While the WWII genre has been beaten to death in the FPS and RTS genre, the genre is a bit fresh for adventure gamers which is why were intrigued when Akella announced A Stroke of Fate. Being the journalists we are we sent over a few questions and there are the results.
Could you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project? What kind of work do you do on a daily basis?
My name is Boris Chuprin, and I’m working on these games as project leader and lead game designer. And my and to be honest the whole team’s main goal is to make qualitative, interesting polished adventures for true fans of this genre. We also wanted to pay a special attention to the visual part of the game which is really made on top level in A Stroke of Fate: Operation Valkyrie and A Stroke of Fate: Operation Bunker.
Where did the idea of the game come from? Why did you decide to go the adventure game route rather than a shooter/action type game?
The idea of the game has originally come from our producer Sergey Belistov. He has suggested to concentrate on this topic and SPline has taken this challenging task to reveal the mystery of Fuhrer’s death.
How much of an influence was the movie Valkyrie on your game if any? What about Inglorious Bastards?
Well, we should remind that we’ve started to work on long time before the movie of Valkyrie with Tom Cruise was announced. The game and the movie cross solely in the field of historical facts. Talking about specific details details, the game starts exactly from the plan of Valkirye, its preparation, attempt at Fuhrer and hard failure of the plan.
What's the background of the character we'll be playing? What kind of person is he and what are his motivations? Was he based on anyone in particular?
There is no real prototype with the same name and surname. It’s rather a collective image of many patriots of Germany. The main hero is a man intoxicated with speeches of Fuhrer and his accomplices. He had been thinking that he goes right way for a long time, but at a moment he wrung from this hypnosis of advocacy. He has seen that Fuhrer leads German people to self destruction, that Fuhrer carries evil and war. That is why, the main hero decided to kill the dictator moved forward with the idea to stop this nonsensical war which has nothing about happy future of German people,.
Can you talk about how much research you did for the project? Did you call in experts/historians to ensure the locations / characters were accurate?
To be honest, the historical research was the permanent part of our work on A Stroke of Fate. We’ve started to learn documents and materials on the very early pre-design stage and finished just on the last meters of development.
We surely had a specialized team member whose job was dedicated to research facts and implement them into the game content. But all the other team members also read books, memoirs, newspapers of those years, and then we shared this information between each other, discussed it and decided what do we want to add to the game and what we don’t. By the way, I am a historian by original profession J.
Of course we’ve also invited historical consultants to clarify details. Sometimes some of the revealed facts contradicted with each other, and we needed to find the right decision how we can use them.Can you talk about the research you did for the settings in the game?
Undoubtedly, to understand Fuhrer we read, listened, watched records with his speeches, read «Mein Kampf» which has been officially forbidden in Russia for many years. We learned dozens of facts and materials about every person you can meet in the game. We’ve studied books written by fellow accomplices of Fuhrer, his adjutant, generals, etc. We even examined usual letters home written by soldiers, officers, their diaries and so on. We were interested in atmosphere of those years, and what people of that epoch lived with.
If to speak about the game environments, in addition to descriptions of interior in memoirs we also watched large number of chronicles to ensure deep immersion into the atmosphere of that tragic period of time.
The screenshots we've seen so far are very impressive, was graphical fidelity one of the goals of the project or did things just end up that way?
As mentioned before, the quality of the game was extremely important for us because we wanted all the players who tried SoF to remember it. Graphics is one of the features of our game. We knew that it’s not only about the common atmosphere, filling the game with the huge number of details, even small but very authentic ones – we wanted to add some original depths to the game.
For example let’s concern the interiors. You can imagine that chronicles usually have a bad quality. Therefore, we have noted there just exact models of furniture, and then we’ve designed the in-game models based on photos from the auctions’ catalogues with authentic examples of furniture of those years.
Pictures from auctions are colored, they come up with big resolution and usually show the furniture from different perspectives.
This approach has helped us to achieve the great refinement of picture from the artistic point of view. Regarding the historical accuracy, we’ve shown all the models to the experts, and they approved them.
We do not have our primary target to follow the details of symbolic and military rank signs. We’ve concentrated rather on reflecting the details of sewing and types of material of every kind of uniform. You know: the deeper and longer the war was, the cheaper the most part of uniform and additional equipment of the Third Reich became. In the beginning of the war the costs of the uniform producing have reduced one time per 2 years, but closer to the end it reduced almost every month.
So, these small items and details make our game small but still interesting encyclopedia.
How do you balance historical accuracy with coming up with an interesting plot? Were there things that you had to gloss over for plot reasons or not?
Yeah, from the beginning we have faced with a dilemma: where we should stop showing facts and start making the game and gameplay. But we’ve understood what to do quite fast – we’ve just realized that working with facts did not prevent us from making the gameplay.
During the whole game the gameplay process works like immersion into historical facts and reality without any conflicts with them. Of course, some episodes of the game are specially invented. I mean, they are not based on any real events, but they are still not crossing historical “borders”.
However, I have to point out the ending of the game. There we’ve allowed ourselves some more fantasy and intrigue comparing to the whole game. We think that first of all the game has to be a game :-).Will the game be limited to just Operation:Valkyrie and Operation:Bunker or will there be more reveals at a later date?
We’re thinking about that, but have not determined our plans so far.
What's the hardest part of localizing the game for release in the US? Can you talk about your process for localizing a game? Is it just changing the text/voice over or is it more complicated than that?
The most challenging part is to keep the unique atmosphere of the epoch and brilliant sense of humour adherent to Germans. Some shades in meaning could have been lost during translation process, so, we kept the eyes open to preserve the both.
Do you have a release date for US yet? Will there be a demo of the game released or not?
Release date in the USA is not determined so far, We’ll come up with the Demo version, of course, to give American players the flavour of the product.
What's your take on the state of PC Gaming right now?
We often hear that PC Games are losing their positions compared to console projects, and their era is coming to the end. But I don’t believe in this. For some special genres like adventures, for example, this platform is prior. In addition, the new technologies for PC develop permanently and grow very fast, much faster than consoles change their generations This guarantees to the players the possibility to try the new hi tech achievements sooner on PC than on consoles, and true fans of games will never lose this chance.
Anything we missed that you think is important?
Hopefully, the both products will bring many hours of exciting gameplay to gamers. We tried to make serious and deep project, and hope that gamers will enjoy the results.
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We'd like to thank Boris for taking the time to answer our questions as well as Anton for setting up and translating the interview.