Long time ago, when I was small, and computers were big, there was published game, named “X-COM”. It was telling about a war between mankind and aliens. The Humans defeated they enemies, but extraterrestrials have survived on the oceans bottom. In the next game of the great series out troops beat aliens even underwater. Then there was “X-COM: Apocalypses” that have differences with first part only in graphics, and that’s all. No more games! It should seem, that there is no one, how could stand for our planet, but at this moment ALTAR Interactive walked from the darkness, and showed us “UFO: Aftermath”. But they was to busy because of beating aliens, so we couldn’t take a good look on it. After some time we decided to ask them about…
GameGuru: I would like to know my partner better. Please tell your name and occupation in the ALTAR interactive.
Jiri Rydl: My name is Jiri Rydl and I am responsible for public relations in ALTAR Interactive.
GameGuru: At our days developer companies have bigger state, then at time, when game making was just appears. How many peoples working at this project?
Jiri Rydl: Right now here are about 30 people running around with big cups of coffee (my computer is near kitchen) trying hard to polish the game in every aspect. The days are quite short two month before release, so we have to work at night too :-]
GameGuru: Graphics question is very important in our days. As I understood, the graphic engine was written by you. What beauties will we see in “UFO”?
Jiri Rydl:The most important feature and the main reason we made the engine ourselves is ability to generate completely 3D missions at random in runtime. It basically means you will never encounter the same mission twice!
GameGuru: As it known, Russia is not very advanced, in the hardware question, country, so system requirements is very important for the Russian gamers. Will your engine show good picture, and runs not only on hi-end computers?
Jiri Rydl: We know that system requirements are important for players and we try to keep them as low as possible. The current system for playing the game without any restriction is Pentium III 1 GHz, 256 MB RAM and GeForce 3 with 64 MB onboard RAM.
GameGuru: Some developers specialize on especial hardware companies, such like AMD and Intel or NVIDIA and ATI. Has your engine such orientation?
Jiri Rydl: We use some hardware features that wouldn’t be possible without the new generation graphics cards, but we support both major brands (ATI and NVIDIA) and we do not prefer one to the other.
GameGuru: And now let me ask you about gameplay and storyline. As we know “UFO: Aftermath” is not continue of the “X-COM” series, but a lots of ideas, such like aliens view, was taken from there. Is there anything else from the legendary series of tactical games?
Jiri Rydl: There is no single alien from X-COM series, we took our ideas mainly from different urban legends, movies, books and games of course, but we always use it in our way. UFO: Aftermath is a strategy with innovative style of play and many new features to the genre, though I admit that idea of alien invasion was used many times before :-].
GameGuru: At your site I read that all battle zones will be generated randomly. Is that means that there won’t be any storyline battles?
Jiri Rydl: Hm, what should I say without spoiling the game? Let’s say no.
GameGuru: If we have talked about battle zones please tell me, will it be any differences on them? I mean that on poles it will be snow, or in Africa sand. This is clear. But how will you make those differences between, for example, Europe and Russia? Will it be any differences instead of seasons?
Jiri Rydl: Of course! Have you seen screenshots from Eastern Europe? Dark places with houses from concrete, abandon old bus “Ikarus” on the road, typical newsstand made from metal sheets and so on. On the other hand in Western Europe you encounter different brick houses, nice cars and English signs along the streets. I am sure you will know where you are exactly in every mission.
GameGuru: What happens if we will shoot up UFO under sea or ocean? Will it sink down or it will be a sub-water battle? Will we have to use some special gear?
Jiri Rydl: The former is true, the UFO sink down. There will be no underwater missions.
GameGuru: As I remember, most of all weapons at “X-COM” were taken from aliens, but in your game I saw barrel of modern Earth guns. What will you do with balance question?
Jiri Rydl: There are around 70 weapons in the game, both alien and human. From the beginning you will have only basic weapons like pistols and rifles to your disposal. By acquiring new bases your arsenal will grow, but fight with aliens with human weapons is tough fight. After finding alien weapons, you will be able to develop much more powerful hybrid weapons and win more easily. Remember that you can still win with human guns; it’s up to you.
GameGuru: Weapons - very interesting theme. I thing every man really likes BIG guns, but usually such guns are placed at some vehicles like tanks. Will we have any heavy armored transport or battle vehicles?
Jiri Rydl: No, there are no vehicles, but there will be really BIG guns in UFO: Aftermath, don’t worry :-].
GameGuru: So, what’s about violence? Could we tear off enemy’s head with some sharp shoot, or knock out opponent’s gun?
Jiri Rydl: You want me tell really everything, don’t you :-]? But let me say that there is very little gratuitous violence in the game.
GameGuru: We are talking about guns too much today… So, here is the final question on this theme: witch kinds of weapons will our enemies have, and could the “defenders of the Earth“ use it.
Jiri Rydl: There are two main groups of enemies – mutants and aliens. Mutants are horrible creatures whish used to be Earth life forms or even humans! They use special attack abilities like claws, sharp teeth, flying, acid and so on. Some of them are able to use human or even alien weapons and some of them could be used as life shield by aliens. Aliens are smart and evil with powerful guns, psi abilities and army of mutants to hunt you. They will not surrender at first sight.
GameGuru: At last tactical actions money was playing limiting role. In the “UFO” there is nobody to pay, but will that “Green papers” have influence on squad equipment or base buildings?
Jiri Rydl: No, but there are still limited resources in the game like soldiers, hybrid weapons, alien weapons and of course number of bases, which are necessary for research, manufacturing and biomass repulsion.
GameGuru: First that imagination drawing at the word “X-COM” is Mr. Grey and big spinning globe with point-like bases and ships. Would we see those bases and interceptors in the “UFO”?
Jiri Rydl: Yes, there is big globe with bases over the surface and interceptors attacking UFO around the military bases.
GameGuru: When I played “X-COM” I was never worried about the ship, I fly to the crash site, because aliens could not damage or destroy my ship. Could the aliens in the “UFO” blow up player’s ships?
Jiri Rydl: You better hope not :-]
GameGuru: Could you tell us something more about our enemies? As I remember in “X-COM” there was as cancer-like so lizard-like aliens. First had strong shell, so they were very hard to kill, and second had psi-skills. Could we see in “Aftermath” such differences between alien types?
Jiri Rydl: The aliens in UFO: Aftermath is more like human when we talk about guns. They use armors, different guns with different purposes, thus you can meet alien “sniper” or alien “medic” on the field.
GameGuru: In the “X-COM” series technical tree was based on alien’s technology, and from Earth armory we saw just a few grenades, rifles and machinegun. What will be in your game? Could we research new types of Earth weapons and equipment? Were will we take it? How will be researching process pass?
Jiri Rydl: Research is the way to find out what had happened to Earth. Why the aliens are here and what they want? How to win the war? Research will give you answers. Other things you can research are only tools to fight back the alien threat.
GameGuru: With the advent of physical engine KARMA in Action games, fashion on it comes in all genres. What do you have? Could we, for example, blow up a wall and get in the other room through the hole, or just shoot alien through a door?
Jiri Rydl: You can’t enter inside the buildings, so you can’t shoot a hole into the wall, but you can destroy every obstacle like crates, car wreckages, wooden and brick walls, trees and so on.
GameGuru: Your battle system is very interesting. I can’t remember any game with such combats. Could you tell us something more about it?
Jiri Rydl: No problem. Tactical missions use our unique combat system, which features all of the best elements of both turn based and real time combat systems. You give orders while the game is paused, to avoid the frantic rush of a real time system. While paused, you can give your troops very detailed orders, taking as much time as you like. Once you are finished, you simply tell the game to start. Once the game is underway, you can pause the game at any point to update or change your orders, and the game will automatically pause when important events occur, so that you may modify your plans accordingly. Be sure to note that all of the combat happens at once, combining the finely grained tactics of a turn based game with the realism of a real time system.
GameGuru: “UFO: Aftermath” is not only tactical game. It’s also have RPG elements. Tell us more about your role system!
Jiri Rydl: Each of your troops has a name, a portrait, and a set of statistics. Their skills are derived from these statistics, and each point that you put into any one of these attributes will have a noticeable effect on that soldier’s skills. This way you can, with enough experience, easily make your soldier into what you want them to be, either generalists or specialists. You can make snipers, medics, heavy weapons soldiers, or any mix of all of these skills and more. It is very important that you do so, in fact, as a group of random, average soldiers who are good at everything and excellent at nothing will get chewed up as the opponents become tougher. You need to create a solid team with a good group of interlocking skills to win.
GameGuru: As I know, in the new game the place of the unknown fighters will take some well-defined soldiers. Will there be any specialists such as medic, sniper and so on?
Jiri Rydl: As I already answered, yes.
GameGuru: Readers of GameGuru know the beginning of storyline, but its development keeping in secret from us. Please tell us will there any quests or we will have just final point and ways of reaching it won’t have matter?
Jiri Rydl: Hm, don’t make me tell you about storyline, I won’t :-]
GameGuru: If the characters will have RPG attributes, the loosing of them in the middle of game will be a hard for the player. Could we make some clones not to lose this soldier totally? And how will be save\load system realized? Could we save game at the battle?
Jiri Rydl: Loosing a soldier is disappointing, but it doesn’t mean you loose the tactical mission. Even loosing the tactical mission doesn’t necessary mean you loose the war. It’s just a lost, you have to fight better next time or load your last save. And yes, you can save and load in the middle of tactical mission.
GameGuru: Have you any plans to make deals with publishing companies in Russia?
Jiri Rydl: UFO: Aftermath is distributed worldwide by Cenega Publishing, so this is really a question for them. We have a complete trust in their ability to strike a good deal for the Russian territory.
GameGuru: On what stage does your project on, and when can we wait it?
Jiri Rydl: We are in the middle of finishing and beta testing, so we have plenty of work to do, you can imagine. The release date was set up to 12 of September 2003 worldwide.
GameGuru: Thank you, for answering our questions. I would like to wish you good luck and good games you develop!
Jiri Rydl: I hope, we satisfied your curiosity :-]
Well, we shall wish guys good luck and we hope that ALTAR Interactive will issue the hit which will not give gamers to sleep all night through!