Earlier this year Sean got the chance
to check out Air Conflicts: Vietnam and after that we had some questions about the game. Luckily I was able to get Peter Nagy, the head of theGamesfram to answer them. Here's the inside scoop on the upcoming game.
Could you give us the “elevator pitch” for “Air Conflicts: Vietnam”?
Air Conflicts: Vietnam is an arcade-action aircraft combat game that takes place in the Vietnam War era. The storyline follows a young airman through the opening days of the conflict, through the end and the fall of Saigon.
The game has a solid single-player story driven campaign, along with multiplayer modes for online play. You’ll have 20 different aircraft you can pilot throughout the game, from Russian MIGs to American Starfighters. Let’s not forget, of course, the helicopters, which are a first in the Air Conflicts series, and introduce a whole new style of flight/combat, and are key to several of the game’s missions.
Why the decision to set a game in the Vietnam era? What challenges/opportunities does the Vietnam War provide for an air combat game?
Frankly, the Vietnam War has been overlooked for quite some time in games, especially air-combat titles. We felt that the era was a great choice, because it was the introduction of helicopters in serious combat roles, and we really like helicopters J So, along with exciting air combat between jets of the era, you’ll also be flying combat and support missions in helis.
This game was a huge challenge – propeller mechanics we have had from previous Air Conflicts series simply do not work with jets and neither with helicopters. So we had to design completely new gameplay and control. This has to be done even twice – once for jets and once for helicopters, so we in fact were developing two games instead of one. Each of those mechanics (jets and helicopters) could possibly be sufficient for a single game, but we wanted to deliver to the players a single game with enough diversified experience. So even if the amount of work was outstanding in this development, we think that Vietnam Era airplane game should include both jets and helicopters to deliver the real Vietnam experience.
Which airplanes should we expect to see in Air Conflicts: Vietnam outside of the planes you would expect to see like the F4? How did you come to the decision to add helicopters to the game?
We have plans such as the A4 Skyhawk, the A7 Corsair, the F4 Phantom, the F100 Super Sabre and a slew of Soviet-era fighters, including the MIG 17, 19 and 21. Of course, we also have the helicopters, including the AH-1 Cobra and the UH-1 Iroquois.
The helicopters proved to be a substantial part of the Vietnam War. I cannot picture Vietnam airplane game without helicopters. We were really excited about the idea of the new mechanic they’d add to the gameplay, with different control schemes and an overall different style of play than fast-moving fighter jets. It is something that refresh the gameplay a lot and brings a new elements into the gameplay.
And, besides those classical Vietnam era airplanes - player may be able to find a WW2 jets in the game too. The WW2 era airplanes cannot be used in the single player as it would be severely historically inaccurate, but the players can compare the WW2 airplanes against jets in Multiplayer and Singleplayer dogfight too.
Where on the arcade/simulation scale does Air Conflicts: Vietnam sit?
Air Conflicts: Vietnam is definitely on the arcade side of things. We wanted to add as much realism as reasonably possible to the game, but bring this game to the wider audience too. It definitively shouldn’t be perceived as a simulation game as neither of the series was. However, we believe that those who did like our previous games will also enjoy Air Conflicts: Vietnam. If someone is looking for pure simulation he should turn elsewhere. If someone does want to experience a cool flight feeling without learning flight manuals – this game is definitively right.
What kind of controller support will you be providing in Air Conflicts: Vietnam? Is it strictly going to be keyboard and mouse or will you be supporting flight sticks and other exotic equipment?
We support keyboard and mouse, but also Xbox 360 controller and flight sticks too .
Could you talk about Joe Thompson a bit, what is his backstory and how will he evolve over time? How will you be weaving his story into the game? Will there be any branches in the plotline at all?
Due to nature of this game (arcade/sim shooter) we did not include any branching for the storyline as we feel this may be unnecessary for the pilots. Story is important, but we think not that important here. We would also need to use different kind of storytelling, which would unnecessarily complicate the development.
Joe’s father died back in WW2 during invasion in Normandy. Joe was raised by his mother along with his younger brother, Neil. He missed his father in his childhood and always pictured his father like a war hero. This affected him and it was the main reason (apart of his passion in flying) which leads him to Vietnam in the very early days, already during Advisor’s era in early ’60s.
The Vietnam War was a turning point for the US in how we perceived war, are you incorporating that into the plotline and all and if so how are you doing it? Do you feel like there’s still some sensitivity to the war at this point?
The current point of view is completely different from the way it has been pictured in media during the war and shortly after the war. We know much more about the things which happened back there. Recently there was a huge amount of secret documents from Vietnam Era released to public by US government. This gives us entirely different picture we can present.
We did our best to combine available information and how the war was perceived at that time. We know that using of Napalm, defoliants was not right – I believe that most of the people involved in the conflict knew that deep inside too. However, they had to follow their orders and therefore were getting into the conflict with their consciousness. We believe this was one of the main reasons for Vietnam vets syndrome diagnosed after war.
We tried to picture this personal conflict – consciousness with commands – in the game. It is up to players to judge how much we succeed.
I have to warn you – this is not the hero game where the player will save the world and does everything right. We wanted to raise the awareness and questions to the Vietnam War so people do think before blindly accepting the information from media.
It isn’t that inappropriate to look back at the Vietnam War history today. With all the recent events in Western Asia and near East – is the today’s situation really that much different? Wasn’t the global situation similarly looking back there in Vietnam Era?
Did you reach out to any Vietnam era pilots to consult on the game? What was the best advice they gave you?
Unfortunately, we were not able to do so. Due to our geographic location (Central Europe) this proved to be quite difficult. Vietnam veterans may perhaps crucify us for some historical inaccuracies present in the game, but we were not creating a hardcore simulator game. Our goal was to create a fun game which would strike the player with some questions and perhaps extend his perception of Vietnam War. We know that some players will complain about historical inaccuracy in some parts of the game. We apologize to them but some changes were necessary to do to create a game. But I can assure all players that we did our best to minimize any changes against the known history and Air Conflicts: Vietnam may even be the most accurate Vietnam War out there in the genre...
What are you doing for multiplayer? How does capture the flag work in an air combat game? Will there be any other modes?
The multiplayer game is an important game and we hopefully will be able to release further updates for the players to improve the MP gameplay experience in Air Conflicts: Vietnam. The Capture of Flag is actually quite fun in airplanes. The challenge is to get there unnoticed and escape as soon as possible. The gameplay is quite dynamic with involvement of jets – unlike the previous Air Conflicts series the jets are much faster and dynamic.
We have currently 3 modes – Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch and Capture the Flag in the game. It will be fun to watch which one the players will like the most. We hopefully will be able to focus on those modes which are most frequently played and improve these modes in the updates.
Will you be mixing helicopters and jets or will they be separate multiplayer components?
We tested also mixed MP matches, but this proved to be no real challenge. Helicopters just can’t stand against jets – they are too slow and the weaponry is just not designed to challenge jets. We would need to switch entirely to arcade for such battles to be possible and ignore the reality. However, developing a completely new physics for helicopters to be able to challenge jets was simply beyond this project scope as it would be like developing 50% of the gameplay from fresh.
Is there anything we missed that you think is important? Can we expect a demo ahead of the game’s release?
The demo is more the question towards bitComposer, perhaps Daniel can answer that. We believe that we will be able to provide the players after release with the new content and extensive support. There is already contract in place which I cannot disclose yet; but it includes some new things for Vietnam which I believe will be announced by bitComposer soon.
We also believe this may be the best game we have released so far – some players will certainly not agree with that as there are always many opinions for every single game. But from our standpoint, none of our previous games did receive that much attention as Air Conflicts: Vietnam.
I hope that players will enjoy our Vietnam and their perception of Vietnam history will expand.
We'd like to thank Peter for taking the time to talk to us and Ted for helping to coordinate the interview.