Strategy Informer: Can you clarify whether Elven Legacy is a direct sequel to Fantasy Wars or an expansion? Reports seem to differ as to the nature of the game.
Tom: Elven Legacy is the direct sequel to Fantasy Wars, not an expansion. We plan to launch the base game in 2009, and there will be expansions coming later on.
Strategy Informer: Although ostensibly a strategic title, would you say the concept of campaign and plot is important to the team?
Pavel: Although we were making a strategy game, we believe that the campaign and the plot are essential for Elven Legacy. Actually there was a lot of story to tell after the end of the original Fantasy Wars game; the history of Illis was only taking shape.
We want to tell a story about the elves, about the Great Tree and the Traitor, about the Curse of Dayaran (a nation fully destroyed by elves). The campaign consists of 18 missions that tell that story, that describe the path of an elven army and the path of its commanders Lord-Ranger Sagittel and the female mage Gylven. There are also several bonus levels that gives the player more information about the events that took place in the original Fantasy Wars game.
Strategy Informer: Could you briefly give us an overview of the strategic elements and what type of experience players can expect from the game?
Pavel: As in all turn-based strategy games, there are several levels of decisions a player should take in Elven Legacy. First of all he must decide what type of strategy he wants to use for his army (attack, defense, balanced approach) and chooses units accordingly. The army he will get at the beginning is a mix of all unit types, but a player may re-fit it later for his needs.
The second level of decisions is the choice a player should take when leveling-up his warriors. All units have 5 levels and heroes have 10. On every level-up a player chooses one “perk” from three available. These perks allow to configure any unit for several special roles.
And the third element of player’s strategy are tactical decisions a player will take on every turn. The landscape of the battlefield have significant effect on every action. Different types of terrain affects attacking and defensive properties, as well as movement. Leveraging the landscape, the strengths and perks of the units, a player can turn every hex to a trap or a key point to gain victory.
Strategy Informer: Will each of the factions (elves, orcs and humans) differ from each other considerably in terms of gameplay?
Pavel: Units of each faction have different strengths and weaknesses. Orcs excel in attacking and it is not recommended to put units with average and weak defense in front of Orc Stabbas or Mad Orcs. The strength of humans is their versatility and great range of units of all types, but human commanders must think twice while choosing his army before every mission. The elves of Sagittel are professionals of war trained to fight for centuries, they are great all-round soldiers, but their number are few and every loss is severe. While orcs and humans may just bring another unit on a field, elf commanders must use all their advantages to keep their army intact.
Strategy Informer: Which units should players look out for as the most interesting when playing the game for the first time?
Pavel: The most interesting of the new units are in the elves army (of course they are – Elven Legacy is about elves!). In particular, players should take a closer look at the Skyships, the Dire Riders with their powerful charge attack, and the Thunder Wardens with their immense special ability of resurrection. Then we have the main elven heroes: Gylven which have a great range of tremendously powerful spells and Sagittel – the best archer ever seen on a battlefield.
Strategy Informer: Was the decision to stick with the well-travelled fantasy archetypes an easy one to choose? Do you worry that it might mire the game in tradition a little too much?
Pavel: The answer to this question goes back to the very beginning of Fantasy Wars, when we designed the concept. We were about to make a traditional hexagonal war-game, but what setting should we choose? There were enough war-games on WWII or science-fiction themes, but there was only one well known hexagonal war-game in a fantasy setting: Fantasy General from SSI – an almost flawless game in our opinion. It became our most powerful inspiration. We wanted to remind players about that wonderful game and so we decided the setting of our game should be fantasy.
We wanted orcs, elves, humans and dwarves, but it mustn’t be ripped straight from Warhammer, Warcraft, or The Lord of the Rings. Of course, in Fantasy Wars the setting seems very similar to those named, but there are many common elements in the fantasy genre. What we try to do is to change the tone a bit in our universe, make the world of Illis a bit more historical rather than mythical. For example, in many other fantasy worlds, gods have the real power, and in our world their function is mostly as creators and icons of different religions. A lot of things in the world of Illis are like in the real world. The creation of the Horde, the isolation of elves – all that have happened in Illis is a result of certain historical events. So, you could say, we have a fantasy world viewed through a prism of reality.
Strategy Informer: The graphic design and color palette looks to be considerably more overblown than the fantasy theme would dictate, was this always the intention or a direct reaction to the likes of WoW's hyper-saturated aesthetic?
Pavel: Well, WoW, of course, gave us a part of inspiration, but the decision to make the game so bright was taken because of the research we made. At first our game was rather grim and dark with realistic looking textures and light, but it was an unpleasant view. Our lead artist made an experiment – he took one screenshot and “coloured” it by hand. The result was something we liked – bright, not so dull as the original, attractive picture. And we decided to recolour the game. We were thinking: “we are making a serious game, so let’s make it a bit more fun to look at”.
Strategy Informer: Do you feel that a westernised PC audience will manage to take to a completely turn-based strategy title in this day and age? Is the team making any compromises to introduce the genre to a new generation of players used to the RTS and nothing else?
Tom: We are not aiming to reinvent the strategy game genre with Elven Legacy, but to deliver a game that is highly playable, well balanced, and with a great attention to detail. Elven Legacy is very accessible compared to many other turn-based strategy games, so we believe that even “strategy newbies” should be able to quickly understand the game mechanic and enjoy the game.
Strategy Informer: Speaking of which, would the team ever consider a console release or perhaps distribution via the likes of XBLA or PSN?
Tom: We are considering it. The console audience is becoming more and more important, but we feel that the target group for Elven Legacy are still predominantly PC users.
Strategy Informer: How do you feel the current climate of rampant piracy in the PC gaming market will affect your title? Are you concerned with the way this continues to increase?
Tom: Piracy is of course an issue, but the best we can do is offer convenient distribution solutions for our games, such as through GamersGate.com or Direct2Drive. More players want a licensed copy of the game to be able to access online features and the latest patches.
Strategy Informer: Do you have any plans to release a demo for Elven Legacy? If so, do you know when gamers should expect to see it?
Tom: Absolutely, we plan to have a demo version in due time before the release.
Strategy Informer: The currently release date is Jan 09? Is it possible that we could see a delay?
Tom: Actually, the release date is March 17, 2009 in the US, and March 20 in Europe.
Strategy Informer: For our last question, is there anything you would like to add?
Tom: Multiplayer! The single-player campaign in Elven Legacy is great, but it's also terrific fun to battle against a friend. The game supports hot-seat multiplayer as well as over a LAN or internet.