On the 13 October we held a chat with S2Games, the developers of the RTSS game Savage. During 1 1/2 hour we asked over 40 questions. Both an edited and an unedited chatlog can now be viewed here.
[review_ad] The Chat
Monday the 13 October at 7 pm EST we held a chat here with S2Games, the developers of the RTSS (Real Time Strategy Shooter) game Savage. The chat was held on IRC (channel #Bjorn3D) and during 1 1/2 hours we asked and got answers on over 40 questions. You can either download the unedited chatlog which contains chat both from before and after the chat or you can just read the questions and answers that has been fixed up below. The questions were all sent to one of us moderators and forwarded in the chat to S2Games. We also had some NVIDIA people sitting in on the chat.
Before we leave you with the Q&A’s we just want to thank S2Games for taking the time to talk to us and NVIDIA for helping us set this up. If you haven’t downloaded the demo yet then do if from your favourite filesite (or NVIDIA).
Well, no need to beat around the bush. Here are all the questions that were asked during the chat as well as the answers. Enjoy!
Q: I know there are some here who has no clue what Savage is. Can you give us a short overview of the game
A: It’s really tough to give someone a short explanation of Savage, it’s definitely something you need to jump into to really experience. But I’ll give it a shot. Savage is a team-based, multiplayer-only PC game. You play on large outdoor maps with up to 64 players per game. Each team has a commander, who is playing a real RTS game, researching new technologies and upgrades, while the other 31 players on the team play a FPS game with fast-paced fights with ranged weapons and melee combat. The goal for each team is to destroy the enemy stronghold.
Q: what games were your inspiration? I remember Allegiance had a commander and RTS elements but was set in space?
A:When we started designing Savage in late 2000, Allegiance definitely served as some inspiration to us. Other than that, we didn’t really model the game after anything. Most of the team are big FPS fans, so we wanted to make sure the FPS element of the game was very strong. A couple of the guys were more RTS fans and they kept the FPS guys in check and made sure the game was loyal to the RTS genre.
Q: when will the medic class be available?
A:We are working on it right now, but we don’t want to rush it out before we can test it enough to be sure it is balanced. We’ll make sure they are balanced before releasing them, but we have no specific date right now.
Q: Are the rumors of transport vehicles being made available true?
A: There is code in there right now to allow people to plug them in with some object settings, but we don’t have any immediate plans to add transport vehicles to the official game anytime soon.
Q: Do you think the beasts are overpowered? I got beat yesterday (yeah i suck at the game still learning) by a minor beast in 5 minutes
A: Definitely not. There are a lot of strategies that players haven’t even discovered yet, and right now you’re dealing with some very new players who haven’t learned the ropes yet.
The Beast Horde
Q: Some people have expressed concerns that newbie commanders can only practice online making games unenjoyable for vets, are there plans to introduce bots for offline play or commander bots?
A: We feel that the best way to learn how to command is to play the game as an FPS player enough to know the various weapons, items, and basic strategies. To learn the Commander role more, you can choose Host Game and start a single-player local game to try running through the tech tree, seeing how things work, etc. We do not have any plans to add bots right now. We’d rather focus our energy on making the multi-player aspect even more fun and strategic.
Q: Regarding the earlier answer.Can you give us some idea what strategies that are? I also get creamed by beasts very easy.
A: Disruptors are a major thing that aren’t used very often – since beasts can’t block they are very vulnerable to immobilizers. Many players also don’t understand how critical it is to learn to block. Med packs are very important, as are the relocator to re-equip yourself.
Q: How do you avoid having the commander role be too important, such that a single player can make or (more often) break a match through their abilities at commander. I’m looking for solutions besides “impeach”.
A: That is something that we think really makes the game. It requires teamwork, and that includes the commander. We made a conscious choice to force teamwork. Even though sometimes you get games where the teamwork breaks down, we think that with a good team you can have an experience that is much more enjoyable than a game that cripples itself in an effort to avoid the possibility that an incompetent commander could ruin the game. As the game is out longer you’ll get more experienced commanders, and by clicking their name in the lobby you can see their wins and losses before the game even starts.
Q: How has the community reaction to the game been? Do you have quality fan sites that cover your game and how are they doing?
A: We have a very strong community. That’s one thing that really makes working on Savage fun. We have links to the major fan sites on this page on our website: http://www.s2games.com/savage/fans.html There’s also www.savagemod.com where there are a group of guys already planning mods for Savage even before the SDK is out. I hope with the demo’s popularity, our fan sites are poised for a big boost of new people looking to learn some new tricks and the newest strategies.
Q: How moddable is this game? Will we see a Star Wars version or Desert Strike or WWII mod of it?
A: the engine is very very moddable. Even without access to any source, it’s possible to do some major changes to the game. I think it’s fair to say that Savage is the easiest game to mod of any engine out there currently. We will be releasing the SDK in the future and we plan to heavily support the Savage mod community.
Q: Are there any changes to items or addition of new items planned possibly in future ?
A: We’ll be updating the game as long as people keep playing it
Q: With Savage you seem to have things set up a bit like battle.net, do you have any plans to continue to improve upon this? Will you add in stuff such as your own built in ladder system perhaps or more stuff for clans? The clan site is a great start.
A: We will be adding a ton to the clans site in near future. We’re going to have ladders, areas for clans to recruit new members, areas for players looking for clans, all sorts of things there.
Q: Crossplatform support? why linux and mac? Is the linux client faster ?
A: We did the Linux port because the engine was very portable to begin with, and I (slothy) have been a Linux user for many years. We did it on a whim about a year ago, and then a few weeks ago we spent a couple days getting the game running on Mac OS X. We took a lot of care to keep our engine portable when we wrote it, so porting it to other platforms was a nice test of our code portability as well as a fun thing for us to do. And obviously, we love having the game available to everyone with a PC.
Q: Are there any plans for a third race?
A: None currently
Q. Are there plans to fix issues with getting stuck on AI (mainly workers) and sometimes players? Anytime you run into a worker headon, it’s never a simple task of sidestepping to ‘un-stick’ from them.
A: We’ll definitely be fixing minor bugs like that in future updates to the game.
The Legion of Man
The commanders view
Q: At present many players focussed solely on killing npcs for experience the entire game are there plans to modify this by experience tweaking?
A: It’s balanced now by giving much more XP for killing players and buildings – you’ll never see someone at the top of the XP list who has only been killing NPCs. You are helping your team by killing NPCs by collecting gold, though in most cases not as much as fighting the other team.
Q: Do you plan on releasing any other gametypes to savage to include other objectives like defend the base, etc?
A. Absolutely, that’s one of the things that we will be working on soon. Expect new game types, new units, items, all sorts of new additions to the game.
Q: What does S2 Games stand for anyway
A: “no comment”
Q: Some people have expressed concerns that other people gain experience by ‘the kill hit’ when they have done all the attacking, are there plans to change experience levels based on hits rather than kills?
A: This was something we debated long ago in designing the game. That is how buildings work, you get XP and gold per hit. Levels in Savage aren’t a major advantage in the game, so experience isn’t something that will imbalance the game. Kills are so frequent in the game that missing out on one isn’t going to be a very major deal though
Q: Are there plans to introduce manned units or buildings (such as towers) to increase their strength?
A: We have discussed them quite a bit here. We might experiment with those types of things in future updates to the game.
Q: Will there be any units that will have a certain limit (say 1 or 2 per team) to make maps more diverse?
A: We have no plans to do that.
Q: What kinds of games do you plan on developing in the future, are there any others in the works right now?
A: We are only working on Savage right now. We have no plans for a next project yet. We’re putting 100% of our effort into Savage.
Q: Have you signed a deal with an Euroepan distributor yet?
A: Our publisher, iGames, is currently in talks with several European distributors. I’m sure they’ll make an announcement when the deals are signed.
Q: Right now people playing the game seem to prefer some tech trees over the others, this makes the game very one dimensional and adds less variety to it. If this continues will you be adding more tech trees or refining it?
A: We dealt with this in beta, and we made balance changes to make sure the trees are balanced. As people play more with the trees in there, I think people will find that any thoughts of the trees being imbalanced are unfounded.
Q: Are there any plans to increase the number of teams playable per map, or allow teams to ally with one another? Like 2 human and 1 beast
A: No, we have no plans to do that. Modders will be able to do that if they are so inclined, but we don’t think that it would make for good gameplay.
Q: How long till a new pack of maps come out, and how long till a map with the famous Kongor in it ?
A: Right now we’re focusing on the next patch, adding medics, and after that we’ll look at what to work on next. More maps and NPCs will definitely come at some point.
Q: When a game is going bad for one side, people often jump teams or quit. have there been any thoughts about adding an auto-balancer? or maybe an auto-conceder?
A: All of the S2 servers should have balanced teams turned on, so you can’t pile onto a winning team. If they’re not, you can let us know and we’ll make sure to remedy that.
Q: How has your relationship with Nvidia and or ATI been in help developing this game’s content? What more do you want from Devrel to make your game dev easier?
A: NVidia has been a MAJOR help to us. They’ve provided us with great hardware, at E3 they helped get our name out there, and they have shown off Savage at GenCon and on their nZone site. It’s been a big help to us, since we’re such a small team up against some big name competition.
Q: Is Savage using any advanced DX9 features?
A: Savage does not use DirectX, it uses OpenGL. We are using some recent additions like Vertex Buffer Object to get the best performance for Savage.
Q: Is there any possibility of adding a netgraph that shows ping and packet loss similar to quake3’s?
A: Yes, we might add that.
Q: What’s your opinion as a developer of the HL2 Source Code theft? It really ticks me off when something like that happens but i’d like to hear from a dev what their thoughts on it are?
A: I think it’s a real shame that it happened, and we hope that whoever is responsible is caught.
Q: Savage has had mixed reviews, are you guys happy in how it has been welcomed/reviewed by the gaming sites/networks, or do you feel they’ve been unfair deal as a new company?
(Keith from NVIDIA jumps in):
[Keith_NV] I’ve seen very few reviews that have been anything but glowing by the way
[Keith_NV] I have to believe that any reviewer who gave the game more than a few minutes has loved playing Savage
A: The vast majority of reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, with only a couple that have really given us a lackluster review. We’ve been really happy to see something this different get such positive reviews.
Q: Slothers (Björns note: one of the S2 guys) what do you use in your hair?
* ben6 whistles looking at someone on the S2 games team
A: A combination of moss and bugs. It’s hard to get the right consistency, honestly.
Q: How many people are working for s2?
A: There are a total of 8 employees at S2. 3 programmers, 4 artists, and a biz relations guy.
Q: Do you feel that with all the success of the Game, s2games will move into the movie industry and produce a movie about the game? Especially with all kinds of movies based on lousy games , might as well make a movie on a good game , no?
A: Then we’d have to call ourselves S2Movies, and I don’t see that happening. If we do make a movie, Sam McGrath will insist on doing the music.
Q: Do you have any big tournaments coming up to support the game?
A: There are various tournaments coming up, some of which are sponsored by S2. We have also helped set up contests at LAN centers around the country.
Q: How did S2Games get hooked into your The Way It’s Meant to be Played co-marketing program?
A: I’ll let Keith Galocy (our dev contact at NVidia) field that one.
[Keith_NV] About 9 months ago, S2Games started showing shots of their game online. We contacted them for a preview and were blown away by how fun the game was… and it looked great too! 😉 Anyway, since that time we’ve been helping with performance/optimization feedback and other sorts of bug fixing to make sure that NVIDIA customers had a flawless/bug-free experience.
[Keith_NV] S2Games has been great to work with.. they really care about their community and the game… it shows by their attendance today!
Q: I saw a post on the forums a while ago about how human siege weapons don’t sit correctly on hills.. they don’t go up or down with the slope of the hill, which definetely alters the gameplay of them.. I was wondering if that was intentional or if it will be being fixed
A: Humans haven’t finished researching angles yet We’ll be fixing that soon.
Q: As a dev, you spend late nights coding, whats your fav brand of coffee! 😀
A: None of the programmers drink coffee actually, we’re more into soda. I am fueled by nothing else but the desire to create an awesome game. (-:
Q: Any plans on supporting voice chat inside the game in the future?
A: We looked into it, but found that of the few packages that are suitable for inclusion in a game, they had unreasonable prices. We are considering writing our own, as Valve ended up doing with Half-Life.
Q: Rapping it up with a console question. Any chance of a console port? For the XBox maybe?
* SwedBear wants Live support. Live support Live support
A: We have no plans currently, but we’re always open to new platforms to port the engine to
Q: One more question! KalRyan mentioned that you can buy the game online?
A: Yes, you can purchase it directly from http://www.s2games.com and download it and start playing immediately.