Golem Q&A

We talk to LongSoft Games about the developer's upcoming strategy game.

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Earlier this month, Polish game developer LongSoft Games (then known as Leryx LongSoft) announced the development of a 2D real-time strategy game called Golem. The game is set in a postapocalyptic future, where a radiation catastrophe has melted the polar ice caps and has nearly flooded the entire planet. According to the developers, Golem will play a lot like classic real-time strategy games such as Warcraft II and Command & Conquer. We recently had the opportunity to discuss Golem in-depth with Krzysztof Marcinkiewicz, the game's executive producer. Read on to see what he had to say about LongSoft's history, Golem's distinct features, and the developer's efforts to find a US publisher.

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GameSpot: Tell us a little about your upcoming real-time strategy game, Golem.

Krzysztof Marcinkiewicz: Golem is an atypical sea strategy game with economic elements. Apart from traditional sea battles, players must expand their ports, construct mines providing necessary raw materials, and research various technologies, mutations, or spells (depending on the race). The design of Golem was produced several years ago when the former director and president of the company developed the basics of this sea strategy game.

At present, the team producing the game is the third one that [has worked on] the project. The team is composed of Grzegorz Surdykowski (chief graphics engineer), Anna Hryniewicz (graphic engineer), Tomasz Kasprzak (chief programmer), Konrad Tupaj (deputy chief programmer), Lukasz Ronka (AI programmer), and Krzysztof Marcinkiewicz (director). This team has developed all aspects of the game including the AI, economy, technology tree, [the specification] of spells, technologies and mutations, and practically the whole interface.

GS: What previous games has LongSoft produced?

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KM: LongSoft Games - formerly Leryx LongSoft - has already produced the strategy game Clash, which succeeded commercially not only in Poland, but also in other countries. Although the game was [released] in 1997, there is still a demand for it. Recently, it was published for the first time in France, and the list of companies willing to publish it in other countries is very long. Apart from strategy games, our company has also developed a platform game for children, Leo the Lion, which was also a great success. The game [is a tribute] to Puzzles of Leo the Lion, which was a logic game similar to the Incredible Machine.

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GS: What distinguishes Golem from other real-time strategy games?

KM: Golem is a very unconventional RTS that combines several elements uncharacteristic for this type of game. Apart from the standard base expansion and sea battles, players must research and develop new technology, which will allow for the construction of [better] units. Another advantage is the advanced AI of the computer opponent, which will be surprisingly shrewd. However, the thing we are really proud of is the fact that we do not rely on three-dimensional rubbish - instead, we [follow in the steps of] traditional strategy games. Strategy games originated in 2D, and Golem is a kind of tribute to such games as Dune 2 and Warcraft.

The story of the game is also very important. It consists of three episodes. Each of them, specific to a given race, takes a completely different direction. The United Clan must acquire various components of a secret extermination machine, the Gens fight at the back of their enemies, and the Cytexes slowly develop their psychic ability to defeat all their opponents. Players will follow three stories, which will enable them to move through subsequent missions to find out what happens later in the game.

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GS: Tell us more about these three races and their abilities.

KM: Each of the races is unique. Humans, or the United Clan, are the weakest race in a military aspect. Humans normally do not have any resistant ships nor a large fleet, but their major advantage is easier access to [more powerful] ships early on in Golem; therefore they're more likely to defeat the other races at the beginning stages of the game. However, humans need to continuously research spell development or they will become easy prey for Gens and Cytexes.

Gens are a race that is very homogenous. Their ships are fast and quite resistant, and they are able to regenerate their wounds. Their representatives communicate by telepathy; therefore, they quickly know when one of their own is in trouble. Thanks to mutations, Gens can disguise themselves very well so that they become invisible and really dangerous enemies.

And finally the last race: Cytexes. For ages, they have improved science and technology so that they can be decades more advanced than their competitors. Unfortunately, the lack of any earlier military conflicts has made them vulnerable to the weapons of the humans and the acid of Gens. Thanks to their advanced technology, they are able to discover invisible and submerged enemy units. They also have futuristic energy weapons.

GS: Golem features quite a few types of resources. Why did you opt for a more complex resource model, and how do you think it will work into gameplay?

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KM: In the game, there are three types of resources. The first, gold and tools, may be acquired only at the ports. The there are raw materials, which may be found in mines (coal, sulphur, and iron) and wood plants. And third, commercial and production resources that may be produced at the ports; but you may also find them at fairs and merchants. Gold and tools are necessary for practically all construction, and raw materials are indispensable for the production of selected units (each race has a different demand for raw materials: the United Clan needs coal, Gens require sulphur, and Cytexes need iron). And finally, resources are required for the production of specific units and development of spells, mutations, and technologies.

This resource model will also affect combat. First of all, the player will be forced to seize various mines and discover fast and cheap ways to obtain a given resource. Staying confined to selected resources may cause the loss of further development capacities. If you want to learn all the secrets of the game, you will have to take care of your fleet and manage your ports.

GS: What will Golem's single-player campaign be like? What is special about the game's postapocalyptic setting?

KM: The game is set in [a future that actually resembles] the 14th century. Long ago when the forces of good and evil fought on Earth, the chaos resulted in a global catastrophe, and nearly the entire world became submerged. Centuries passed, and the survivors reconstructed the old world slowly. The game focuses on this point in the timeline, when the expansion of all three races has resulted in a great war. The campaign is divided into three episodes. Each describes a different story; however, all of them take place at the same time, more or less. For example, in the third episode of the game, players will uncover the mysteries of the Cytexes, a secret race that has spent all its life seeking to further its knowledge. Each story is completely different from previous ones; therefore, each of them is very unique.

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GS: What sort of multiplayer support are you planning for the game?

KM: Implementing multiplayer is a problem we are currently trying to solve. Golem is a hybrid of sorts: turn-based strategy and real-time strategy. Everything takes place in real time; however, a turn-based element is also maintained throughout Golem. The multiplayer mode will offer a "hot seat" type of play on one computer at a time, over a LAN or via the Internet.

GS: What progress have you made in finding a US publisher for Golem?

KM: We've had a difficult time so far. We have complete support ensured in Europe and even in Asia. However, North and South America are not [quite] as accessible for us. We hope that the American publishers will become interested in Golem. I cannot say more at this time.

GS: When do you expect to complete the game? Do you plan to release a demo or test version?

KM: At present, the deadline is December. The game is likely to be in the stores over here by March 2001. However, next month we will release a Golem demo so that everybody will be able to learn what the game is really [about]. We will give you more details in the future.

GS: Thanks, Krzysztof.

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