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Jagged Alliance 2 Basis ( Ja2 )

mit Ian Currie:

Published On: Friday, February 26, 1999

  • Which games have you personally worked on in the past?
I started by designing, programming and doing a lot of the art for a strategy arcade gamecalled Chaser - which in 1990 was published by Sirtech Software. That was my first publication. Before that I made some shareware games - one called Space Miner and a few others. My next game was Jagged Alliance - it took a few years (try four I think) because for the most part I was the only programmer and it turned out to be a pretty huge game (for one programmer anyway). At that time, the entire team consisted of three people only. After Jagged Alliance, I did Deadly Games - I was lead designer, producer and lead programmer on that one (wore many hats!). I contributed some design to Wizardry Nemesis, but not too much as I was pretty tied up with JA Deadly Games. After that, I started on JA2, which as you know, we're finishing up. I'm NOT the lead programmer on this one, I'm just designing, directing and producing. I did some small coding parts and all of the NPC scripting though (gotta get my hands dirty!).
  • Who was the designer of the first Jagged Alliance?
The original JA was designed by myself, Shaun Lyng and Linda Currie (my wife). The second product (Deadly Games) was the same except Alex Meduna also designed.
  • Some of our readers may not know the great Jagged Alliance series, How would you best describe the game to someone who never heard of it?
Hmm. Well, I would describe it as a mixture of role-playing, strategy and lots of tactical combat, injected with lots of personality and surprises. That's the short answer... :-)
  • What inspired you in creating the Jagged Alliance series? Were you influenced by other games, movies or novels?
I was influenced by two other games (two of my favorites, to this day). First was Command HQ, by the late Dan (or Dani) Bunten. It was a real time strategy game that was multiplayer - I just loved it. The other game was Eye of the Beholder. Eye of the Beholder influenced the aspect of having characters and Command HQ was the strategy/tactical combat. The original JA was real time for most of the development, using a pause and start mechanism just like Baldur's Gate does. I hated it because you constantly were stopping the action to give orders, then starting it up again... and unlike Baldur's Gate, most of your team was scattered about, requiring a lot of scrolling around.
  • Do you write the thousand lines of speech and create the character personalities yourself?
No, that's the contribution of Shaun Lyng, the other designer. Shaun creates all the characters, all their dialogue, most of the storyline, and a lot of the game design (interaction between characters etc). Shaun is amazing. Without him, JA just wouldn't be JA.
  • How many Characters is there in JA2?
In JA2, there are over 150 characters that have speech. Not all of them can be "in your party" - i.e. they are NPCs that you can talk to or buy stuff from, but many of them can join. It's a lot of characters for one game I think. All of the speech has been written and recorded of course - the game is in final testing at this point. The characters are pretty cool.
  • Personally, I really liked the merc Leon RoachBurn. He was so foul mouthed and had such an "old vet" attitude. Which mercenaries were your favorites in the last games of the series?
I like Larry Roachburn, Hitman, and Malice. Larry always made me laugh. For fun, I would set up batch files that would just play all his lines - whenever I needed a laugh, I'd listen to them. One of my favourite lines was when Larry found Brenda Richards (the kidnapped scientist) in JA1. I like Hitman because of the way he talks (and he, unlike Larry, is an OK merc).And, of course, Malice because he's so typical of the type of people I was surrounded by when I grew up (makes me feel at home in a funny sort of way - even though he's pretty whacked).
  • Are they Back in the Sequel?
Malice and Hitman are. Larry entered rehab.
  • Can you give us a background about JA2? In other words, what has happened in the world of JA since Deadly Games?
Well, let's see. A few years have passed. AIM has gotten very sophisticated now. They have rules and policies and only accept the best of the best. Many mercs people have come to know and love have either passed away, or gone on to other things. There is a small country called Arulco that has a female dictator who's real bitchy and mean - doesn't give two hoots for anyone in the country. She rapes the country for all it's worth. You're hired to take back the country from her (she kinda stole it in the first place). It's a little complicated to explain here, but you have to go and take over the country town by town, convincing the country's residents to take up arms and help defend themselvesagainst her.
  • Is there a bow in JA 2?
As in bow and arrow?No - that's in Dragon Alliance... :-)
  • Hey haven't you seen Rambo ? :)
Yes I have, but sorry, we don't have that. We have something BETTER though - it's called a Rocket Rifle.... you're going to love it...
  • Speaking of features, some people complained that the final release will not support both turn based and real time gameplay. What is it that made you decide not to feature real time?
OK, well we realized that to do real-time properly, we'd have to do a lot of work and we were worried that other parts of the game would suffer.
  • On your site, there is an animated picture of a man throwing a knife at an opponent. Ever since, there has been a lot of talk on the numerous ways to take out enemies on various boards and forums. Will it be possible to instantly kill an enemy by using stealth this time?
Yup. We believe stealth is an important aspect of the game. Taking enemies out before they have a chance to alert their squadmates is a valid tactic. You can't always sneak up on someone, so apart from silencers, throwing knives is a decent alternative.
  • How is the RPG element going to benefit the player?
I think it benefits the player by enriching the gaming experience. The combat is fun, but too much of any good thing is.. well too much - at least to some people. Adding other gameplay elements is, in my opinion, fun - variety is always the spice of life (plus - I love RPGs!). Also, everyone wants an interactive environment, so being able to do things besides combat has always been important. Finding items, traps, people you can talk to (and have it actually affect the flow of the game), along with being able to destroy things all contribute to an interactive environment. We could only go so far, of course, because that's just a small part of what JA2 is (otherwise it'd never come out), but I think it works.
  • In the demo, it was possible to toggle 'Science-Fiction' elements. In JA2, do you think you have you used the "Science-Fiction" possibilities to their limits?
No, I think we could have done even better. The motivation was that so many die-hard JA fans didn't want us to go the sci-fi route. So we scaled back on this and made it an option so that the "combat simulator" fans wouldn't get pissed off. Playing with sci-fi ON just means you're playing the way we intended for the game to play - other than the fact that we didn't go so far with it knowing that a certain percentage of players wouldn't use it.
  • I read somewhere it was possible to create mercenaries in JA 2. How is this feature going to be implemented in the game?
In the game you have a laptop computer and a web browser. There's a web site that offers a psychological assessment of yourself - which is really our slant on a character generator. You can only create one merc this way (e.g. your own personna), but you can create a pretty decent one.
  • Can you tell us about some problems you have encountered during the development? which feature or part give you the hardest time?
The strategic layer of the game was the toughest part. Especially for two reasons: 1) the fact that you can split your team up into multiple squads and have them be all over the country with the possibility of simultaneous battles proved to be a nightmare. and 2) the programmer who was assigned this section of the game was not up for the task and we're still fixing bugs relating to this.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 will be a single player experience only. Do you plan to eventually add multiplayer as a future patch, an add-on or as a stand alone product like Deadly Games in the future?
That's not known yet. I guess it all depends on whether we think we can get away with using the engine again for a product that will take at least a year to build. I suspect we'll head straight for JA3 which will have a 3d engine and probably geared towards coop multiplay.
  • Jagged Alliance, JA: Deadly Games and the JA2 Demo are popular games with a worldwide loyal fan base. The game looks so good, yet you say you have no publisher for the United States. How is that possible?
Because they're all fighting over the product. :-) Seriously, we do have a number of publishers very interested and we're trying to find the best "fit". As you know, JA2 is not a simple shoot 'em up type of game, so we'd like to find the right publisher that understands the product, knows how to market this type of product, etc - because ultimately we'd like to find a publisher we can establish a long term relationship with - so it's important.
  • Thanks for your time Mr Currie. On a final note, can you tell us what to expect from Sir-Tech Canada in a not-so-distant future?
Well, we're still toiling away on Wizardry 8 which is getting better all the time - and are in the process of deciding which other games are going to follow JA2. Nothing's official yet, so I can't tell you yet.

from GA-Source

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