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Skip Navigation LinksPlayHard > In English > Making a Game: King Arthur - The Role-playing Wargame. Interview with NeocoreGames


Название: Король Артур
Зарубежное название: King Arthur – The Role-playing Wargame
Разработчик: Neocore Games
Зарубежный издатель: Neocore Games
Издатель в России: Руссобит-М
Официальный сайт игры: перейти
Официальный русский сайт игры: перейти
Системные требования:
P4-3.4, 1 GB RAM, 256 MB 3D Card
Рекомендовано:
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4, 2 GB RAM, 512 MB 3D Card
MultiPlayer: LAN (2), Internet (2)
Жанр: Strategy, TBS
Игра вышла: 24.11.2009
Рейтинг: 8.5

King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame surprised us as a really entertaining and innovative Strategy game title. Strong AI and exciting gameplay accompanied us during the exploration of the Fantasy world located on the island of Britain in the times of King Arthur. We addressed our questions about the challenged and creative inspiration for making this game to the developers from Hungary-based NeocoreGames. The Developers also supplied us with a cool backstage photos set alongside a video revealing some MOCAP secrets.

Producing the Game

- Please, introduce yourself. Tell us about your career in the game industry naming some projects you worked on before.

- Hi, I'm Zoltán Pozsonyi. I've always been a hardcore gamer, joined the base team in 2005 and have worked on the NeocoreGames projects as a Production Manager since then. The company was founded with the idea of a PC-game based on the story of King Arthur, the once and future king. This game is the result of many years of hard work and a lot of devotion, and the fact that it is a self-published game did not make things easier for us, so I think I can say that we are very proud that it got such a favourable reception from the gamers and the media as well.

- Why did you decide to release your game digitally in the first place avoiding the usual "developer-publisher" cycle? What advantages did this allow you to get for the creative process?

-
Yes, it is an innovative move indeed. Well, game sales through digital download have increased a lot by now, and soon it can be the most significant method of PC-game purchase. We wanted to seize this opportunity as soon as possible, and Steam proved to be a perfect partner with that.

- Did the latest economic crisis affect the development process anyhow?

-
As to everyone else, the economic crisis gave us a hard time as well, but we managed to overcome these difficulties so now we are back on track and we will continue our work to supply the gamers with new and innovative RTS – RPG mixtures.

- How many people were working on King Arthur? Was it difficult to manage the team's efforts?

- There are twenty guys in our team working in full time, but, of course, we have some part-time designers and temporary collaborators as well, like our composer, animators, and so on. This is the team size that we can control and handle easily every day.

- Can you name some ideas of the game that had to be turned down during the development process and the reasons for that?

-
Generally, we schedule the work and features pretty well. [Smiles]. We had three big focus tests during the development and all of them changed something in the game. We had no big feature cuts, and we will release everything that we originally planned and even more during this year. However, sieges are not the same now in the game as it was planned before, because the good old medieval siege methods did not fit for the spirit of the Arthurian lore.

- King Arthur has provided a lot of enjoyment to various critics and many users all over the world. How would you explain that?

-
We are very thankful to the journalists and the gamers for praising King Arthur, and we are more than glad that we were able to give them many hours of fun with our game. Maybe this is due to the fact, that King Arthur is a kind of game big companies don't create anymore and it can be very interesting and exciting as probably this is the first member of a brand new genre. Anyway we will see, but we will keep going on this path.

- What were the most praised features of King Arthur? What did users criticize about the game?

-
The graphics, the deepness and the spirit of the game amused almost everybody. They liked the music, the exceptionally smart battle AI and the written quests very much and were impressed how good an RTS-RPG mix can be. Some also highlighted the changing seasons on the campaign map and the Victory Locations on the battlefields among the nicest features. Some people had some issues with the camera control and the bugs that were present in the game, complained about the steep learning curve or said that the archers were overpowered.

We wanted our gamers to have a lot of fun with King Arthur, so we made some changes according to their complaints. We added more camera modes, you are able to choose from different settings now, and we already fixed most of the bugs. The learning curve is an interesting issue though, since the "good old PC-gamers" liked that a lot, we don't think this is a disadvantage. And the overpowered archers: well, most of the gamers who already finished the game don't think that archers are overpowered; they get extremely weak as mass magic enters the scene. But we added a "Weaken archers" option for those who disagree, to choose. Just to be sure. [Smiles].

- Tell our readers about the DLC for the game that were already released and their features. Do you plan to make any additional DLC for King Arthur in the future?

Two smaller King Arthur DLCs were released so far. With the Legendary Artifacts DLC three sets of powerful and ancient artifacts became available in the game, each set designed for specific classes: Sages, Champions and Warlords. In the Knights and Vassals DLC two Knights join your Round Table when the first Stronghold is built and various new units became available.

The first expansion pack, King Arthur - The Saxons is already available, where you are able to conquer Britannia as the ruler of the Saxon Empire. One of the most important differences from the base game here is the sandbox gameplay mode. The options are adjustable: after choosing from the various Victory Conditions, setting the AI aggression and the power of magic you can start your own customized campaign.

Soon another King Arthur expansion will be released, called King Arthur – The Druids where you'll be able to play with the followers of the Old Faith, the Welsh. Both expansions include a complex diplomacy system and we added – among many others – a huge amount of artifacts and artifact-sets, lots of new battle quests, brand new unit types and new heroes to the game.

- Thanks, Zoltán!

Game Design

- Please, introduce yourself. Tell us about your career in the game industry naming some projects you worked on before.

Viktor Juhasz (Senior Content Designer)-
Hi, I'm Viktor Juhász, Senior Content Designer at NeocoreGames. In the last couple of years I have participated in translating some well-known computer games like The Sims 2 and Age of Empires III. I worked abroad as a localization tester for The Sims 2 core game and one of the expansion packs, later participating in the LT for Age of Empires III. I joined the team in 2005 and have been working on the NeocoreGames projects ever since.

- How was the concept of the game born?

-
We all love the Arthurian lore and the Celtic mythology, they are incredibly rich and fantastic, and till the release of King Arthur no one in the game industry has ever got into these tales so deeply. They are very good and exciting stories, but still provide a lot of freedom when it comes to game design. After choosing the background we started to work on the base concept of the game. King Arthur could be put in the middle of a triangle, where the edges are J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the Heroes of Might & Magic and the Total War series. We used in the game design what we liked the most and created a brand new game with a lot of newly added content.

- What was inspiring your work (books, tales, movies, other games)?

-
The legend of King Arthur is one of those evergreen myths spawning so many interpretations that the tales about the wizard Merlin, the fabled Camelot or the magic sword Excalibur became part of the universal culture. The primary source was definitely Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. We also used the works of Chrétien de Troyes and fantasy novel called The Once and Future King by TH White. The Excalibur (the movie) was a huge inspiration, too, just like Dragonheart, Flesh and Blood and The 13th Warrior (which are not Arthurian tales, but helped to build the dark fantasy / medieval atmosphere). As secondary, sources I should mention Welsh mythology (the Mabonigion) and multitudes of Celtic faerie tales. And there were lots of other inspirations, but not particularly tied to the Arthurian mythology.

- What challenges did you encounter during the development process of the game?

-
Well, it was definitely not an easy task to set up a coherent story structure from the thousands of smaller or bigger tales and mythology where in each one everything is told differently. But all in all I think we managed to keep the original living and exciting environment of the Arthurian mythology.

- What kinds of design choices did you have to make during the development process?

-
We chose to use a fixed and well-known mythology to create a game which is, by definition, based on the player’s choices. The design for a mainstream game should provide the feeling of success and satisfaction. We had to use the literary groundwork and some of the well-known motives, while we were also trying to tell a story and offer a challenging game where you can freely decide which path your heroes will take to the victory.

- What factors did you consider when working on the design of the in-game strategic map?

-
There were two very important factors: on the one hand we wanted a non-scripted, free gameplay and on the other hand we wanted to add the story-oriented, chapter-based objective system. Our aim was to create a playable and exciting mixture of these factors, and provide the gamers the freedom they need, but also put them into a fascinating background story, that makes the game even more fun.

- What is your favourite feature of the game?

-
The Morality Chart. I think it's very impressive that in King Arthur you are able to customize your own Morality and that it affects the whole gameplay and also the final outcome. It is particularly challenging to play the game in four completely different aspects provided by this feature.

- Who is your favourite Knight of the Round Table and why?

-
Although some knights are more powerful, I like Sir Kay the most. He's the first Knight in the game, you can shape his character from the very beginning and I always found that challenging. And he is your foster brother anyway. [Smiles].

- Thank you, Viktor!

Art

- Please, introduce yourself. Tell us about your career in the game industry naming some projects you worked on before.

Aniko Salamon (Lead Artist)- Hi, I'm Anikó Salamon, Lead Artist at NeocoreGames. I entered the game industry in 2001 as a contributing artist for textures and concepts at Philos Entertainment. I was among the first members of NeocoreGames, laying down the basics of concepts for our games.

- What were the main steps of creating the in-game art for King Arthur?

-
It all starts with a discussion among the producers, designers and concept artists. After that there are more possibilities to create an art. The most traditional way is that a graphic artist paints or draws it on paper or on PC, but we also use screenshots or parts of them, and in some cases – mostly by portraits – we also take some photos of the team members and we create the in-game arts using these pictures. It's a lot fun and it’s very useful. Thus we can make more realistic arts, when the character is holding a sword, a shield or anything else it’s always better to have a real person who is holding something of the similar weight and shape, so that on the artwork every part of the body feels very real and at the right place. After all of that we work on the rough material a lot, trying everything to it that is on our mind, we also add our unique taste, and this is how concepts and in-game arts are born here.

- What challenges did you encounter during your portion of the development process?

-
Well, I'd say the biggest challenge was to teach our lead programmer, Tamás Szabó to draw. [Smiles]. Ok, to be serious it is always a big challenge to create the same art the designers had already pictured for themselves. Normally, being an artist also means a lot of freedom in what you do, but not in the gaming industry and it's not always easy to get used to it.

- What inspired the characters, units' looks and beautiful background pictures?

-
First of all the beautiful ancient Britannia and the colourful tales and myths inspired us. Basically I prefer a bit more dark and dim style, maybe it can be seen on the background pictures as well. Besides that, the ideas of the producer and the images he had in mind about every little part of the game also have a big influence.

- How do you see the importance of background art in video games?

-
I think it is very important, since it provides a unique spirit for the whole game, and forms the first impressions and expectations of the gamers. It has to be unique, fascinating and it has to fit well to the game.

- What is the name of your favourite artist?

-
To be honest I have more favourites, and I can't pick just one, so they are Craig Mullins, Rembrandt and a Hungarian artist, István Sándorfi.

- Tell us about the latest art sample you created.

-
The last art sample I made was a creature for King Arthur – The Druids: it is huge, it has scales and it's really-really dangerous. [Smiles].

- Thanks, Anikó!

Animation

- Please, introduce yourself. Tell us about your career in the game industry naming some projects you worked on before.

-
Hi, I'm István Kiss, Animator at NeocoreGames. I joined the team in 2005, and I have worked on the NeocoreGames projects so far.

- Speak about the creation of animation for King Arthur and its special features.

- We used a mixture of MOCAP and handmade animations for King Arthur. In the MOCAP part our main job was to teach the MOCAP artists the moves we wanted to see and then we got the recorded animations from the studio and we only had to cut and setup it a bit after all. You might have noticed that many units in King Arthur are left-handed. That’s because one of the the MOCAP artists who made the moves of some of the human soldiers was also left-handed. Mystery solved. [Smiles].

In case of some units – like the Giants and the Wargs for example – we used totally handmade animations – it would have been quite difficult to do otherwise, unfortunately we had no giants running around in the office.

- What challenges did you encounter during your portion of the development process?

-
The setup of the heavy armour animations was quite difficult, we wanted it to be as realistic as it might be, so we didn't want to allow the metal to be stretched out when the unit is leaning to the side or doing any other movement. Thus we built the armour from many different parts tied to the bones that move separately and did not let the armour to stretch, it had to keep its shape, so when the character is moving, the chain mail or leather armour parts just pop up under the heavy armour – just as in real life.

- Horses' movement look very realistic. How did you achieve that?

-
We used a real horse in the MOCAP lab as well to make the game even more realistic. That was amazing, the horse stood still without a single movement as long as all the devices were installed and after that it started a gallop in a heartbeat when its owner ordered it. It was a very nice experience.

- What software packages do you use in your work the most often?

-
Most of the animations are created with MOCAP by a partner company, but for the setup process we use the Softimage XSI software.

- Name some video games with great animation, in your opinion.

-
In terms of strategy games, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II. had great animation, in other genres I liked the animations in Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect 2 the most.

- Thank you, István!

Programming

- Please, introduce yourself. Tell us about your career in the game industry naming some projects you worked on before.

Tamas Szabo (Lead Programmer)- Hi, I'm Tamás Szabó, Lead Programmer at NeocoreGames. I am one of those hardcore gamers who started in the historical ages of computer gaming. I joined the base team of NeocoreGames in 2005 to lead the development of the basics of the graphics engine.

- What challenges did you encounter during your portion of the development process?

-
It is always a great challenge to design a smart AI, programming it is even harder, but teaching it to do various things is huge fun. [Smiles]. But all in all I think we did a fair job with the King Arthur AI. There are two different parts of the AI: the SM and the Battle AI.

In case of the first one, we had to set some goals the AI has to focus on: like managing the economy, the army and the population. We had to teach it to calculate a lot of factors to be able to create a balance among these goals. At first, heroes controlled by the AI stayed put for a long time, doing management and gathering a more and more powerful army and seemed very passive, although most of the time it was the best strategy, it looked extremely awful. So, we had to change that and also teach the AI to move from time to time to be a bit more active. But it had to stay efficient at the same time and it was not easy to achieve that.

The battle AI has more levels: the lower levels – like the unit level – are engaged in fights, only care about their own HP and in strategic aspects always follow the orders from the upper levels. In some cases there's a conflict between the lower and upper instructions, and it was not an easy task either to teach the AI how to calculate things in order to perform the most logical action.

- What are the factors of the most importance when creating a formidable AI in a strategy video game?

-
The AI has to act smart and rationally, carry out realistic moves and actions. There are two very important factors that have to be taken care of when making a smart AI. First, it should not perform regular tactical mistakes that could be exploited and used to defeat the AI easily. The second factor is that the AI should not follow pre-scripted routines, but it should always act in reaction to the gamers' deeds and other circumstances. It's always a good sign when you hear such things from the beta testers: "What does it do? Oh, no. No, don't go there. Noooooo! That's *******!!!". [Smiles].

- Why did you decide to make archers so powerful at the early stages of the game?

- We just wanted to be realistic. Against light armoured units archers are very effective in reality, so they are very strong units at the beginning of the game. There is no realistic, light armoured unit who could stand the fire of 200 archers on open terrain. As you get more and more heavy armoured units you'll realize that archers are not overpowered at all, but weak against them. On the top of all that, as the Sages improve themselves in magic, archers don't have any chance for survival in late gameplay. It's part of the game's tactical options to create the best possible army assembly according to the composition of your enemy's army and the battle conditions – terrain, weather, number of Victory Locations, etc. There are no "ultimate" units that are perfect for every battle; every unit type has its strengths and weaknesses on terrain, under different weather conditions or against other units.

- You know, trying to protect archers in late gameplay has become a very fun activity for me, trying to predict the enemy's next step and defend my units. Let's switch the focus a bit. What factors did you consider when working on the pathfinding algorithms for the game?

-
The most important factors by pathfinding algorithms are that they have to be fast – so they must not require too many calculations, they have to look good and be efficient. In King Arthur there is a web laid over the battlemaps, where some territories cannot be trespassed by the units, so they have to follow an optional bypass. They also have to handle more complicated situations, such as crossing another friendly unit's way. This time different methods can be used, for example the standing soldiers can take sidesteps to clear the way for the moving unit, or the moving unit can shove away others who are in the way and so on. When both units are moving, they can use the gaps in the formations to cross through. Every soldier has to stick to his position in the formation, but of course a little tolerance is needed to perform a realistic unit movement.

- Your battle AI is excellent. The AI is very flexible in King Arthur surprising with some really cool tactical decisions. How did you achieve this effect?

- Thanks a lot for the compliment. [Smiles]. Besides what I told above, it was also very important that during the whole AI development process we preferred logical, realistic thinking. We always asked ourselves during the testing: What would I – as a gamer – do in this situation? If it was better than what the AI did, we taught it to do it better, and so on. We developed the AI's logic this way.

- How did you teach the AI in King Arthur to use magic? What does the AI analyze before casting any spell in the game?

-
It is quite complex, but I'll try to describe it. Using magic is controlled by the higher levels of the AI because of its complexity. There are many factors the AI has to calculate before casting a spell. First of all it analyzes if any of the troops need magical resistance or healing. If they need it, it analyzes whether it is worth to cast the spell. There are many types of spells in the game, like weather, offensive or healing spells and a lot more. Some affect an area, some a specific unit, so there are countless options. In case of the spells provided by the captured Victory Locations the AI checks from time to time if it can cast them and if it's worth casting them anyway at that very moment – since it takes a lot time to get access to it again if cast. In case of offensive spells it calculates which area / unit will suffer the most damage, or which unit is the biggest threat to its own troops and cast the spell according to the calculations. All in all the AI always evaluates the current battle situation and cast the appropriate spells to achieve victory with minimal losses. Of course it cannot have the natural wit of a human being, but it can provide challenging battle situations for all our gamers.

- What game that you played had the toughest AI ever?

-
The Scenario mode in Company of Heroes. That was really tough.

- Thanks, Tamás!

Sound & Music

- Please, introduce yourself. Tell us about your career in the game industry naming some projects you worked on before.

-
Hi, I'm István Eőry, Sound Designer at NeocoreGames. I joined the base team in 2005 and have worked on the NeocoreGames projects thus far.

- What challenges did you encounter during your portion of the development process?

-
In-game soundtracks always have to be characteristic, they have to fit well to the gameplay and the graphics, but they must not be dominant or boring either, they should provide a background that makes the gameplay even more exciting and authentic. The main problem is that when a soundtrack is very unique and characteristic, it will become very nerve racking after a while. So we tested every in-game soundtrack on the whole NeocoreGames team. When a new soundtrack was made, they had to listen to it for hours. We had to throw out the first version of the Tyrant soundtrack, since it failed this test.

- What was inspiring your work?

-
Our Composer is Gergely Buttinger. He was inspired by the graphics and the artworks of King Arthur.

- How were the sound effects for King Arthur created? How was the in-game music for King Arthur recorded? What tones and instruments were used?

-
We worked together with a professional studio, where the soundtracks and the sound effects were recorded. Among many others Irish violin, opera singers from the Hungarian State Opera House, and a lot of computerwork were used to create the in-game music.

- What is your favourite game’s Soundtrack?

-
The Tyrant soundtrack of course. [Smiles]. Always the Tyrant soundtrack.

- Thank you, István!

P.S. We would also like to thank NeocoreGames for creating King Arthur and, especially, Orsolya Tóth, who is responsible for Public Relations at NeocoreGames, for making this Interview possible! We wish the Developers' Team the best of luck with all current and future projects!

04.09.2010 13:08, Unicorn

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База игр: перейти
Новости: 20.01.2010 Вся королевская рать
28.10.2009 Ход королем
17.09.2008 Анонс (RU): King Arthur
08.04.2008 Анонс: King Arthur
Обзоры: King Arthur – The Role-playing Wargame
Читы: King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame
Ролики: King Arthur Collection [Launch Trailer 1m9s 1280x720]
King Arthur Collection [Announcement Trailer 1m31s 1280x720]
King Arthur [Dev Diary #2 - Heroes, Extended version for HC gamers, 7:55, wmv, HD 720p]
King Arthur [Dev Diary #3 - Spells, 6:00, wmv, HD 720p]
King Arthur [Dev Diary #2 - Heroes, 5:35, wmv, HD 720p]
King Arthur [Dev Diary #1, 5:21, wmv, HD 720p]
King Arthur [trailer, 1:08, wmv, 1280x960]
Демо-версии: King Arthur
Патчи: Король Артур [v1.04, Ru]
Король Артур [v1.03, Ru]
Программы: King Arthur [wallpapers]
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