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Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria Interview
Manveer 'Eidolon' Heir :: 03:00 AM @ October 18th, 2003 :: In-House: Interview
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This morning we've sat down with Steve Fawkner, the CEO and Lead Designer over at Infinite Interactive and chatted with him about their upcoming action/adventure game Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria. Expect to begin seeing the game on store shelves November 18th of this year for the suggested retail price of $39.99.

GameGossip: For our readers who haven't played the Warlords series before, can you describe what type of game it is?
Steve Fawkner: Warlords was one of the original turn-based strategy games to appear, back in 1990. Although the Warlords series has since branched out into RTS games, at Infinite Interactive we are still very big fans of a good dragon-filled, orc-infested, turn-based strategy game. And of course that's exactly what Warlords IV is - turn-based fantasy strategy at its finest!
GG: What does Warlords IV add over previous iterations of the series?
SF: With the Warlords turn-based series we've never been content to just provide an update to the previous games. We keep the core concepts in place - producing troops, hiring heroes, searching ruins, capturing enemy cities, completing quests; but we also try to change a lot of things to give the game a fresh new feeling. In Warlords IV, we have added a new combat system (STS combat - see below), as well as many other changes such as persistent Warlords - mighty characters who follow you from battle to battle, growing in power - and a completely new magic system. We also have a new experience system that allows all troops to level up and gain new skills during a battle.
GG: How has the response to the demo been so far? Are you incorporating any customer ideas or requests into the game, or is it too late for that?
SF: Gamers are one of our biggest assets. I know that sounds corny, but it's true! Those folks who played Warlords III will remember that we did a huge patch for the game containing lots and lots of fan suggestions, and it was very popular. Many customer ideas found their way into the demo, such as the new movement path indicators. Unfortunately, now that the game has gone gold, any new suggestions will have to wait until a patch.

Overall, we are very pleased with the reaction to the demo. It almost exactly mirrors the reaction to the Warlords III demo from back in 1997, and that game went on to become extremely popular. I've been writing games for 20 years now, so I know better than to expect EVERYBODY to like a game. At the end of the day, the best we can do is create a game that WE enjoy playing and hope that lots of other folks enjoy it too.

What has me really excited about Warlords IV is the number of emails I've received from gamers who have never played Warlords before and picked this up and enjoyed it, and also the number of people who've written to tell me that their 10-12 year-old kids are having a great time with the game. This means that we've created something that's both quite accessible and quite addictive.
GG: What are the different races in Warlords IV and how do they differ from one another?
SF: Elves, Daemons, Dragons and Elves. There should be something in there for everybody! If I Described the differences between all the races, it would be about 10 pages long, so I'll just give a quick description:
  • Knights: Great vs. evil sides
  • Empire: Great at countering enemy special abilities
  • Dwarves: Tough troops but very slow movement & no fliers
  • Ogres: Very powerful with lots of cool abilities, but slow to produce
  • Orcs: Also lots of good abilities - great at swarming
  • Undead: Great vs good sides and humans
  • Dark Elves: Weak but with good special abilities
  • Daemons: Powerful troops. Slow to produce.
  • Dragons: Very powerful flying troops, but extremely slow to produce
  • Elves: Weak but with fantastic archery skills.
GG: It has been said that the campaign can be played over multiplayer as well as single player. How does playing the campaign over multiplayer work? What other multiplayer modes will be supported?
SF: The Campaign can be played in multiplayer exactly like in single player, but the extra human players will all be allies. Once the game was finished, my wife and I had a great time playing the storyline through in cooperative mode. You can still see the story unfolding exactly like in single-player, it's just that there are more players in the game (and more AI players to fight against also).
GG: Can you explain how the Speed Tactical System (STS) works?
SF: STS Combat is something that we invented to be halfway between the old Warlords auto-combat, and a full tactical system like Age of Wonders or Heroes of Might and Magic. We needed a solution like this because a game of Warlords typically has 100-200 combats, and if each one was a full tactical combat that took 5 minutes to complete, then complete games would all take longer than 10 hours!

STS feels a little like a collectible card game´┐Ż you simply choose the next unit in your group to fight, as does your opponent, and when one is dead, his owner chooses the next unit. This continues until one group runs out of units. It sounds very simple, and it is, but almost 40 special abilities and 100 spells give it a lot of depth. Even now we are still finding good combinations of skills and spells and magic items with which we can trick our opponents (until they find new ways to counter them of course!)
As always, for more information, feel free to check out the games official website.

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