Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria Interview

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Eschalon: Book II

Developer:Infinite Interactive
Release Date:2003-05-11
  • Role-Playing,Strategy
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person,Top-Down
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
We were lucky enough to talk to Infinite Interactive's Steve Fawkner about their next installment in the Warlords series, Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria. Our questions and his answers to follow:

GB: First of all, how is development coming along with Warlords IV? Do you still anticipate having the game complete in Q3?

Steve: It may very well have gone gold by the time you read this, so we are right on schedule for the late Q3 / early Q4 release that we planned.

GB: For those viewers who are unfamiliar with the Warlords games, can you give us a brief explanation of how the previous games played and what your design goals have been with each?

Steve: Warlords was one of the earliest turn-based fantasy strategy games. In all of its 13 year history, it has kept the same simple basic and addictive gameplay at its core. You produce lots of fantastic creatures who, led by heroes, travel around the world capturing enemy cities, searching ruins, completing quests and finding treasures.

The goal of the first game was to simply give people a turn-based fantasy strategy game that was (wargame-ish) in nature. The only other alternatives at the time were King's Bounty and War of the Lance, and I wanted something with a very focused military feel that still captured the essence of an RPG.

The aim of the second title was just to expand the first with richer and deeper gameplay options. We also tried to open up the game to user-mod's letting players create new troops and sides. This was hugely popular.

With Warlords III, I wanted to not only retain the flavor and mod-ability of the previous games, but to create a system where players could constantly tinker with perfecting their play style. We achieved this by letting the player choose a small group of units from the overall unit pool. This was called an (army set). There is still a large Warlords III community around today who are constantly adding new troops, rebalancing old troops and creating new army sets they do a fantastic job!

Finally with Warlords IV, we wanted to add some new innovative features. The first and most-requested feature was tactical combat, but we also wanted to borrow the persistent leaders from Warlords Battlecry (our RTS spin-off series), since these provide a real link between games.

GB: What features will Warlords IV offer over that of its predecessors? What RPG elements will you be adding?

Steve: The three biggest new features are Tactical Combat, Persistent Warlords Characters, a completely new spell system, and our open-ended leveling system which allows all units, not just heroes, to gain lots of levels and cool new abilities.

GB: Can you give us a full description of the Speed Tactical System that will be available for combat?

Steve: The idea behind STS combat is to keep the combats short and entertaining without sacrificing depth. That has always been a hallmark of Warlords game. everything is so simple on the surface, but when you start really playing them, you begin to see all the possibilities opening up to you.

Anyway, with STS combat, when two groups fight, each side simply picks the next troop to go into combat. Those 2 units will fight and then when one is dead, that side picks its next unit (or casts a spell). This might sound very simple, but when you factor in 40 special abilities, combat can become a battle of wits. It feels very much like a collectible card game.

And when one side has no troops left, they lose!