SG Interview: Ancestors Legacy06 Oct 2017 0
I am extremely passionate about the idea that Company of Heroes 1 is the best darn RTS game of all time, and nothing that came after ever came close (StarCraft 2 was good, but it’s gameplay was inevitably… StarCrafty). I even wrote a blog article recently bemoaning this lack of willingness to stand on the shoulder of the giants. Yet there I was one late August day, sitting at the 1C booth at gamescom listening to Tomasz Gop, producer at Destructive Creations, telling me about their next game: Ancestors Legacy.
It’s basically all I ever wanted… but with vikings.
Luckily for me, Tomasz is an officer and a gentleman with a tireless passion to promote this awesome project, so he gracefully agreed to answer some questions about the upcoming game.
Strategy Gamer: Can our audience get the elevator pitch of Ancestors? Otherwise, I’ll tell everyone it’s “Company of Heroes with vikings!”
Tomasz Gop: CoH meets Vikings isn’t the worst pitch you could give your readers, actually!
No, but seriously – it’s a history-inspired RTS, so strategy fans should feel comfortable here. Also, we wrapped the single-player campaign of the game in some of the most interesting stories from the history of four European nations: Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, Germans and Slavs. So you’re basically playing an RTS game while also witnessing the birth of the legacy of nations that quite literally shaped the old continent into what it is now.
Aaaand we also have multiplayer, we’re launching the game on both PC and XBOX One (with an honestly enjoyable controller interface), oh and yeah… this game is way less controversial than Hatred!
Strategy Gamer: What ideas or games inspired the gameplay the most? What feeling did you want to capture or recreate?
Tomasz Gop: I won’t lie: it is very ambitious of our devteam to create a game this big, and to also make it story-driven to the extent that we want. The goal is to make the strategy gameplay feel really solid and polished (both in single-player and in multiplayer), with our own little twists on top of it. Our combat system, for example, recreates the feel of actual battles with soldiers actually matching up one on one in the fight. That’s also why we decided to let the player get really up-close with the Action Camera. It is scary, since RTS players usually don’t look so close and devs can obscure some things that they don’t want appear silly. We’ll see how this one plays out…
Strategy Gamer: If I recall right, there will be four ten-mission campaigns in the game. What made you focus on the single player?
Tomaz Gop: There are so many moments in the histories of each nation, with so many of them defining the course of European history, that we feel it’s just a cool thing to tell – and lots of those stories are not even that popular. But moreover, we’ve got plenty ideas for the pacing of our missions. Some of them will be larger in scale, resembling epic battles (to some extent – we’re not aiming for the record in largest number of units on screen, mind you!). Others will be way more intimate, stealthy and linear, closer to Commandos series for example. And then, of course, there’s lots of space in between that we also intend to explore – thus we’re estimating the single-player campaign to be anywhere between 30 to 40 hours.
Strategy Gamer: How historical will the campaigns be? How will the factions differ?
Tomasz Gop: Everything in our campaign is inspired by real historical events and we attempt to be as historically accurate as possible. Now, having said that, while the background tells the stories of real characters, the actual gameplay frequently features heroes that we created, designing them to fit in. We just felt this makes the actual game more interesting to play.
As for the faction diversity, they vary on multiple levels, both visually and mechanically – I’ll elaborate on that in a second.
Strategy Gamer: How much historical research went into designing factions, units and unit interactions?
Tomasz Gop: A lot. We’ve got a real history nerd in here, his name is Cyprian. His knowledge is the base for our unit and story design. There’s a reason why, for example, Vikings in our game don’t have helmets with horns, and their axes are not oversized. But that’s only one side of game development – the other is trying to make the game look cool. So, for example, when Tomek (our concept artist) designed Berserkers, our most badass Viking unit, he looked for something ”over the top”. He came up with an idea of boar skins strapped to the shoulders. At first Cyprian was like “oh maaan…” but then he looked at it and admitted that it looks pretty cool, so in the end of the day, they just rolled with it! I mean, come on, no one can prove that Vikings didn’t wear boar heads on their shoulders, right? Here, have a look yourself:
Strategy Gamer: How important will the rock-paper-scissors balance be? Will it be possible to overcome unit weakness via flanking?
Tomasz Gop: When unit effectiveness varies on many levels depending on squad type, faction, and even precise combat conditions, it’s important to communicate that clearly to players. For example, the rock-paper-scissors balance should be visible in the squad info:
But then again, as you’ve mentioned, that’s only the basic way to look at it. The real-time combat conditions can have a very decisive influence on the outcome, and yes, in some conditions they can even become more relevant than the rock-paper-scissors thing. Of course, the holy grail and the unicorn of proper and most effective RTS skill is knowing and utilizing both types of strats at the same time. That is going to be very important, for example, in our multiplayer matches. We anticipate it to be faster paced and… less forgiving than the single-player campaign. But I believe that’s hardly a surprise for any RTS fan out there.
Strategy Gamer: What are the plans for the multiplayer component? Will we have a good variety of maps/gameplay modes? Will stealth (hiding in the wheat) play a big role?
Tomasz Gop: As of now, we’ve got two modes, and three sizes. The two modes are typical skirmish based on one opponent destroying another in a classical RTS fashion, and a time-based “capture the point” mode in which players score points the longer they own crucial parts of the map. As for the sizes, we have 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3 matches. As for the variety of the actual maps, we don’t have the info yet.
Strategy Gamer: Will we have mod support or the ability to make maps?
Tomasz Gop: We’re not working on such tools now and it will not be available at launch. But we would surely like to release it sometime later. We’ll see what happens.
Strategy Gamer: Any plans for DLCs, expansions and what not?
Tomasz Gop: As a dev, you always need to have plans, so sure. But it all depends on what happens with the launch of Ancestors Legacy. There’s way more than just expansions at stake here. You’ve already mentioned modding, but lots of people also ask about more platforms than just PC and XB1. Long story short, we’re working hard now and hope to have a solid base for further development later.
Strategy Gamer: And one last question for the road: why are viking games so popular as of late?
Tomasz Gop: Maybe vikings are a cool part of medieval history that’s not been over-explored yet. Maybe once the vikings are everywhere, the world gets back to more classical medieval themes, from which it needs a bit of rest now? I mean, maybe… I personally just like a good heroic story from anywhere between Northern lands and Sparta.
Thanks to Tomasz for answering our questions! I myself had the chance to play three of the game’s missions at gamescom and I am hyped as much as I can be hyped. Ancestors Legacy seems to have all the looks and the gameplay that I would want from a post Company of Heroes game – and it’s set in an interesting historical period! I can’t wait to raid the English shores!