Will Rock interview

We talk to Saber Interactive about the developer's upcoming Serious Sam-style shooter.


GameSpot talked to Matthew Karch, manager of business development at Saber Interactive, about Will Rock, the company's upcoming first-person shooter. Karch talks about the history of the company, how Will Rock compares with Serious Sam, and what kinds of enemies and weapons will appear in the game.

GameSpot: First, can you tell us about Saber Interactive? How did the company start, and what other projects has it worked on? What kind of experience did the founders have?

Matthew Karch: Saber Interactive was founded by a few guys who thought they could make great games at a price that the average gamer could afford. Two of our founders, Andrey Iones and Anton Krupkin, are real graphics geeks--the kind who travel the world lecturing on exciting topics such as "hair and fur simulation." Anyway, we met about two years ago when they were working for another company. Late last year, we decided to form our own company. We put together a 3D engine from scratch that we feel rivals anything out there and gathered a team of artists in St. Petersburg, Russia, with years of experience with other game developers. When we felt that our technology was where we wanted it to be, we began working on Will Rock.

GS: Your upcoming game, Will Rock, clearly follows along the lines of Serious Sam. How long has the game been in development, and what elements from Serious Sam have you incorporated into the game?

MK: First, I would like to say that we love Serious Sam, and we are very happy that people have thought to make comparisons to such a great game. We have been in development now for a little over four months. Will Rock does resemble Serious Sam in some elements of overall gameplay. The most obvious resemblance is the numbers of onscreen opponents. Battles in Will Rock will be intense--tons of opponents and carnage. However, as we are not slated for release until late this year, we are targeting a slightly more powerful machine. Thus, the visuals will be more detailed and there will be more of an emphasis on special effects. We will also have some features that are exclusive to the new generation of video cards.

GS: How will Will Rock differentiate itself from Serious Sam so as not to look like a copy? What will make the game stand out?

MK: Our intention was never to copy Serious Sam, and although we are similar in terms of visuals and some gameplay elements, there will be substantial differences as well. Will Rock will have much more interaction with environments, including the most realistic breakable objects you have ever seen and some morphing geometry. Will Rock also has an emphasis on puzzles and challenges requiring player control. In those areas where the player is not fighting masses of opponents, he or she will be forced to slow it down and manage to leap a lava pool or avoid falling rocks. We think the contrast works really well. After a long nerve-wracking battle that raises your heart rate, you will have to find your way through a precarious situation that requires precise player control. To use an example relevant to our team in Russia, it's kind of like jumping in ice water after a nice long rest in the steam room.

GS: In the game, players assume the role of an accountant who leaves his ordinary life to go on a quest to find biblical treasures. Can you describe some of the adventures players will encounter?

MK: The game will take the player on a tour of ancient Greece and Rome. We initially planned on several different environments, but we have decided to focus on one general area, as it is so rich that we thought the only way to do it justice was to focus exclusively on it. Thus, the player will be taken to beautiful temples, forbidden cities, great coliseums, the underworld, Mount Olympus, and Crete. Each level will describe a different treasure that the player must locate. Along the way, he or she will battle tons of opponents and face difficult challenges. One of the twists in Will Rock is that in addition to the standard opponents, the environment itself will also be a formidable foe. Thus, for example, statues will come alive and attack the player, and walls, columns, and bridges will crumble before the player's eyes. Part of our strategy is to limit the amount of static geometry in the game to make the whole world come to life.

GS: What kinds of enemies will players run into?

MK: The enemies for the most part will be from Greek and Roman mythology with a dose of our own creativity added to the mix. The opponents currently implemented include the minotaur, the centaur, and the harpy. We plan on having more than 15 opponents, each with a unique mode of attack. The sheer variety of opponents will keep the game interesting and will definitely keep the player on his or her toes.

GS: What kinds of weapons will players have access to?

MK: In addition to the standard variety--revolver, machine gun, bazooka, and sniper crossbow (10 weapons overall)--we have added a few unique ones to the game. One worth mentioning is the Medusa gun. It is still in the works, so I don't want to say much, but I think that its name gives its essence away.

GS: How far along is the game at this time? What parts of the game is the team working on now?

MK: We are about 10 percent done. We are working on a lot of areas now--adding weapons, opponents, special effects, and environments. We are moving ahead full force and having a great time in the process.

GS: Have you had any luck finding a publisher for the game?

MK: We have had a lot of interest, and we are currently in discussion with several publishers. We are confident that in the nearest future we will have some good news.

GS: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

MK: Since we have announced the development of Will Rock, we have gotten a lot of positive encouragement from the gaming community. We are really happy that we have been able to generate a buzz about our game. We are always open to comments suggestions from avid gamers, and we look forward to creating a great FPS for the year 2002. Thanks for the interview!

GS: Thanks for your time, Matt.

For more information about Will Rock, take a look at our previous coverage of the game, and visit the Saber Interactive Web site.

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