Attack on Pearl Harbor Interview

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posted 8/3/2007 by The GN Staff
other articles by The GN Staff
WWII games are a dime a dozen and sure there have been some flying shooters but there isn't the over saturation that you see in FPS or RTS genre.  Attack on Pearl Harbor is a little different though as it actually lets you fly missions against the US in the titular scenario.  We had the chance to send in some questions about the game and here's the result.

Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the project?  How long have you been in the gaming industry and what drew you to your current position?
My name is Bjorn Larsson and I had multiple roles on Attack on Pearl Harbor including producer, video editor, music supervisor, game balancing, user interface, well, pretty much anything. I should also mention that the core team and co-developer on this game is 3DIVISION and 3DPEOPLE which are two great little teams of programmers and artists based out of Slovakia including the excellent duo of Peter Adamcik and Peter Nagy. Personally, I’ve been involved with games since the mid eighties when I got my first computer, a Commodore 64. I’ve been working professionally since 1995 when I started out in retail at Tandy’s Computer City (now defunct) in Sweden, after that I was the CEO of a small publisher/developer called Iridon Interactive and today I’m now running Legendo Entertainment. I’m a multi-genre guy that enjoys making games more than playing them, and in the past I have been a producer and director for a variety of titles and genres including Pure Pinball on Xbox, Turbo Turtle Adventure on GBA, and The Three Musketeers on PC.
 
 
On the game spectrum the game is more on the arcade side, why did you take that route over a more sim like game?
In my opinion, simulations tend to be very serious and boring while arcade games are fun and entertaining. To me, a simulator is not a game, which incidentally might be the reason why flight sims always bored me to death. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we just wanted to make a really enjoyable little action title where you blow things up and have a lot of fun while doing so!
 
The WWII genre is literally chock full of forgetable titles. Can you talk about what makes yours stand out in a very busy gaming genre?
Although there are a number of WWII flight titles on the market that claim to be arcade type titles, I haven’t seen one that REALLY is done as a pick up and play affair. I mean, if you can’t figure out how to take off in 5 seconds, I think you’ve got a design problem right there if you’re catering to a wide group of people. So with that in mind, we’ve deliberately made Attack on Pearl Harbor as fun and approachable as possible, so that anyone can play it on a wide range of hardware without really requiring additional controller devices to get the most out of the experience. Even though our game supports flight-sticks and gamepads, we really focused on making the game very playable using the mouse and the somewhat standardized WASD controls plus ENTER/ENTER to chat in MP mode, since that’s a control setup a lot of people are familiar with (hello World of Warcraft!).
 
Attack on Pearl Harbor offers the ability to play as the Japanese attackers, instead of just attempting to defend the harbor as the US. Can you talk about what options the player attacking the harbor has other than just shooting and bombing the American floatila?
I dare say that the game is fairly historically accurate in the sense that you can’t really change the outcome of the war, as a player you only take part of it and experience it from either side, you’re just one of many wingmen or bomber pilots. Returning to the question at hand, where were we? Ah! Playing as the Japanese - your orders are very clear: neutralize Pearl Harbor and destroy the fleet, fuel depots, anti-aircraft artillery and anything else that looks like a threat. Simple as that.
4.      How much effort was put into making the audio and visuals historically accurate?
The artists studied plenty of WWII era aircraft and some of their exterior schematics deeply, so their general form and appearance are very accurate. We used photograph references to model Oahu and Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jimo, Midway and other locations. As for the audio, we went for a cinematic approach instead of using 40’s style (which I personally think is a bit boring.) Using live orchestras and lots of computers, the score is a product of two German guys - Pierre Langer and Alexander Röder who incidentally just scored the upcoming Bourne Ultimatum trailer, so I’m sure they got the cinematic stuff right. I should also mention that if you play as the US, you’ll get a daring Hollywood soundtrack and if you fly out as the Japanese, you’ll hear there is a fair amount of Asian flavor to it. All intentionally!


How many aircraft from both sides will be available in the game?  Do you have a favorite plane?  Are there only fighters in the game or will players get the chance to fly heavier aircraft?
There are four aircraft from each side in the game. Personally, I prefer the A6M1 Zero and the P-40 Warhawk, they’re both very cool fighter planes and you can almost smell the very essence of WWII from their camouflages! In addition, there are heavier aircraft in the game namely torpedo bombers, dive-bombers and night-fighters.

Will all the planes be available in multiplayer?  Did you have to make any changes to the planes to maintain multiplayer balance?
Yeah, all the planes are available in MP from the get-go. We actually had to tune the damage level on some of them to make it a bit fairer in MP, as an example a real-life A6M1 Zero was built from light aluminum and really had no armor, but in our MP mode we’ve played with the numbers a little so it’s evened out against the P-40 and F4U. Gameplay first, right?!!
7      Can you provide some background on the four solo campaigns? About how many offline missions will ship with the final game?
There’s about 45-50 offline missions in the game with two campaigns for each side. Each set of campaign starts out on December 7th 1941 and goes on for a year or so, and then the 2nd campaigns take off at mid 1944 and take you through to the end of the war.
8.     
What kind of multiplayer support can gamers expect?  Is it straight deathmatch or are there any other modes?  Will people be creating their own servers or are there central servers that people will hook up into?  What kind of match making will you be providing with the game?
We’re running a basic match-making server centrally allowing people to more easily connect over the Internet. As for the game modes we have the death-match and team-deathmatch each mode with a number of options to choose from such as number of kills, timers, and so on.

The comic strip cut-scenes are an intriguing sight.  Tell us about the artists and writers behind them, and what this contributes and (purposely) removes from your World War II narrative.
All the comic book imagery and loading screens artwork were done by two exceptional artists based out of Australia, namely the insanely talented brother-duo Joe and Rob Sharp, whom I’ve worked with on four or five games by now. Those guys worked on a lot of comic books in their days as well as at Disney Animation on Lion King 2, Aladdin 2 and some other “small” projects.
 
Is there anything else about the game that you would like to talk about that we didn't cover?
To all aspiring pilots out there, I recommend you download the demo and try it out to form yourself a decent opinion. I think many might be surprised how a simple little game like this with no simulator aspiration can be so simple and yet so much fun 

We'd like to thank Bjorn for taking the time to talk to us as well as Ted B for hooking us up with the interview.