Interview : Kingdoms Under Fire: Heroes

Article

posted 9/20/2005 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
After playing Kingdoms Under Fire: Heroes at E3 this year I had a hard time describing the game to friends. The combination of strategy and hand to hand action was a refreshing change from the other entire standard genre games on the floor so when we got a chance to submit interview questions for the game we leapt at the chance.

GamingNexus: What’s your name and what is your role on the project?

Hello, my name is Jay Eom, and I am a Product Manager for Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes (KUFH) project.

GamingNexus: What is the back story behind the upcoming game? Is it set before or after the last game?

Jay Eom: Heroes is set in the same time frame as Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders (KUFTC). But this time, the seven campaigns of Heroes will depict the Encablossa War (the main plot point of The Crusaders) from more personal and closer viewpoints. One of the campaigns features what happened to the characters five years before the whole war started. Another campaign parallels the time frame of The Crusaders to show what really went on behind the curtain. Another one covers what took place after The Crusaders as well. Overall, the storyline of Heroes will make the Kingdom Under Fire world a richer and more detailed place, but players do not need to have a previous experience of The Crusaders to understand and enjoy Heroes.

GamingNexus: What lessons have you learned in the development of the series?
Jay Eom: With Heroes as our second Xbox title, we’re still learning many things. A lot has to do with how to achieve balance between two seemingly opposing qualities: Eastern style vs. Western style. Also, we’re learning to balance development goals to incorporate a challenging title for hardcore gamers with a friendly and inviting title for casual gamers. The list goes on, and we’ll keep learning.

GamingNexus: For those who haven’t played any of the previous games, how would you describe the game play? Is it more action or strategy?

Jay Eom: Well, it’s basically either way you want it to be – Action with some strategy or RTS with some action. Our intention was to create an intricate balance between action and strategy. Although your character is the strongest soldier out there, it’s impossible to achieve a total victory by having him kill everyone. Inversely, if you aren’t making a good use of the general, you’re not an effective strategist. NOW, the player can decide to focus on either part of the game. If you’re having more fun with the action part, do it more, that’s a good way to win. If you’re about being a brainy strategist, go ahead, that’s also a nice way. Just make sure you don’t completely abandon the other part.

GamingNexus: Will gamers who didn’t play the first one be able to hop right in or are they going to be a little lost?
Jay Eom: Those who haven’t played KUFTC won’t have problem playing KUFH at all. Newcomers can start from the Easy level campaigns, where each mission is designed to guide the player through all the basic controls and techniques. By the time they get to the Normal or Hard levels, there won’t be much of a difference between a previous KUF fan and a new challenger. For those who’ve finished KUFTC already, they can choose to skip the easy level, or breeze through it quickly to check what’s been added/changed.

Same with the storyline, too. Existing fans will be rewarded by building a much more elaborate and richer world on top of their existing knowledge. However, new comers can just treat it as a new game and still enjoy the show.

GamingNexus: Can you talk about the different sides in the game?
Jay Eom:
There are 2 major sides who are fighting for the control of Bersia continent: Human Alliance and Dark Legion. Unlike what their names suggest, it’s not about a struggle between the forces of good and evil. They are just two different groups of people fighting for their own reasons. But that’s not all there is to it. Sometimes there are internal conflicts within the same side, and sometimes the two sides collaborate for a common interest. Gameplay wise, the two sides are played very differently. Even seemingly similar units, like Archers and Dark Elf Archers, or Cavalry and Orc Riders, have totally different characteristics and require different strategies.

GamingNexus: What are the biggest additions to this game from the first one? What feature are you most proud of?

Jay Eom: The biggest addition (and my pride) would be the totally rejuvenated Xbox Live features of the game. We’ve really expanded the online features of the original, and included extra features as well.

GamingNexus: Are there features that you wanted to put into the game and couldn’t?
Jay Eom:
During any game’s development cycle, there are always things that had to be cut out due to time constraint. For KUFH, we had quite a few interesting ideas, but the time forced us to postpone them until the next Kingdom Under Fire title.

GamingNexus: Was there any thought to porting this to the Xbox 360 or was it strictly Xbox all the way?
Jay Eom: From the beginning, KUFH was started as an Xbox title. KUFTC was a title that was specifically designed and optimized for Xbox, and with KUFH, we wanted to show the world what we really can do with Xbox.

GamingNexus: How many missions will there be in the single player side of the game?
Jay Eom: In single player mode, there are fifty missions divided up among seven different campaigns of different difficulty settings. When you finish all of them, you can create your own mission through Custom Mission mode. You can easily set up any kind of mission you’d like to play, and the possibility is infinite. If you’re just too lazy to even do that, go to Random Mission mode and the game will create random missions for you. So, all in all, we’re talking endless hours of gameplay in single player mode alone.

GamingNexus: What kind of multiplayer will be in the game? Is it strictly a deathmatch or will there be other modes like co-op?
Jay Eom:
On Xbox Live, KUFH supports three different gaming modes.

 In Troop Battle Mode, up to six players can join the battle at the same time. Divided into two teams, each player will need to control his/her armies to defeat enemies and support allies. It’s a strategy-intensive deathmatch and a good teamwork is essential to the ultimate victory. Don’t forget to keep your allies updated on the battle situation through Voice Communicator.

Hero Battle Mode is where you forget about all the complex strategy, teamwork, options and menus. Just pick a character, quickly start an arcade-style match, and smash the buttons until you see no one else standing on the ground. Of course, if you’re an action fan, know your ways with the combos and special moves, and have good allies, it’ll be even more fun. Again, up to six players can play at the same time.

Lastly, Invasion Mode is a co-op mode where three players need to team up to fend off waves after waves of AI enemies who will throw everything in their arsenal to defeat you. You will be heavily tested on your strategy and teamwork, but even when you couldn’t survive till the end you still had a good time with your friends.

On top of the three gaming modes, there is Spectator Mode where you can enter other players’ games just to watch what they’re doing. This is a good tool to learn the different tactics you need for online survival.

GamingNexus: How many different characters are they going to be?
Jay Eom: There are seven new characters this time. Some of the characters are the popular lieutenants from KUFTC returning as playable characters. I’ve heard a lot of people wishing they could control the lieutenants as well, and that’s what they got. I hope they are happy now to control the sexy vampire, Morene. Also some are totally new characters. Although they did not appear in KUFTC, now you get to see through their eyes to add another perspective to what really went on behind whole war.

GamingNexus: Is there an expected release date yet?
Jay Eom:
Very, very soon! I’d like to thank Jay for taking the time to answer our questions and to Stephanie at AEG for coordinating the interview and putting up with my constant nagging.