Udett Schaffrath Interview - English Version.
01 - How many people are there in your team? Could you tell us something about you?
The team working on Söldner consist of 15 people right now plus 7 externals. I am the ceo of the company and also designed the game. I am working in this industry since 1987 and shipped about 35+ titles, many of those on old homecomputers like the C64 or Amiga. Our recent title was Panzer Elite, still the reference in tank simulations.
02 - Did it take long to plan this game? I mean for how many years didn't you see the sunlight?
Actually no as the basic design and idea is in my drawers since long before Panzer Elite. I always wanted to make such a game, but the original idea came from somewhere else: Carrier Command, a pretty old game on Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. I added the modern military aspect and made it more current in gameplay for multiplayer.
03 - Have you been inspired by any previous game, Panzer Elite apart?
The landscape interaction all comes from the basics we layed in Panzer Elite, but we had to build a new engine for Söldner which is more flexible and dynamic. The games which influenced Söldner most are Operation Flashpoint obviously, Counterstrike and Rainbow Six. Our game will be somewhere in between the realistic games like Ghost Recon and the pure action like Countestrike. Söldner is a tactical shooter.
04 - What are your favourite games now? Quite OT, isn't it?
Well, we are all hooked in one massive online or the other and love to play online games like Bf1942, Unreal Tournament, Counterstrike, even Medal of Honor online. The game I currently play is Yoshis Island on my GBC ;)
05 - The number of weapons and vehicles that will be available for the players is huge, the research work for this has been difficult?
Actually no as we have 2 very good researchers on our external team. One of them (Matthias Siedlaczek) already did the research for Panzer Elite, the other (Jürgen Schrott) has many weapons we feature himself - scary - and let us shoot with those from time to time. One of our team members also owns weapons and he also is responsible for modelling and picking the right guns.
06 - One of the most interesting innovations is the Advanced Destruction System, that will be used even in multiplayer. How have you solved the lag problems that could affect the players with this feature?
The ADS looks complex to syncronize over the network, but it really isn't: we do not sync the individual destructions, we only sync the cause of it. Example: a shell explodes inside a house and the house is getting destroyed. The thing we send over the net is the shells position and explosion status. Each client makes sure he destroys the house himself in the identical way. Thats all there is and works beautiful. The problem is the dynamic 3d environment. In recent 3d hardware history the cards were optimized to run "static meshes", ie. stuff which is always in the cards memory. We need to update the 3d data every frame which makes things difficult, or lets say different than common FPS shooters.
07 - Could you tell us something more about the multiplayer? Will it include the possibility of playing the campaign in cooperative mode?
MP is beyond standard MP (do you notice a pattern here with our game?). Besides the standard MP modes we allow players to modify those with simple mouse click to create new exciting modes. Ever played "Capture the Flag" with Jeeps instead of flags? Thats only one mouse click in Söldner. We currently plan to support COOP modes, ie. allowing a team to play single player over the network. We don't promise this as this MP mode has all sorts of problems, and if we can't solve them in time we can't deliver this mode. As we know this is the most sought after MP mode we try hard to make it availabel for our players.
08 - Something more about multiplayer mode.. it seems to me that this kind of game doesn't belong to the "fast and furious" games that people are used to, do you plan to introduce a Deathmatch mode?
Yes, we have fast and furious modes for people who just want a quick match during lunch breaks or so. The good side on the server of Söldner is its flexibility. You can configure a lot of stuff with a simple interface (your html browser is all you need) and can create all sorts of different game modes and experiences.
09 - What about the music score?
The music is currently in the works and is still a secret. Its not classic military music, its more ... err .. different.
10 - There's a popular uprising about the third person view. It's been a choice made by considering many factors, I presume, could you tell us why?
Well, when playing FPS games we had problems positioning our soldier. We never saw if my knee was peeking out behind the box I was hiding and some damn sniper shot my knee. The obvious choice is 3rd person with a 1st person control. In other words it plays identical to 1st person, you only see your guy too. This has the advantage that we can show all sorts of feedback too: when you get hit you see from where, you see feedback of gestures you do, you see exactly how you stand behind cover etc. We noticed the petitions of players who want at least the OPTION of 1st person and we are listening ... so watch an anouncement on our website soon.
11 - Some screenshots show a very well detailed high grass feature. Do I have to sell my car and buy a Geforce FX or the grapich will be able to be supported by less powerful GPU?
No no, most screens are done on simple Geforce3 or Geforce 4 cards. The grass is scalable by performance and can be turned off for older cards. We want to make sure Söldner runs decent on a large base of PC's, so the minimum card is a GeForce2 for Söldner and DirectX 8.1
12 - Can you figure out when a demo could be available? Do you plan to make it singleplayer or multy?
We plan an open beta MP demo before release. The "real" demo will be released after the game ships as we dont want to hurt Söldner just because we master a demo. That takes a lot of time from the dev team. The beta will be MP only.
13 - Are you already in the beta-testing phase? Do you have an idea of when the game will be released?
Yes and no. We are post alpha, pre beta. We assume we are beta around june/juli, release is planned Q3/2003.
14 - Aren't you tired of people asking you the same things over and over?
Well, this interview was different and thus exciting. I hope your readers like it!
First of all let me introduce myself, my name's Alberto Pagella (Pag2000) and let me thank you for the opportunity of breaking your... ehm.. of asking you something about your new work, wich seems to me really impressive from what I could have read in the official site, well let's begin: