UFO Aftermath Chat Log - 11/09/03

on 10th Sep 2003

The following question and answer session took place in the unofficial chatroom on the 11th of September 2003. These people from ALTAR Interactive/Cenega Publishing/Tri Synergy attended:

Jiri Rydl - Public Relations
Robert Hoffmann - Business Development Manager
Martin Klima - Lead Designer
Brian Faller - Project Manager from Cenega Publishing
Andrew Hoolan - Director of Public Relations from Tri Synergy

1: Game-mechanics

GoByFly: How can there be multisquare aliens, but not multisquare tanks?
Martin_ALTAR: This is a design decision as much as practical one. You have much stronger requirements on the player's units than on the enemy units. Consider for example a simple problem of walking uphill. If you have a multi-square unit, you have to tilt it adequately and you have to have several different kinds of animations for this. Or you can say that this particular kind of enemy will only appear in missions where there are no steep hills. Which obiously you cannot do for the player's units. On the other hand, let me assure you that you are not really going to miss them. There are some very cool weapons that will turn your soldiers into the walking tanks.
Mira: In the beginning we were told that we'll be able to fire from both hands. But in screens we didn't see this yet. Does this feature still exist?
Martin_ALTAR: No, it does not.
stoupa: One of the latest topics in the official forum was about Iron Man mode that wouldn't allow the player to save the game during the combat. I think it would be easy to implement and it would add more fun. I think that something simmilar was in the Original War - medals for not saving the game.
Martin_ALTAR: There are various reasons for this, but the most important is perhaps that we don't miss it ... In OW we marked the missions the player won without loading with little medals. That was a cool touch, however as there is no mission tree in UFO:AM it would be difficult to reproduce. Basically, I think that if somebody does not want to save, he is welcomed not to do so.
Ilya: I want to know REAL system requiments, not minimum, not maximum. Just for comfort gaming... I have Duron700/256Mb + Gf2mx400 32mb. GF3 reccomend was saying. Does it mean that the game will use shaders?
Martin_ALTAR: In this configuration the video card would be the weakest points. We have quite detailed textures in the game and these use lot of video card memory. As for the shaders, we use some vertex programs, but this is not essential. But 64MB video card will result in better performance.
Nikua: Is there deformable terrain?  Can you make craters or mow down trees as well?
Martin_ALTAR: You must make the difference between the terrain and the objects. Terrain is not destructible (no craters), while many objects are. Not trees, though. But you can destroy hedges and fences and stuff like this.
stoupa: It is possible that we'll see some of the things that you weren't able to put in the game because of time in some patch?
Martin_ALTAR: Yes, this is possible.

2: Mods

THE-PUNISHER: How many sold games are nescessary for mod helping software to be released at your site? Or a multiplayer part ???  How big could the Modder support be?
Martin_ALTAR: We are going to release some modding tools regardless of the number of copies sold. Certainly, if the game does well, we would be able to support it better.
meF: What is the engine Modifying possibilities/...can we expect any changes as to the much discussed interactivity with buildings in the future?
Martin_ALTAR: While this might be possible in principle -- nothing is impossible in computer games -- I think this is highly unlikely. I would think the modding would concentrate on modifying the game parameters -- changing weapon stats, adding new weapons or ammunition or even new monsters. We also hope to be able to release a tool for building custom levels, but this won't be tomorrow.
-caz: Are you also nude this time Jiri? LOL
JR_ALTARinteractive: Of course! Martin has some t-shirt unfortunately.

3: Publishing

-caz: When does UFO:A go gold?
Brian_Cenega: Simple answer there is it is already gold! ALTAR_Martin: UFO: Aftermath went gold today. Brian_Cenega: We have a release date in the UK for the 26th of September. It will be slightly different in some countries - down to the time it takes them to reproduce the game.
Nikua: Is the release date for Finland close to that of the UK and the rest of Europe?
Brian_Cenega: Afrid to say I am not sure!!!! - but all the release dates where within a few weeks - so you should have it early October at the latest!
pragmaONCE: How integral was your unique combat system in making a deal with publishers?  It seems lately that publishers shy away from the TBS genre, despite the popularity of titles such as JA2 and Fallout Tactics in the past.  Was this a barrier?
Martin_ALTAR: Well, I always wondred why CENEGA signed the deal with us So Brian, was this a factor?  Brian_Cenega: I do not think it was much of a problem (although I was nto invovled in the signed deal). Turn based is really the only way to go with a single player team based tatical game.
THE-PUNISHER: Is UFO 2 planned if UFO:Aftermath is a success?
JR_ALTARinteractive: I have to add that Brian already plays UFO, so he know the game. Brian_Cenega: And it can get very nasty sometimes! The pause feature is a god send! Martin_ALTAR: Well, we would very much like to work on UFO: Afterglow or whatever it wold be called. Brian_Cenega: AS for UFO 2 - well if the sales of this titel are as good as we hope, then there is a strong possibility!
stoupa: I've seen that czech Tiscali Gameshop is offering some bonus CD with UFO (http://www.xzone.cz/ti...i/nahledgame.php3?idg=857). Is this bonus made by someone from Altar? Is it official?
JR_ALTARinteractive: Yep, the CD is created with support from ALTAR. But it has nothing in common with special edition. It's just small bonus for Czech player - you start in Czech Rep for instance :-] The special edition will be announced soon I belive (Brian?).
-caz: What about the English Special Edition? When? Where? What?
Brian_Cenega: We where planning something with a game store in the UK - but it kinda fell throw a few weeks back (sorry one and all!). Hopefuuly we will be able to sort something out before launch with another retailer.
jack-dead: Who will be the publisher in Russia, and will there be a localized version?
Brian_Cenega: I am not sure about the publiser, but there should be a locaized version - the guys at HQ are working round the clock now to get all the localization finished.
stoupa: Will the localization of the czech version delay the release date in Czech Rep.? Will be the localization (voices) as good as it was in Original War?
Martin_ALTAR: The voiceovers in the Czech version of OW were atrocious. I think UFO:AM is much better. JR_ALTARinteractive: And yes, there will be small delay.
ZuckerDoc: This is more of a marketing question for Tri, but where is all of the marketing for the US?  All we have seen is one ad in PCGamer.  Are you guys going to blitz us in the next two weeks?  And, what's up with the US Version as a whole?  Coming out 9/26, and the Special Edition?
Brian_Cenega: I'm afrid I am not going to be able to answer that one!!!! I do know that we recently had a press tour - so you should have a lot more coverage coming up in teh magazines. Also we are off to the EB confrance next week to push the title though them.
farfrael: How will the demo of UFO: Aftermath be distributed ?
Brian_Cenega: In the UK we are going to get it included on the cover disk on PC Gamer. Martin_ALTAR: Demo? What demo? Brian_Cenega: As for other regions, again it will be up to this distributor in that teritory, but most likly it would be either on a cover or from a video games oulet!
-caz: In your budgets; How many copies does UFO:A have to sell in order to generate a surplus? Is that number realistic or a bit low in your opinion?
Brian_Cenega: Not sure - what I can tell you is that we have already had more orders for the launch of the game then we had originally planned for its life!
Ghostrider: Will there be a presentation of AFTERMATH this weekend in BRNO on Gaming FEST taking place on 13th and 14th ?
JR_ALTARinteractive: The answer is yes and no. There will be small presentation - videos, new shots, concepts etc, but......but without playable game to try. I believe next good stop is Invex in Brno.
Nikua: will those videos/pics be availabe online for all of us NOT attending said show?
JR_ALTARinteractive: Nope. Maybe later. Martin_ALTAR: You mean you are not going? Nikua: A bit far from DAllas, TX. LOL
-caz: What will be included in the demo?
Martin_ALTAR: There will be very limited strategic game -- only to give you an impression, not to play it. And there will be a couple of tactical missions, one very similar to the in-game tutorial.
Chenjesu/GoByFly: How large will the demo be for us not getting the CD from PCGamer, and how many CD's is the game going to be on?
Martin_ALTAR: The demo will be about 200megs. The game comes on 2CDs and requires 1.25GB on your disk.
-caz: Can you tell anything about your next project, a RPG?
pasik: It will be the best RPG ever.
Ghostrider: I guess the intro was shortened, can you provide the unedited version to http://www.ufoaftermath.co.uk for us as a nice present?
Martin_ALTAR: That's a thorny question. pasik: Precisely. We can at least discuss it here... Perhaps some rogue emploee might sneak the complete intro out of office
Nikua: MSRP?  Any ideas in Euros and American Dollars?
Brian_Cenega: Ok - we can not set a price - so you might be able to get it cheeper then this - UK - £29.99, US - $39.99 and EU 39.99 Euro. (for teh UK I know a few online sites are a bit cheeper) Slaughter: More on prices: http://www.ufo-aftermath.com/pages/preorder.html
-caz: Some board members find that not enough have been done marketing wise. What have you done, and what will your continued efforts be in making UFO:A a household name? (we would like to hear concrete plans :-])
allien: I can only speak for the PR side of it. The UFO Beta went out to the press last week. The Press Release will hit Tomorrow or Monday about it being Beta. The Advertising Decesions are for Cenega. Let me try to explain Tri Synergy: We are more like a co-publisher.  We make it easy for developers or smaller publishers to get the product out to the stores. It is very expensive to do anything in this industry anymore. We know the shortest and cheapest path. We helped Cenega get their products into the channel over here. That included a bunch of stuff but the money for ads is theirs not ours. We try to advice and consult but they make the decisions. I really enjoy working with them and I hope we do more things with each other. I can tell you this. It was tough getting things done PR wise over here. You are dealing with a game that has changed hands so many times. The editors thought it would be another Malice type story. So, why give space to a product that is going to be killed. Then the press tour came and it was real to them. That is when all the coverage started.
Slaughter:  US release date?
allien: Last week of September I believe. Just so you know, I have been doing this too long to trust a launch date. That is my own personal belief though. I do think it will make it.
Ilya: Are you allredy playing game? Describe your feelings.
allien: Like a little kid. Oh man. I am being very truthful when I say that UFO is my fav. You know, I think this game touches us not just because of the gameplay but also because of the topic. I also like the feeling that no matter how many times you play it there is still this huge feeling of what is going to happen next.
MDGeist: What about merchandising and things? I'd decorate my whole gaming room with posters and merchandising from UFO!
allien: I would to. You will see posters and T-shirts.
Slaughter: So in the end, it's Cenega that make the arrangments with PC magazines etc.?
allien: For the ADS. Yes. There aren't many here though. Slaughter: We've noticed :)  Only one seen in PC Gamer so far... allien: It kind of sucks.
meF: You have published many games....you have seen things....what is  in your oppinion ufo awaits? any prognoses?
allien: That is so hard to judge over here now. I hate that. I believe that UFO will do well. It is going into some good places. This game appeals to so many different types of gamers. There is good hype about it. The editor from computergaming world just wrote me. He is enjoying it so far.
-caz: How many preorders have you gotten??
allien: I don't have an update on that. I should get those numbers tomorrow. I'm not really allowed to say. what I can tell you is that they have continued to increase each week.
MDGeist: Will there be a "collectors edition" or something like that?
allien: I am not sure. That is usually based on the sales.
Slaughter: We tend to ask our guest if they are naked. Sooo, are you?
allien: No, but I will be soon. Now, where is my webcam...
-caz: Will there be differences in US and UK covers and/or other differences?
allien: I am embarrased to say that I am not sure. I have both files but I haven't looked at the UK box.
Slaughter: Hmm, when can we expect reviews in the US?
allien: Very close to the release. Look for more stuff on it next week. I sent the Beta to over 50 editors.
-caz: What can you say about the distribution of the demo?
allien: We are having a call about that tomorrow. I am sure it will be posted at all the good sites.

4: RPG

Mira: Is there any differences between women's and men's abilities and features? Or there is only difference in names?
Martin_ALTAR: All soldiers are different from each other in terms of statistics. However, if your question is whether there are some bonuses or penalties based on sex, than the answer is no, there are non.
GoByFly: We have heard that humans will have a maximum LvL on 40 , will the same rule go for aliens ? Can they be "maxed" out?
Martin_ALTAR: We don't think about people in terms of levels but in terms of statics. A soldier's level is simply the number of times he "leveled-up" i.e increased one of his attributes. For aliens, this concept is not really meaningful. However, they have the same stats as you men do and these can be maxed out.
meF: How will the skills system work? Will there be some extra skills like psi for our troops?
Martin_ALTAR: There are six attributes -- Strength, Dexterity, Agility, Intelligence, WIllpower and Perception. From these 14 skills are calculated, and one of these skills is Psi Power. When you gain a level, you can increase one of the six attributes and this can in turn influence your skills. You can send your men to trainings and this can in turn also increase some of your skills.
MDGeist: When using PSI, are you using innate abilities, or equipment to bolster your PSI power ?
Martin_ALTAR: Both. But you cannot actively use your PSI powers without a proper equipment.
Nikua: Do the aliens (or transgenants) also have skills/professions as part of their intrinsic character modeling/creation ?
Martin_ALTAR: Yes, all the enemies have the same set of stats as your characters.

5: Strategic

Mira: On the research screen we can see small picture of researching object. Shall we have a large view of researched object? (like in X-COM 1,2)
Martin_ALTAR: In UFO: Aftermath we opted for videos instead of static graphics. So for each research item you will have a set of two or three small videos that correspond to it. However, be warned that we have decided to perhaps leave more to the player's imagination, so the videos are merele suggestive of the atmosphere, not really descriptive.
From Several People: Can you breifly explain intercepts?  Do multiple bases send mulitple planes?  Can we interact at all once engaged.  And, can we upgrade the planes with weapons or totally new craft?  
Martin_ALTAR: OK. One base sends always three planes. You have a choice of deciding whether to intercept or not when the UFO is spotted. Even if you decline the option, you can select the UFO and press the Intercept button. Once the planes catch up with the UFO, you will see a video from dogfight and at the same time you will see little icons of your planes and enemy craft turning first red then grey. At any time during this period, you can press the Retreat button to save the planes that are still in the air. If you lose the dogfight, you can send in another wing of aircraft in the way described above. However, if the aircrafts are damaged when they return to the base, they must be repaired.
Hellbound: But can we interact in the interception? (more or less agressive?)
Martin_ALTAR: No. But you can upgrade your planes through various researches and developments.
Camp Freddie: How is base inventory and manufacturing handled ? What supplies are infinite, what is made one at a time, etc?
Martin_ALTAR: In the end it works little bit differently than we were saying in the beginning. You have a very small selection of unlimited weapons -- a shotgun, a Colt pistol, hand grenades and that is about it. All other equipment must be either recovered from missions, found in bases or manufactured. Contrary to what we were saying, manufacturing works like you would expect it -- you ask your engineers to produce say a Laser Rifle and when the development is finished, one extra Laser Rifle appears in your stores. There is one central store and one central research and development screen.
meF: Does Technology work simliar to XCOM?  How do upgrades and hybrids work, in conjunction to research and manufacturing?
Martin_ALTAR: There is a technology tree, with most new techs requireing something we call "prerequisities" that can only be captured in tactical mission. Some of the "leafs" in this tree are manufacturings -- these then produce new equipment. Other technologies have global impact: e.g. Aircraft fuel upgrade will improve all your aircrafts at once.
Chenjesu: Will the tech tree be known in the manual, in the beginning of the game, or do we find out as the game progresses?
Martin_ALTAR: No the tree must be discovered as you progress through the game.
Throwaxe: At which point are you defeated as a player?
Martin_ALTAR: When you lose all your bases.
GoByFly: Speaking of locales, what specifics will we see in regards to environment, signs, wonders *Statue of Liberty*, and building design?  Will it be country based, or a bit more general, say Eastern European, Asian, so forth?
Martin_ALTAR: The latter. There is an awful lot of possibilities even this way. What I found out when demonstrating the game to other people can be best summed up as follows: All parts of the globe look exactly as you would expect them to, with the exception of the one where you live. If we were to have some landmark building for each capitol on Earth, we would be working on the game for years to come.
meF: Probably an ibvious question....sort off addon to tech and research Q// will we be able to use captured alient tech like weapons and crafts?
Martin_ALTAR: You are able to use some -- almost all -- captured alien weapons. And prerequisities for research include alien stuff, e.g. a hull of an UFO.
meF: so how is the system will work// what to be needed to get more scientist and weapons?
Martin_ALTAR: You don't deal with scientists, you deal with bases. Every time you capture a base you get some amount of new equipment -- weapons, armours, etc. As for research you designate some of your bases as research facilities or engineering facilities.
MDGeist: Will there be plasma weapons as in XCOM : Enemy Unknown?
Martin_ALTAR: There will be plasma weapons, as there are in many different games.
meF: What kind of story line can we be expecting? And will we be bound to it? Can we delay the end of the game?
Martin_ALTAR: Story line is there for you to discover. And there is nothing to force you to finish the game. You choose the speed of your progress entirely at your leisure.
-caz: Some screens show area51 - Will such 'landmark-missions' be plentifull? (In the ECTS video also Big Ben, The Statue of Liberty and The Opera house in Sydney are seen). If so, will they be a part of the plot in every game, or 'just' random eye-candy missions?
Brian_Cenega: There are going to be some "story line missions" - area 51 is the first of them!
Throndor: Does every downed UFO equate to a new tactical mission, or will there be times when all the alien crew perished thus voiding the need for it ? The latter being true does automatic recovery of all the relevant material from the crash site take place ?
Martin_ALTAR: No and yes. Every air combat over land generates a tactical mission -- either you are saving a pilot or investigating the alien craft.
Hellbound: So, when our crafts are downed, we can go get our pilots?
Martin_ALTAR: Yes, you have to go on a rescue mission to bring the pilot back.
AC_: How many sizes do the UFOs come in?
Martin_ALTAR: In about four sizes and four types. But not all types come in all sizes. Actually, there may be more types, I am not quite sure at the moment.
stoupa: In X-COM: Enemy Unknown, soldiers didn't have any armor until the player researched Alien Alloys. Will there be some "starting" armor in UFO?
Martin_ALTAR: There are two "lines" or armour -- human and alien. The former can be found in bases and improved by research. The latter must be first won in missions and then manufactured.
meF: Can we expect to have 2 or more ufo's landed in the same mission map?
Martin_ALTAR: No, there is always a maximum of one UFO per mission.
AC_: What are the different UFO types? Are they different from inside?
Martin_ALTAR: And from outside as well... Seriously, though there are several types of UFO and they differ from each other by their inner arrangements. And they also differ by size -- this is perhpas the most important difference. But even the UFOs of the same size and type can be different inside, at least to some extent.
Nikua: Can we send a chopper to a landed ufo, or do ALL UFO's need to be intercepted by aircraft first to be shot down?
Martin_ALTAR: The former. You can explore the landed UFOs all right, if you dare.
Hellbound, meF and Punisher: Now, i know that 99% of population died but anyway will there will be any decent NPC.s that are bound to storyline? or Just some survival civilians? And do we get to rescue them?
pasik: Unfortunately there arent any NPCs.
Mira: Can we watch replay of the mission we just played ?
Martin_ALTAR: This is one of the things we would love to do, but it is not there.
meF: No money no resources? Any value system? Any alien materials to produce alien tech?
Martin_ALTAR: I believe we already answered most of this question. No money. Alien prerequisited for research to be salvaged in tactical mission.

6: Tactical

meF: What can we expect from enemy AI?
JR_ALTARinteractive: That's for hours to tell :-] I hope Martin can make a solid nice sentence about it :-] Martin_ALTAR: I am just thinking where to begin. pasik: It takes days to explain. Martin_ALTAR: I would say, wait and see -- there is IMO very solid AI in the game.
stoupa: In the FAQ, there is said that there will be 38 human weapons. That's a lot of more than in X-COM. Will these human weapons have some major diffences?
Martin_ALTAR: There 43 human weapons. 5 of them however are "fantasy" weapons that have no real counterparts. JR_ALTARinteractive: Lets say scifi :-] Martin_ALTAR: Obviously, some weapons are similar to each other, but there are many ways how to differentiate between them. There are pistols, shotguns, PDWs, etc. Some weapons you get in the early stages of the game, and if you progress through the game, you will get more sophisticated weaponry. And then there is question of personal prefernces. For some people, FN FAL is simply better than G3 or other way round.
MDGeist: What can you tell us about the psi-powers in the game ?
Martin_ALTAR: There are psi powers in the game.
Nikua: About soldiers, can they panic if too many soldiers start dying or there is too much fire; and how are positions like stand/kneel implemented in the game?  Do they lessen the chance of being hit while increasing hit percentage?
Martin_ALTAR: Soldiers do not panic. These are the elite troops and they only do what they are told to do (unless, of course, they fall under the enemy influence). Kneeling is independent of mode of fire (aim/burst) and it does reduce.
meF: And whats up with the smoking chimneys?
Martin_ALTAR: It is not smoking chimneys, it is burning houses and cars and the overall atmosphere of destruction. Of course, it is not realistic to expect the fires could be going on for so long, but it adds lot to the air of the game.
GoByFly: When you enter an area with a shot down UFO, can there be wounded or even dead aliens at the site of the UFO crash, or will you only face aliens with full health ?
pasik: No dead aliens. Martin_ALTAR: I am really sorry, GBF, but there won't be dead or wounded aliens on the crash site. I can see it would add to the atmosphere, but we didn't have time to implement it.

7: Credits

First of all, thank you Martin Klima, Jiri Rydl and Robert Hoffmann of ALTAR Interactive, Brian Faller of Cenega Publishing and Andrew Hoolan of Tri Synergy for making the second official chat possible.
Second, thank you Wormster (Wormfist) for making this great chat transcript, not to mention your nice little transcriptor program.
Third, thank you to Caz, Hellbound, Nikua and PlacidDragon. You were posting questions as voices(+) during the chat, and this could not have been done without you!
Fourth, a big thanks to WHiZ and EnterTheGame. You assisted us in all possible manners. We are ever grateful for that!
Fifth, thanks to Pete for making the #1 UFO:Aftermath fan site!
And last, but not least, thank you to everyone that attended. You asked many great questions, and made 2.5 hours

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ALTAR Interactive
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