Elements of War Interview

Elements of War Interview

Written by Charles Husemann on 5/6/2011 for PC  

Elements of War has an interesting core component.  What happens when you take a standard semi-futuristic RTS game and allow players to control the power of mother nature?  Well we wanted to get some answers to that question and other so we tracked down someone who could answer our questions about the recently released RTS game.

Could you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project?

I’m Ivan Moroz, Playnatic Entertainment’s CEO and executive producer of “Elements of War”.


What’s the story behind Elements of War? Could you talk about the inspirations behind the game?
The game starts in 2022 after a global climate catastrophe that changed the Earth beyond recognition. The disastrous change in the climate originated in the United States, which suffered the most as a result. Tsunamis, huge hurricanes, and earthquakes rumbled across the world, killing millions and almost destroying civilization as a whole. After the cataclysm, the climate became very unstable. Moreover, a huge hyper cyclone, occupying the entire north of the United States, started slowly destroying the planet's atmosphere.
We were inspired by the recent weather abnormalities of the past few years, such as the overwhelming heat waves in Russia, tsunamis in Japan, snowfalls in Germany and the UK, hurricanes in the USA and so forth. That’s why we had decided to create a game where elements of nature are a powerful weapon. 

As an aside, in 2002 Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky threatened the US with a “weather weapon”. He said that Russian scientists would change the tectonic field of the Earth and the entire USA would be dropped into the Ocean. It was a misplaced drunken jest, but many a true word is spoken in jest :)

How does Elements of War differ from other military RTS games on the market? Is it just the weather units or are there other differences? 
Not only weather units. “Elements of war” has dynamic weather changes during gameplay which directly affect the gameplay. For example, you can’t drop reinforcements or use air forces during, thunderstorms, heavy rain, and the like. The weather changes randomly and unexpectedly. Also we have a lot of futuristic units: troops in light exoskeletons (like in “Crysis”), troops in heavy exoskeletons (like in “Battletech” or “Exosquad”) and other interesting features. 


Are the weather weapons just the top end units for each faction or do some of the lower troops also have some kind of weather weapons? 
Weather weapon units are extremely rare and expensive units which can radically change the course of a battle. Many of them are single-unit prototypes, and to balance things out, you can only use some of them much later in the game.
 

There are three different factions in the game. What’s the backstory on each and could you talk about how their units/strategies differ from the other factions?
 You are not quite right. We have two main factions in the game: “Patriots” (true American soldiers, faithful to the USA and its government) and “Ravens” (bad American soldiers - mercenaries and renegades, who want to use the elemental weapons to control the whole world). Because all of them are Americans, they use similar weapons and units. The European Task Group, comprised of Russian, German and French forces, supports the “Patriots”. They do have special units with different tactics and performance characteristics (for example T-90 and Leopard tanks, Tigra helicopter, Rafale V-generation multipurpose fighters etc.) but they are ally forces only. The core forces of both factions are Americans with American weapon and tactics. 

By the way, only “Ravens” have a weather weapon in the beginning of the game. An independent faction in “Elements of War” are the marauders. They consist of gangsters, bikers and other criminal elements. They want to use the chaos in USA to rob the civilians. They use guns, which they stole from the gun stores and military bases. Armored jeeps, machineguns, rocket launchers and light guns are also in their inventory.
Could you walk us through the six different main weather units? Do you have a personal favorite? How do you balance these weapons out so they don’t take over the game, or is that the point in having them?
F1-B1 Fireball, striking factor - fire balls.

This unit operates in the following way: The F1-B1 Fireball launches a rocket at the enemy and after the explosion of the rocket, a cloud of smoke and powder appears, which are key to creating the artificial fireballs the plane is named after. This mix is set on fire by a laser projector which turns it into fireballs. The fireballs strike infantry and vehicles. Infantry can survive (or better their odds of survival), if they don’t move around when the fireballs appear.

F1-THS Fireball, striking factor - lightning bolt.
A variant on the original F1-B1 Fireball plane, this one uses a different set of gases to create a localized thunderstorm, instead of attacking with fireballs. 

A1-NL AURORA, striking factor - ultra power electromagnetic field.
This unit is an emitter of metric waves, which can “heat up” a direct area of the atmosphere to a plasmatic state. After that A1-NL AURORA generates electrical currents, which neutralize or phase out all electronics or electronic-mechanical devices in the area. Helicopters lose control and crash, ground vehicles can’t move, but infantry is immune.


A1-TR AURORA, striking factor - tornado.

Like the A1-NL, this version of the Aurora reheats large masses of the atmosphere. However, the “TR” then uses this to create a contrary air mass, which in turn forms an incredibly destructive tornado. The tornado is very dangerous to infantry and light vehicles. Heavy vehicles are more resistant to this weapon, however. This unit uses M1A2 Abrams battle tank’s chassis. 

Some parts of our conceptions are based on would-be scientific researches. 


T1-EQ TARTARUS, striking factor - earthquake.
The Tartarus uses microwaves to influence the Earth’s surface and trigger earthquakes. These quakes do damage to vehicles and buildings, but are not as effective against infantry. 


T1-TLP TARTARUS, striking factor - plasmoid.
This modification uses microwaves to heat up a localized area, thus creating an explosion. 
Visually it’s a powerful explosion, similar to a nuclear detonation. Additionally after the explosion, residual telluric vortexes appear. In nature, these appear as an electric discharge and in our Elements of War, they appear as odd green balls.

I like all of elementals, but may be T1-EQ TARTARUS just a little more :)

Elementals are rather powerful weapon which can easy change the balance of the game. That’s why you can get them on later levels only. One elemental can change the course of the game. For example, you can destroy enemy headquarters with the help of earthquake. But elementals are rather expensive, have low speed and vulnerable in close combat. If you “bet it all” all on elementals and fail, you’ll lose. You have to strike a tactical balance between the use of elemental and conventional units.One of the cool things in the press release is that the weather units deform the terrain around them. Could you talk about how this works and what kind of changes this makes to the battlefield? Is this deformation capability limited to just the high end weapons or are there other weapons that can do the same thing?
In Elements of War, all units can destroy buildings and structures, but only elemental units can change the structure of the area. For example, after the use of T1-EQ “Tartarus”, an area becomes nearly impassable for all units. After the use of T1-TLP “TARTARUS” , an area becomes contaminated by residual radiation.


Do you consider Elements of War more of a single player or multiplayer game? Could you talk about some of the multiplayer modes available in the game?
(Note – Kalypso is only publishing the Single Player game in North America and digitally. Playnatic/Lesta are handling the MMORTS)

We think that singleplayer and MMO (we have no standard multiplayer) modes of Elements of War complement one another. The events of the MMORTS version of “Elements of War” unfold after the end of singleplayer campaign. When the war is over, the victors begin to divide the trophies therefore starting a whole new war. “War… War never changes…” :). But the MMORTS “Elements of War” is a big separate topic for the discussion, because it is another game. 


Is it safe to assume there are three single player campaigns or is there one campaign that has players using all three factions? Could you talk about one of your favorite missions in the game?
No, we have only one single player campaign, for the “Patriots” with European allies. All the missions are interesting and dissimilar from one to another. My favorite mission is the capture of “Ravens” headquarters, “The Empress” military base. 


Anything we missed that you think is important?
We are very proud of the unit models. They are very detailed, and look quite similar to those you’d normally see in 3D action games. 

Also EoW is the game where the environment is destructible, which we are also proud of. And finally EoW is the game where Russians and Americans are friends and fight versus a common enemy. It has an important political significance


As always we'd like to thank Ivan for taking the time to talk to us as well as Ted for coordinating the interview.
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About Author

Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom.   I have been a Microsoft Xbox MVP since 2009.
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