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Earlier today, Legacy Files held an interview with Tjoz of the Aftermath team in order to get the real lowdown on the latest release of the Aftermath mod - Aftermath 2.0.
Here is the transcript of the interview..Hopefully it will shed some light on what 2.0 is all about. Enjoy. ;)
Aftermath 2.0: Interview with Tjoz
Date: 17/09/2008 Time: 12:27:11(GMT)
IKS: Hey Tjoz hows it going?
Tjoz: Iâ€™m going good
IKS: So Aftermath is about to be released soon. Any particular reason why it has continued from strength to strength?
Tjoz: I think the reason why Aftermath has gone as well as it has is its the least ST based mod out there; it runs on its own steam. I didnâ€™t go the canon route, I hate canon. Plus Iâ€™m not an ST person too
IKS: I am not a big fan of canon either....but aftermath has an eerie feeling to it. its a strange but interesting mod...it has a brooding and kind of war-like feel to it...I think its the interface, maps, etc
Tjoz: The interface is very different this time round. I running the Ascension system
IKS: Is that the black and gold one?
Tjoz: Yes, itâ€™s nowhere near finished
IKS: Hmm should be interesting
Tjoz: Ascension can blow out Aftermath to well over 500mb...
IKS: Whatâ€™s in it? Whatâ€™s so different?
Tjoz: Once Ascension is finished, it will be the most advanced interface created for Legacy, if not all ST mods. One of its features is the showcase application
IKS: Cool...hmmm. Letâ€™s talk more about Ascension...what is the showcase application?
Tjoz: Showcase application is one of Ascension's draw cards. It has many uses but we will mainly be using it for use with the new Tutorial mode (a 2.2 feature). The application is media based but built into the interface so everything is handled in-game. The application will also be tied into the new delivery methods to our game modes
IKS: Sounds good...
Tjoz: I donâ€™t like batch files as I donâ€™t know how to make them lol, thatâ€™s why I push for everything to be in-game
IKS: But won't that have the knock-on effect of being laggy on lower-end systems?
Tjoz: No as it is at the end users control. Legacy's stock interface is something that is learning lesson as it shows what the interface is capable of but at the same time you can see where its flaws are. One area being let the end user control what is to be shown instead of Legacy handling it. That is where lag comes from - The stock menu (useless animations, large video files on repeat, ships rotating) all added to lag whereas the Aftermath interface is lag less
IKS: Due to it being streamlined? Simple but effective
Tjoz: The more features you can let the end user control, the more lag you can cut. Streamlining the interface was the first thing I did with Aftermath but interface isnâ€™t the only area of Legacy that can be streamlined
IKS: So is the ship selection menu any bit different in 2.0 as opposed to previous versions?
Tjoz: The ship select screen is at best described as in-between stages at the moment. It has the Ascension look but there more Ascension features being designed for the ship select screen
IKS: So itâ€™s basically the old version with newer graphics? There is no real change in its functioning?
Tjoz: At this stage yes, but it carries the multi-tiered system which the old one didnâ€™t
IKS: Ah I see. What about the Armada Modes? Anything new to report on that front?
Tjoz: Not for 2.0. There were a few map adjustments (lighting in a couple I wasnâ€™t happy with, one had a background swap out) but Armada has no additions in 2.0 due to other modes having higher priority. Though with 2.0, the Armada modes proved a valuable test bed for the AI
IKS: Yes, which is promising to be better in 2.0 than in previous versions?
Tjoz: Yes it is better. We have had many of our testers point this out so its not just something we are saying to get brownie points, its something we can actually deliver on
Tjoz: Itâ€™s highly advanced and we have managed to discover a few secrets with some of Legacy's other areas
IKS: No doubt the users will have to wait to find out when they download it...any teaser on these secrets?
Tjoz: We have learnt that AI is a major aspect to Legacy selecting its fleets. Its proves an old statement to be false. The old statement being Legacy will pick the most expensive ships. We have proven that is not the case at all
IKS: Really....that is interesting. How does the Aftermath AI prove that statement wrong?
Tjoz: Our AI was changed to incorporate ATA (Advanced Threat Analysis). This made the AI make far better opponent decisions based on what it stood a favored chance against
IKS: In other words the AI was more indeterminate
Tjoz: Yes, it was something we found as result of our changes. We didnâ€™t know the impact our AI changes would have until we started seeing this happen. The AI relation to ship selection. In the Armada modes is where we starting picking these behaviors up and seeing Legacy carrying it through to Skirmish and thatâ€™s where we found the old statement to be false
IKS: That sounds like a great find; AI was an area in stock Legacy that really was a let down, and with the lack of good multiplayer smarter more independent AI is needed
Tjoz: What we found was there are 3 areas that influence how Legacy selects its fleets - AI, artillery and cost. Cost is still a factor, but it is the trigger in which it will tell Legacy what it can and canâ€™t do. The secret we found to Legacy's ship select process is itâ€™s not making decisions based on the most expensive ships it can get its hands on based on CP limits. Its selecting fleets based on payloads, firing arcs and recharge rates.
IKS: So you won't be facing a cube or a few Negh'vars all the time I take it?
Tjoz: Yep, this is what we were seeing in the Armada modes. Even though the fleets are pre-selected; once battles were on is when the AI took over and we started seeing micro-management kick in
IKS: Excellent, so the same battle played over again played out differently on the AI side?
Tjoz: The battle has a higher chance of variation. The AI was pairing ships up based on firing arcs, weapons payload and recharge rates. We were seeing Cruisers and Destroyers displaying proper wingman and flanking tactics to aid Battleships Legacy will still pick the expensive ships as their backbones but its how they use them now in game and what Legacy picks to support them. Plus the AI changes have lowered predictability
IKS: Sounds great, looking forward to trying it out... Another feature for 2.0 is the return of the Survival Mode... I'm not sure I remember that mode; can you run us through what that entails?
Tjoz: Pretty much Survival is what it is. Your thrown into a system with only your 4 ships (will be 8 in later releases depending on map difficulty...). You have no help at all. The mode is designed to teach you how and when to use torps, better opponent matching and team tactics
IKS: So its basically along the lines of a Kobayashi Maru type scenario?
Tjoz: It was originally designed to be the 'Kobyashi Maru' of Legacy, but instead of no-win, it was to be a slight glimmer of hope in winning. Youâ€™re supposed to have the crap beat out of you. Another similar mode in development is the Annihilation mode
IKS: What is that exactly?
Tjoz: Annihilation is probably far close to the Kobyashi Maru than Survival. With Annihilation, your going to die no matter what you do. Its an intense mode as it combines Co-op Wave, One on One and Survival all into one
IKS: In other words outnumbered, outgunned and outclassed, so the player is on a suicide mission? Take out as many enemy units before getting destroyed?
Tjoz: Yes a suicide mission. It will be one of our most script-intensive modes
IKS: Are there objectives to it besides the heads first and kill all around you?
Tjoz: It has more humane aspects to it instead of just throwing you straight into the deep end. It will have the usual Aftermath feel to it, depending on what we can do, we hope to have multiple objectives that lead to achievements. We are yet to see how to piece that all together
IKS: Speaking of scripting you guys are working hard on scripted missions set in the Earth-Romulan War. Can we expect a campaign from this venture in future versions? Or will it be an ongoing process of missions appended to the missions released in previous versions?
Tjoz: Earth Romulan Wars (ERW) is one of many campaign modes we have coming. It is its own story arc, it spans new missions each release. The first couple of missions are ENT era but it does progress to other areas. We have a lot of plans for story arcs in Aftermath
IKS: Yes I was speaking with GamemasterAM before about the possibility of campaigns in Aftermath; do you plan on doing a storyline based on the Aftermath mod...set to the theme of the mod itself?
Tjoz: Not a core component type storyline (like the Legacy campaign). We are opting for story arcs as its gives more variety, it offers more freedom and offers different spins on Legacy. We have a few modes in development that are story arc focused
IKS: Great SFA sounds interesting also...is it like a gameplay tutorial mode in game? Or is there more to it?
Tjoz: Thereâ€™s more to it but its a tutorial based mode. Its designed to introduce players to new techniques, how to use ships to their advantage and there will be both combat and non-combat aspects to it
IKS: Its a good idea, the Legacy controls and gameplay are difficult to get used to at the beginning, it should help new users with the gameplay
Tjoz: It offers players a small amount of info at a time instead of overloading them with things they may never even consider, its an opportunity to learn
IKS: Are you continuing with the modding tutorials?
Tjoz: Yes, the tutorials are coming in for a re-development to incorporate Ascension features into them. We did have tutorial updates for 2.0 but we pushed them back to 2.2 so both internal and external tutorials got done at the same time
IKS: Sounds great. Unfortunately I have to cut this interview a bit short. Is there anything else we can discuss in brief about 2.0 before I do?
Tjoz: Textures, there are hundreds in there lol
IKS: Ah yes of courseâ€¦
Tjoz: We got a new intro video too, and also new graphics but not via the conventional methods. I would say around 60% of our ships in Aftermath had texture changes of some sort there are new weapons, mass balancing of many races, our new Borg textures too. There are new weapons, mass balancing of many races, our new Borg textures too.
IKS: Cool... well I guess everyone is going to have to download it to see the new features which sound great. It was a pleasure talking to you... Good Luck with the mod and Iâ€™ll guess Iâ€™ll see you around out there.
Tjoz: Ok. You have a good day and take care
Interview End Time: 13:20:08(GMT) __________________________________________
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