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Roman Kremlicka, VP of Wootsoft
game: Iritor Online
posted by: Aaron Stanton
publisher: Wootsoft
date posted: 09:10 AM Mon Mar 10th, 2003
last revision: 06:48 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

I\'ll never forget the first time I played Everquest. I\'d been online for an hour or so when a friend of mine dropped by the house, watched over my shoulder for fifteen minutes, and then shrugged his shoulders. \"It\'s pretty cool,\" he said. \"Graphics aren\'t that great, though.\" I spun in my chair, gave him the evil eye, puffed out my chest indignantly, and replied, \"Yeah, well, it\'s an online game.\" While Everquest may have pushed the limit of technical requirements, demanding a dedicated graphics card to play, its graphics quality was not its strongest aspect. Even the very impressive screenshots of the much-improved Everquest 2 ? boasting many of the same lighting techniques that make a game look truly good -- fall short of the impressive visual dynamics seen in single player games like Splinter Cell or Doom 3.

My friend wasn\'t the only one to notice a quality difference between massively multiplayer games and the single player variety. Iritor Online, from Wootsoft Entertainment, aims to change how we think the MMORPG genre should look. With a graphics that have the potential to rival that of Doom 3, Iritor Online is set to offer an experience unlike any we\'ve encountered while playing online. With the recent success of Xbox LIVE on the console, and the continuing popularity of online titles on the PC, it\'s a pretty safe bet that the world of connectivity is where our gaming tastes tend to hang out (some of us, anyway). Wootsoft is preparing to prove that \'Online\' doesn\'t go hand in hand with \'reduced quality\' or any variation thereof.

Roman Kremlicka, Vice President of Wootsoft and Lead Game Designer for Iritor Online, was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of our questions about the project.

GamesFirst!: Wootsoft\'s stated mission is to release an online title that bridges the quality gap between MMORP games and the solo variety found in console titles, and last summer at E3 you were showing off a very impressive graphics engine that looked to do just that. What sort of difficulties have you faced in combining this level of visual quality and the online environment?

Roman Kremlicka: The biggest problem certainly was the impossibility of doing the massive pre-calculations usually done for shooters and single player RPGs. The amounts of data are simply too big to be stored let alone sent over the Internet.

GF!: GF! was told last summer that Iritor Online ultimately aimed to compete with Doom III graphically, a very lofty goal for any game, let alone one built for the online world. Has this aim evolved at all since the start of the project?

Kremlicka: We have rehauled the graphics engine to use Direct X 9.0 as a base for a fully programmable engine that also supports normal mapping, which I would say is also the most noticeable feature of Doom III\'s engine.

GF!: In terms of gameplay, what style of game is it? FPS? Strategy?

Kremlicka: We try to build an RPG with strong action tendencies in combat, nonetheless we also offer a rich small units tactic experience as well as all the classic RPG virtues like character development, loot gathering, crafting, etc.

GF!: What roles do the players take on in terms of politics? Are there computerized enemies and NPCs that players fight, or are conflicts in the game driven by the players themselves (such as between two player controlled warring races

Kremlicka: The main focus of the game is the fight against the computer-controlled enemies. Those players who wish to combat their fellow humans get to do that in a consensual way. We chose to take this stance on PvP to shield our player base from grief PKing and related issues.

GF!: In your press release you mention Mechs. Are these vehicles that any character can climb in and out of, like Halo? Or is the Mech a character choice that you select when you first start the game, as one might chose between being human or cyborg in other games?

Kremlicka: Mechs will actually be neither. Imagine them as your personal army which you can command, Everquest has coined the term \"pet\" for this kind of player controlled AI ally. An engineer will be able to command, repair and even build his own mech.

GF!: What roles will the development team play after launch? Are there plans to help direct the events in the gaming world after release, to drive the storyline similar to the way a book unfolds, or will there be more emphasis on the players setting their own paths?

Kremlicka: One of the main goals is to create a believable world with a storyline worth following. To do this the development team will continue to add landmass, dungeons, enemies and items, but of course also create events of all kinds. The main focus remains to offer interesting new choices with each new month.

GF!: From a technical standpoint, what\'s the game\'s capacity? How many people will be able to play online simultaneously?

Kremlicka: We aim to have 10000 simultaneous players in the final version of the server cluster.

GF!: Was there a lot of debate during development about what the minimum requirements should be?

Kremlicka: Not really--the player base of an MMORPG is classically more in the hardcore gamer market with a reasonably powerful system. Nevertheless our graphics engine is highly scalable and will also run on weaker machines at the sacrifice of image quality.

GF!: In the game, Iritor is a world, a planet which humanity is trying to colonize. This allows for a tremendous amount of creativity amongst the design team. How diverse are the different environments that players will encounter? Are there different continents, bases, outdoor and indoor environments?

Kremlicka: The terrain will offer all kinds of climate zones; some may seem familiar while others look as alien as they truly are. There will also be indoor scenes such as the bases of humans and aliens as well as natural caves and tunnels. The transition between inside and outside environments is completely seamless to allow for a greater degree of immersion.

GF!: How much control will players have over their character\'s appearance and style? What aspects of their avatar will they be able to adjust?

Kremlicka: The player will be able to select different facial features, as well as hairstyle, beard, and height. In addition to that the build of the character will change depending on his physical attributes.

GF!: You mention medics. Are there other player classes? If so, what would you say is the most unique character class available?

Kremlicka: Iritor Online is not really a class-based game, being a medic is merely like a profession. You can choose any possible combination of skills, attributes and bioware to make your own customized character template. The most unique class therefore is one we don\'t even know yet but which will potentially be created by a player in the future.

GF!: The gaming industry has a very extensive history. What games have come in the past that you would say most heavily influenced Iritor Online\'s style, look, and gameplay?

Kremlicka: The look is more influenced by movies and comics than computer games since the graphics quality we can achieve on modern hardware cannot be compared to what was possible in the past. Game play wise the influences come most notably from Asheron\'s Call, Diablo 2 and various action games.

GF!: If you had to choose a single feature that you thought was just the coolest thing about Iritor Online, what would be your personal favorite?

Kremlicka: I would probably choose the sequencing feature of the modulation system. It allows the modulator to combine up to 6 spells into a sequence that is then cast as one. This does not only offer some game system bonuses to the modulator, but also allows you to customize your fighting style, thus making you distinguishable. Some sequences might even become popular and popularly referred to by the name of the inventor. My hope is that this is one of the features that allow the players themselves to shape the game through instruments that are actually reflected in game play.

Iritor Online is due for release in the first quarter of this year (2003). For additional information, be sure to check out the website at http://www.iritor.com/iritor/, and of course, continue reading here at GamesFirst!.