The Stalin Subway Interview
with the development team!
(by Andreas Schnäpp)

Hi! We were happy to have chance of getting an interview with the dev-team of "The Stalin Subway". Please tell us your name and your position over at G5 Software!
Hi! My name is Nickolay Sitnickov and I'm the project manager of The Stalin

Subway. Also, I'm the lead game designer of this upcoming FPS.

Hi! I'm Vlad Suglobov, CEO of G5 Software and also the executive producer for The Stalin Subway.

For our German readers, that don't know your game already, could you please tell us some facts about The Stalin Subway? When and where does the story happen? Who will you be able to play in the game?

N.S.: The Stalin Subway is a realistic historical first person shooter the actions of which take place in Moscow of 1952. The Soviet Union is still ruled by Iosif Stalin - the general secretary of the Communist Party. He is already 72 but still at the helm and able to hold everybody in awe.

Nevertheless a group of high rank officials decide to get rid of him with the help of a terrible weapon and assume the power. But the worst thing is that these scoundrels are planning to do that in a public place and as a consequence many innocent people can suffer. Sure there is a person who will try to stop these evildoers and save the lives of the innocent people. So, that's the guy you are going to play in The Stalin Subway.

How is the main character involved in the story and which role will NPC's play? How will they react to player actions and how interactive will the environment be to the player's actions?

N.S.: The main character's name is Gleb Suvorov. He is a true KGB officer and faithful to the party and the regime. His functions are focused on guarding secret objects in Moscow. He has a father who is a scientist and works for the government in a secret laboratory. One day Gleb's father was arrested right at work without any explanations.

Here I should note that at that time many people were arrested without giving any reason and I doubt that even those who were putting handcuffs could explain what for it was done. Now people say: that was a terrible time. So, Gleb's father was arrested. Almost right away Gleb discovers this fact and now he is confused. His father was arrested by the "system" he believed in and was faithful to.

Now he is to make a choice, a choice that can turn over all his life… But this is only the beginning of the story which will lead the main hero to the main conflict in the game. I can definitely say that the plot of the game will not be simple; there will be different unexpected turnings points which will only add the dramatic effect. We consider a good plot to be one of the most important elements of any computer game.

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As for the NPC, there is much to say about it. First of all I would like to note that they will not be a cannon fodder. We are making a realistic shooter and that's why our NPC will react and act properly. For example, if the player is unarmed they will not shoot, but willask to show his papers. They will call for assistance if it is getting really hot. Moreover, you will never know what this or that NPC will do next. It will depend on the character implemented within the NPC, on the circumstances he found himself in, and on the way the main character's treating them.

For example, one of them may go mad and began shooting at all around just because he has a weak moral fiber. On the whole, NPC are defined in several groups.

Some of them are just enemies and the hero will have to fight with them. Other ones can supply him with important information or even accompany him for a while.

Now - a few words about environment. All the objects in the game will obey physics' laws and many of them will be destroyable according to these laws. Some of the objects, for example, cupboards and bureaus, will be fully interactive - the player will be able to search them.Due to the mass of FPS (First Person Shooters) - what makes your game unique? What elements of the game are you very proud of and had made the most problems during the development?

N.S.: There are many things we consider to be interesting regarding first person shooters. First of all, it is the setting. The time the player will find himself in is one of the darkest in the history of our country. There will be an opportunity to see such historical figures as Stalin and Beria. For those who don't know, Beria was a rather notorious political figure of the Soviet Union, he was leading the development of the first Soviet atom

bomb and headed NKVD - the structure "famous" for its mass repressions. On the whole, in The Stalin Subway players will see Russia in the year of 1952. In this respect, it will be a kind of an excursion into the past of our country.

Locations will also distinguish our game from other FPS. Have you ever been to Moscow subway?So, in our game you will get a chance to do that. There will be six real stations which were realistically represented by our company. Besides such real places as the Kremlin, Moscow State University, metro stations, there will be various secret underground objects. Moreover, the players will see the bunker which was build especially for Stalin.

You will get a chance to rule the train along the tunnels of the secret military underground branch. In other words, the locations will be interesting from the historical point of view as well. There are also different game play elements we really like, for example, damage and recovery. All the wounds will differ according to their height and not all of them will be completely recoverable.

For instance, a hard injuring in the chest will be completely cured only with the help of the doctor. Sure you can use a first-aid set, but it will not have the full effect - you've been wounded in the chest, old chap, and better call for a doctor! ?Besides "health", the hero will have "endurance" and it can be heighten using a special drug, but as any real drug it will have a side effect - a temporary collapse after. Also, we decided to put away the limitation on the amount of carried weapons. Instead of that each of them will have its height which in its turn will affect the speed of the main character. The problems we faced during the development referred mainly to the making of metro stations. We couldn't get permission for taking photos of stations - our metro is still a strategic object, you know. We had nothing to do but to take photos illegally. Sure we are ashamed for that, but what could we do? Also the architecture of the stations is very complicated and was also a sort of a problem for our modelers.

Which other games had influence in the development of The Stalin Subway? What are your all-time favorite games?

N.S.: I can hardly name only one game that I liked best of all. Among

the games I like I can name such titles as Warlord 1, Master of Orion1 and 2, Unreal Tournament 2003, 2004…

As for the game that influenced the development to a certain extent, it was Call of Duty. The atmosphere of this game really impressed us. I think that the atmosphere is an essential part of any game and in our turn we are paying much attention to it while developing The Stalin Subway. We are doing that through many elements: sounds, characters' talks, their cloths, and so on. You will hear a gramophone playing old Soviet records, and so on. I believe that these small points will help us in creating the atmosphere.

We heard that you can destroy ~300 different objects in the game. Which game engine is used for The Stalin Subway and can you tell us some technical facts about the engine? What are the preferences of it? Will there be DX9-support?

N.S.: Right you are. There will be about 300 destroyable objects. I have already mentioned about their physics in one of the previous answers.

As for the engine, we are using our own one - V8. The engine is up to standards, and sure there will be DX9-support.

To let you know more details about the engine, I would better name some technologies available in The Stalin Subway: bump-mapping, emissive-mapping, specular-mapping, mirrors and reflections, water surfaces, procedure textures, vertex and pixel shaders ver.2.0, animation blending, skin animation, radiosity for inner spaces, dynamic lighting.

And the most important question for players: What system will you need to play The Stalin Subway?

N.S.: We are planning that minimal system requirements will be like this: PIII-1GHz, 256MB RAM, GeForce3 with 64Mb, 1,5GB of free space. But if you want to see all the beauty, here is the recommended configuration: PIV-2GHz, 512MB RAM, 128MB Video which supports DirectX 9.0 (for example ATI Radeon 9600), and 2GB of free space on hard disc. And of course the player will need a soundcard, a keyboard, a mouse, CD-Rom, and Windows 2000/XP. But still these requirements are not final and can be changed.

Since when is The Stalin Subway in development and what can you tell us about beta? Will there be a closed beta, to which can players

sign up? Are you planning to release a demo version of the game? If yes, are there any first plans when it will be?

V.S.: We began to develop The Stalin Subway in February, 2003. As for beta version, unfortunately, we haven't settled this matter yet. Now we are still thinking on what a beta will be. Sure we are planning to release a demo version. According to our plans it will appear in February, 2005.

Why did you choose Moscow as the main location for your game? Was it love at first sight? What are your favorite places in Moscow and what do you like best?N.S.: You know, from the very beginning it was decided to choose Moscow as a main location. We wanted to show the capital of our country, its sights and so on. Sure there are many cities in Russia which are interesting both for their history and sights, but Moscow is the capital. Sure it was love at first sight. There are lots of place worth to be seen but I can hardly single out any of them. Some of them will be introduced in the game, for example, the Kremlin - the symbol of Russia.

The game plays in the 50's - so sure there was a lot research to do, wasn't it? How long did you inform yourselves about the history, the city and other information, which is important for the game?

N.S.: We spend much time and efforts on studying reference materials. It concerned mainly the places we intended to show in the game, for example, metro stations. Moscow subway has a very complicated architecture and that was a real thorn in our side. It is decorated with morethan 200 types of marble. Just imagine how hard it was to get proper textures. We had to take thousands of photos, study special materials in libraries, and all that stuff. As for the history, there was a certain work concerning historical documents so as not to miss anything. We are planning to make everything as realistic as possible and that's why almost any detail in the game will be fully authentic.

Do you have any plans for trailers to be released to the public in the near future?

V.S.: Yes, the trailer will be released and it will be definitely shown to the public. We are planning to do that in October, this year.

Is there already a specific release-date for the game?

V.S.: Yes, we are planning to complete the game in the end of this year and in the first quarter of 2005 The Stalin Subway will hit the shelves. Thanks for questions! It was really nice to chat with you and to tell Gamona's readers about our upcoming FPS. Good luck!

Thanks for the interview and hopefully The Stalin Subway will be released soon :-)