Action Vault: To begin with an overview of Will Rock, what kind of game is it, what has most influenced its design, and what type or types of gameplay you are aiming to provide?Vladimir Chernysh:
WillRock is a classic arcade-style first person shooter, which combines elements of combat and exploration. One of the main sources of inspiration for our game was, of course, Serious Sam. We have spent countless hours playing the game - we think it is one of the best FPS games made in a long while. Doom and Quake were other obvious inspirations. Although we have taken some ideas that were employed by others, we are not trying to make a copy of any particular game, but rather to build upon what's been done before. For us, our predecessors are great sources of inspiration and building upon that we are trying to make our own impact on the genre.
It's hard to say what really inspired us to choose this particular concept. Most likely it was based on the fact, in my opinion, that all of us here at Saber really love this particular type of gameplay. Therefore, I guess you can say that first of all we are making this game for ourselves. Of course the result always comes out a lot better if there has been a personal interest in the project!
It's also important not to forget that games of this genre are extremely popular throughout the world. We'd like to make our own unique contribution to this genre and to create something that nobody else has done, while at the same time remaining within its framework.Andrey Iones:
I just wanted to add that although our artists are some of the best out there, we were initially founded as a technology-based company. We have created a revolutionary engine that is extremely capable, and feature- and performance-wise competes favorably with anything else out there. The FPS genre provides us with the perfect opportunity to show off our groundbreaking technology, so to speak.Action Vault: What's the high-level premise of Will Rock, and with respect to the broad design concept, what are your key overall goals?Andrey Iones:
We want to make a game that is first and foremost, a lot of fun, and we want to do it in an environment that is of such detail that the player is really immersed in the game. Our great artwork and powerful engine allow us to render ridiculously high poly scenes at a fast frame rate. The goal is to create something beautiful and fun. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel or to create some type of breakthrough genre, we are trying to create the best game possible within the arcade-style FPS category. Fast-paced action, a lot of incredible enemies, puzzles that need to be solved, and increasingly exciting gameplay all feature in a fantastic mythological setting.Action Vault: It seems safe to a.ssume the mythological setting reflects the game's overall theme? Without giving away any major spoilers, what are the main plot or storyline and the ultimate objective?Vladimir Chernysh:
The main theme of this game is as old as the world itself. It's the story of saving a damsel in distress. In our case, she has disappeared in the mountains during an archaeological expedition. The player, playing the role of Will Rock, has to find traces of her disappearance in a kingdom of ruins, hidden treasures and dangerous mythical monsters and opponents. Only after the player has trekked his way through the ruins of the ancient world, gathering treasures in the process, will he find his way to the lucky lady.Action Vault: With respect to the nature of the gameworld, what influences led you to choose the mythological theme, and what variety of different locations can we expect to see?
Vladimir Chernysh: Will Rock takes place in a fantasy world that combines architectural elements from Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and the Middle East. All of the landscapes and buildings in the game were created by artists with backgrounds in architecture and design, who are experts in the history of ancient structures. We've created an ancient city in the hills of the Near East and populated them with real personalities from ancient Greek mythology. There are a large number of well thought-out and intricately planned natural landscapes. There are abandoned temples, coliseums, amphitheaters, ruins of old, ruined Greek-Roman fortresses - there are even alleyways of destroyed ancient cities. Greek mythology has really not been explored in the action genre, and we felt that an FPS using mythological opponents would be a fun and different experience.Action Vault: Regarding the player character, Willford Rockwell, what are his background and personality, and will the player have any options with respect to modify anything about him, either initially or as the game progresses?Vladimir Chernysh:
Being a long-time fan of the films of Steven Spielberg, I feel that the game industry is long overdue for a hero such as Indiana Jones. I think that our main character Willford Rockwell (Will Rock for short) is a good candidate for that position.
Like Indiana Jones, he searches for ancient treasures. He is rich, charming and certainly not your everyday guy. In creating the design of our main character, we tried our best to make him resemble as closely as possible the image of the ideal man of the 1940s. I think that we did a pretty good job of that. I hope that Will Rock will become a strong personality similar to Lara Croft or Duke Nukem.Andrey Iones:
The options with respect to the character are fairly standard - health, armor, a wide array of weapons and a few power-ups such as immortality, slow motion and quad damage. The weapons in the game, we feel, are a major strong point, and they provide the player with tremendous power to get through the game's battles.
Action Vault: What do you see as the key features of your combat system? What were the main considerations in choosing and designing the game's selections of weapons? How much variety will there be and what are a couple of non-standard ones?Vladimir Chernysh:
Fast paced high-energy battles are, of course, the most important aspect of the game. Our entire game is like one big bloody battle and, of course, Will Rock has come prepared. He has a wide range of weapons at his disposal. In addition to the standard array of firearms such as the revolver and shotgun, we are also using a sniper cross bow that shoots the fiery arrows, a bazooka, and a machine gun that typically mounts on an airplane - somewhat similar to the minigun in the Serious Sam. In addition, we have also added fantasy/sci-fi style weapons such as the Medusa Gun, which will turn an opponent into stone before cracking him up into pieces and an atom-gun that creates a mushroom-cloud type effect before melting the opponents. There are quite a few other weapons in store, but I don't want to share all of our secrets at the moment.
I'd rather have some of them be a surprise. Let's just say that the variety and the balance of the weapons in our game will be enough to satisfy all types of fans of the genre.Andrey Iones:
One thing worth mentioning is that our technology allows us to create weapons-based effects that are pretty shocking. Utilizing real-time morphing, rigid body dynamics and real-time breaking algorithms we are able to create weapons effects that blow the mind, many of which are pretty revolutionary. Shattering, melting, inflating, exploding and petrifying effects are plentiful!
Action Vault: What range of enemies will we use these weapons to fight? What were your key goals in designing them? Are you willing to reveal a couple of interesting or unusual examples? And what were your primary objectives for the enemy AI?Vladimir Chernysh:
We feel we have done a really great job of creating a wide variety of unusual, scary and powerful opponents. Throughout the game, the player is forced to fight with skeletons of the Roman legion, gladiators, statues that come to life, Minotaurs, Cyclops, Centaurs and Satyrs, among others. All in all, we have over 20 unique opponents planned for the game - all with their own special modes of attack. Our engine enables us to use high-poly models with extremely detailed textures. When combined with the great work of our animators - who have added elements of humor to many of the animations - and the great AI programming, our opponents take on an eerily life-like quality.Andrey Iones:
We tried to keep enemy AI relatively simple. When you have hundreds of opponents to face in a battle, highly intelligent behavior doesn't work. Arcade-style games require more of a straightforward attack AI. We have, of course added some twists such as missile avoidance, encircling and stealth, but this has been intentionally limited.Action Vault: What primary considerations and goals are reflected in the designs of the missions? How many are there, and how diverse will they be in terms of types, goals et al?Vladimir Chernysh:
We plan to keep the game extremely fast-paced and to clearly stay within the action genre. For this reason our missions have been designed with action in mind. When you play through our game, you will realize that all those hours spent playing Quake or Serious Sam were not in vain. The skills acquired in those games will certainly help to get a player through Will Rock. You have to constantly remain on your toes, to shoot fast, and to use your weapons and resources carefully and skilfully.Andrey Iones:
There will be 10 levels overall that, while balanced for 80% action and 20% exploration, all have their own unique look and feel. We are trying very hard to make each level feel unique.Action Vault:Regarding this uniqueness, what is the range of different levels? What degree of world interactivity will there be such as NPC interactions, objects to find and use et al?Vladimir Chernysh:
Levels will vary from mountainous regions to caves, to cities to temples to bathhouses. We've attempted to create a world that is not only beautiful and varied but one that is highly interactive as well. Anywhere the player goes in our environment, things break around him, bridges collapse, altars explode, and buildings tumble. The player can participate in the destruction to a great degree by breaking statues, vases, busts, columns walls, etc... The player can use catapults, battering rams, ballistas and ancient "elevators". We feel we have taken interactivity to a new level in the arcade-style FPS genre.Andrey Iones:
Our physics engine incorporates rigid body dynamics and real-time breaking of geometry. This allows us to create environments that are highly interactive and physically very accurate. When you break an item in our game - it actually breaks (differently each time) and its pieces bounce on the floor naturally. It is very cool and is utilized to great effect throughout the game, adding substantially to the gameplay in the process. Action Vault: To what extent will Will Rock include scripted events, and for what purposes in addition to advancing the plot? Will there be many, and what degree of importance will they have overall?Andrey Iones:
There will be some scripted events in the game, but more for purposes of gameplay than for advancing plot. Thus, for example, an opponent may destroy a bridge (or even create one) in the process altering the gameplay. The plot of our game is there to enhance the enjoyment of the game, but the gameplay is central, not the plot.
Will Rock also features puzzles to solve that require a player to perform a certain action. When this requirement (such as pulling a lever for example) is satisfied, a short scripted event will take place.Action Vault: While you've mentioned a number already, what are the key features of your Saber 3D engine technology, and what makes it especially suited to this game? What do you think the system requirements and recommendations for Will Rock will be?Andrey Iones:
The Saber3D engine is an extremely robust and capable engine with a very large feature set. Highlights of our technology include a sophisticated physics engine (including rigid body dynamics), fast rendering of very high-poly scenes (some over 200,000 polys), real-time morphing (including melting, imploding and desiccation), reflective surfaces, bump mapping, support for multiple layers of detail textures, projected shadows, dynamic lighting and a host of others. Will Rock will run nicely on a GeForce 2 or its equivalent, but in order to take advantage of some of the really nice advanced features, a GeForce 3 (or 4) or a Radeon 8500 would be great to have.Action Vault: Will there be include multiplayer? If so, what forms will be available, how many simultaneous players are you aiming for, and what other key pieces of information should we know?
Vladimir Chernysh: There are definitely going to be several types of multiplayer in our game. Of course we are planning to include the standard deathmatch, a new team-based game called "treasure hunt" and a cooperative mode. The plan is for up to 16 people to be able to play at once. The multiplayer element will be more arcade-like and fast paced. There will be less of a focus on realism and more on fun.Action Vault: What degree of support do you plan to offer the mod community with respect to creating original skins, custom levels et al?Andrey Iones:
We plan on offering as much support as humanly possible to the great world of modders. Our tools are very easy to use and intuitive and we want to get involved in helping others to create new levels, weapons and skins. We plan on having people available to offer as much a.ssistance as possible.Action Vault: Please tell our readers about Saber Interactive. When was it founded and where is it located? Who are the key members of the team, and how many people are on the team in total?Andrey Iones:
Saber Interactive was founded by a few guys interested in making great games based upon solid technology. We have two offices, one in the Empire State Building in the greatest city on earth and the other in St. Petersburg, Russia - not a bad place either.
With the exception of one of our co-founders, Matthew Karch, all of our team members are Russian (although sometime we think Matt is Russian too). All of the players on our team are really key members. They all offer so much to our project(s) that without any of them we would be losing a great deal. We currently have 20 employees and are growing slowly, but surely.Action Vault: What will make Will Rock stand out from the many other shooters of the current and ner-future generation? What kind of gamer will it appeal to most strongly, and why?Andrey Iones:
Two things - visuals and gameplay. I know that sounds kind of broad, but our technology allows us to create beautiful environments that are highly interactive. In Will Rock, the visuals are part of the gameplay and not just there for the sake of being pretty. If all a player wanted was something pretty he could go to the museum, in Will Rock it is about art for the sake of gameplay. Any fan of the genre should pick up the game; it's just a lot of high-adrenaline fast paced fun.Action Vault: And our usual open-ended final question - is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers, or something you'd like to ask them?Andrey Iones:
We would love to hear from your readers with any suggestions or ideas. The most important aspect of any game is that it is fun - who knows what is fun better than a gamer? Although we are all gamers here at Saber, we love to get input, suggestions and to engage in everything from conversations to deathmatches with members of the FPS community. Feel free to contact us at any time with thoughts or comments.
We can't predict how much the Saber Interactive team should expect to receive in the way of useful input as Will Rock moves forward, but we do expect to be seeing and hearing much more about this title. It seems a certain bet to attract growing attention between now and release, which is likely to be later this year. Thanks to Andrey Iones and Vladimir Chernysh for this tremendously informative introduction to a game we'll be following with even greater interest in the weeks and months to come.Richard Aihoshi - "Jonric"