Hannibal: Vengeance of Chartage
Swords and shields aren't an uncommon occurrence for the Xbox console. Every now and then, though, really great adventure related titles will come along. Tabula Rasa Games is working on an innovative project for the Xbox and PC that offers players the opportunity to take the fight to the frontlines. Unlike Dynasty Warriors or Spartan, Hannibal: Vengeance of Chartage will require strategic skills in an action-oriented environment. But, players will still have full control of the soldier--going into massive battles. Hannibal also contains a mix of RPG elements, with a good variety of weapons, and an extensive combat feature. To shed more light on this fascinating title, we had a Q&A session with Tabula Rasa's Creative Director, Alessandro Canossa. Check out the details below. *Screenshots are from an early prototype build
VG Core: As a third-person action title, does this mean players will have a greater selection of defensive and counter moves at their disposal?
Canossa: We have decided to have 3 different parry/block moves available, each with different effects and drawbacks, so it's not possible to block all blows with one move. The timing of the block will determine whether a counter-move can be started or not. Think of a system similar to "Soul Calibur 3".
VG Core: How long has Hannibal been in production, and what was the inspiration for creating this title?
Canossa: We started defining the concept in 2003 while we were all still working at other game studios, the shared ideal was to empower the player with the possibility to live pre-gunpowder battles -- from a hero/general point of view -- and control the army while making a difference in the front line. No harvesting of resources, no building of structures, and the main focus is on the battlefield and what happens in the heat of the battle. We decided later on to include some RPG elements to increase player identification with the heroes through customization of the characters.
VG Core: Is Hannibal running on a completely new game engine, or is it a compilation of other engines?
We are using Gamebryo as our multiplatform graphical backbone, but many other systems have been developed in house to expand the functions of standard products. Miles is used for sound and we are evaluating the performance of our AI engine as opposed to some middleware products.
VG Core: What are the environments like in this game, and what sort of interactivity can gamers expect?
Canossa: Environments are as varied as spanish deserts, sierra-like valleys, snowy alpine passes, tuscan marshlands and fortified cities. Interactivity on the battlefield is total, meaning that the player can decide with total freedom the actions of the battalions and heroes in the army and lead charges, flank enemy troops, fight in the front line or watch and direct all the movements from a protected vantage point. It is up to the player to decide and fight. Do they fight like Achilles in the movie Troy, purely as a hero, not bothering with plans, or, as Alexander, planning thoroughly each battle whilst fighting in the front line...or as Caesar, planning maneuvers but witnessing and directing the development of the battle from a safe spot.
VG Core: Does this game follow any of Hannibal's other exploits, or does it center chiefly on the carnage leading up to Chartage?
Canossa: The game centers on the second Punic war, the so called Italian campaign. It is historically accurate up to the battle of Cannae, but of course it gives the player the chance to change history and win the war.
VG Core: Sega's historical take on Greece and the Roman invasions were showcased to gamers in an arcade fashion, in the game Spartan. What is the primal focus of Hannibal's gameplay--will the action be more arcade or simulation oriented?
Canossa: It is not easy to answer just in terms of arcade or simulation, Sega's effort relied heavily on pre-scripted events and players' twitch-factor. We aim to maintain scripting to a minimum and let our world "speak and behave for itself". We plan to include a more granular simulation of army movements and single soldier fights. From the beginning we wanted to avoid the "Dynasty Warrior" syndrome, wading through thousands of enemies sent to the player in waves. If players are after that sort of experience there are countless excellent games out there. In Hannibal players are requested to think before fighting, if nothing else, to pick the right foe, possibly an officer to lower the enemy's morale and responsiveness. So you could say that we are going towards a more realistic approach (hence more towards the simulation), but at the same time we are trying to imbue every unit with special moves and weapons that can be acquired by the player.
We have 3 different fighting styles and they can be expanded to 12 moves each. We are studying kinetic controls that combine intuitive ease of use and versatility. So as you can see, we are definitely trying to engender arcade-style ease of play and addictiveness with depth of play and longevity. We believe that a good and thorough simulation should not be in the way of arcade-style ease and quick fun.
VG Core: How will the story play out? Will this game be serious...oriented around the story-telling of games like The Suffering or Call of Cthuhul; historical based like Brothers in Arms or Call of Duty; or will it follow in the likes of an action-arcade outline like Spartan or Dynasty Warriors?
Canossa: We strongly believe in the benefits of a good story and dramatic narration, but we also believe that our background, our past, and our general historical heritage can provide us with all the material we need. Historical material can be as good as, if not altogether better than, any imaginary setting. Hannibal's story is full of dramatic moments and it's only a matter of presenting them in a way so that it won't feel like a stale history lesson, but as if vivid and vibrant characters came to life to present us with a drama that played out (for real) 2000 years ago. The way we chose to present this story is through modular nuggets that can be combined in different ways to follow the player's progression, at his own pace and without losing emotional high points and tension -- as seen in other story telling oriented games (The Suffering and Call of Cthuhlu).
VG Core: How many weapons will be available for players to use in the final version of the game?
Canossa: As I mentioned earlier we have implemented 3 different fighting styles:
- medium-length sword + shield
- long sword + shield
- spear + shield
Each one of these styles has 2 variations, with or without a shield:
- medium-length sword + dagger
- long sword two handed
- spear two handed
For each style there are 6 weapons with varying combination of stats (speed, block, and damage) for a total amount of 18 weapons. Of course even shields have different stats that effect speed of movement, damage, blocking, and armor class. Some special shields will also affect other stats for the hero carrying it.
VG Core: Is there a set release date for Hannibal?
Canossa: Unfortunately, we are still negotiating publishing deals and we are far from having a set release date for the game.
Our thanks go out to Tabula Rasa’s Creative Director, Alessandro Canossa, for answering our questions. Stay tuned in with Vgcore.com for more information and updates regarding Hannibal: Vengeance of Chartage.
Article By: Cyguration