GameSpot recently talked with Anton Bolshakov of GSC Game World about the developer's recently released first-person shooter, Codename: Outbreak. Bolshakov explained some of the differences between the European and North American versions of the game, how the game differs from other first-person shooters, and why the game's name was changed from Venom to Codename: Outbreak.
GameSpot: Codename: Outbreak was released in Europe earlier this year. Are there any significant differences in the North American version?
Anton Bolshakov: Making use of the later Codename: Outbreak release in North America, we have integrated the recent European patch into it. This will spare American players the need to download the patch [for problems] some of them may experience (some menu and level problems mainly). One major difference for the American version is that it contains an option to choose between three languages players find most suitable for them: English, Spanish, or French.
GS: How has the game been received in Europe?
AB: We are pleased to see the game so warmly received here in Europe. As we believe, this is not only the merit of the game itself, but also the result of fruitful marketing efforts of our worldwide publisher Virgin Interactive. The game received high press ratings ("Award for Excellence" by PC Zone, "Gold" by PC Gameplay, "Game of the Month" by PC Jeux) and positive feedback of players. This fills us with bright hopes for the North American release.
GS: Codename: Outbreak used to be known as Venom. What prompted the title change? What other titles were you considering?
AB: The change of title was a forced measure. The thing is that Venom is an existing registered company name and trademark. If we had released the game as Venom, we would have probably talked about its success from behind the bars. As the title options we had Parasite Venom, Venomous Planet, Spite, Parasite Malice, and many more, but in the long run the publisher insisted on Codename: Outbreak.
GS: How is Codename: Outbreak different from other shooters?
AB: It is different due to a set of innovations we implemented with the game. First off, the game engine equally supports vast outdoor and complex indoor areas, which allows for creating immense and interesting game levels. Secondly, we managed to preserve the action and introduce tactics in the game: Your teammate helps you to walk through the game challenges and bring bold tactical solutions to life. For example, you can arrange crossfire, outflank enemies--while they focus on attacking your teammate--and assault them from the rear, and you can lay ambushes by breaking light sources and darkening the premises. Thirdly, it is realism we were all obsessed with from the very outset: Each of the soldiers has his own parameters preventing him from carrying 100 rockets and 10 guns at once--instead, he has a universal rifle and a limited amount of ammunition. Bullets have a finite speed, weapons have recoil--these factors define the line of realism Outbreak sticks to. To cap it all, computer rivals are led by virtual hearing and sight, which sometimes will give game advantage to stealthy-action lovers. Generally, every 3D-action player will find something to his liking in this game.
GS: How did the game's "sidekick" feature come about? How does the feature tie in to the gameplay?
AB: It seems to have been a team decision. The game is tactical, but we opted to preserve it with one companion only, for this considerably simplifies the controlling process, while allowing tactical element realization. Your teammate in Outbreak is computer-controlled and is a rather smart and independent character. You give him orders with four basic keys, which appears to be just enough for effective mission accomplishment. The range of orders varies from stand ground to attack and fire at will. The teammate control simplicity secures a great deal of action, without turning the game into a tactical simulator (in case we incorporated six partners at once).
GS: Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently in the game, or were there features that you wanted to include but couldn't due to time constraints?
AB: We regret we did not implement interaction with different vehicles in the game, so this is left to be done in future projects. No other features seem to come to mind.
GS: What are your plans for the game's future? Will there be an expansion pack or a sequel? If so, can you tell us what kinds of new features it will include?
AB: This will depend on how successful the original version proves. We had an idea of releasing a kit for players to create their own Outbreak missions, but the idea is still in the air.
GS: What's next for GSC Game World? What other projects are you working on now? Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?
AB: Currently we are developing another 3D action game under the working title Oblivion Lost. The game will be based on a brand-new X-Ray engine we developed in-house and is planned to be a futuristic team-based shooter. We hope to see it continue the good Outbreak tradition.
We also have several other projects on hand. These are futuristic combat races called HoveRace, and another Cossacks engine-based RTS called American Conquest. As we expand our portfolio, we strive to carve out our niche in every gaming genre.
GS: Thanks for your time, Anton.
For more information about Codename: Outbreak, take a look at our full review of the game.