GZ Interview: Aggression, Destruction and De-TERMINATION; Desert Rats Vs. Afrika Korps blasts onto the PC

Destruction and De-TERMINATION; Desert Rats Vs. Afrika Korps blasts onto the


Louis Bedigian


…We’ve paid
special attention to ensuring the game is playable, winnable, and accessible
(and fun)…”




We must move

We’ll get them

We’ll get even!


Their attacks,
so fierce

outnumbered our clan

Their eyes
we’ll pierce

We will rule
this land


They have a
strong group

But we have

We’d sacrifice

To settle this


Nothing can
stop me

No, not a

When I get

This coming


Everyone loves a good
virtual war.  The action, the suspense, and oftentimes the music create an
experience unlike any other.


Looking for such thrills,
the GameZone crew hopped into a cramped SUV and drove deep into the jungle. 
(Which jungle?  We aren’t sure.  The sign outside said, “The Jungle,” and that
was all we needed to know at the time.)


Inside we found a group of
individuals working hard on a game that could provide the thrills we’re
seeking: Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps.  A real-time strategy
game with a kick, Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps offers two campaigns and
20 missions.


Starved and nearly out of
gas, we thought it was time to head back to the office…but not before
interviewing Pascal Hery, producer of this intriguing RTS.



Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps
has a turn-based element that allows players to plan up to three moves ahead.
How does this work, and what does it add to the overall gameplay experience?


Pascal Hery:

The player can pause the game at any time, and give orders to his units while
the game is paused. The commands are executed as soon as the game resumes. The
player can give ‘chain commands’ during pause or the normal game mode by
pressing the Shift button while giving the command. These commands get stacked
into the unit’s command queue. The units’ command queue is three orders deep,
the units execute the orders in a ‘first in, first out’ order. The pause
feature (which can be disabled in multiplayer mode) allows the player to have
the advantages of a turn-based gameplay, i.e. being able to take the time to
think out a suitable strategy for as long as he wishes, while keeping all the
intensity of action that characterizes real-time strategy.


Tell us about the Blitzkrieg



Missions usually start out with a management phase where the player selects
units from a pool. Each unit has a cost and the player has a budget of
mission-points (MPs) he can spend for the mission. In Blitzkrieg mode the
player moves directly on to the next mission with the units he had left at the
end of the previous mission. This allows players to keep up the momentum they
have been building and to capitalize on their success.


This game includes two
campaigns and 20 missions. How are they dispersed? What is the average length
of each mission?



There is one introduction mission (tutorial), six missions in the Allied
Campaign, eight missions of the Axis Campaign, and three missions in
Blitzkrieg mode. Moreover there are two specific missions that start and end
the Story mode. The average length of a mission for is two hours.


That’s what happens when you
don’t pay attention.  You lose a tank.



What can you tell us about
the unit and vehicle types featured in the game?



There are eight different infantry types (rifleman, machine gunner, scout,
sapper, grenadier, medic, flamethrower, sniper) in “Desert Rats vs. Afrika
Korps”, each with different Mission Point costs and complementary skills. The
vehicles are divided into seven groups (tank, recon, transport, anti-tank
artillery, artillery, anti air artillery and air support). There is a total of
over 70 different units in the game, including the famous Tiger, the Flak-88,
the Churchill, the Sherman and many more…


How many units (ally or enemy) can engage in a
single battle?



Just to give an example, the last two missions of the allied campaign each
have about one hundred and fifty units on the battlefield. These are both
allied, enemy or neutral. Neutral units are present through out the game, they
are tanks with no infantry units mounted in them, and can be taken over by
either side. Moreover, destroying only the turret of an enemy tank will cause
the crew to abandon the vehicle, allowing the player to mount a crew in,
repair the vehicle and gain a new unit.


With so many units
available, how will players manage them and lead them to victory?



That’s where the pause feature comes in. Having so many units on the
battlefield means the player will be fighting on multiple fronts and having to
coordinate the assaults of tanks, planes and other vehicles located throughout
the playing field. The pause feature allows the player to give the various
tanks squad complex orders at any moment in the game and respond to the
rapidly evolving situation on the battlefield. 


Everyone knows that a
strategy game’s controls involve a lot of pointing and clicking, but how does
this game differ from the crowd? What unique control aspects will players find
in the game?



Pointing and clicking is all very well when all you want to do is to move and
attack, but in Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps the player will have a lot more to
do. For example, because the tanks have different amour plating on the front,
back and sides, positioning a tank correctly can mean the difference between
defeat and victory. Or you can dig a tank in, which means that you’re better
protected, but less mobile. When you’re firing at an enemy tank, you can
choose to target the turret or the caterpillar – which is more risky, but if
you succeed you’ll be able to crew the enemy tank and change the balance of
power. This means that the player can go a lot further than just the basic
point-and-click gameplay, although we’ve paid special attention to ensuring
the game is playable, winnable and accessible (and fun) without going into the
depth of control that is available though the keyboard shortcuts. 



That’s only a small amount
of the blood you can expect to spill in this game.



Missions range from recon
operations and escort missions to large-scale sieges of desert fortresses.
Could you go into greater detail about those or perhaps another type of
mission featured in the game?



Just to give a few examples, the player will lead a strike on a command post
deep behind enemy lines in the middle of a sand storm, protect a general
retreat in the face of superior forces, smash though heavily fortified defense
line with mines, trenches, sand-bags bunkers, AT-guns etc., protect a
beach-landing, fight urban battles with a hidden enemy, be pestered by air
raids, protect a convoy through hostile territory, and the list goes on….


Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps
is said to have a very flexible camera system. Tell us about it, and why it
makes the game play better.



This camera system helps the player to view the battlefield from any
perspective from bird’s eye view to close range (zoom ranging from 15-120
meters of altitude), and has 360 rotation.

This means you can view the tactical
situation from various angles and attack the problem from a new perspective.


What is the graphic style
being used – real-time or pre-rendered backgrounds? What kind of cool graphic
effects will players see?



Everything in the game is real-time – the terrain, the units’ physics, the
explosions, the destruction of buildings. In fact, almost any element on the
map can be destroyed : trees, buildings, sand-bags, vehicles… And you can
pause the game in the middle of an explosion to admire it, zoom in, pan the
camera round, etc. The vehicles have a very realistic physics animation
system, for examples trucks bank slightly to the side when they are turning at
speed, tanks turrets oscillate slightly from the inertia when the tank stops
suddenly, etc. The game also features real-time shadows for all elements
(buildings, vehicles, trees) on the map.


How important is the story?
Are real-time or CG movie sequences used to tell it?



The story of “Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps” is built around five characters
who play an important part in the events of the North-African conflict in
World War II. Two of these characters have major roles: Erich von Hartmann, a
German officer, and Gregory Sinclair, a British joke. The aim of the story is
to give an insight into the historical context of the conflict and the mindset
of the warring parties, and therefore of the stakes of each mission. In the
game there are both real-time sequences that open all mission (and close some
too), and CG-sequences interspersed between missions.


Is there anything you can
share with us regarding the multiplayer mode?



Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps’s Multiplayer supports up to 4 players battling
it out simultaneously on one map and has 3 different game modes: The classic
DeathMatch mode, where the player(s) who eliminates his opponent(s) wins;
Conquer Mode in which the victory conditions depend on the options chosen:
seizing all flags on the map, seizing the most flags when the timer gets to
zero, eliminating all enemy units or seizing a set number of flags with no
time restraint; and Tobruk-To-El-Alamein. Tobruk-To-El-Alamein is a unique
Multiplayer Mode specific to “Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps”. One of the camps
start as attacker, the other as defender, and both must hold a small town on
the opposing edges of the map. The attacker must try and vanquish the
defender, but after a certain time period the defenders receive reinforcements
and the roles are reversed. At this time, the attackers have to fall back to
defend their HQ and hold tight till the next wave of reinforcements, when the
roles are reversed once again. The game ends when one player takes the other
player’s flag.


Thank you for your time.