1. At ease, Nikolay before loading up your answering volleys, would you first bark your name and rank at our French readers and outline your specific mission profile during the planning of Officers?
Permission to speak, sir! Nikolay Demchenko, PR Manager with the Officers development team, reporting on duty.
2. Please outline Officers for those not familiar with the WWII RTS games, and also elaborate a little on the game's core driving narrative.
The game uses the World War II theme as a setting for its massive battles, tactical opportunities and combat challenges. Game events take place in France and Germany, starting with Allies invading Normandy and finishing at the Elbe, and the player is offered one campaign for allied forces. Campaigns for USSR and Germany will appear in the add-on. With dynamic day and night cycles and weather effects influencing units’ performance, the game puts the player into a continually changing environment that requires timely decision-making, wit and ability to quickly learn and adjust basic tactical skills. “Officers” also offers very realistic landscapes with destructible towns and settlements placed on extremely huge locations 25 square kilometer each. Basically, quite a world to explore and conquer. Variety of vehicles and equipment, tactical weapons as long-range artillery and air forces and hordes of infantry are capable of razing pretty much everything to the ground and turn the battlefield into a devastating chaos of war.
3. Do you worry that the RTS marketplace is becoming overly crowded? If so, what do you hope to implement through Officers in order to shine that much brighter than your competitors?
Any marketplace is pretty tight now. So you have to be prepared to face severe competition regardless of the game genre.
4. Can you outline the game's basic historic and geographical structural features, mission objectives, and player interface development for our readers? What scenarios will be included in Officers?
The very first mission features Omaha beach landing where the player has to secure the coastal line and adjacent territories. Successful operation opens the gateway for a breakthrough from Normandy, the operation classified as “Cobra”. The player is moved into Caen area, this being the second mission, with the objective to launch a counterattack in direction of Paris. The third mission features battles in the Maginot Line area, when the Germans retreat to the Rhine River after taking heavy casualties during operation “Cobra”. After fierce battles near the Maginot Line, the allied forces managed to capture the military base at Monschau, at the German border. Hastily retreating, the enemy wants to organize defense lines across the river before the allies bring up reinforcements and initiate attack on their positions. After successful operation at the German border, the player approaches the Rhine with the ultimate objective to capture Cologne. And the final mission puts the player into fights for castles of Saxony, some 70 km away from Leipzig.
Primary mission objectives are quite usual for RTS games – attack, defend and secure. Additional objectives are sort of bricks for the primary objective structure and include ambush, convoy, rescue and the like.
5. What considerations went into selecting the mission locations, and to what degree do the various environments affect the gameplay (number of players...)?
Initially, it was a long work collecting materials regarding Allied campaign. When came up with a pile of works on the subject, we picked several locations that are connected in terms of allied troops movement and adopted them for game purposes. So, it is legitimate to say the game missions are based on events and locations that are not invented. Of course, we didn’t even try to create locations that would be absolutely identical to their real-life counterparts. We simply took main landscape features, selected key settlements and made up the rest.
6. What nations appear in the game, will there be many non-playable ones, and how do they differ from each other? Which countries will the player be able to control as well as in solo or multiplayer mode?
The original game features American and German armies with only US side playable. Other nations will appear in the addon.
7. Outside of the single-player campaigns, the game also features a multiplayer mode, would you care to expand on that for us?
The MP mode will ship with the add-on. Initially, the game will be purely single-player.
8. How many one player campaign will you game offer? How many missions will it entail? On top of the campaign, will we be able to find further missions?
There will be just one allied campaign with six missions. If you think six missions are plain too few, then let me assure you these missions are really huge. Depending on your style of play, one mission will take you about five hours or above to complete.
9. Once you're in a campaign and going from mission to mission, will what you did in this mission have an effect on future missions?
10. What can you tell us about the gameplay of Officers?
I think the best way to evaluate the gameplay is wait for a demo and see for yourself.
11. There is a lot of talking about the AI of “Officers”, what can you tell us about it?
Behavior of a single unit is defined by probabilistic rule of detection based on vigilance, hiding, distance and relief; probabilistic damage system based on distance, local armor, weapon and shell parameters; target selection based on threat, vulnerability and distance; and reaction to a situation (close explosion, dangerous unit proximity, etc).
Let me elaborate on that a bit. Unattended and opposing units are controlled by AI. A special algorithm allows the AI-controlled units to decide which target to engage first. Then this decision is “transmitted” to other friendly units who spotted the same targets, so they could decide whether they should attack the same unit or switch to a different one. Among the factors that influence this kind of decision-making are distance to a hostile unit, its threat, and vulnerability. The player can always override any decision made by the AI by simply taking personal command of a unit.
The player may toggle different stances for their units. Depending on the stance (normal, aggressive, wary) a unit will behave differently.
Aggressive stance is useful when a player wants to reposition his infantry troops during a battle as quickly as possible. When in the aggressive stance, infantry will run to a specified location full-speed regardless of the situation around them. In this stance, moving infantry units are most vulnerable to enemy attacks.
Normal stance is useful when a player wants to reposition his infantry troops during a battle with minimum damage taken. When in the normal stance during a battle, infantry will crawl to a specified location. Crawling units are less vulnerable to enemy attacks as opposed to units running in the aggressive stance. As a downside, however, crawling units are much slower.
The wary stance differs from the aggressive and normal stances in several ways. First off, infantry units always take cover upon reaching their destination regardless of the situation. Secondly, when in the wary stance, infantry units will refuse to move away from their covers if there is any kind of danger around them. Thirdly, moving units in the wary stance will automatically spread out to take cover as soon as they identify any kind of danger. When in cover, they will refuse from changing their position until a player changes their stance or danger is over.
12. Will be possible to refuel the tanks on the battlefields?
Tank refuel is done automatically. Each tank has its fuel supply. As soon as it runs out, the tank will need time to re-supply. The time depends on the distance to a nearest friendly strategic point. So, the further it is the more time refueling will take. The same principle applies to ammo restocking.
13. Is it possible to build anywhere on the map and to add trenches or sandbags?
You don’t build anything in the game. Trenches are pre-designed. Sandbags may be built anytime for any vehicle or equipment.
14. What will the new elements be as far as environment is concerned (buildings...)? What size will the battlefields be in your game?
Like I said, environments are pretty much realistic, with plains, hills, towns, settlements, forests, rivers, lakes, etc. I can’t think of something new in terms of the environment. Speaking of the battlefield size, think of a place where around 1500 units may clash and answer for yourself. It’s pretty obvious such battles require quite a space to take place.
15. What is the place and role of aviation in games? How the player will be able to launch an air attack?
Air forces are powerful tactical weapons and their usage will be limited. You don’t directly control airplanes. All you do is to give coordinates for bombers, recon planes and fighters and they will do the job for you.
16. Since many current strategy games have RPG-like elements, are any present in this game, and how significant are they?
All units have a number of parameters and upgradeable skills. The skills are improved if a unit obtains necessary experience points in a battle. These skills are:
Skirmish skill - influences accuracy of fire.
Repair skill - influences how fast the units can repair.
Medic skill (for infantry only) - influences how fast a unit restores health.
Drive skill (for vehicles and equipment only) – influences speed of movement.
Hiding skill - influences how long a unit may remain unnoticed.
Vigilance skill – influences how fast a unit spots the enemy, it also increases unit’s range of sight.
17. Will it be possible for players to build their own missions? Will you support mods creator?
Officers will ship with a map editor and tools to create mods so the player will be able to create their own missions with custom-made units.
18. What kind of computer will the player need (minimum or maximum capacity required) to start playing the game?
Minimum: CPU 2600 MHz, 512 RAM, GeForce 5600/Radeon 9600.
Recommended: CPU 3 GHz, 1024 RAM, GeForce 5900/Radeon 9800 Pro or later.
19. Will there be a demo before the official issue of the game?
We are currently considering this possibility.
20. What is the current status of the game's progress and when will it be released?
The game has been beta-tested at the moment. The release is planned for this autumn.
21. Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Officers at this point?
That’s it. Thanks for your questions.