Summary: Thomas Langhanki of SEK chats with FiringSquad about their upcoming and unusual parallel world themed RTS game, complete with dinosaurs.
FiringSquad: First, how did the idea for Paraworld come about?
Thomas Langhanki: As we were finishing Diggles we pondered two options for our next project: an online RPG or an RTS title. Ultimately, we favoured the latter idea. The challenge that appealed to us was trying to evolve the genre beyond the inevitable technological improvements.
Why did it end up featuring dinosaurs? One aspect was clear right from the get-go: we didn’t want to use WWII or standard fantasy settings. And at that time someone applied for a position as 2D artist. Simon – who’s still with us – had been working on a children’s book about dinosaurs. It seemed like an interesting topic to us and this is where the basic idea for ParaWorld setting is originated.
FiringSquad: What playable sides will be available in the game?
Thomas Langhanki: There are three factions in the game. The Norsemen are the ones you’ll encounter first in the singleplayer campaign. They’re good at defence and have the most robust buildings and walls. Heavy armor and corresponding upgrades are another typical element.
We incorporated Japanese and Chinese elements in the Dragon Clan, which is the second faction. People who like to deceive their opponents probably will like this tribe best. They can build a variety of traps and also have cloaking devices at hand. The Clan also has a stronger tech focus than the other factions, thus having a number of vehicles around.
If you despise defense strategies and prefer to go the offensive route, the Dustriders may be your tribe of choice. They have lots of animal units around, any many of them can be (re-)equipped on the fly. For instance, you can equip a close-combat unit with a catapult or a transport basket for other units. Their tents can be built down again and you’ll get the resources back. Also, other infantry units can erect buildings. Making this faction a very flexible and mobile one!
I didn’t mention the heroes yet. They don’t belong to any particular tribe and you can pick any possible combination. Heroes have very specific bonus features, some of them differ from tribe to tribe. Making it possible to go for really different strategies with the very same tribe depending on what heroes you’re using.
FiringSquad: How do the game's versions of dinosaurs affect the gameplay and what are some of your personal favorite creatures?
Thomas Langhanki: The T-Rex, I guess. Which is kind of everybody’s favourite as soon as it becomes available. It simply is great to have one or two of then at hand and meet the enemy on the battlefield. Or just surprise him when he doesn’t expect it. I also like the Ankylosaur Catapults as you can toss raptor eggs towards the enemy units and buildings. The little raptors that then spawn and wreak havoc are simply adorable!
FiringSquad: What will the storyline and single player campaigns be like in Paraworld?
Thomas Langhanki: There’s going to be one singleplayer campaign that will incorporate all three tribes. You get to know one after another, and in the last third you can choose freely and pick whatever faction you prefer to master the most difficult tasks. Which was a very important element because you can go with whatever tribe you like best instead of having to side with a faction you’re not a fan of. Keep in mind that the story is focused on the heroes – not the tribes.
The story will be told through about 2 hours of cutscenes and dialogue scenes in the game among other things. We’ll also provide some background information regarding the factions, the protagonists and the Paraworld in general.
FiringSquad: There are a ton of RTS titles already out there. How will Paraworld differ in terms of gameplay from the host of other strategy titles?
Thomas Langhanki: ParaWorld has a fast pace and is focussed on battles. We know that the settings appeals to lots of playing because it differs from settings often used in other titles – and, hey, dinosaurs! We also incorporated other, unique types of units players are going to have a great time with.
ParaWorld also features something you’ve already seen briefly – the Army Controller. It does make a tremendous difference in terms of controls and it’s something not featured in any other game. You always know the status of every single unit, you can always access it or use it to send them to other positions. It’s simply something you’ll miss in other games once you got used to it.
And there’s also a number of smaller ideas or technical features such as a dedicated server version and Dualcore support due to the multithreaded nature of the engine.
Thomas Langhanki: We incorporated three different modes. Deathmatch is, well, what you’d expect Deathmatch to be and it doesn’t really require any further explanation. ;)
In the Defender mode one player has to defend his base against all the other player. Of course, he has an advantage in terms of defence mechanisms and resources in order to compensate for being outnumbered, but it’ll be tricky nevertheless for either side. The Defender has to fight several players – the players again only have a limited amount of time to conquer the base.
Domination is comparable to the standard mode of games like the Battlefield series. Every map features one or several flags that have to be conquered and kept for a certain amount of time by a player or a team.
FiringSquad: What inspired the art style and graphics for the game?
Thomas Langhanki: There were several influences. “Lost World” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle certainly did have an impact on the way we wanted to the player to feel like in the ParaWorld. We visited museums, read tons of books and watched features such as the BBC series on dinosaurs or movies like Jurassic Park to see what could work for the game and how it could work.
We did use a variety of sources for the design of the tribes, taking a closer look at Egyptian, Japanese, or Chinese art and architecture among other things. Funnily enough, the original design of the Norsemen tribe was, to certain extent, influenced by the Asterix comics, which are very popular in Europe.
FiringSquad: Will there be a playable demo and mod tools released for the game?
Thomas Langhanki: Yes and yes. Releasing the demo is the best way to communicate all the ideas and concepts such as the Army Controller to the players. Seriously, I could talk about it for hours, but having people play the game is simply a lot more efficient.
As for tools – the level editor and the sequence editor will be made available. People who love to create movies/cutscenes are going to have fun with the latter since it certainly enables you do do more compared to similar tools for other products. Naturally, we want to encourage community activities like the development of mods and will provide as much support as possible.
FiringSquad: What is the current status of the game's progress and when will it be released?
Thomas Langhanki: ParaWorld’s set for a release in August. We’re launching the beta test of the game as you’re reading these lines. The initial round will be available to players from German-speaking countries only. Not decided yet if we’re also going to cover the English market later on, but we may go for that.
Due to that we’re very busy doing tests, tuning stats and evaluating the feedback we receive. Stressing – but very interesting!
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Paraworld at this time?
Thomas Langhanki: Also keep an eye on the http://www.paraworld.com official website since we put up new content almost every day. Not to mention the weekly updates on our very own website at http://www.sek-ost.de.
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