Summary: JCal's interview bonanza begins this week with a chat with Kerberos Productions about their expansion pack to Sword of the Stars!
FiringSquad: First, were you pleased with how Sword of the Stars was received by fans and critics?
Martin Cirulis: Well I was certainly most happy with the fan’s response as they were who the game was intended for; the people who were looking for something a little different in their 4X experience. Of course the downside to that is that often can put some people off if they only have a short period of time to spend with a game. In general though, the reviews were about what a small game coming out of left field throwing curve balls can expect. As long as the facts in a report are right, we are pretty happy because that is really what will catch someone’s eye if they are interested in what we are making.
FiringSquad: When the time came to develop the expansion what were the team's main goals?
Martin Cirulis: The main goal for the team on Born of Blood was to evolve the game universe a few decades in terms of starting point while sill maintaining the enjoyment level and a consistent level of detail. New weapons, new tech and new gameplay capabilities are great but we didn’t want to lose track of what made SotS unique in the first place. We also wanted to keep the game approachable to new comers so care has been taken to make sure the new elements work smoothly with the old. The game and GUI are more intuitive than ever and even the manual has undergone a full overhaul. And finally, we wanted to incorporate as much of the great fan input as possible, because, in the end, any expansion is really for the folks who have supported the game already with their incredible enthusiasm.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the new playable race that's introduced in Born of Blood?
Martin Cirulis: The new race is the Zuul. Players of SotS will recognize them from their ships as the “Slavers” who have been showing up as raider events in the game and growing and evolving in their presence with the updates to SotS we have been releasing over the past 6 months or so.
FiringSquad: Each race in Sword of the Stars has different ways to move in space with their ships. What is the method that the Zuul use and how does it affect gameplay?
Martin Cirulis: The Zuul use something known as a Tunnel Drive to tear through the fabric of space-time and down into the nodespace flow between stars. Where humans use their node drive to access node space through natural fractures, the Zuul tear apart space-time to get what they want when they want it. Once a tunnel has been “dug” by a special tunnelship, any Zuul vessel can access the artificial node line to travel at speeds rivaling human ships. The down side to this drive system is that artificial node lines tend to decay over time and with usage so the Zuul player will have to keep an eye on his FTL network. And if a node line collapses with a fleet traveling down it. That fleet is utterly destroyed. And yes, though the humans and he Zuul use 2 different techs to access nodespace, they are both moving through and hence can intercept each other there. BoB will bring battles in Nodespace to SotS and not everything that lives there is thrilled with chunks of steel screaming and spraying deadly energies around the sub-dimension. So expect party crashers.
Martin Cirulis: Well as you know, SotS ships are made up of 3 sections so it really comes down to new section work…and there are a ton of them. First of the Zuul have a full racial suite of 80 or so sections spread across the 3 ships size classes. The Zuul also get a few special class ships like the 3 classes of Tunneling Ships and their secretive slave raiders assault ships. The overall look of the Zuul fleet reflects their origins and behavior. Their ships are chaotic, fast and heavily armed but as a result, not particularly durable. They will come at you in packs and try to overwhelm before you can bring concentrated fire to bear on them.
FiringSquad: What new weapons and technology can be researched and used in the game?
Martin Cirulis: New technology comes in the guise of new information gathering techs, techs that allow you to put more people on planets and better protect them and techs that will allow you to build merchant fleets and organize the convoys needed to protect them or the stealth squadrons needed to raid other peoples shipping.
FiringSquad: What other new and improved features will be put into Born of Blood?
Martin Cirulis: Apart from a whole host of fan requested tweaks and gui features and a new layer of intelligence information, there are 2 large new systems added to SotS gameplay. The first is a new diplomatic communication layer that uses a quick and easy icon system to send messages, demands and negotiations to other players and get quick responses regardless of whether that other player is human or AI controlled. Another exciting aspect of the system is it will allow you to mark the star map in ways that are visible to other players instantly. So choreographing invasions or defense missions involving multiple players is now a few easy clicks away. Also going hand in hand with increased diplomatic data is a map level that shows the 3-D universe in terms of player colored areas of influence. This allows you to instantly get a handle on what empires are where on your borders and what the joined power of allied empires could mean for you.
Martin Cirulis: Graphically the game continues to evolve and there will be more art assets not just for the Zuul but for the other races as well. The FX generator has been updated so not only will new weapon fx be even more spectacular, some of the older weapon systems will be getting tweaks and upgrades as well.
FiringSquad: What is the current status of the expansion's progress and when will it be released?
Martin Cirulis: We are rapidly approaching gold and after a fun little beta test period the game should hit in a few short weeks from now.
FiringSquad: After Born of Blood is released, what hints can you give us about Kerberos Productions' next projects?
Martin Cirulis: Well its always hard to know which project will come up next but at this point the one plan I can talk about is bringing something called Northstar to full life. Hopefully it will bring the same kind of fresh air, hands on approach to the space trade genre as SotS brought to space 4X.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything you wish to say about Sword of the Stars: Born In Blood?
Martin Cirulis: We have not covered all the new content here, there are still the new map types, the new scenarios, whole slew of new artwork, new menaces and evolving old ones and, of course, slavery! But I suppose it might be best to point out that BoB will make for an excellent entry point for newcomers as the Zuul will be a whole new world for old timers and new folks alike.
|© Copyright 2003 FS Media, Inc.|