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SpellForce: The Order of Dawn
Developer: Phenomic Publisher: Encore Software Category: StrategyRelease date: 10 February 2004Official site  
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SpellForce: The Order of Dawn - english interview

PixelRage: In Romania Phenomic is not so well-known. Can you tell us more things about your future plans?

Jan Wagner: Well, as you know by now, we have an add-on planned and SpellForce 2 is also tentatively scheduled for end of 2005. We are going to release an editor alongside the add-on, which should also keep the game alive with the help of its fans.

PixelRage: The unforseen end of the game means that will be a sequel? 

Jan Wagner: Well, the end has certainly left some people wondering . But it is, in fact, aloop, that hints to the game beginning again, so it is not ment as a cliffhanger. That being said and time anomalies being what they are, who knows? 

PixelRage: According to the sales, do you consider SpellForce to be a success? Will SpellForce win the RPG/RTS market?

Jan Wagner: It is certainly a succes in one of the biggest markets for us: Germany and German speaking countries.

It has been very well received to critical acclaim in countries from USA to Australia and we even have a Japanese fansite (I am told - my Japanese is not good enough to read it), so yes, it has been a success. We also expect it to be a long seller, given the state of the art graphics. Of course we could always use more sales, as development for the game has been quite long and one of the biggest budgets ever for a German developer.

PixelRage: To which other RPG/RTS games can you compare SpellForce? What are the features that distinguish SpellForce from the other genre games?

Jan Wagner: Well, it hardly compares to any of them. Of course it shares some of the looks with Dungeon Siege, some of the RPGRTS elements with Warcraft 3 and it has been compared to many other games. We like to believe however, that despite similarities due to genre or graphics etc. it is really the first in a new genre, that seamlessly blends RPG and RTS elements to create a new gaming experience which we call RPS - Role Playing Strategy .

PixelRage: What SpellForce brings new in multiplayer gaming?

Jan Wagner: Well, of course the concept of six races which you can control several at once and the strong heroes that add a real new tactical element, especially in the early game. With the upcoming co-op mode, we also make the RTS side more of a team-effort than before, which blends in with the concept of some races depending on their allies to be able to get resources to build certain units. You really need to be more of a team player in SpellForce.

PixelRage: What did determine you to choose Krass as SpellForce's engine? What are the limitations Krass impose, what other things do you wanted to implement, but the engine didn't let you?

Jan Wagner: Well, we did not start out with the Krass engine, but after several graphical overhauls (SpellForce started out looking much more cuddly and closer to Settlers) we decided on this very flexible and versatile engine. Our limitations are really more in the amount of RAM and the speed of the graphic cards - the engine is quite capable of doing even more .

We are very likely going to continue using an updated Krass engine for SpellForce 2 since we are far from reaching its limits.

PixelRage: SpellForce is full of innovative features. If you choose only one feature, what would that be, and why?

Jan Wagner: That is hard to say-everybody has different choices on this, since there are so many new things. For me, really, it is Click'n'Fight. I am missing this from all the games I played after Spellforce, it's SO tiring having to seek out your enemy by hand and then having to click two or three times around to get your units to attack. It makes micromanagement so much easier for me, I would rate it as the most innovative of features.

PixelRage: What was the biggest problem which you encountered during the game development?

Jan Wagner: Well, the looks, as described above, were a huge challenge. We changed them several times until we finally arrived at just the right look for the immersive atmosphere we wanted. And then we had to still make the game run on an average PC 

PixelRage: What was the story that stood behind the creation of SpellForce? What was the main thought?

Jan Wagner:  That would really have to be answered by Volker Wertich, the driving mastermind behind it. From what I know, it was the desire to change the way the RTS and RPGs had become somewhat stale, with only minor differences between the way the played and felt. We were looking for a breath of fresh air and I think this is what drove us: to make a very good and solid game based on something we know, but in a way which was new.

PixelRage: Because we are interested in game development as well, what tools does Phenomic team use in design, level editor as well as in animation? Because the introduction movie was an excellent one!

Jan Wagner: Sorry, I am not involved in the technical side so much. The editor was done by "hand" so to speak, build from the professional tool we have been using for the game, which is mainly the engine and several different databases that control unit routines, spawning, items etc. The intro was doe by Virgin Lands, so you would have to ask them what they use. Me, I think it must be magic, but what do I know? 

PixelRage: What do you want to tell to your fans and readers?

Jan Wagner: Apart from: go out and buy the game? Well, my message is: do not accept less than what you deserve. Too many games today give you 7-10 hours of gameplay for your bucks or are cheap rip-offs of other games. With ever higher budgets, the industry gets scared of doing new things, very much like Hollywood only doing sequels of sequels. JoWooD have been willing to
risk their money in creating a new game genre and I think the publisher deserves some credit for this, too.

Posted by PixelRage [Sunday, 15 February 2004 - 16:01]

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