Ferrago chat with Alexey Leshev, Scriptwriter on Kreed
Original and very ambitious, this is Kreed.
Ferrago.co.uk sat down with “Kreed” Scriptwriter Alexey Leshev, to discuss this highly ambitious and original first-person debut for Russian developers Burut. Ferrago: The background story, of Elite Legions, genetically manipulated and nano-enhanced, being attacked by a mysterious alien race and forced to crash-land on an unknown yet hostile planet sounds intriguing, but will the player be forced to confront zombies or shall we be spared this particular cliché? AL: The player (i.e. our Main Hero) finds himself in a world that stands out thanks to its non-standard nature. Of course it includes some easily recognizable elements but they are viewed from a totally different angle. We wish to describe a possible future of the human race in clear terms. “KREED” sort of asks the innocent gamer a tricky question: “And what do we actually know about our future? Will human survive as a species or will he become an appendage of some “Deus ex Maschina” (like in the “Matrix”) or slowly die out under some choking yoke of alien invaders (like in “Battlefield Earth”)? In KREED’s universe it’s the year 2944 of the “Terra-Earth” calendar. A measurement introduced since the human race started exploring Outer Space and encountered alien intelligence in its creepy depths. However the triumph of star travel was preceded by a tragic event that nearly destroyed the entire human race. The militarized insectoids race of Tiglaary invaded the Solar System at the end of the 23rd century and started absolute genocide which resulted in hundreds millions of victims. Only true faith times religious fanaticism managed to unite the scattered fragments of the human race into one fist incorporated in the Legion. This organization with a religiously-military type of structure became just about EVERYTHING in the modern history of the human civilization. After a most bloody and brutal liberation war the Tiglaary were ousted. In the following 24th century the Legion started active colonization of Outer Space directing its perfect ships into the abyss of space and time. The Legion became not only an invincible shield and sword, the guarantor of further survival for the humans, but also an Ideology which was completely based on such fundamental symbolic issues as loyalty, spirit, honor, caste, aristocracy, contempt of death, and worshipping of life. In fact, the world of the 30th century could be prominently defined as “post-technogenic (or even “post-civilizational”) medieval ages” where supreme technology and spiritual values became one. But this didn’t help reach the long-awaited harmony, a new “Satja-Yuga” (“Golden Age”) never came. The human race as before continued its unrelenting struggle for survival and space against other races. And that is when KREED appears – a mysterious anomaly zone, a “Black Hole” that started a religious cult around itself. It is hiding that very Alien matter that determines the fates of the Universe. Kreed is a test of faith and very few could pass through it. Our main Character was once a Legionary but he happened to get into Kreed aboard a tradeship “Aspero” that was crushed in still unknown circumstances. At first he will have to survive himself and save the lives of the crewmembers of the ship where beast-like creatures ‘Shpiggs’ take control. Then he will meet other inhabitants of Kreed who will give him some curious information and he will eventually reach a symbolic final. Ferrago: In the graveyard of spaceships setting in which Kreed takes place what kinds of interiors can the player expect to come across? Will they reflect different alien designs, and will there be any sort of outdoor environments? AL: Kreed is not just a cemetery for ships that have been caught into its deadly arms in hundreds and hundreds of years. Apart from that it contains planet fragments, asteroid belts, space ice fields, and even its own dying sun that has nearly lost its former power. The player will struggle with enemies on human and alien ships, get into remote planet worlds, and even find himself in a different dimension. Our Main Hero starts onboard “Aspero”, a ship of the Trade Corporation Conglomerate and then reaches a multi-miled Confederate Battleship ‘Tokugava’, where there is an outburst of a terrible epidemic that has turned most of the crew into totally mindless mutant creatures. Then he gets a chance to demonstrate all his skills and knowledge inside the titanic metal-organic Tiglaary Fortress-ship whose design unites all the best achievements of biomechanics. Underneath the dusty reddish-yellowish-orange sky of Burg planetoid the Main Hero will fight the belligerent descendants of the Legion’s secret missions who are zealously anticipating the Second Arrival and the Final Battle with the ‘Absolute Enemy’. This world is incredibly beautiful. It is covered with endless deserts, mountain ranges spread underneath raging winds, bottomless canyons, and gaping abysses with flowing lava. Legionaries that once populated it created an atmospheric shield over it and built a Citadel of stone blocks and ship fragments they later called Burg. The fog-wrapped world of Heilig has given shelter to the followers of the heretic ‘Holy Scripture of Kreed’, the Jikreeds that predicted the soon coming End of the World. Once it was populated by some civilization that left only speechless ruins after itself. It’s exactly the place where the Main Hero will get his first clue of Kreed’s mystery, which will change him internally. Khalle will probably impress any player with its Prazaaar race planetoid that resembles a petrified shell of prehistoric creatures. It’s enveloped in bluish-purple-black clouds that send monstrous lightning blots into the meager stony soil. When the player reaches the temple of Prazaars he will be shocked by its enormous vault and bizarre architecture. The whole game’s climax is the dimension of the phantom J’curr race where our Universe’s laws lose their meaning. The player will pass it if he takes advantage of alien technology. Ferrago: How many weapons will we get to grips with and can you elaborate on their originality? AL: Weapon development took us a pretty long time and has more or less brought our creative design into life. There will be 10 types of weapon and 3 types of grenades in the game ranging from quite standard to unique. For example, the game’s arsenal will include a battle knife, a carbine, a shotgun (that has actually never changed its shape over the centuries), a heavy 6-barreled machine gun with a laser pointer, a flamethrower, and a rocket gun. There are also energetic and plasmatic weapon types of incredibly great impact based on non-human technology – a special for higher-rank enemy. We have worked hard on weapon design placing main emphasis on its aesthetic appearance and trying to make it realistic and different from common examples. Ferrago: From the screenshots this game looks amazing. Will you tell us some more about the engine and what it is capable of. I gather this is all your own work. AL: The X-Tend Engine has been completely developed by our own programmers. It uses the latest features and capabilities of 6th generation video cards. Ferrago: Will Kreed require a monster rig to get the most out of it’s lush graphics and how well will the lower spec gamer be catered for? AL: For optimal gameplay with every option included KREED requires a PIII-1000 Mhz, 512 Mb ram, and a 6th generation video card (ATI Radeon 8500, GeForce 3). But this doesn’t mean that the number of those able to play ÊREED will be limited. One could play even with minimum requirements - PIII-600 Mhz, 256 Mb ram, and a 5th generation video card. Though it’s most likely that some visual features won’t be activated in that case. Ferrago: Will you be licensing out the engine, and what sort of possibilities are there for the mod community to adapt it? AL: Until the engine is ‘settled’ and we get a set of development utilities suitable for independent users it’s too early to discuss licensing. We are utterly interested in a mod community but so far we can’t say anything for certain. In the future it might become possible to actually add both partial and complete changes to the game up to creating one’s own original product. Any owner of KREED will be able to partially alter the bot set, weapon, or even bot behavior without actually changing the code of the game. Ferrago: How important is sound and music going to be in fostering a sense of immersion? AL: We pay a lot of attention to sound and musical setting since the accuracy of the gameworld depends directly on that. This is pretty tough work where you must experiment a lot to find the right audio combination. For instance, the voice of insectoids Tiglaary was generated from a number of sounds made by insects. The notorious Shpigg cannibals make grunting and whining noises when they are attacked which makes the player involuntarily clench with fear and seek cover. The voices of grotesque nightmare creatures born by Kreed and the ‘divine’ speech of Higher Intelligence representatives should be a real surprise. The musical soundtrack was recorded in industrial and dark ambient style and totally matches the whole concept of the game. We have our own ‘hits’ that add some adrenaline and help pass this or that level in one go. Ferrago: From the website it sounds like there is the basis for a good story driven game, so I'm intrigued as to whether Kreed will be a no frills blaster or a more thoughtful slice of shooting. AL: KREED is one of the well-thought-out game projects where the storyline is just as important as a chance to fight alien rivals. The player will not merely have to pass preplanned Missions but also learn something Important in the end, something that should have some impact on him. Isn’t that the goal of a modern computer game? Of course one could stress the ‘mechanical playability’, but on the other hand it doesn’t automatically mean success. We aim to make the player ‘live’ in our virtual world, that is feel, worry, and believe in his victory in spite of dangers and obstacles that may seem insurmountable. Ferrago: What sort of interaction will the player experience within the game? Will there be NPCs of any sort, or will the story be driven along through cut-scenes? AL: Interaction will be based on script rolls with dialogs, diary readings, and information displayed on monitors and holograms. Some dialogs should be quite intense and have profound meaning. Some might ignore them but they do contain the key to the final solution. The player will have to argue, suffer, hate, and experience shock. Diary reading will submerge him into the world of Kreed inhabitants, each one of them having his own unique destiny. Wouldn’t it be interesting to learn about the tragedy of a Confederate Warrior infected by an unknown virus and exiled to die in the oblivion, or discover the exciting report on archaeological diggings of the ancient maze-city, or hear the speech of a long-deceased creature that has something to tell you. Ferrago: Along with good visuals the thing players look for the most in a FPS is realistic and playable AI. What sort of routines will the enemies be running on and how will they work together against the player? AL: KREED gameplay is based on the fact that each opponent is actually a real personality with both unique and universal behavior patterns. It possesses well-thought-out intelligence that helps him consider both weak and strong points of the Player. The game will present organized cooperation of opponents, a so-called ‘team intelligence’. What matters a lot is the choice of combat tactics based on the analysis of a certain situation. This means that enemy location, their number, weapon, characteristics, type of landscape, own power, and its correlation to the enemies, success of former strategies and so on should be considered. The player will face a worthy rival that wouldn’t let him relax for even a moment. Ferrago: Is the game being designed primarily as a single-player experience or are the multi-player aspects integral to your whole design approach. What sort of multi-player modes will ship with the game, and what will be the maximum number of players on a server? AL: KREED will comprise both single and multiplayer modes. The multiplayer includes DeathMatch, Team DeathMatch, Capture The Flag, Tournament, Last Man Standing, and Assault. It will use simplified character models. We are also working on multiplayer maps that will be just as colorful and functional as the single. The number of players simultaneously playing in multiplayer mode is so far limited only by the bandwidth. Ferrago: Will there be an option to play the game co-operatively with a friend? AL: There is such option in the game. However, due to some reasons that have to do with the design of certain levels co-op mode will be unavailable in some cases. Ferrago: Can you tell us what sort of feelings you are hoping to engender within the player as they go through the game, and what sort of emotions, such as excitement, fear, awe etc, will you be aiming to draw out of the player? AL: We see KREED as a game based on the philosophically traditional perception of the Universe as a continuous cycle of ups and downs. The player captivated by a hurricane of events will discover something that will change his vision of life. But should we be so optimistic as to predict something that is not here yet? As it seems to us computer games should not just be entertaining but also include an element of serious thinking and be somewhat edifying. Otherwise there is no sense in releasing another mass consumption product to the market that will soon be forgotten. Yes, we do want to shock the player and use appropriate language to tell him of the impact he could cause by his immediate actions. And we do not at all wish to turn him into a standard “target shooter”. Ferrago: And finally, roughly when can we expect to get the chance to start playing Kreed? AL: This significant event is scheduled for spring 2003. Ferrago: Thanks for your time, and happy coding from the Ferrago team. AL: Thank you too, it was nice to talk to you.