movie appear in the game?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: As a Night Watch operative you will meet the
head of Night Watch Moscow department Gesser. Another famous Light Others, such
as Olga and Tiger will sometimes fight together with you against the forces of
Darkness. You will also meet Zavulon, "the main mean guy" who is the head of Day
Watch as well as his witch-lover Alice.
GGMania: A delicate question. Although the movie had one of the biggest budgets
in the history of Russian filmmaking, there were still certain limits on what it
could do. For instance, in the movie, the use of spells, power amulets and
shape-shifting was significantly diminished compared to the book. There're
differences in the plot and characters. Do you plan to restore these missing
things in the game?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: The question is quite delicate, indeed. I think
that the director had his reasons for doing so, and as I understand them, he
tried to show the magic part of Others' life as an everyday routine, as close to
reality as it possibly can be done. However we had a different goal - to fill
the everyday world with magic. So realizing all the spells, shape-shifting and
the Gloom are an important component of the game. The Gloom in our game was
closer to the vision of the book. So in the game it feels as if you of entering
the parallel layer of the reality. As for the characters and plot, we decided
not to retell a familiar story but to create a new plot set in the Watches
universe that would be interesting both for those who are new to Watches
universe and those who have already seen the movie or read the book. So although
you'll meet some familiar characters you will be exploring new stories and
GGMania: 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? What skills and stats are there?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: There are three types of Light Others -
Shapeshifter, Mage and Enchanter. You will be able to choose the class for your
character in the very beginning of the game, plus most of the times you will be
able to appoint the class of the new members of your team except for those
characters whose class is predetermined by the story (for instance, the Tiger,
whom you might know from the movie or the book is a Shapeshifter who can take a
shape of a tiger, and you will meet her in the game as a Shapeshifter). A
Shapeshifter is especially good in a close combat - this type of an Other can
take a form of an animal increasing physical powers. An enchanter can turn
everyday objects to powerful artifacts, say, enchant an apple to restore health
or to make regular sunglasses a shield against magic attacks. A Mage knows
powerful combat spells and is the best in using them.
As you will be able to appoint classes to the members of your team, you'll be
able to try various combinations and to see each class in action to decide what
fits your tactics best.
As for the stats, there are certain primary and secondary characteristics. The
primary stats are strength that influences the Vital Points (VPs), dexterity
that influences the Action Points (APs) and intellect that influences amount of
Magic Energy points (EPs). These characteristics initially depend from the class
and then grow with the level ups.
Other characteristics include Cost of Gloom (as each turn spent in the Gloom
the player looses certain amount of EP, defined by this parameter), APs in the
Gloom (the number of APs increases in the Gloom), Critical hit, Damage from
physical attack, Defense (from physical hits and fire guns), Magic Defense (from
magic attack), Magic power (determines the power of magic spells and abilities).
All these parameters are initially determined depending on the class of the
character and increase with the level up.
With experience the character grows in level that increases his
characteristics and lets him learn a new spell or ability. When just learned, a
spell or ability has certain initial power that grows with the usage. So the
more you use, say, a fireball, the more powerful it will be and the less APs and
EPs it will require from you.
GGMania: Tell us about the magic system and the kinds of spells we will be
able to use in the game?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: There are certain spells and abilities that you may
learn during the game. Some of them are for a specific class only (say, only an
Enchanter can enchant objects), some of them are available for every class.
Some spells act on enemies only, some act for any characters (say, you can
'freeze' for a certain amount of turns not only enemy's character to avoid his
or her attack, but also someone from your team to prevent him from getting hit),
some act for your allies or for the character only. The variety of spells is
large. There are also spells that are delayed, and happen over a number of
turns, increasing the power of your allies or weakening down your enemies, say,
by making them silent (so they can not pronounce spells for a certain amount of
turns), by sticking their feet so that they can not move or even by putting them
to sleep for a certain amount of turns. Again, the more time you use each spell,
the more powerful it will be.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the enemies in Night Watch
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: The enemies you'll face are mainly Day Watch
operatives and other Dark Others. They also will be differing in class and
abilities; you will meet witches, werewolves, vampires, dark enchanters and so
GGMania: What kind of combat system we can expect? Will there be any form
of non-magical combat?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: The Others usually solve their problems with
the use of their magic abilities, although there are also fire guns in the game.
However, the guns are not effective in the Gloom, and the Gloom is the favorite
place for Others to solve problems. The Gloom increases your strength, giving
you more APs for each turn and also increases the power of your magic. The
combat is turn-based, so the amount of APs can really make the difference. If
you can not use your magic abilities for some reason (as the effect of the
enemy's spell) you can also come into close combat, defending the case of Light
with your fist, but the damage from such attack really falls much behind the
ability of magic attacks.
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: Can you describe a few of the environments and
levels the players will be fighting their way through?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: All the levels depict real locations of Moscow:
Russian players already had an ability to enjoy the authenticity of the
environment. So Night Watch is not only a unique gaming experience, but also a
trip around virtual Moscow. You will fight in the yards and on the streets, in
the Moscow subways entrance and inside the underground. The plot will take you
to different places, so we hope you will be not bored.
GGMania: What kinds of puzzles and quests will players be able to
undertake in this game?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: There will be certain side quests that upon
their accomplishment would give you some bonuses but do not influence the
gameplay if you fail. For instance, in one of the levels you will find a Gloom
accumulator, and you will have to figure out what to do with it. If you do, that
will gives you certain gameplay bonuses.
However, there will be not that many quests and puzzles as your main quest
will be to figure out the best tactics to use in each combat, and since there
are different enemies, and your squad will sometimes also meet some changes, the
decision will be different all the time.
GGMania: Could you describe the game interface?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: We tried to make the interface as casual as it
can be. Several icons are placed on the bottom of the screen. In the right
corner is all your loot, for the active character and you can also see the
shared loot with a right click. On the very left there is a button to enter/go
in/out the Gloom. Next to it are basic commands: to enter the main menu, to look
up the quest? journal and so on. In the middle there is a bar with all the
spells and abilities available for the character. When you level up to the point
when there are many of them some will be hidden under the right click, and you
can leave the ones you like the best in the main bar.. So as you see, everything
is quite easy, although, as they say, it's better to see it once than to hear it
dozens of times.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the graphic engine for the game?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: The game uses a modified Silent Storm engine,
highly acclaimed by gamers and press for its destructive environment and the
real physics model. We are sure, that throwing away your enemy with the
telekinesis and watching his body crashing the car standing near the fight will
add to the taste a victory some delicious seasoning!
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: Will the game have a multiplayer mode?
GGMania: No, this is a singleplayer story-driven game. Also, if you
are familiar with the original story, you will now that the Others are not all
that numerous and they usually solve their conflicts by small squads.
GGMania: We've already had plenty of RPG games on PC and there are a number in
production, how will Night Watch stand out from the crowd? Are there any special
game features that you would like to share with us that we have not discussed?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: The main difference of this game is that will
those who enjoyed the book and the movie to step in to the fight of Others, to
enter the Gloom and enjoy your magic power. The other difference of this game is
that this game is for the very wide audience - we didn't want the Watches fans
to be scared from the game because of the lack of gaming experience. So Night
Watch can be enjoyable even for those, who usually don't spend their leisure
time playing. However, hard-core gamers will also be enjoying the game due to
the wide variety of tactics that can be used here. So we hope that any player
will be enjoying Night Watch, not depending on their previous experience and
will find his own style and tactics to implement.
GGMania: Currently what is the status of the current progress of the game and
when can we expect to see it in stores?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov:
The game is about to hit the stores, so don't miss
it! (Ed.note: I've noticed that the game is now available in
Australia - probably includes the SF protection)
GGMania: Finally, is there anything else you wish to say about Night Watch?
Dmitri "Zak" Zakharov: I'd like to invite everybody, who got
interested in Night Watch to our official site
http://www.nival.com/nightwatch/ to find more info on the upcoming game and
to take part in our forums discussions.