GDC 2002: Highland Warriors announced

Data Becker demonstrated an early build of its fully 3D real-time strategy game set in an authentic medieval Scotland. New screens inside.

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At the ongoing Game Developers Conference, publisher Data Becker unveiled its forthcoming real-time strategy game, Highland Warriors. As the title suggests, the game focuses on battles fought on Scotland's soil--nearly 500 years' worth of them, in fact. The game will include four playable factions, including the mystique clan, the highlanders, the merchant clan, and the English. These will all have their own single-player campaign inspired by actual events from Scottish history.

Data Becker emphasized some of the advanced features of the 3D graphics engine used for the game. Each unit in the game will consist of about 8,000 polygons, which, the company pointed out, is equivalent to the level of detail found in a state-of-the-art first-person shooter. To view this detail, players will be able to zoom in very close on any of the units and see their unique facial features, such as the highlanders' distinctive blue-colored war paint. Similar detail can be found in the game's various structures, and all objects cast realistic real-time shadows. The engine also uses a system that generates ground textures on the fly, so players don't see repeated tile patterns along the terrain but instead a completely seamless-looking environment.

The gameplay itself appears reminiscent of the popular Age of Empires series. Hundreds of different unit types are promised. Players will have to gather five different resources to fuel their economy: wood, food, ore, gold, and stone. Players will use these resources to build up their base of operations and train their workforce and armies. Data Becker demonstrated one of the unique features of Highland Warriors in the master craftsman system, whereby a worker who spends an extended amount of time at one particular type of task can elect to become a master in that task. A master woodcutter, for example, could then chop wood twice as fast as normal. But in opting to specialize, the master woodcutter would become inefficient at any other task, such as farming, hunting, or building.

Similarly, individual fighting units may gain enough experience in battle that they will upgrade to a higher-level form. Players will also be able to spend their resources to globally upgrade all units of a type. Highland Warriors will also feature the concept of group special abilities--skills that are available only to large groups of similar units. For instance, a pack of spearman might have the ability to dig in and plant their spears to form a defensive barrier that is effective against enemy cavalry. The game's interface will be fully customizable, though the default layout of the user interface will be familiar to any real-time strategy player.

Highland Warriors will include battles fought both in warmer weather and in snow, and the harsh snowy climate will affect players' units and resource gathering. The game will also include a map editor and support for up to eight players over the Internet. Data Becker plans to show a beta version of the game at the forthcoming E3, and we intend to bring you hands-on impressions of Highland Warriors at that time. For now, have a look at these exclusive screenshots from Highland Warriors and stay tuned for video footage of the game in action. Highland Warriors is scheduled to ship late this year.

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