“What would have happened if…..?”
GameBoomers Goes Behind the Scenes of A Stroke of Fate
Boris Chuprin, project manager for Akella’s upcoming adventure game, A Stroke of Fate, recently granted GameBoomers an interview. Along with it, he supplied us with some new and exclusive screen shots. In it, we get a peek “behind the scenes” into the creative processes involved in bringing a new game to life.
1. In adventure gaming, a quest to assassinate someone is unusual. Where did the idea for A Stroke of Fate spring from?
Hi, I’m Boris Chuprin, A Stroke of Fate project manager. When deciding that the game storyline would unfold around the Third Reich and its soon-to-come wreckage, we started analyzing events and stories of that epoch which might be most interesting and appealing to gamers.
Nuclear weapon research, secrets of the Enigma coding machine, occult conspiracy – that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Much more history is out there hidden in big files on dusty shelves. It’s all so interesting to study and explore in its diversity. Also, on top of that stands one of the most charismatic and grim figures ever – Adolf Hitler. He unleashed one of the bloodiest wars in history – the war that took away millions of human lives. For years the world grappled with the question of how to stop the war and get rid of that ruthless tyrant.
2. How did you become interested in alternative history? Why do you think that alternative history provides a good framework for an adventure game?
Well, it’s in human nature…we’re dying to find out what the world would look like if things had gone some other way – not the way it really happened. That’s actually the basis of our game. Assumptions. Guesses. What would have happened if we had…
3. Was there a "real-life" role model for the main character? If so, who? What traits do you consider the most important in the main character's development?
Our main character – Gerhard Mayer – doesn’t have any specific real-life role model. We joined our efforts to make a collective image of both a “hard-nut” and intellectual person who opposes the Nazi regime and strives for change.
To convey his controversial image, we started with Ed Harris who played Major Koenig in the movie Enemy at the Gates, added a bit of Daniel Craig starring as James Bond and seasoned that saucy dish with Vyacheslav Tikhonov as spy Colonel Isaev (Shtirlits) in the Russian miniseries, Seventeen Moments of Spring. Thus, our hero was born.
4. Some people love to interact with characters in a game, while others prefer minimal dialogue. Where on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being no interaction and 10 being dialogue, dialogue, dialogue) does this game fall?
Well, I would rate it as 7-8 on your scale. Dialogue unveils the spirit of that time. We’re communicating about the war, the front lines, the rear lines, and the Nazi regime as a whole.
The dialogue gives players a great opportunity to learn more historic information as well as be entertained by some funny stories – that’s just like raising the curtain of history for a short while. There’s a plethora of true facts in the game. Even though we call this genre “an alternative history”, we always keep in mind our commitment to true historic events while developing the game. The dialogues reflect everything – what the weather was like in April 1945, who signed Neuron’s plan, even how Hitler’s favorite éclairs tasted. However, impatient gamers can skip it.
5. What atmosphere are you endeavoring to evoke in the game---creepy, scary, tense, etc?
Complete historicism, wreckage of the regime, bald truth about the tyrant’s last days…that’s all tense.
6. What is the perspective of the game—1st or 3rd person and why did you chose that perspective? What is the interface like (point and click, combination mouse and keyboard, keyboard only)?
A Stroke of Fate takes advantage of the third-person viewpoint as is often found in classic point and click adventures.
We are making every effort to provide an easy and intuitive interface always keeping this rule in mind – no function should be further than two clicks away.
The game will be operated with the mouse (point and click) – we did it to cater to the needs of those who love playing games while making themselves comfortable in an armchair. However, there are short cuts on the keyboard for players who are comfortable with that type of control.
7. What types of puzzles should we expect? How did you decide which type of puzzles to include and which to leave out?
We tried to make “spy” puzzles – print photos, fake some documents, make a ciphered text, etc. Of course, we also have classical ones – for instance, poker in its rare variant – Texas Hold’em.
8. Will A Stroke of Fate contain any action elements—jumping, sneaking, fighting, etc? If so, can you give us an idea as to how difficult these areas will be, and how often they occur?
There will be some small action parts in the game --both sneaking and murdering. This type of storyline can’t do without it – we’re surrounded by enemies and we want the player to feel that. However, it won’t be very complicated to fulfill. We’re making a classical adventure game and we want to convey the atmosphere of that time to the players.
9. A Stroke of Fate is described as having realistic and historic settings. How were these developed? For instance, was your graphic design team able to actually visit any of the settings or are you depending on pictures and descriptions of them?
Oh, that would be really fantastic to visit the real settings. Unfortunately, that’s not possible any more. Hitler’s bunker, the Reich Chancellery (Reichskanzlei), the Reich Security Main Office and many other locations shown in the game were totally destroyed during the war.
We have an excellent team of true history lovers. We’ve also hired a history consultant to make sure we’re very sensitive to what it was in reality. We used authentic photos and movies, archive documents and memoirs of those people who were part of those events.
10. The pictures on your web site are very detailed. Tell us a little about the graphics in the game. Also, is it 2D or 3D?
We believe we used the most appropriate technology for our game – 2.5D. Locations are detailed in advance in the 3D modeling program. That enables us to utilize complicated lighting models and a photo-realistic style to make sure the gamer gets deeply immersed in the game. Characters and objects are all rendered in realtime 3D.
11. Of course, each gamer plays at his/her own speed, but on average, how long do you expect the game to take?
In our opinion an average gamer will need approximately 20 hours to get through the game. He (she) won’t be bored.
12. How will the game be delivered? Download, CD, DVD?
We’re planning to release it on DVDs. Perhaps, it will also be available through download services.
13. How many people have been involved in getting this game to market—starting from the first idea to the finished project?
As a whole, the team includes 40 people (with script writers and designers).
14. In which countries and in how many languages will A Stroke of Fate be released? What is the time line for that?
We expect the game to be released in the English, German, French, Italian, and Russian languages. We can’t say for sure about the ship dates and specific territories where the title will hit retail stores – that depends on the publishers. We hope the game will get shipped in late Q2 2008.
15. How did you become interested in developing adventure games? What do you see as being the future for the genre?
I was deeply into games when I learned of the ZX Spectrum computer. Game development is a very exciting and creative process. I just can’t imagine doing something different from what I’m currently doing. Perhaps, a sci-fi writer…no, it’s not that interactive.
I do hope the adventure genre will gain popularity. Maybe, it would be very effective on mobile devices and the Internet.
16. I know that all the aspects of a game are important to its success or failure in the marketplace, but if you had to pick one factor as the most important, which would it be and why? (For example, story development, graphics, sound, puzzles, marketing etc.)
I believe the main aspect in any game is its gameplay. However, to make a product a success in the market place, one needs some other things beyond the gameplay: brand development, good publishers, promotion, budget, etc.
17. Is there one game which you believe demonstrates flawlessly all the elements of the perfect adventure game?
Well, to my mind, Full Throttle might be very close to what an ideal game should look like.
18. What is your gaming background? How did your family react when you told them you wanted to make games for a living?
My gaming experience started with the ZX computer, the 286 computer, and the Atari and NES gaming consoles.
My favorite games are Metal Mutant, Saboteur, Lode Runner, Elite, Bad Street Brawler.
My family reacted ok – well, my girl-friend is a lead artist in a game development company so we understand each other.
Thanks a lot for your interest in our project. We’re looking forward to seeing you on the game’s official website - http://astrokeoffate.akella.com/
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