Vietcong interview

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Illusion Softworks and Pterodon development team are working on a brand new 3D action game called Vietcong. Do you like U.S. Army, Special Forces, realistic 3D action and things like that? This is the game for you. Read more about it in our comprehensive interview with Jarek Kolar, Pterodon team leader.
Vietcong interview

Doupe: First of all, could you please introduce yourself and your team? How old are you, what`s your previous experience with game development, what`s your position in the team?

Jarek Kolar: PTERODON is a professional development team. For most of our team members Vietcong is not the first game they`ve ever worked on. Considering the Czech standard the average age of our members is quite high - about 27. My name is Jarek Kolar, I`m a team leader and designer of Vietcong. I`ve worked as a professional game developer for some 10 years already (my early works include the adventure games Tajemstvi Osliho Ostrova and 7 dni a 7 noci). Together with our lead programmer Michal Janacek and designer Michal Marianek I worked 2 years as a game developer in Germany (for example a RTS Akte Europa, published by Eidos Interactive in 1997).

Doupe: What number of developers is working on Vietcong?

Jarek Kolar: Right now we`ve got 25 internal developers working on the project. But of course we cooperate with some more external specialists - musicians, actors, scientists, weapon experts, soldiers and Vietnam war specialists.

Doupe: How much does this team differ from the one that developed Flying Heroes?

Jarek Kolar: The original Flying Heroes development team consisted of 15 members. We`ve all learned a great deal in the past few years and we`ve now taken on 10 new team members.. We`ve expanded mainly to take on extra designers and animators so we can not only have many beautifully balanced levels but also cope with Motion Capture animation.

Doupe: Is Vietcong going to be another AAA title?

Jarek Kolar: Absolutely. Vietcong will be revolutionary in many ways. Although we keep the common style of this genre we also try to include as much of unique elements as we can, authentic atmosphere is one of the most important issues for us. Though we expect a tough competition in the genre of FPS I hope Vietcong is going to be one of the best FPS games of the year.

Doupe: How much time did you already spend working on Vietcong? Is it possible to compare this project with some other current game so that we can have a better idea of what`s going on?

Jarek Kolar: We`ve been working on Vietcong for more than two years. As I said in the previous answer our goal is a game comparable to current top FPS games - and this means titles like Medal of Honor, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Soldier of Fortune 2. Except the action gameplay which is the core of every FPS we also attach importance to most realistic graphics and sounds.

Doupe: Vietcong is stated for autumn 2002 release but you`ve announced it only a few days ago - why such a delay?

Jarek Kolar: Our game includes many new elements so far uncommon in the FPS genre. We also worked very hard on graphics of weapons and military technics. And so, because of the tough competition in the field of FPS games, we didn`t want to reveal these features in advance.

Doupe: You closely cooperate with major czech game developer Illusion Softworks for several years. What`s this cooperation about?

Jarek Kolar: With Illusion Softworks we`ve got an exclusive deal for game development projects. This means we care completely for the development and Illusion Softworks provide finance, deals with publishers and last but not least selling and marketing in Czech and Slovak Republic. But both companies run separately and independently.

Doupe: Is there any cooperation among the development teams working under the IS brand? Your Pterodon development team stands out a little, do you exchange knowledge with members of Mafia or Hidden & Dangerous 2 development teams? Do any of these titles share some features?

Jarek Kolar: Our team members are very well acquainted with the members of other teams and they also exchange their experience. A few of our own team members have spent a short time working on Mafia and Hidden & Dangerous 2. Thanks to the honest cooperation with IS we can outdo, in the terms of quality of our production, the development teams that have a longtime experience with developing FPS games.

Doupe: Where, when and how did you get the idea of a game situated into the Vietnam war environment? Did you considered the 3D action genre commercially successful or was there something else in it?

Jarek Kolar: Our game Flying Heroes was already a FPS title though of quite an unusual sort. We devoted a lot of effort into its development but the game was not very successful, yet there were some praiseful reviews. But after all we did want to continue developing FPS games. And because IS tends to develop realistic and atmospheric games we got an opportunity to manufacture a game from the Vietnam war period. It was a challenge we caught hold of very seriously.

Doupe: Could you generally outline the course and content of Vietcong`s missions or one mission concretely? Is it going to be just about action or will there be any necessity to think about it and solve problems?

Jarek Kolar: Vietcong is about a U.S. Army Special Forces officer operating in south Vietnam on the borders with Cambodia. Whole game is plot driven and all the missions relate. Right now, I can`t tell you more about the story, unique characters or missions. There`ll definetely be lots of action, fear and thrill.

Doupe: What about the "tactical elements", Vietcong is said to be full of these. But what should player image under this term?

Jarek Kolar: I can`t tell you more about this yet. But, as I said before, our priorities are realism and authentic experience as a Special Forces member. So do not expect any turn based strategy or a soldier-life simulation. Atmosphere and ultimate experience, that`s what we`re focused on.

Doupe: There will be 25 weapon types. Could you list any more except the already announced M16 and grenade launcher? Are these weapons going to be real-based?

Jarek Kolar: You`ll learn more about weapons very soon, but right now I can only tell you that weapons will be real-based and will perfectly fit in the realistic enviroment of our game. Thanks to the fact that we got all the weapons available during the development you can really expect some cool features - unmodestly I think our weapons are the best looking weapons you could ever seen in a FPS game. Of course also sounds are absolutely realistic.

Doupe: Will it be possible to pick up and use the enemy`s weapon?

Jarek Kolar: Absolutely.

Doupe: Can players expect to have the possibility to control vehicles and/or aircrafts?

Jarek Kolar: As I already said, the player represents a Special Forces soldier. So there shouldn`t be any problem in controlling vehicles. But for helicopters/aircrafts skilled pilots are necessary, so do not expect to be able to control them. This doesn`t mean there won`t be any transport helicopters/aircrafts with the possibility to shoot down from its deck.

Doupe: Do you plan any specialities like nightsight, traps and such things?

Jarek Kolar: Definitely traps and other surprises but not the nightsight as that only came about late in the Vietnam conflict and was not a common part of Special Force`s equipment). I can`t tell you more right now.

Doupe: Do you use proprietary or a licensed game engine?

Jarek Kolar: We first used 3D graphics in our Hesperian Wars strategy project back in 1998. Then the technology was improved so that back in 2000 we got the first version of our PTERO-ENGINE, as used in Flying Heroes. When Flying Heroes were finished our programmers began to develop the next generation of this engine called PTERO-ENGINE2. Because of the complex jungle scenes and importance of realistic graphics the proprietary engine was the only possibility. It`s also useful for programming some special features and unique elements. Today`s standard engines used by many top FPS games are better suitable for the landlocked city enviroment.

Doupe: Is there going to be a demo version or an open beta before the final release?

Jarek Kolar: Yes, this is all to be confirmed but we`d like to have a demoversion and also an open multiplayer beta test.

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