We rarely see good helicopter shooters any more. Back in the old days you used to have all manner of top-down helicopter shooters so it was cool to see the early trailers for Thunder Wolves and see a bit of the past being revisited. I was able to get some questions over to Zsolt Tatrai, the Studio Director of Most Wanted to get some info on the inspiration behind the game and what gamers can expect when they pick it up.
What’s the story behind Thunder Wolves? What were your inspirations for the game?
We were brainstorming about our next project back in 2010 which, for some reason, turned into reminiscing classic old games we all loved to play. When someone mentioned ‘Desert Strike’, we realized how much everyone was missing these old school helicopter shooters and started to wonder why nobody made such a game in the past 10-15 years. Since we have not found any good explanation, we decided that we’d embark on this mission ourselves. Hopefully, the players will share our passion as well and think we treated a legend gently.
Thunder Wolves is a pretty kick ass name, was that always the name or were there other iterations of the name that you went through and could share with us?
The game was originally called "Air Hawks" but we were advised by marketing experts to change it to the more arcadey "Thunder Wolves". Not sure ourselves if it’s much more arcadey than "Air Hawks" but both are cool, so it does not really matter.
Will players strictly be flying helicopters or are there fixed wing aircraft in the game? Which aircraft will you be flying in the game?
Most of the time you’ll fly different helicopters but in some missions you’ll also be given the chance to control other vehicles or special weapons like a tank, a bomber, an AA gun, etc.
Are the aircraft in the game based on real life aircraft and how hard was it to get the licensing rights to use them in the game?
Very similar but still different enough to be considered fictional and to avoid lengthy and expensive licensing talks that you mentioned.
Will players be able to choose which aircraft they have on a mission or is that is dependent on the mission?
Choppers fall into 3 different categories and the category itself is set for each mission. You can freely choose from the helicopters that are available in the particular category though, after you have unlocked them, of course.
From looking at the trailers there seems to be a heavy emphasis on stuff blowing up really well, would you agree with that statement or not? What kind of tools will players have in blowing things up?
We’d say that’s absolutely spot on. You get over 30 different weapons for this demolition job, so every helicopter will have new tricks up their sleeves. Plus, it’s more arcadey than Desert Strike was, so you don’t need to care about refuelling or picking up ammo crates, though your missiles have different reload times. All you need to care about is destroying everything and not getting killed in the process. OK, sometimes it helps if you check what the objective is, too .
A lot of smaller developers have had some issues with getting their games onto consoles, have you run into any issues? Is it really significantly easier to get your games out on PC’s now?
Hmmm…sensitive issue. Unfortunately, consoles have very complex and extensive requirements that we need to comply with. What makes it even more painful is that while some of these requirements overlap, some are quite different on the two major platforms, which causes a lot of additional work and testing. Obviously, PC is much simpler and friendlier for developers. We really hope the next gen consoles will have a more lightweight compliance process because, honestly, the current process is a huge obstacle for small studios like ourselves. It’d have been much better to put the time and money we spent on implementing and testing all the requirements into further improving the game itself.
Will players have the freedom to explore (and blow up) the world or is Thunder Wolves a linear fly in one direction kind of game?
In essence, Thunder Wolves is a more linear game but players still get the chance to look for some secrets in between or during objectives and to blow more shit up.
What was the hardest part of the game to get right? Was there something you thought was going to be difficult but turned out to be relatively easy?
The toughest part was to find a middle road in terms of features, so we achieve a decent performance on all 3 platforms. This optimization process had casualties but in the end we are happy that ‘Thunder Wolves’ will be available for both PC and console gamers.
Is Thunder Wolves strictly a solo experience or can we expect to see some form of multiplayer modes?
There is a local co-op mode in which one player is the pilot with access to the basic machine gun and defensive systems, and the other is the gunner that raises all kind of hell with every weapon at hand.
Is there anything we missed that you think is important? When should we expect to play the game?
Perhaps only to encourage everyone to give the Thunder Wolves team a chance to impress. The game will be available on XBLA, PSN and Steam in Q2 2013.