UFO Aftermath Chat Log - 19/02/03

on 19th Feb 2003

The following question and answer session took place in the unofficial chatroom on the 19th of February 2003. These people from ALTAR Interactive attended:

Jakub Gajda - Senior Programmer
Robert Hoffmann - Business Development Manager
Martin Klima - Lead Designer
Ondrej Laba - Project Manager from Cenega Publishing
Jiri Rydl - Public Relations



Publishing & Localisation


Masllu: The final game, will have a spanish language version of the text and voice?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: We plan full Spanish version but everything depends on our partner in Spain, there are big chances for a full Spanish product :-)

X-com: How much will this game cost?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: It depends on territory but it will be full price title, so the price should be like price of good new game. :-)

Olly: Can you tell us a little about your publishing plans for AM?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: It is wide question, what exactly do you mean? We want to do maximum for good sales. :-)

Olly: How do you do advertise it or how will you make people know about it? And where will you publish it?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: It's the work of PR and marketing, we have a very experienced Marketing Manager who has a lot of experience with big titles. We will publish it world-wide

Olly: US deal done yet?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: In US we prepare our own distribution. Jiri: I made a mistake in GameSpot interview about that. That's why the question about different USA publishing came up

caz: How much do you expect UFO:Aftermath to sell?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: It is difficult question; we want to sell enough units for covering all costs and making some profit for us and Altar. big profit is necessary to say :-) Definitely better sales that Virgin with Original War

caz: Can you tell a bit about Cenega Publishing?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: See our website http://www.cenega.com

Olly: How manu units is good sale?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: Ondrej: LOL Pasik: 7 000 000 ;-) Ondrej: Yes, it would be great but unfortunately this game is not especially for Japan market :-)

X-Com: If the sales arent that good will there still be support for the game?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: Hundreds of thousand units, that's our goal :-)

Kahnn: Will the local versions of AM have an English option as opposed to fully translated without the chance to get original sounds and text?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: Hmmm. It again depends on concrete distribution but usually we will support only local versions. Maybe we will have multilanguage discs with more than only one language. In the territories where won't be a localised version we will probably distribute full English product

Mazdek: Let me start by saying I mean no offense to anyone by this question. Recent gaming history has put a bad light on publishers for interfering with the developers too much, like forcing the game out to stores before the developers are really done, causing them to leave in bugs (or not finish quality control to find them all), and/or removing content and features, etc. I guess my question is, does ALTAR and Cenega Publishing have a relationship?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Pasik: Yes, we do Ondrej: We believe that good relationship with developer is the key Martin: Yes, there is no creative intereference from Cenega Ondrej: We have some comments and consult some things but 99% is on Altar :-)

Niski: A follow up About Cenega interference on the game... So what kind of things have Cenega changed?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: Martin: human resistance fighters, I suppose? Ondrej: We don't want to change anything, we want only discuss with developer about some issues e.g. interface, equipment window

friede: "Another War" was published here in Germany on just DVD, do you have similar plans for UFO: Aftermath?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: It was Take 2 decisions, we will have UFO on CD in Germany :-)

caz: Which of your titles scheduled for 2003 do you consider your strongest asset?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: All of them :-)

caz: Is the logo official?
ALTAR (Pasik):: yes, it is


Game Elements


sho3lace: Ae their friendly NPCs that we can add to our side that aid us in some way?
ALTAR (Martin):: I think I am not at liberty to reveal this at this moment

Apocca: The aliens weapons u pick up on the battlefield. U can use them or not. My question: Will there be an succes/fail ratio if you try to use it the first time
ALTAR (Martin):: However, you will not be able to use any alien weapon when you pick it up for the first time, you have to take it back and research it first, then will your scientists tell you how to use it

Apocca: I got another question: Can we play as another side then the humans? (alien perhaps)
ALTAR (Martin):: Not in the game when it is release, it may be possible in some mod or by some cheats. But it is not going to be a supported feature

fede: Will there be usable vehicles / interactive parts of the environment? Like.. I don't know, a fixed machine gun? Or opening & closing windows & doors, moving furniture around, flipping a table on its side for cover, blocking doors with heavy furniture, etc.?
ALTAR (Martin):: Well, there will be some things like this, e.g. switches, but it is not going to be common; there will not be a switch in every mission. Your interaction with environment will be mostly limited to blowing it up

fede: Will switching on/off a light (for example) affect the gameplay? Will the aliens have trouble seeing you then?
ALTAR (Martin):: Yes, if we have a switch, than it is going to affect gameplay. However when I say switch I rather a mean a switch that will open a door somewhere or something like that

fire850: Is morale and its effect implemented in game. If yes in what way?
ALTAR (Martin):: No, morale is not implemented. To be more precise, it is not implemented for your men. They will never run from combat on their own and never refuse to obey your commands (save for some alien influence). It is different for the aliens, though. They will not fight to the last man (or most of them won't). They will break and flee

Hellbound: Martin_ALTARinteractive: They will never run from combat on their own and never refuse to obey your commands (save for some alien influence) Hellbound: So, that means that there will be some kind of alien mind control? And can we "learn" to use it?
ALTAR (Martin):: Martin: Do you really want to know? Jiri: I dont want to know :-] Mazdek: heh, spoiler warning! Ondrej: It should be surprise! Martin: ;-) Sorry, I am afraid I already said more than I wanted to

Mazdek: The screenshots show seven soldiers can be on a mission. How many can you have in total (back at the bases), as replacements?
ALTAR (Martin):: In principle as many as you want. But if you draft too many, the new ones will be getting weaker. So there is little point in having more than say twenty

fede: How is the AI reacting to the player ? Is it only a "I see/ I engage" system or can they hear you and become more cautious? Is there coordination between aliens?
ALTAR (Martin):: It depends; there are various kinds of enemies (some of them smarter, some dumber). We shall definitely try to have some nastily clever aliens. We already have something in this respect. Still, it is only a computer. When you discover how it plays, you can always beat it. We shall try to make the discovering difficult, but this is all we can do

friede: Please describe how to plan and co-ordinate more than one action for every squad member with SAS?
ALTAR (Martin):: Planning is easy, you just select a soldier and right-click somewhere, then somewhere else, etc. All the orders are stringed into an order queue. Coordinating is more difficult. Deliberately, we decided not to provide any tools for coordination (sync points, conditional orders). It would make the game too difficult and complex to grasp

caz: How will interception be handled? Have you listened to the fans demand on this issue (or other issues)?
ALTAR (Martin):: I am afraid, we rather listened on other issues. Interceptions are going to be automatic. But still, this is the easies thing to change

AlexGekas: Will we be able to enter buildings while in tactical mode (roof or no roof)?
ALTAR (Martin):: Yes, you will be able to enter buildings. You will not see their insides, though, only an outlined (X-ray like) cross section of the building and ghosts of the units inside. It is somewhat difficult to describe, wait for screenshots

apocca: Were does the biomass originally begin to grow?
ALTAR (Martin):: I am afraid, you have to wait and see... Wait for some interviews around the internet and magz :-]

fede: Martin said "length of the game (number of base to capture)"... Does it end when you capture X number of bases, or all of them? or all of them (repelling all the biomass) and then the Mothership or something like that?
ALTAR (Martin):: Something like that, yes. I am sorry, but I would rather not go into details about what to do to end the game

es-noah|wk: It is my understanding that there is no economy in UFO:Aftermath. If this is the case, how does research work? i.e., what are the limiting factors (i.e., money, men, materials) that influence the pace and success of research?
ALTAR (Martin):: Your bases. You decide which of your bases will be dedicated to research, this weakens your military presence but increases the speed of research

es-noah|wk: Follow-up: Are all bases weighted equally in terms of output for research?
ALTAR (Martin):: Yes, all bases are equal

friede: Are all the aliens (aliens, enemies, transgenants) in the world of UFO: Aftermath evil-minded towards mankind or will we meet friendly aliens, too?
ALTAR (Martin):: Then the answer is more generic: some enemies are simply indifferent to you. Some are openly hostile

fede: Are there different kind of missions besides the obvious base assaults and going to landing or crash sites of the aliens? Specifically, will there be any "defense" missions where you have to defend your own base or one of your own downed aircraft, or some other location of strategic interest? And any other types?
ALTAR (Martin):: Yes, there will be this kind of missions (the latter I mean, of course). We try to make mission as varied as possible. Combined with different locations, architecture areas, environment belts etc. it may happen that no two missions will be the same. But obviously, it is much more probable that there will be some repetitions.

Hellbound: Rescue missions and such? maybe one of your men or scientists?
ALTAR (Martin):: Yes, rescue missions are one of the things we want to have as well

caz: Will soldiers be honoured with "medals etc." after a certain amount of kills, a number of mission, 5 kills in 1 mission etc.? An will we have access to a Hall of Fame displayed also our diseased soldiers?
ALTAR (Pasik):: No medals, but very thorough info containing all the soldiers feats during the game

Joshy: Whats the basic storyline of the game?
ALTAR (Martin):: The day after tomorrow, a giant spacecraft approaches the Earth. Silent, it hovers ominously over the world, and begins to release great clouds of spores into the upper atmosphere. Rapidly multiplying, the spores soon darken the skies, and before long obscure the sun completely. In later days, this period will be known as the "Twilight". Having reached critical mass in the skies, the spores begin to rain down, and over the course of several days, begin to clog the streets and bodies of water, smothering people in their homes, and burying animals in the wild. During the "Nightfall", as it would come to be called, most of the higher life forms on the earth were wiped out. During the Twilight, all human responses were futile. Choosing caution over aggression, the governments of the world didn't realize how quickly the end could come, and were buried alongside those that they governed. A few, however, did survive, sealed in underground bases with stocks of food and oxygen. After several weeks, the spores seemed to have disintegrated, decomposing and settling into the soil. The world seemed safe again, for a time.

fede: Could you describe some of the heavy weapons? Will there be any sort of guided missile?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Unfortunately I cannot describe any weapons yet

Thorondor: Could you disclose some additional information on how training will fit into the overall squad management scheme ? (and can we humans really afford to spare the time to have some of our best men and women lying around doing extra training when our race is in such dire straights ?)
ALTAR (Pasik):: Some abilities could only be trained

jp161: Quote ("Some abilities could only be trained") You mean some abilities can go up only by training or you can only train some abilities?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Some abilities can go up only by training

XCTCPete: Will there be any civilians in the game? Will any animals have survived, particularly cows and sheep for cattle abductions and so forth :)
ALTAR (Pasik):: You will find some cows, but a bit mutated. Same goes for the civilians

Niski: Are there any "specialist" skills like explosives ability that only some soldiers can use?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Yes, all the soldiers could attain unique skills


Gameplay


eL-stellar: Will there be different forms of HUD's, and if so, will you be able to tweak that HUD?
ALTAR (Martin):: Not really; You should be able to change the look of your soldiers, but the user interface is pretty much fixed

i-m-quake3-player: Any online support for the game or is it gonna be single player only?
ALTAR (Martin):: Yes ;-) The game will be singleplayer only

caz: Can you speed up time in combat? Or is there just two "timeflows"; pause and play?
ALTAR (Martin):: Yes, you can speed up and slow down the time during combat a bit. But there are limits to it, say to 3/4 and 5/4 of normal time

fede: Is the game linear, with predetermined missions path or is it dynamic, with weaker foes when you beat a base ?
ALTAR (Martin):: There are very few pre-prepared missions, most of them are random generated. Their parameters correspond to the current state of the game. That means that if you capture a base and expand your territory you will probably meet more dangerous enemies

Kaizsu: Will there be choosable difficulty levels in the game?
ALTAR (Martin):: Yes, you can choose both difficulty level (enemy toughness) and length of the game (number of bases you have to capture)

epsilon: Will there be a ranking system implemented, and if so, is there any advantage of the rank attained or is it purely just a reflection of the change in statistics, or kills of that player?
ALTAR (Martin):: The latter is true; you develop your soldiers by awarding attribute points to them and the soldier's "weight" in the game is completely described by his skills. His name or rank has no impact to that

Mazdek: This is a followup on a question I asked in the first chat, or possible on one of the BBS' in the past. Is there any method of recording a mission to playback later, so people can review their own and watch other people's missions?
ALTAR (Martin):: Martin: That would be great wouldn't it?
Mazdek: yeah.
Martin: But in all likeness it will not be possible. At least not in time of release. If there is one feature we would want to add later, I believe it is this one


fede: How about performance? Is the game running smooth on current computers ?
ALTAR (Martin):: Yes, the game makes about 40 FPS on PIII 500. It depends on the load and it is going to change both ways (there will be more optimization and more workload)

Myrdan: Will there be different styles of in game music? Rock, Punk?
ALTAR (Martin):: No, there will be only one style for the whole game

AlexGekas: How do you plan to propel the storyline?Cut-scenes, dialogues between the soldiers, through research? Does the game have multiple endings?
ALTAR (Martin):: Mainly through research. There will be no cut scenes, except for intro and outro. As for multiple endings, again no comment

Thorondor: * Post-Nightfall, transgenants (in all their diverse strains) become the largest force to contend with in terms of population density. Would it be unreasonable to equate that the transgenants will need to prey upon each other in the wild as a matter of survivability, since there are scarcely enough humans to 'feed upon' ? What do the transgenants do when there are no humans or pesky aliens around to interfere ;) ?
ALTAR (Martin):: You have to realize that transgenant, for most part, do not have any rationality. That is to to say, they are not product of evolution, they are not as finely honed tools of survival as ordinary animals or predators. Some of them are dumb, some of them cannot survive on their own. Some of them are very lethal even if it does not increases their survival chances. You have to think out of the box about the transgenants; Put away about your preconceptions about ecological links and producer-predator chains.

friede: UFO: Aftermath will not support multiplayer action, why? Is SAS limited at this point?
ALTAR (Martin):: Hehe, simply because it is too much work. We are limited by our time and by our budget. And it would be a lot of work to do it right

AlexGekas: Will there be recognisable landmarks?Example: If there is a mission in Athens,will we see the Parthenon,or will the landscapes be random?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Yes, there will be landmarks

AlexGekas: Will there be scripted missions, ie set-pieces?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Only few missions will be scripted

Thorondor: In SAS's present incarnation, do you think a successful balance has been stricken between command queuing and the freedom of pausing, from a tactical standpoint as well as a game's mechanics one? In other words: does the pausing detract from the effective usefulness of order stacking in any way? Or is this a non-issue?
ALTAR (Pasik):: The system works fine, but we are still balancing it

Thorondor: Humans are likely to feel a great deal of psychological strain: from the discovery that they are not the only intelligent beings in the Universe, the great loss of life, the sheer revulsion towards the newcomers, loathing, fear, anger... How do you intend to convey that feeling of irreversible taint that comes from the realisation of the alienness of Earth itself, to the player? (Atmosphere thus)
ALTAR (Pasik):: We create quite unique atmosphere with carefuly chosen graphics, music, sounds and well thought story


Development


eph: What engine is it running on, and if its a engine made by you guys, tell us a little about it
ALTAR (Martin):: The Engine is running on our own engine. It supports skinning, multi-texturing and most of the usual stuff

eph: How is it looking for people wanting to make mod's
ALTAR (Martin):: As for the modding, we plan to release plugins for 3DMax that would allow the players to make their own models for the game. However it will probably take some time to get it right, so it will not be immediately after release.

MonkeyBoy_uk: Is there a plan for a Linux port, if not what middleware is being used (opengl etc)? So we can guess if it will work in WINE under linux
ALTAR (Martin):: It runs on OpenGL and it uses Miles and Bink from RadGameTools. Time can flow faster than normal, like forwarding a video tape

MonkeyBoy_uk: Is a Linux port not on the cards then?
ALTAR (Jam):: Right now not supported and not planed in the future, though some of the tools (file system build) works under linux. I believe it would not be that difficult if there was need for it

X-Com: Are there any known bugs so far? And will there be support to this game after released concerning patches for fixing them?
ALTAR (Martin):: There is always a number of unresolved bugs We try to fix the bugs as we encounter them. It's too soon to speak about bugs in unreleased game, but we are ready to patch everything you find in UFO: Aftermath after release. However, I hope it won't be necessary. (Don't all developers do?)

i-m-quake3-player: Have you thought about UFO: online version, single games becoming old now and not very popular
ALTAR (Martin):: Well, the problem is that Quake3 is just much more suitable to play online. I do not think the absolute numbers of players of singleplayer games are decreasing. And if the player's response is good, than we can consider what we can do about multiplayer support. I think if the game is good nobody doesn't care if it is single or online

PlacidDragon: Approximately how far into development is UFO: Aftermath at the moment, and do you have any estimation on a release date?
ALTAR (Martin):: The release date is Q3 and we are on target for this

caz: Will we be getting more samples of ingame-audio (music) in the near future?
ALTAR (Jiri):: Yes, But it should be surprise :-]

SBC|saboya: Do you intend to release expansion packs for the game later on?
CENEGA (Ondrej):: It depends on sales but everything is possible. And because sales will be great and ALTAR is very good developer, the datadisc would be fine. But we will see...

X-Com: If the sales aren't that good will there still be support for the game?
ALTAR (Martin):: We shall definitely support the game, no matter what (we did the same for Original War)

Buddha & Unleaded: When did the game developing start and how many are there developing the game?
ALTAR (Martin):: We started in September 2001. There are 25-30 people working on the game now

[WAR]XrelapmIg: What has been the biggest obstacle in the development of UFO:Aftermath?
ALTAR (Martin):: I am afraid we did not meet it yet. The crunch time is still ahead of us.

Tammy: Have you given any more thought to naming the soldiers after the regular visitors to the official site?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Yes. We are still considering the best options... You may be even able to name all of your soldiers by yourself from the very beginning

MonkeyBoy_uk: What's the reasoning behind leaving out heavy weapon platforms?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Heavy weapon platforms? You mean tanks and the likes? They simply did not fit in our small squad tactical simulator... ;-) But you will be able to use some really heavy weaponry...

[wg-unix]: Will there be aliens with faces and maybe looks of the game designers so we can hunt them down and punish them sometimes? What I mean is, will ALTAR people be making any appearances in the game, and will there be any other "easter eggs"? If so, could you give us a hint about them?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Pasik: Yes, there will be some Easter Eggs, but no way can you persuade me to name them ;-) Wormfist: Not even hint :p XCTCPete: (Wouldn't be an easter egg then Jiri: No way :-]? Pasik: My face, for example, would scare most of you away Mazdek: Jiri: That's true Pasik: so we do not plan to implement it...

caz: This one first: Can you reveal which possibilities for shortcut keys there will be?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Not yet

caz: Have you decided about the design of the box? If so when can we expect to see it?
ALTAR (Pasik):: We have two final proposals and the ball is now on Cenega Publishings' side

caz: Is it final or could any amateaur send his/her proposal?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Pasik: Our lead artist made them (Which means that they are the best). Jiri: Send us your proposals or artworks of course! We always want to hear your ideas. It's great to know, what ideas fans have. Send them to press@altarinteractive.com

fede: Is there a way to have a special character representing the player, and therefore immersing him more into the game? An avatar where losing him would lose the game, but he would be slightly better than the other soldiers?
ALTAR (Pasik):: We are still considering this option. Gives more RPG feeling, but gets its drawbacks


X-COM Related


AlexGekas: Given the limited amount of soldiers, will there be individuals,ie with their own vocals and faces, instead of generic ones like Xcom? Kinda like Commandos
ALTAR (Martin):: Up to the point yes. We will have at least 20 individuals but when you manage to kill them all, we shall have to recycle their voices for example. No, not like Commandos. You CAN loose men in Aftermath

epsilon: Have you consulted the creators of the original X-COM on any matters concerning Aftermath? (Known as CoDo today)
ALTAR (Pasik):: Our former producer from Virgin - Paul Whip - had some ties with the Gollops and told us, that he has consulted some problems with them...

caz: Many people still associate UFO:AM with the XCOM series. Are you afraid they could be disappointed due to their expectations to play a XCOM remake?
ALTAR (Pasik):: People who associate UFO-AM with XCOM series should stop doing so ;-)


Graphical


Mazdek: Will those plugins that you mentioned before allow you to put in your own faces and voices for soldiers?
ALTAR (Martin):: Yes, that would be one of the first things we would support

savves: How's the in-game cinematic gonna be done? cg?
ALTAR (Martin):: Combination of cg, real-world shots, post production effects, etc.

X-Com: Will the game run on voodoo cards, savage4, etc. or will it support other opengl cards?
ALTAR (Jam):: Generaly we will support all opengl card, but we require some capabilities, so no voodoo or voodoo2

Mazdek: What's the minimum generation of graphics card you expect to require (like GF2 or 3, or the ATI equivs)?
ALTAR (Jam):: GF2 is minimum, though the game will run also on slower cards. CPU: P III 500 and 256 MB memory.


Un-Catagorisable


JackInTheBox: Are you sitting behind your computer naked?
ALTAR (Pasik):: Pasik: Yes - all the time. Jiri: We are all naked in ALTAR.

Tamara: Tell Jiri I'm still waiting for my picture!
ALTAR (Jiri):: What what?? :)


Credits


First of all, thank you Martin Klima, Jakub Gajda, Jiri Rydl and Robert Hoffmann of ALTAR Interactive, as well as Ondrej Laba of Cenega Publishing, 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 AlexGekas, caz, Hellbound, Mazdek, Kahnn, PlacidDragon, UFOPete. 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, the event server amongst them. We are ever grateful for that.
Fifth, thanks to Pete for making the nr. 1 UFO:Aftermath fan site, and ooda for helping him - keep it that way!
And last, but not least, thank you to everyone that attended. You asked many great questions, and made 3 hours disappear way too quickly.

Game Card

UFO Aftermath Box
UFO Aftermath
ALTAR Interactive
Tri Synergy
2003


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