Dragon Throne interview

We talk to Object Software about its upcoming real-time strategy game set in ancient China.

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Last month Strategy First Fate of the Dragon, which was published by Eidos Interactive last March. While both games are set in the same turbulent period of Chinese history, the new game narrows its focus to the years around one major battle.

To find out more about the upcoming game and about the development studio, we talked with Persy Zhang, the executive director of Object Software.

GameSpot: First can you tell us a bit about the history of Object Software? What did you do before Fate of the Dragon?

Persy Zhang: Object Software Limited was founded in 1995. Our first game was a DOS-to-Windows conversion of a game originally called Quarterpole that was renamed Hooves of Thunder. Microleague Multimedia owned this product, and we converted the code and did entirely new artwork. The game was released in January 1996 and received favorable reviews from the media.

After Hooves we developed our own real-time strategy game titled Metal Knight. This title was a big hit for us in China, but it didn't do much outside China and was only licensed to minor publishers in the US, Taiwan, and Italy. Although Metal Knight did not have much international impact, it was a valuable learning curve for us and certainly made us famous in our home market.

GS: Can you give us a brief description of your upcoming game Dragon Throne: Battle of Red Cliffs?

PZ: Dragon Throne is an RTS game with very strong RPG elements and lots of interesting features, like the multi-scenario system and the profession-transference system, the latter of which actually existed at the time and was called "military farming." These features make Dragon Throne a "different" RTS game.

GS: What inspired you to create a game based entirely on that one battle?

PZ: Battle of Red Cliffs was not just one battle, it was one of the most important battles in ancient Chinese history, which deeply influenced the political structure of China in the following several hundred years. However, the game is not just about the battle. It actually covers a period of 15 years immediately before the Battle of Red Cliffs, which was in 208 AD to the defeat of Liu Bei by Sun Quan in 222 AD.

GS: Aside from a more detailed focus on a single battle, how will Dragon Throne differ from Fate of the Dragon?

PZ: As a follow-up version of Fate of the Dragon, both games use the same system. We have doubled the number of different types of soldiers, added one more type of hero, and changed the number of hero skills from 11 to 50. There are also lots of changes in artwork and gameplay. All these changes make the game more strategic and richer in gameplay.

GS: Will Dragon Throne use the same game engine? Have you made any technical improvements to the engine since Fate of the Dragon?

PZ: Yes, Dragon Throne uses the same game engine as Fate of the Dragon. There are no major technical changes.

GS: What are some of the things you can do in Dragon Throne that you were not able to do in Fate of the Dragon? Does the sharper focus of the game give you any additional opportunities?

PZ: I think the game system of Fate of the Dragon is pretty solid and flexible. What we have tried to achieve in Dragon Throne are well-designed storylike missions to attract the player to keep on playing the game. You will find the game is much richer in gameplay than Fate of the Dragon.

GS: Will the game be historically accurate? How does history tie in to the game?

PZ: The missions are designed based on historical events, but you can create your own history in the game.

GS: How far along is Dragon Throne right now? What parts of the game is the team working on at this point?

PZ: The game development is finished now. It will go gold in the near future.

GS: When can we expect to see the game in stores?

PZ: It should be in the stores by the end of March, but you will need to check with Strategy First.

GS: Thanks for your time, Persy.

We've posted some exclusive screenshots from the game in the gallery above. For more information about Dragon Throne: Battle of Red Cliffs, take a look at our previous coverage of the game.

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