Interviewing Edward Kilham and KalaniStreicher of Ronin Entertainment.
Here we ask question and gather answers from those behind Ronin Entertainment. The interview was produced previously.
What did you most want to include in Armor Command that you couldn’t?
Edward: I wish we had more time to do a more elaborate multi-player system and a skirmish mode. I also would have liked to have more time to refine the missions. There are so many aspects of a game that can be enhanced, that I have a hard time holding back on ways that I could have added to the product. I guess that is why some products continue to do sequels for years. Unlike 8th or 9th generation consoles, this was back when such consoles didn’t exist.
As a follow up to the last question, what are you most pleased with in the game?
Edward: What I love about the game is the atmosphere and the depth of game play. As you sit back in your The missions are always unique and challenging, and the AI has some very unusual behavior. I also love the radar system when vehicles move around at different levels of radar quality.
I think a lot of people will probably compare Armor Command to Battlezone. Do you think that’s a fair comparison?
Edward: Battlezone is a great game. It is definitely more of an action game than a strategy game. I think we are the strongest strategy game in the 3D arena right now. Because the gameplay is so different, I guess we could be compared for graphics and complexity of play, but I don’t think we are comparable in terms of the experience that we provide.
Given the somewhat unique multiple view perspectives you use in the game, what were the biggest problems you had to overcome in the development process?
Edward: We needed to have an interface that worked the exact same from three different points of view. This took time. We also wanted to be able to lay waypoints quickly in 3D and that took some time. We then had to learn what the camera should do to make the transition smooth. Once all those pieces came together, we were pretty excited about the interface.
How difficult is it to design a game for both single player and multiplayer gaming? Does having to do both add a lot more complexity in the design process and if push comes to shove which is more important in the final analysis?
Edward: The biggest two problems with multiplayer in a game are adding support for managing latency and testing. The latency problem needs to be addressed in the very early stages of the design. The testing occurs very late in the project. Testing is hard because so many people are required to try one game. In addition, multiplayer games produce errors that can be difficult to track down.
What do you use as the baseline machine specification for a game? You also recommend a 3D card. Do you think that is essentially a requirement for most gamers today, and are your designs assuming that people will have them?
Edward: We built this product to support both software and hardware. I was developing on a P133 with a Stealth card for much of the development, and although the product was somewhat slow (6-8 fps), I could still test all the features. I would suggest a P166 or above with any of the incredible 3D cards that are now available on the market. I believe that 3D cards offer such an extremely high quality and hi-resolution experience that any player looking to be awed by a product should invest in a solid 3D board with a minimum of 4 megabytes of memory.
If you could personally create any game you wanted, with unlimited budget, what would it be?
Edward: I would create a game in which you took over the universe one planet at a time, with the ability to command forces on the ground to attack another town, while constructing your own town, city or state. The game would have seamlessly integrated cinema sequences that would make you feel as if you were watching a movie where you were the star. The game would start on the outer planets and work towards the center until you were the emperor of the universe!
Microsoft has been taking a lot of criticism lately over their business practices, including law suits from the US government and many states. Do you think that Microsoft has helped or hurt the gaming industry as a whole? Why?
Edward: For good or for bad, Microsoft has set a standard. This allows us to make better products with more features that work seamlessly with very fast hardware and a wide range of input devices. I have been in this industry since the TRS-80 and I definitely appreciate a standard environment. It would be better for the innovation of the industry if more companies could provide solutions for the developer and so I would hope that Microsoft not be so aggressive in creating standards that they forget that innovation arises from competition.
Kalani: Microsoft has set a standard in the industry by introducing Direct3D, DirectPlay, etc. and giving all the developers access to 3D cards through them. It shows in the games that are being produced today. It is good that a company is advancing in those areas. It is almost like a platform in itself. Unfortunately, with it come the restrictions and control of Microsoft. It would be nice to see other companies in the future create solutions to give the gaming industry more diversity and other solutions. We can only hope.
Your next project is entirely different, a role-playing game. Can you tell us anything about Legend of Blade Master? How did the team decide to make the switch from real time strategy to RPGs?
Edward: We have a lot of people internally who have dreamed of producing an RPG style game. Since we are a company that follows our passion, it was a natural direction for us to go at this time.
Kalani: Ronin Entertainment’s philosophy is to become an industry leader in creating immersive and in-depth game-play experiences by developing cutting-edge technology and excellency in art and sound production. It was a natural progression for us to extend the genre from action-strategy with Armor Command to an action-strategy-RPG game with Legends of the Blade Master. Ronin will continue to support both genres and continue expanding into others in the future.
Is there anything else you’d like gamers to know about Armor Command or Ronin Entertainment?
Edward: Armor Command is available now! It has 36 unique and challenging missions and we believe you will get a wide range of unique experiences if you play our game. We as a company are committed to real-time 3D multi-player games that push the envelope of game play, and we are looking forward to providing great new products for a long time to come.
Kalani: Armor Command is a great game. It has a lot of depth and challenging missions giving the consumer a unique experience. It is a must buy for strategy fans. Regarding Ronin Entertainment: Keep your eyes on Ronin! This is just the beginning. There are many more great and fun games to come from Ronin Entertainment.
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