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Posted by Odin

Many of you have probably not heard about Metalheart: Replicants Rampage, but this title has all the things a Fallout fan would love except the Post-Apocalyptic theme. It's got more of a Sci-Fi theme to it and it's set to be released Q1 2004, since there wasn't much info about this title out there I decided to talk to Alex Filatow (Chief Programmer) about this title. Without further ado:

    Odin: Please State your name, and your role in the making of Metalheart: Replicants Rampage.
    Alex: Alex Filatow, Chief Programmer

    Odin: Who's involved in making this game?
    Alex: The team consists of 15 people: 4 programmers, 4 graphic artists, 2 musicians, leveldesigners, texters. Unfortunately, it's impossible to separate the objectives of a single person - sometimes it's necessary to ‘force’ a musician to write the dialogues. Very Happy Or for example sometimes I have to change something in the graphics by myself, though I’m a programmer. Game development is a very versatile thing.

    Odin: Tell us about the story in Metalheart: RR
    Alex: Sure. A captain and his female co-pilot survive in the emergency landing on a planet.
    The planet is in the hands of the empire. The main point about this planet is taсtonium, a seldom mineral with many special functions. It is half organic and could be used in many ways. It can be a source of energy and also has some medical purposes. The population of the planet consists of different races: nomads, mutants, cyborgs and replicants. Every race has it's special abilites, own weak and strong sides.

    They all have at least one thing in common: since the modern medicine allows insertion of mechanical implants, the whole planet is mad about it. You can just insert new lungs and breathe under the water. With cyber eyes you can see at night or through obstacles. All this stuff can be implanted and removed without any serious consequences to you health. Well, I don't want to tell you abou the exact plot, though I think the sub-title tells something about one of the key events in the story.

    Odin: Tell us about the character creation, the different attributes and skills one can select.
    Alex: The player will be able to put up to 6 characters in his team. Two of them cannot be removed from the party – they are the captain and his assistant. The rest of the characters can be hired in bars, on the street, almost wherever.

    Depending on the team constellation you will have to act differently. 4 cyborgs will force you to play something like a hack'n’slash game. And 4 nomads will make a battle look more like a chess game. I mentioned hack'n'slash and chess, but this was only a some kind of comparison, the example. Every character has an amount of free slots for the implants and two hands for the weapons. Especially the implants may change the role of the character dramatically. Imagine you hired a weak mutant with some average values. You extend him with some medical wisdom chip, cyberlegs detecting hidden mines and a third hand, programmed for perfect grenade throwing – all this abilities will make him very useful. And not only in the battle.

    A word about implants and gadgets. Some of them can be ’inserted’ by yourself. Like external adrenaline controller bracelet that keeps the level of your adrenaline constantf. This is so-called level 1 implant.

    To make a level 2 implant, you will need some assistance from a person who has some medical knowledge. Level 3 implants can be ’inserted’ in special clinics. Good examples of level 3 implants are lungs, brains, digital nerve systems.

    Beyond this implant usage, every character has 16 individual parameters (dexterity, perception, charisma). The development of this parameters is classical.

    Odin: How much depth is there to the NPC interaction?
    Alex: The NPCs live in this world. And I mean really live. It's impossible to slaughter everybody on the level. Everything has consequences. The NPC always react on you depending how you react on them. Being in war with cyborgs means really being in war with cyborgs. This opens many ways for the story completing.

    You may walk through the game as a mutant friend. Or like a cyborg hireling. Beyond that, every intelligent NPC may offer you a job. This jobs will be randomly generated, so the gameplay may be extended infinitely. Every NPC also owns his own AI. A robot will never hide in a battle, ‘cause his life is unimportant for him. A rat will look for corpses or blood even – in the heat of the battle. And a mutant will try to make a trap for you.

    Odin: According to the web site this game uses teams, can you control all your characters and is there a main character?
    Alex: Yes, there are 2 main characters, maximum 6 characters in your team.
    The death of a main character means game’s end. You will be able to control every single character the same way as your main characters.

    Odin: You also mention that we’re able to choose different races, how does a race become available to you ?
    Alex: You will simply meet this race. Imagine: you enter a bar and speak a cyborg staying around. For a certain amount of money, after some promises (if you have certain negotiation skills) he may join your team.

    Odin: Tell us a little about the different races, benefits, backstory etc..
    Alex: Wow, this may become a really long section. I will just mention some differences. Cyborgs have great combat skills, mutants have healing abilities, nomads are more spiritually oriented… and may hide from the enemies. J The main point is: there is no good and no bad race. They just share the same planet and can't exist one without another. But they don't know it. The common enemy is the Empire. And this is what's the game is about, to defeat the Empire. The abilities of every single race are pretty different in the beginning, later you will be able to develop every character the way you want – a mutant full of useful implants is in the end not very different from a cyborg.

    Odin: You also talk about futuristic items and body/cyber implants, tell us a little about these.
    Alex: I did it above, but here some more appetizers.
    A grenade assistant will make you throw grenades exactly in the point you want. Otherwise it will depend on your character characteristics.
    A hacker chip in your brain will allow you to hack some security panels.
    The redtooth communication system will allow all participants see what the other team members see. Very useful in combat!

    The main feature of the implants of Metalheart will be their immediate visualization. Selecting a character with a night vision, the whole game screen will turn green, to the known military ‘Iraq video view’.
    The variety of implants is huge – there are 600 of them in the game, with up to 30 special functions I mentioned above.

    Odin: Can you also make items, using different other items (ala Jagged Alliance)?
    Alex: No. The variety of implants is so huge, that just combining some of them in one body will cause intresting combinations.

    Odin: Tell us a little about the engine being used and do you feel that this engine can show the detail we the gamers have become to expect from titles lately?
    Alex: The engine is a pure self-written and DirectX based 2D gaming engine. It will not use any 3D characters or effects, except the particle engine. We believe and know that the era of 2D games has not ended and there are still fans of this genre around.

    Odin: Will there be an in-depth story line like Fallout 1 and 2 or just an endless story of quests/missions/adventures for the player?
    Alex: Sure!

    Odin: How will quests, the storyline unfold. Will you go on mission after mission or can you also roam free (ala world map in Fallout)? And what kind of quests can we expect in Metalheart..
    Alex: I would say, Fallout is a good example of what we are doing.

    Odin: Combat, tell us a little about the combat in this title.
    Alex: The entire combat is round based. Every team member may make some amount of moves, depending on his action points. After complete team did it, it's opposite side's turn. Some unused points will be used for defense purposes.

    Odin: Who actually came up with the idea of this title an how?
    Alex: It was a brainstorming in a small german restaurant between 4 project participants. We ate yummi chicken, drunk some good german wine and discussed a lot about what exactly we are going to do, what may be intresting for the player. In the end we stopped at all this implant stuff.

    Odin: If you look at the industry and the different titles that are out there, what makes this title special.
    Alex: I think Metalheart is a solid deepening of everything being there before. Imagine Deus Ex in the Fallout world. This will be quite unique and special.

    Odin: Will this game be made in only English or translated to other languages as well?
    Alex: The game is also simultaneously developed in Russian and German.

    Odin: Which species/enemies can we expect to encounter ?
    Alex: Oh, we have about 60 different characters in the game. Some animals are there, some aliens. Some robots. Some replicants, mutans, nomads. And two humans.

    Odin: The inventory in the Fallout series have usually been filled with lots of guns, chems, medic kits etc..How much will Metalheart have ? and are there special items?
    Alex: The size of the inventory will depend on the character strength.
    In general, there are 800 different items/weapons and implants in the game.

    Odin: Does this title include multiplayer and if so, what kind of multiplayer games? (coop, CTF, deathmatch etc..)
    Alex: There is no multiplayer mode planned for this game yet.

    Odin: How long do you expect a usual player will use to get through this title? Ie game time..
    Alex: A week ago, I crossed all the levels in god mode. It took about 8 hours to run through. After the story is added, we think it will take up to 70 hours of solid gameplay only to come through, without solving any randomly generated quests.

    Odin: What are the system requirements on this title..
    Alex: We recommend a Pentium IV, with GeForce4 and 512 Mb of RAM. But it also runs fluidly on a Pentium III with GeForce2 and 256 Mb of RAM.

    Odin: Lastly, why should we buy this title?
    Alex: Because if you steal it, it will be illegal.
This title does look promising and we will keep an eye out for this, hopefully we'll have more talks with Alex regarding this title.

I'd like to thank Alex for taking some time to do this interview with us!