Ian: Sorry it took me so long to reply. Had to bring in my system yesterday for
repairs. Motherboard died. So ... I upgraded... :)

>Q:     First I'd like to thankyou, Ian for taking the time to be interviewed. So when did you start designing computer games? Was  Jagged Alliance your first game?

No, Jagged Alliance wasn't my first game. I made a few shareware games
beforehand (mostly arcade or adventure games) and one commercial strategy
arcade game called Freakin' Funky Fuzzballs.

>Q:     Jagged Alliance was such a smash hit. Does that make it hard on you
>to make the sequel live up to the first? More of a challenge?

Well it was tough with Deadly Games because we never intended for it to be a
sequel, but rather a lateral extension of gameplay using the same engine. In
a large game world like the original Jagged Alliance where you could go
anywhere you wanted (it was a non-linear game) it's pretty hard to make it
multiplayer without redesigning the basic flow of gameplay. And we wanted to
try our hand at multiplayer so badly so instead of concentrating on a JA 2
we made Deadly Games. However, so many people judged it as a sequel and
complained that we were moving away from the non-linear gameplay that the
original JA had, so we really feel now that we have to prove ourselves with
the 'real' JA 2. We're trying to add in so much without too much risk of
failing because of attempting too much.

>Q:     Will the gameplay remain the same? Or are there big changes which
>are worth mentioning?

There are lots of changes. First of all, on the tactical side there are many
improvements which add a lot of detail. Mercs can crawl, run, shuffle
crouched, leap fences, climb things, etc. You can use suppression fire,
machine gun bursts, blow out windows, etc.

On the strategy side, you can anticipate the movements of a large enemy
force and try to control certain vantage points, go for economic benefits
that certain locales may have and we've changed the entire way you deal with
mercs that will make the game much more interesting. For example, you now
contract out mercenary services where you pay up front for the period that
you hire them.

>Q:     I have heard not much about the storyline of Jagged Alliance II, but from what I've heard, there will quite a few suprises, true?

The story line is pretty complex. Even to describe the background is tough.
Basically you're trying to overthrow an evil dictator (female version of
Saddam Hussein sort of thing) and get the residents of a small country to
support you. There is a 'lite' version of NPC interaction where you can make
or break alliances and have more of the story unfold. There are numerous
sub-quests, one of which has a sci-fi element that will appeal to some
players, but not to the die-hard realists. We have an option that will
eliminate the sci-fi element for those who are opposed to that sort of a
thing in a Jagged Alliance game, though.

>Q:     Rumors are that you can create your own mercenary. Is that true?

Yes you can. We're excited about this. We have a unique angle on how you do
it, too, but basically you can create one merc at the beginning of the game.

>Q:     What will the graphics be like? From pictures I've seen it     
>definately dosn't look like the first Jagged Alliance's VGA    graphics.

The entire engine, not just the graphics, has been redone. The graphics are
now 640x480 16 bit color isometric, we have true 3d information for all
objects in the world and actual physics (which will make for truly realistic
combat where bullet projectiles are modeled with such detail that they can
even penetrate certain substances). We also have dynamic lighting, which is
important since a lot of the game take place underground and we have a 24
hour clock which means we have nighttime as well. Our animation system
supports unlimited amount of frames, so we're pretty happy with the
mercenary animations in the game.

>Q:     So what has been the toughest part of designing this game?

Doing everything we want to do in the time we have. For example, we're
working on vehicles now, and they present a number of challenges we have to
overcome. The longer it takes us, the more risk of not getting something
else done that we want to include.

>Q:     To the Mercs. Will many of the old mercs be returning, or will most of them be gone? Does A.I.M still exist and most importantly  will Ivan
be back? How many new mercs will their be?

Some of the old mercs will be returning, but the number is less than half.
There are many new mercs, which we're excited about. Most of the new guys
are serious kick ass mercs, but some favourites like Ivan will be back. Ivan
has learned some english and has a relative that has also joined A.I.M.,
which is still around and is a little more sophisticated now - especially
since it has some competition!

>Q:     How many mercs will the player be in control with?

The player can have up to 20 mercs on his team. You can control squads of up
to 6 at a time.

>Q:     Will that cheap Irish Arms dealer be back, and will his prices 
still be as bad?              

Micky O'Brien *will* be in the game, but not as you expect. He's no longer
an arms dealer. There will be various ways for the player to get his hands
on new goodies, including a mail order weapons site!

>Q:     How many mercs will their be total?

The number of characters in the game exceeds 150 at this point. Not all of
them are mercs, of course. AIM has approximately 40 mercs; a rival operation has about 10 or so, and various other characters (NPCs) that you meet along the way may join your crew, depending on how things go.

>Q:     In pictures I've seen theirs some weird alien creatures. Atleast it
>looks like it. What are they?

They're part of the optional sci-fi element I mentioned. They're actually
mutant insects, not aliens. I don't want to spoil the surprise, though, so I
won't go into any detail.

>Q:     One more thing, all the mercs will look a little different right?

Well, for one thing, mercs look a little more closer to what you would
expect in terms of physique: females look like females, etc., and all
portraits are incredibly detailed. We have a look that we're happy with
which is realism (as opposed to being cartoony) but still artistic (as
opposed to photographs).

>Q:     The atmosphere, whats it like?

Believable! There's people walking about, the graphics are detailed, the
options are plenty, so we think find it very immersive. A game really needs
to draw you in so you forget about everything else and be totally
entertained. We're pretty certain we're going to achieve that.

>Q:     What part of designing this game are you most happy with?

The attention to detail and the feel of a world that is 'living'. It goes on
with or without you, and can result in a different game for everyone every time.

>Q:     One last question, when will this be out?

We're scheduled for April 1998.

>Me:    Thanks Ian! This will be one of the first games I'll get next year
>and I had fun interviewing you. Bye!  

I composed this interview with the man sometime around early 98. By now it probably serves no interest to anybody but if you're into Jagged Alliance I'd think it would make a decent read anyways...
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