• Heroes & Generals: Jacob Andersen Interview

    Reto-Moto will bring to us a very innovative (it seems at the moment) War Action Shooter, called Heroes & Generals. To know more about this game, and its secrets, we told with Jacon Andersen, the Game Director.
    MMORPGITALIA: Why a war shooter? There’s a lot of competitors down there..., CoD multiplayer experience included.

    Why not? :-) Shooters are fun and there is a huge marked for shooters (just look at the sales figures of CoD and BF) which mean that there is room for trying different designs. It's funny that nobody seems to mind yet-another-knights-and-orks-MMO but have to question WW2 again and again. The Second World War pretty much defined the world we are living in today, which means most people can relate to stories being told in this scenario.

    MMORPGITALIA: Why a browser game? And could you talk about your Retox Engine?

    First of all, you don't need to play the game in a browser (there's still full screen) but it might be useful because you can have the strategic map in another tab, but that's up to the player. The main feature of our new engine is that the data delivery and synchronization is handled through the browser. We are aiming to have as light a download as possible without sacrificing quality.

    Basically the entire game is stored in small bits of content (textures, models, code, sound etc.) and each piece is pulled from the server when it is used (and not as a 10gig download + patches), just like a webpage where each element is downloaded and cached for later use. This means that we can constantly upgrade the content of the game without the users having to download a massive patch. The user doesn’t need to install anything too.

    The Retox Engine supports 2 rendering engines, a high end DirectX 11 and low end DirectX 9 one. We are also planning a Linux- and a Mac- version (the actiongame-server already runs both Win and Linux) but we have to wait with this till after launch because of time pressure.

    We use Softimage XSI for both building the graphic assets and testing the game. The game actually runs inside XSI, which means that we have cut costs on editor development, freeing the coders to work on the game. :-) It is very easy to write plugins for Softimage and the internal scene structure is very much how you would arrange it in a game.

    MMORPGITALIA: Could you describe the character's progression in the game and the roles/classes?

    We do not really have traditional character progression as we would like to stay away from grind in the game. Of course your stats will be tracked; you will receive ribbons and medals for your actions. Some of those will be converted into combat badges which you can wear in battle to tweak your abilities to fit a certain playing style (much like perks in traditional fps games). But where this differs a lot is that if you want to become successful on the battlefield you need to be part of a well-organized army. Therefore it is pretty much up to the players to organize the army and delegate responsibility. Basically it works 'upside down' where each player signs up to a commander. The more players per commander, the more power and resources. Commanders can sign up to other commanders to form a traditional hierarchy.

    MMORPGITALIA: Customization in Heroes&Generals.

    Weapons will be customizable. This means you attaches upgrades and tweak your individual weapons. The customization is meant to be a way for a player to tweak his weapon to his style of playing. Increasing one parameter of a weapon usually decreases another. We hope to be able to use the same tweak system for vehicles (so instead of creating all 10 versions of the Panzer IV, we'll let players upgrade themselves). This is one of the points where we break away from 'historically correct' and give the players the option to 're-arrange' history.

    MMORPGITALIA: How many gamemodes will you be able to play at launch?

    We have 3 gamemodes for launch, Assault, Skirmish and Interdiction. After launch we’ll continue to develop the game, adding more gamemodes, more maps, more weapons, more vehicles, more nationalities, etc.

    Assault is a type of domination where you have to capture and hold certain points to capture the city. The Assault maps are asymmetrical so there’s different tactics to being either defender or attacker.

    Skirmish is a regular team-deathmatch mode. It will be triggered when are encountered out in the open or when on a recon mission.

    The last is the Interdiction; which is simply an attack on supplylines. The attacker will track down and engage the moving train carrying tanks and men (or whatever is being moved) and destroy as many as possible. A few train carts have flak cannons on them, for defense purposes. This mission could under normal circumstances be quite boring, but here it serves a purpose: to minimize supplies to an enemy battlefield, and therefore it suddenly becomes quite interesting to play.

    MMORPGITALIA: I think that the battle for European domination will be the heart of the game. Could you talk more in details about how every singles battles/battleground will influence the whole war and its progression?

    At the very basic level, each battlefield represents a point to be taken and held in order to win the game. But each battlefield is connected via supplylines and it is the control of these supplylines that makes the game interesting. Some battlefields contain factories which produce new tanks or other equipment and some contains airstrips that will enable you to bring your planes closer to the frontline (and the enemies’ factories behind the frontlines). When you look at the game behind the scene it really is quite simple, what makes it complex is that it is controlled by humans making clever decisions like feign attacks, ambush setups etc.

    MMORPGITALIA: The game will be free to play?

    We are still discussing the different models, and f2p is one of them. It's a tough decision because it involves our very existence! :-) But in all honesty it seems more and more f2p games are getting around the classic 'rich kid uses his money to become better than the serious players'. It's a relatively new business model which is far from fully explored yet. But we haven’t come to any conclusion yet – we might also go for subscription, or who knows maybe even a combination of subscription and fp2.

    MMORPGITALIA: Will there be clans in the game?

    Because of the nature of the command structure, clans will be able to form their own units, but we also want to add special clan features – but not right away.

    MMORPGITALIA: How many players could join every single battle?

    It's hard to say because it depends on what the player does. A plane is much easier for the computer to handle than a tank, but we should be able to handle 50+ soldiers. We have chosen to decrease the initial number of players to enable other players to join in and support a friendly unit while the battle is going on.

    You will be able to call in close air support for instance, and this would be another player's fighter squadron joining the battle, doing their business, and leaving again. So we have to keep a few 'slots' open for this. Also it is our experience that games with large amounts of players tends to be very chaotic (it is easier to organize a group of 10 players than one of 128) and we would like the game to be a bit more slow-paced and have team play in focus.

    MMORPGITALIA: Resources control will have a particular meaning in H&G?

    Yes, it is the core of the strategic part. Resource management and logistics - getting your men and tanks to the right place at the right time. The Assault Teams are the smallest units on the map. They are used to initiate attacks. They move fast but don’t carry a lot of men. The commanders are in control of reserves which they must move close to the frontline in order to re-supply the assault teams in combat. This gives you the classic problems of warfare, a spearhead that moves too fast and deep into enemy territory risk running out of resources or even worse, gets encircled and captured.

    MMORPGITALIA: Hope your next game will be Hitman Online... (i love that game...)

    You would have to ask IO Interactive about that – we don’t work for them anymore, but in my opinion it makes sense. The Hitman universe can easily support very interesting online game modes. :-)