Conducted By Adam Ames
In an exclusive interview with TPG, Ajith Ram from Candella Software, talks about their upcoming Roman-inspired combat racer, Chariot Wars.
Here is a preview:
What can look forward to from the single player portion of Chariot Wars?
Ajith Ram: We have a very strong story-driven single player version. As mentioned in the press release, the entire single player campaign revolves around the character Quintus Octavian and his efforts to solve a twin murder on the eve of the first chariot race. We are also planning Deathmatch and CTF bot matches, although this may not make it into the first release.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Chariot Wars.
Ajith Ram: I am the Creative Director on Chariot Wars. I am also one of the Producers. So that’s a pompous way of saying I have the final say on all game features and when things go wrong, I am also the guy with the most headaches.
Talk about the inspiration that lead to the development of Chariot Wars.
Ajith Ram: The obvious inspiration are the epic movies set in Ancient Rome from Hollywood’s Golden Era such as Quo Vadis. Personally, I am a big fan of history. So it has always been my dream to create a story-led combat racing game set in Ancient Rome.
Can you briefly explain the new business model you are going with for Chariot Wars?
Ajith Ram: The entire games industry, particularly the PC games market is going through a seismic shift in its business model. In the last three years, we have seen the rise of social games, free to play games, iOS, Android games and a digital download revolution which has almost obliterated PC DVD retail. I think by end of this year, 80% to 90% of the PC games market will be purely digital.
On top of these multiple revolutions happening at the same time, we also have the big publishers refusing to take risks on indie titles like Chariot Wars. Their marketing/sales departments will never support innovative games. They are really only interested in the next Call of Duty. And even then, never for the PC which is always a step child to the consoles as far as the big publishers are concerned.
So for indie developers like Candella, the only option is to source financing directly from the PC gaming community. I’m convinced it is the only option available to indies who wish to bring innovative games to the market.
What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing Chariot Wars?
Ajith Ram: It is too early to talk about failures as we are still in pre-alpha and have not released anything yet. In terms of successes, we are now implementing all the ‘dream’ features including multiplayer combat, Deathmatch, Capture The Flag and co-op combat.
One of the features I’m really excited about is co-op combat which allows a two-person team to engage in Deathmatch and CTF. One player can drive the chariot while the other player fights. And they can switch roles within levels.
In its current form, how close is Chariot Wars to your initial vision?
Ajith Ram: We are still in pre-alpha. The arcade racing feature is nearing completion. Many of the combat features are not yet implemented fully or require fine tuning.
Have you experienced any issues setting the difficulty levels for Chariot Wars?
Ajith Ram: It is a big issue which keeps coming up. Originally I was thinking of the game as a proper RPG on wheels. However, the classic RPG leveling systems and skill systems are too complex for a combat racing game. We still have trophies and achievements. But it has been fine tuned to suit the players more accustomed to racing or first person shooter games.
Please talk about developing the art style, level design and music for Chariot Wars.
Ajith Ram: The art style is what I would call enhanced photorealism or beautiful photorealism. This applies to everything in the game – chariots, avatars, weapons and game levels. We have both day and night levels in the game. I personally prefer the night levels as they are much more visually interesting.
For music, we have gone with a pure classical/semi-classical approach which fits the game theme perfectly. We will shortly be releasing a video documentary on the process behind the creation of the music and sound effects.
How did you develop the handling characteristics for the chariots in Chariot Wars?
Ajith Ram: We are going for a very arcade-style handling for the chariots. There is a difference between the lighter wooden chariots and the heavier metallic ones. But the overall emphasis is on easy handling and fast racing.
This is actually necessary since we have intense combat in the game. If the handling becomes extremely realistic like in a rally driving game, then you will not be able to focus on the combat.
Please tell us about the development process behind the multiplayer component you will be using and what modes we can except at launch.
Ajith Ram: We are planning three modes for Day One on the PC. Arcade racing, Deathmatch and Capture The Flag. Both Deathmatch and CTF will be team events with at least 2 players required on each chariot. One player to drive and the other for combat.
Both Deathmatch and CTF will be 16 player or 32 player events (8 or 16 chariots with 2 players per chariot). A variety of weapons will be available including spears, tridents, bows and arrows.
Future game modes could include Assault and Domination. This depends on the feedback we get from the PC community. I’m hoping for some good ideas to come from the PC community. At the end of the day, there is a limit to what game designers can come up with. The gamers themselves need to send feedback on the features they wish to see.
Are there plans to release builds of Chariot Wars on Mac or Linux?
Ajith Ram: Only for Mac. The middleware we are using does not support Linux.
Have there been any decisions made on the digital distribution platforms Chariot Wars will be available through?
Ajith Ram: The open beta version of the game will be available only via Lovegasm.com. Those who join the open beta will receive a 25% to 50% discount on the final Gold Master. The major digital retail portals like Steam do not allow beta versions to be distributed – at least from indies like us. We are also planning to ship the game directly via DVD to those who are interested in getting a physical copy.
Will there be a demo for Chariot Wars on or around launch?
Ajith Ram: A demo is possible only after launch. Our priority is to get the game to Gold Master status as soon as possible.
What launch price are you looking at for Chariot Wars?
Ajith Ram: We are yet to make a final decision on this.
Which DRM solution will you be adding to Chariot Wars, if any?
Ajith Ram: None planned for the digital download version. The same goes for the DVD version.
Discuss the social networking integration being developed for Chariot Wars.
Ajith Ram: We are planning full integration with Facebook and Google+. You can invite your friends to multiplayer matches and upload game stats to their walls. Trophies and achievements will be updated and visible inside the social networking sites. The game can also be played inside a browser window.
Are there plans to release DLC for Chariot Wars?
Ajith Ram: Not at this time. I’d prefer to see all possible content inside the first version itself.
Will you release the tools necessary or develop Chariot Wars in a way that is mod friendly?
Ajith Ram: Yes, this is being considered. Since we are using licensed middleware, it looks like it will have to be a separate agreement with the licensor.
Is there any information on a release date?
Ajith Ram: None at present. We’ll decide that mid way through the beta testing phase. -End
We would like to thank Ajith for talking with TPG and wish the team success with Chariot Wars. You can sign up for the beta and check out their teaser trailer on the official site.