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Paradise Cracked Interview
Interview - posted by Mistress on Mon 27 January 2003, 19:26:09Tags: Buka Entertainment; Paradise Cracked
1. Can you tell us a little about MiST land and the team working on Paradise Cracked? What are the backgrounds of the team members? Can you tell us about any previous experience they have?
We?ve been in the games biz since 1996. By now we've released 2 games, the real-time wargame Napoleon and the tactical RPG Paradise Cracked (in Russia the game was shipped on September, 24, 2002). Both games were published in Russia by Buka Entertainment.
We are located in the town of Zelenograd ( 20 km to the north from Moscow). Now the team includes 20 people.
2. Paradise Cracked has been described as a tactical RPG. What inspired the decision to make this type of game? What attractions do you feel that a tactical RPG has?
Of course, it's not by mere chance that we chose tactics. Since X-COM we had the idea of making a tactical game. The RPG system was influenced by Baldur's Gate.
3. Can you give us some information on the concept and setting of Paradise Cracked? What inspirations and influences lie behind them? What do you feel sets the game apart from the crowd? What elements of the setting really stand out?
Paradise Cracked is basically a tactical game. Some of its elements will remind you of X-COM. Most of the gameplay is turn-based tactical combat. But apart from this, there are NPCs, who give you information and quests; there are playable characters, each with a set of parameters ( strength, intellect, dexterity, etc.), which can be improved in the flow of the game by gaining experience and getting new levels; there is a huge game-world to wander about. And that is why we call it "tactical RPG".
One of the strongest points of Paradise Cracked is its soundtrack. In Russia the game was awarded a medal for "the best soundtrack of the year". As for the music, it is dynamic, that is, as the situation around the player's party changes, a new theme starts playing. Each level of the city has a different set of themes. Thus in Low Town we have dark guitar passages and industrial, and in Sky Town we have smooth and soft ambient, which turns into electronic break beat, when the player's party starts a combat. Totally, there is over an hour of music, and over two hours of sound. And, of course, sound adds a lot to the whole atmosphere, which the game creates.
4. What is the history behind the plot of Paradise Cracked? Can you give us a brief outline of the backstory and the in-game plot? How do they tie in? How is the background revealed to the player? What form does plot progression take?
The game is set in distant future in a huge megapolis. The humanity is controlled by The Central Computer. People are happy. All their dreams came true. Now their lives are a set of virtual pleasures. They spend most of their time in cyberspace, having fun?
You play the part of a young hacker. Once, while in cyberspace, you come across a series of strange data packets. You manage to copy a few files to a memory crystal, but activate the alarm system? In a few minutes, you hear a sound of the police siren, then a bang at your door a demand to open?
Your goal is to know, what it was in this data pocket that made the police chase you. The player controls up to 6 characters ( including the hacker). In the flow of the game they will gain experience and increase their parameters. The playable characters can buy/sell weapons, equipment, etc, talk to people ( you can even have a chat with an enemy in combat). And of course there are a lot of NPCs and quests, which they will give the player. But still all the RPG elements are of minor importance. In the first place the game is tactical.
The world is divided into 4 big levels ( Low Town, High Town, Sky Town, Space Station) each including a number of game maps. Within one level you can freely move back and forth, but as soon as you go up the next level, the previous one becomes unavailable.
The plot is non-linear. That is there is a main objective and a number of ways to complete it. The way you win the game will depend on your "style" of playing, and your actions.
5. Can you let us have some details on the gameworld? How large is the gameworld, how many main locations are there? What types of location will we see in the game? Can the player move between locations freely, or is this tied to the plot progression?
It is a huge megapolis divided into several levels, each including a number of game maps ( locations), ), between which the player can move back and forth. Some of the maps become available only after you complete certain quests. That is why we keep the exact number of maps per level in secret.
When on the particular level, you can visit any of its locations at any time (except for the secret maps, of course). But you can not go from one end of the level to the other in a moment. To reach the opposite end of the level you will have to cross all the locations, which are in between. There are a lot of robots and vehicles in the city streets - trams, buses, advertising robots, etc. And you can use all this machinery for your own purposes. But remember that your enemies can use robots and vehicles as well. All damage done to buildings will be stored in the memory, and if there are many fights on the same map, the location will be completely ruined.
Each level of the megapolis has its own style. Thus, Low Town is dark and dirty slums, industrial areas, sewers, etc, High Town is residential areas, municipal authorities, and huge hypermarkets, Sky Town is a network of arches and towers.
6. How does character development work in Paradise Cracked? What skills and attributes are there and how do these affect and relate to the gameplay?
There are several playable characters in the game. But only 6 can be in your team simultaneously. Each playable character has hisher biography and a set of basic parameters ( different for each character). Some parameters are interconnected. That is, by developing one parameter you limit another.
Each character has the following set of parameters:
Strength determines the character's number of AP ( action points), hisher health, and the weight the character can carry. In addition, some heavy weapons require great strength to be used.
Dexterity determines how many AP the character will spend to actions (walk, run, open doors, etc)
Dexterity and Strength limit each other.
Accuracy determines the character's accuracy of shooting.
Reaction the parameter, which influences the character's ability to react to enemies' appearance. If during the opponent's turn your character, who has good reaction, catches sight of an enemy, the character will automatically interrupt the enemy's turn and open fire at the enemy. This parameter is especially important to snipers.
Intellect enables to use high tech weapons, and is very important to hackers. The higher is the parameter the greater chance the hacker has to unlock a door or to break a cash dispenser. In addition this parameter determines the hacker's ability to break robots. The higher is your hacker's Intellect the greater chance the hacker has to break up a robot.
Driving determines the character's driving skills. Good driving skills will enable your characters drive any military vehicles, including heavy tanks. But even a mini-bus may be of great help in combat, because you can simply run over your enemy with it, instead of engaging into a fight with himher. Driving and Accuracy limit each other.
The other parameters (sight, health, resistance to fire, electricity, or shock, etc.) depend on the main parameters. Some of them are increased automatically when you increase your main parameters. Others can be increased by special cyber implants.
Each character has hisher own personality. Some will go into ecstasies over a stripper in a night club, some will panic when they hear a pistol shot nearby, etc. The number of improvement points, which your character gets when goes up a level, depends on the character's race, gender, and age. Cyborgs get fewer points, mutants get more. Women get more points, than men do. Younger characters get more points than older ones.
7. There has been mention of the use of implanted "cyber-devices" in character improvement - how does this work? How does character advancement work in general? How are skills and attributes advanced?
Implants play very important part in the gameplay. They will allow you to greatly increase the character's parameters. Moreover, some parameters cannot be increased in any other way, except by using implants (for example, Fire resistance, Shock resistance and Electric resistance). One character may have a limited number of implants. And once implanted an implant cannot be removed. Therefore you should choose implants carefully, and think twice before implanting a cyber device in your character's body. At first, you'll see cheaper but less effective implants, later you may come across very powerful implants, some of them will be as effective as up to two level-ups.
The rarest are regeneration implants. When set up they will regenerate the character's health automatically. They are hard to find. No shops sell them. You can get them only as prizes for successfully performed quests, or take from dead unique enemies.
8. How does the combat system work? Can you give us an overview of combat in general? What are the options for those inclined to take a less combative approach?
As I've mentioned already, combat is the most important thing about the game. All the rest is of minor importance. There are no "peaceful" times in the game. That is, while the player wanders about a level, exploring, talking to various NPCs, life on the level goes on. Even civilians, whom you pass by, are not just statue-like mutes. Each has it behavior model. Besides, there are members of different organizations in the streets. Some of them will fight each other, talk to each other, etc. A combat may start unexpectedly - thus, you may at some place come across an enemy patrol, which you didn't see on that place, when you was there last time, or you may quarrel with somebody, etc.
So there is no division of "combat" and "peaceful" times. If you come across a group of enemies, it's not necessary to kill them all for the combat to stop. You may simply pass around ( if unnoticed), or quickly break through. You don't have to kill all the people on the level. There are a few quests "to kill a certain badgood guy", of course, but destroying all the living is not necessary. Moreover, killing civilians will decrease the number of your experience points.
9. What types and range of weapons and armour are available? Can you give us some examples? How does armour work in the game?
There are over 60 types of weapons from pistols and shotguns to big rocket and grenade launchers. There are also energy weapons, which do different damage, and you need special protection to resist it.. Different weapons are of different calibers, and within one caliber there can be shells of different types. Thus, a rifle can shot standard, improved, explosive, shock, disorienting, incendiary, and sniper shells. Each weapon and each shell have unique parameters. There are also unique weapons. As a rule they can?t be bought and can only be taken from the dead unique characters. Well..I don?t think those who love collecting weapons will be disappointed.
In addition, there are scanners of different types, med kits, portable video cameras, and special devices, which create protective force-fields around groups of characters.
10. What importance is placed in quests in Paradise Cracked? How much variety will there be between quests? What types of quests are there? Are there any optional quests? How do they tie in with the main game plot?
Quests are the best way to gain experience, or to gain a unique item (a weapon, an armor, some ammo, etc.). In the world of Paradise Cracked there are several strong organizations ( the police, the Syndicate, etc.). The more quests you perform for the particular organization, the more experience, and the better prizes you get.
As for types of quests, they are quite ordinary (to kill some person, to go and bring something, etc). But almost every quest can be performed in a few different ways and even end differently. Thus, one of the NPCs gives you the quest to bring a suitcase (there are weapons in there) from the industrial zone, which is controlled by the Syndicate. You find the case, but it is not necessary to bring it to the trader. You can go and give it to the Head of the Syndicate. In this case, the trader will become hostile to you, but you will ally with the Syndicate.
11. What role do NPCs play in the game? What levels and types of interaction are possible? What is their importance in the plot?
There are lots of people in the city streets. Some of them are friendly or neutral, some are hostile. Some may give you quests to perform, some have their shops where you can buy and sell equipment. One of the features of the game is that ANY character may die, even some key NPC. For some players it was a shock to know that. But this is the way the game is designed: the city is ALIVE even without the player?s team presence. And anything may happen to any of the city inhabitants even without the player's actually taking part in it. And sometimes such unexpected events may change a lot in the whole plot. For example, if the Syndicate assaults the building of the Trade Coalition successfully, a few key NPCs will die, and as a result, some plotline will no longer be available, but a few new lines will become available.
In principle, you can walk the game through without even talking to anyone, simply killing all enemies you see around. Or you may choose the opposite way: you don't have to shoot much actually; in principle, you can perform your quest in such a way so you will set up the city organizations ( the Syndicate, the Trade Coalition, the Police, etc.) against each other. But in the second part of the game quests will become your main source of experience. Besides, by performing quests for this or that organization, you make it your ally, and they will fight for you against your enemies.
12. Paradise Cracked doesn't have a multiplayer feature. Can you tell us why you decided to leave this increasingly popular feature out of the game? Do you feel that adding a multiplayer option would have proved detrimental to the game?
No. Unfortunately it doesn't. And we don't plan to add it later. We realize that it will affect popularity of the game. But we hope that the single is good enough to compensate for the missing multiplayer. And this is own last game which doesn't support multiplayer. Everything we are going to make in the future will support it, of course.
Thanks to Vitaly Shutov - President of MiST land and Game Designer for Paradise Cracked, and Olesia Tokarenko - PR manager of MiST land as well as Julia of Buka