Strategy Informer talks with Atomic Motion about its upcoming FPS/RTS Hybrid, Raven Squad: Operation Hidden Dagger
30 July 2008 | By Import
Joe Robinson: Are the different squad members divided into ‘classes’? If so, what kind of classes will there be? How would a player combine classes to complete an objective?
Atomic Motion: There are no classes in the game in the traditional sense, but each character is skilled with certain kinds of special weapons. The player will have to use these weapons, which we refer to as skills, wisely to solve tactical situations in the game.
Joe Robinson: In FPS mode, will your squad mates be controlled by an AI, or can you issue orders to them?
Atomic Motion: In FPS mode you take the role of the squad leader. When you change to a different member, that member becomes the leader. The other members are controlled by AI and react to your actions depending on the squad formation.
Joe Robinson: Will the campaign be split up into maps/levels? Will there be other game-modes like skirmishes?
Atomic Motion: The campaign is split up by different maps/levels where the storyline makes it necessary. There are two basic game modes, the single and cooperative multi player campaign mode.
Joe Robinson: Raven Squad is set in the ‘near future’. What kind of technology, especially in terms of weapons, will there be?
Atomic Motion: As the game is set in the very near future, most of the mercenaries’ gear is available even today. We chose to put it there and not the present as we wanted to properly explain the in-game RTS mode controls so that it would make sense in the environment. As that technology is not available today, we moved the game forward a bit. We never tell the player the exact date in the game to keep the near future feeling relative to the actual date the player plays the game. The Amazonian jungle setting is also somewhat timeless and helps this effect. Some of the enemy factions the player will encounter don’t exist today, but it is easy to believe they could be around tomorrow.
Joe Robinson: The objectives are story-driven, does this mean the game will be of a more linear quality, or will there be some potential for free-roaming, or “alternate” endings/scenarios etc…
Atomic Motion: The mercenaries arrive in the jungle with a mission, but shortly after their arrival the events take a turn and all their decisions after that are influenced by their will to survive. They decide their objectives based on that will and it’s the player’s job to guide them to safety. The overall game structure is linear but the multiple ways the player can solve the situations during these missions is really the essence of the gameplay. Each situation has multiple solutions based on the players’ style of play, their different preferences of the two control modes and the way they use the squad members’ skills.
Joe Robinson: Will the Xbox360 and PC versions differ in any way? Exclusive content etc... or will they pretty much be the same?
Atomic Motion: We don’t want to force the players to choose a certain platform just because it has the features he would prefer. The game will provide the same experience on the Xbox 360 and the PC if the player plays with a game controller.
Joe Robinson: There hasn’t been an announcement for a PS3 version of this game, is there a reason for that? Do you think it’s more difficult to develop RTS-like games for the PlayStation 3?
Atomic Motion: We are certainly capable of creating a PS3 version of the game but no decision about that has been made by the publisher yet. PS3 development has its own difficulties because of the somewhat different architecture, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.
Joe Robinson: What kind of scale will the FPS battles be on? Your Squad vs another Squad? Your Squad vs an Army?
Atomic Motion: Although the player’s squads in the game consist of professional mercenaries, they are regular people without any superhuman abilities. If you rush into a situation head-on, you can easily get them killed in an instant. There will be several situations in the game where you have to outsmart the overpowering amount of enemies to survive.
Joe Robinson: What will the RTS element of the game entail? Are we talking on the scale of ‘empire management’, or simply a ‘Birds-eye’ view of the immediate battlefield?
Atomic Motion: You are not only able to view the battlefield from a ‘Birds-eye’ like view, you can also issue commands and do reconnaissance in this view just like in any traditional RTS tactical game. Theoretically you can complete the game while spending most of your time in just one mode, but it will be much more difficult than using both modes effectively. Each will have its advantages and handicaps that can be exploited while playing the game.
Joe Robinson: Savage is another game that blends the FPS and the RTS genre. Have you been influenced by this title at all?
Atomic Motion: Absolutely not. The RTS mode in that game was used for management purposes, while it is an integral part of the gameplay in our game. RS focuses on the solution of tactical situations chained together along a dominant storyline.
Joe Robinson: Will the switch between modes be seamless? Or will you have to enter an ‘instance’ whenever you go into FPS?
Atomic Motion: A: The switch is seamless, you can do it whenever you want to and, there’s no time limit in either mode and really no restraint of where and how to use each. As I mentioned before the RTS mode is not just there in the game, there’s a game-world technology behind it and there will be some occasions when it won’t be accessible for the mercenaries for a while.
Joe Robinson: The only release date information that’s been given has been ‘in the fall’, care to expand on that?
Atomic Motion: We’re still working towards our dates. As soon as it becomes appropriate the publisher or the distributor will announce the exact release date.
Joe Robinson: Will there be a multiplayer/co-op mode? If so, what will this entail?
Atomic Motion: The cooperative multiplayer lets the player play through the single player campaign with a friend. They will each be able to choose and control one squad. This opens up more effective gameplay because the players can concentrate exclusively on their own squad and synchronize their actions. The coop campaign has to be more challenging than the single player one.
Joe Robinson: How hard was it to blend these two very different genres together, especially for the home console, which is not a traditional RTS platform?
Atomic Motion: As this game was originally planned to be multi-platform, we made several conscious design decisions to have user friendly controls. We explored how RTS control has been attempted on consoles before and moved forward from that. Our goal was to create a user friendly and easy to learn control scheme that the players will enjoy using.
Joe Robinson: Is there anything else you'd like to mention before we close this interview?
Atomic Motion: Raven Squad is a first attempt to deliver this bold concept of FPS/RTS hybrid gameplay in a full game package. We’re aware that many people are sceptical about such a concept based on their experience from previous attempts that failed to provide a seamless combination of the two control methods for a player. We plan to alleviate any future concerns gamers might have.