This interview published on the site:
Firstly, many thanks for giving us the time to ask you these questions, and taking the time to answer them.
Hello. Thank you for being interested in my game. I will gladly answer your questions.
1. First question may be a bit obvious, but why make a fantasy wargame as opposed to an historical one? What are the attractions of a fantasy setting for you?
I really like history games and was thinking seriously about what setting should I choose. I chose fantasy for practical reasons. Drums of War is a tactical game and a fantasy universe provides more tactical freedom - magic, potions and artifacts, fantasy monsters, resurrection of units. In a fantasy setting an author is restricted only by his imagination, and I really like it.
2. What inspirations did you draw on in developing the Drums of War fantasy setting?
I think the world of "Lord of the Rings" affected me most of all. In Drums of War there is no place for spells that can annihilate whole army, and there is no place for heroes who can turn the tide of battle. The Drums of War universe is similar to a medieval Europe where orcs, dwarfs and elves live.
3. Can you give our readers an over-view of the setting, races and the like; and what the players' aims and objectives are going to be within the setting?
It is dark times for Crasleen - The Undead Legion has risen from their graves and has besieged the once impregnable city walls. City defense is weakening day by day, and only a miracle can save the townsfolk from total destruction...
In the first campaign the player plays under Tarshan, an orc who wants to gather a horde and hammer down on Crasleen and the neighboring human kingdoms. In the second campaign the player plays under Ellan, a knight who is on duty at the western borders of Crasleen. Ellan turns out to be the last hope of the citizens of this great city.
Both the campaigns happen simultaneously timewise even though they are played sequentially, so when playing as Ellan the player will hear about Tarshan's successes.
4. What would you say the "wow factor" of the game is? The thing that will persuade people who might not otherwise part with their hard earned cash to buy the game?
Players will like the interactivity of the surroundings, the unique combat system and the ability to equip and level up their units. Drums of War is similar to chess - under external simplicity there is deep and carefully thought-out combat system.
5. You appear to have kept the graphics of the game fairly "functional", were you at all tempted to go for something more "flashy" with loads of animation? What do you think are the benefits of the approach you have chosen?
I set the priorities and did not try to beat big budget games with graphics. I put emphasis on making the gameplay perfect. Drums of War gives the player a wide variety of choices. The player always decides - should I draw the mages out from under the hostile attack of archers or have a cast a fireball spell? Should I freeze the river and cut into the enemy's rear with my cavalry, or try to push the enemy into water? Should I feed reinforcements to the opposite wing to hold the combat formation or just draw back? The player will always have a choice. Yes, Drums of War does not strike you with its graphics, but trust me is really interesting to play.
6. OK, so whilst this is a fantasy game did you feel in anyway bound by real history when developing how combat played out? For instance relative effectiveness of weapons and armour.
Things that happen on the battlefield are logical - a flank attack is much more effective than a frontal attack. Archers shoot worse at enemies which are in melee combat with allies. Shields protect from shooters. You cannot shoot or cast spells through trees. Infantry holds formation, covering shooters and mages ... and, the most important, you can throw enemies into water or fire.
7. What sort of units are there in Drums of War?
We have 50 unique units in Drums of War. I won't list them all, but some examples are:
Warboss - The strongest and the most fortunate orcs become chieftains called warbosses. Usually the ceremony of transfer of power to a new chieftain is accompanied by a solemn eating of the heart that used to belong to the previous war boss, who had fallen victim to a dramatic collision of the brainpan with a battle-axe.
Berserker - Berserkers are famous for their inextinguishable hatred and cruelty. They furiously fight with the help of two handed axes, and go around crushing the skulls of their less fortunate enemies. The berserkers are highly respected and even the warbosses are afraid of them.
Net Catcher - Net catchers alone are not too dangerous since their nets don't do much harm, they only make a victim move slower. Unfortunately, the net catchers never hunt alone. They are always accompanied by a few dozen orcs, who are always ready to hack and hew the be-netted enemy.
Assassin - There is always some work for professional killers. Assassins love their work and are always eager to thrust a dagger into their victim's back. By the way, the assassins are not as ravenous as they are often made out to be; sometimes they kill for pleasure or just for the love of the game.
Knight - The nobility of their blood and the fact that they must swear to serve their seigniors, forces the knights to accompany the lords on their campaigns. The knights are bad at observing discipline and prefer to fight on their own. As for the rest, the knights are terrific, skillful and courageous warriors.
Artillerist - Small portable cannons boast the engineering skills of the dwarven race. No armor can protect one from their cannonballs, and their great shooting range provides the artillery with the right to make the first shot.
Zombie - Freshly buried corpses can be easily made "alive" by the necromancers - much easier than skeletons. Zombies keep a thin thread that connects the world of the dead with the world of the living. That is why it is easier to resurrect and control them, but at the same time, they are weaker and slower than the skeletons. The magic that makes them wake up can make their bodies move, but is not capable of making them stronger. Zombies are dangerous at night when they attack in big bands.
Ghoul - Ghouls are strong, cruel and dangerous. Their injured hearts are tortured by an unappeasable hunger that makes them scour the land in search for food during the night time. They eat everything: people and animals. It is widely thought that ghouls are a result of an unfortunate experiment of a necromancer who became the victim of its own creature.
8. The pre-release info says "Almost every environment object is interactive" - what exactly does that mean, and how does it work in terms of game play?
You can interact with almost every object on the battlefield - trees can be set on fire, cut down or transformed into an Ent ally. Water and swamps can be frozen, boxes and crates can be broken or moved, you can make a hole in every place, the corpses of a fallen unit can be eaten of transformed into zombies. Fire freely spreads and can spread on the nearby object - as for example onto a tree.
Illumination on the battlefield is important. For example, undead are the most dangerous at night. When fighting undead, players need to set trees and the ground on fire to light up the battlefield.
9. Magic is a big part of fantasy, so how does it work in Drums of War?
On casting spells units spend action points and magical energy - mana. Mana is recovered slowly at the beginning of every turn. Its recovery can be speeded up by drinking mana potion or using active ability "Meditation".
10. Can you give us some examples of what the magic can do?
In Drums of War there are13 unique magic spells, here are some examples:
Poison Cloud - unit makes 3 damages with magic and poisons (a "poisoned" unit gets -1 to Strength, -1 to Accuracy and -1 to Evasion. He suffer 1 damage at the beginning of the turn) all the units for the period of 3 turns within the region of 1 hex.
Enlivening of Tree - unit animates the tree that will begin engaging enemies.
Darkness - the whole map is plunged into darkness for 5 turns.
11. Game development inevitably involves compromise, are there any features that you wanted to include in the game, but that didn't make it to the release version?
I managed to include all I wanted to include, and a few things that I had not planned to include in the beginning. I did have some interesting new ideas just before the release, but it was too late to include them in the already finished game. I am sure I will release them in a sequel.
12. Drums of War is a PC release only I understand. Was there any consideration given to having an iPad or other tablet format for the game? Do you think it would work on a tablet?
Just now Drums of War is a PC release only. I think to port the game on other platforms a lot of things would be needed to simplified and reworked. I am not planning to do so in near future.
13. How long has it taken to develop Drums of War?
It took me more than 3 years. I thought the game was done in autumn 2012. But it took me year and a half to do a "small polish".
14. Although the game is not yet released players are always wondering what the future for a game might hold - are there any ideas for the future, any planned additions you can tell us about?
I am excited to start working on the sequel. I have lots of ideas - new races, new units, potions, spells and artifacts, new terrain objects, and much more... I am planning to add "trainers", which will give bonuses to units (as example, increased amount of experience gained by units). The campaign structure will be changed, interfaces will be redrawn and graphics will be upgraded.
15. Finally, this would be a good opportunity to give the development team a name check; so who has been involved and what did they do?
Sure, I will gladly name the people who helped bring Drums of War into existance.
Graphics - Eugene Khomenko, Likantrop, ElzieBooker, Lemming, duxlab
Game writer - Nikolay Y. Andreev
Music - Kevin MacLeod
Testers - Falkowski Eugene, Sentinelle, dshaw62197, comrade, fortydayweekend