Q: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers, and tell us a bit about your work at HBM.
A: The core people of the team have been in the gaming industry for nearly five years now. Until recently, we have developed console games (and this is why we decided to add some arcade elements to March!). Last year we started developing for PC, and made one game designed only for the Russian market. It was about this time that we got the idea of making an FPS game with elements of arcade. At the moment there are 10 people in the team. All of them working on MARCH!
Q: Give us some insight into the general plot and storyline for March!: Offworld Recon.
The action takes place in the distant future. Limited Earth resources could no longer meet the growing demands of Earth industry and ever increasing population. And the humanity had to start colonizing the nearest planets of the solar system to solve its problems. The moon became the main source of fuel for fusion reactors on Earth while Mars was considered the most suitable planet for terraforming. But while there where no unpleasant surprises with the moon, all man's attempts to turn Mars into a second Earth fails.
The process of planet transformation went too slowly and cosmic radiation, not significantly weakened by the thin Martian atmosphere, was causing hitherto unknown diseases... The most frustrating though, were constant and mysterious failures of any and all automatic equipment, which finally made any work on Mars totally impossible. People had to withdraw from Mars, leaving behind only a few uninhabited scientific complexes, which, for some unknown reasons, were not affected by this mysterious plague of mechanical failures. For many years, Earth forgot about its failed attempt to colonize a far world, until being reminded about Mars' existence in a dramatic fashion. All communication and observation satellites orbiting Mars suddenly failed.. A recon mission was sent to the red planet to try and find out what's happening there. It was decided that the recon team will consist only of robots, which will be controlled remotely from a scout ship. The player will control one of the robots.
Q: Does March! have a linear gameplay, or will there be numerous possibilities of accomplishing missions?
A: On the whole the gameplay is linear, but the things you’ll have to do to complete a particular level are not limited to stuff like “find a key” or “find and press a button”. Since we position MARCH! as an action game, most of the time you’ll have to fight, of course, but we tried to design the levels in such a way so that the players have a lot of alternative ways to achieve victory ( or to loose :).
Q: The game is said to have a genuine combination of FPS, arcade, and tactical simulation. Please describe what a gamer will be in for while trying to survive on the red planet.
In March! we tried to combine the immersive gameplay of the FPS of the first generation ( games like DOOM for example) with the present day technology. The main differences are the system of Power Ups, the team, which you control, and the set of weapons. But we tried to make all the changes in such a way so that thay don’t distract the player from the main thing – the combat. And so, while trying to figure out a combination of a digital lock, or while sending your team to guard some object, or while shooting at some gigantic mechanical boss using a cannon, you always have to be ready to switch from it to simple DOOM-like action.
Q: It’s also been said earlier that March! is a team based game, and that players will control one of several robots sent down to Mars to investigate these “shenanigans and goings on”. How will this style of gaming come to pass in March!: Offworld Recon?
A: I think it's necessary to tell about the team in more detail. All the time, the player is accompanied by other robots. The player might issue some commands to them but for the most part they act on their own, providing necessary fire support. If the player's robot is destroyed, the control is switched to the next robot in the team. Thus, the person's capabilities are determined by the number of robots in the team, and naturally the condition of these robots and their weapons. Some of these parameters may be set before the game.
Q: What kind of environments will a player face while trotting the huge red planet? Will the action mostly take place in the sand dunes and abandoned buildings, or are we talking other locations as well? Please give some examples.
A: Lots of. Martian canyons, buildings, once abandoned by colonists, archeological excavations, military training grounds, gigantic groups of buildings with lots of contrived corridors. Moreover, the game is not set on Mars alone. Among the locations there is also an orbital station and even a few areas outside the Solar System.
Q: Since not that many of you have really been to Mars yet :) where have you got the inspiration regarding portraying the red planet, and what kind of harsh conditions are you planning to include?
A: Our imagination guided us. But of course we all read some sci-fi books and watched some sci-fi films ( Aliens, for example), and this experience influenced the imagination. Well…we think, the living conditions on Mars are alright…for 2 meter high androids made of steel. :)
Q: What can you tell us regarding the A.I. in the game when it comes to both the players fellow team members, and the threat they will meet while on Mars?
A: The player will have to play the main part in combats, and the team will only support the player's robot with fire most of the time. Members of the player's team can act on their own: they can find their targets, take and use ammo and power ups, carry and use various objects. Most of the time, the team have to fight against groups of enemy fighters that are superior in size, but there also are some big, strong enemy machines that fight alone. Some of the enemy robots are not very smart, but what they lack in intellect is compensated for by their agility or ability to fire heavily. Some groups of enemy fighters have leaders, and killing a leader may change the behavior of the whole group. It may happen that some enemies will try to take some important object back from you. And of course, there are also unique enemies - the “bosses”.
Q: What different kinds of firepower and possible upgrades are we talking about? Are we in for any special surprises
A: We used a modular weapon principle. The player's robot will be armed with a universal weapons module, featuring exchangeable main guns and supplementary weapon attachments. The player can choose any combination of primary and secondary weapons (for example, your robot may have a shotgun as a main weapon and a rocket launcher as a supplementary one). To change current weapon characteristics, you can also attach different weapon modifier units to the weapon module. With these modifiers you can change the rate of fire, weapon accuracy, add different lethality factors etc. Totally, there are six main gun types, four types of supplementary weapon attachments and six weapon modifiers for the game, which makes for a significant number of different weapon combinations. Since the action takes place within a wide time frame, the weapons range from analogs of modern firearms to powerful futuristic devices.
Q: Will there be a multiplayer mode for the game, and if so, what kind of modes are we talking about?
A: We have a standard set which includes Free For All Deathmatch and Teamplay. In addition we have one more mode (Squad Deathmatch) where the players are accompanied by their own fire support teams, just like in single-player. I think this mode is the most interesting since the players can practice their tactical skills. It includes such functions as guard mode and priority target mode for the robots.
Q: Are you planning to include a multiplayer mode that will enable more than one player in the singleplayer storyline?
A: No. Unfortunately, we don't have this in MARCH! But we'll think about having it in MARCH! 2, OK? :)
Q: What about the graphical aspect of March!, what can we expect from the engine used, and how will this affect system requirements to play the game?
A: We use Monolith's Talon Engine, on which Aliens versus Predator 2 was based. The engine is really great and meets all our needs, though we have to make some changes to it of course. Thus we have to add some visuals and make some changes in the AI. In short, if you ever played Aliens versus Predator 2, you can imagine the way the game looks and the system requirements.
Q: In regards to music and effects, please tell us some of the things we’ll hear while performing this mission to Mars.
A: Fortunately we had a really good sound engine, which we could really hardly spoil. Now we have for example sound reverberation depending on the room size, genuinely sounding collisions, directional 3D-sound and interactive music. We also have a separate set of musical themes for each episode. The music is in OGG format, and you may enjoy it even without playing the game
Q: Will you be announcing requests for beta testers in the near future, or will most of the testing be performed in-house?
A: Well, since the game is ready and all the testing process is over, I don’t think that we’ll need any beta testers in the near future. But everyone’s welcome to test our next game :).
Q: Finally, is there anything more you would like to share with our reader?
A: First of all we would like to thank your readers for their interest in our game. We hope you all will enjoy playing MARCH! just like we enjoyed developing it.
The HBM team
Thanks to the HBM team for taking time to answer our questions, and we wish them the best of luck with MARCH! and future projects.
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