Developer: Liquid Entertainment
Publisher: Crave Entertainment
Release date: Late spring or early summer
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What's so high-tech about it: The engine emulates the cause and effect of real-world environments, thus allowing players to create new strategies.
PC technology has advanced to such an amazing level of power that the game developer can do all sorts of things, but now, Ed Del Castillo, president of Liquid Entertainment, points out, "The problem is that all the truly innovative stuff is still very costly in terms of memory and CPU time. The result is that the designer is left trying to find a middle ground between cost and benefit."
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Great looks aside, the real innovation in Battle Realms lies in its gameplay. Liquid is putting the RTS gamer into a "living world" in which to romp around. In this environment, fires can grow in strength and then spread--and therefore must be put out. Horses need to be domesticated and can be used to mount units to create cavalries or be used as pack animals. Natural resources, like water, can be used in many ways: to quench the thirst of units undergoing training, to put out fires, or to water rice fields to make them grow faster.
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Liquid encountered two challenges throughout the making of the game, and neither was particularly technical, says Del Castillo. "The first was having and maintaining the vision. This meant a lot of hard choices. There is a ton more we wish we could do, but the current hardware won't support it. So we were tasked with picking elements that gave the most punch and captured the flavor of our world. The second problem is that the interconnecting of everything we are doing in this living world [makes] game balancing very challenging. It's going to take a lot of time to get this right."
The inspiration for Liquid in the development of Battle Realms came from the freedom of doing something entirely new. "When we started this process, we weren't bound by code from a previous game or previous content," says Del Castillo. "We were free to ask ourselves, what would we put in our dream RTS? Having vision is about releasing yourself from perceived limitations and coming up with a dream, then making that dream come true as much as possible with existing tech. The truth is that if you don't have a vision, the technical stuff will consume you. But if you have a goal in mind, all those technical snafus are just little speed bumps along the way."
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