Omerta:City of Gangsters is the latest game from the folks behind the wonderful Tropico series of games and it represents a major shift in tone and content. Instead of ruling a banana republic with an iron fist you're now trying to setup and establish a grow a prohibition era criminal empire.
Travis had the chance to see the game
earlier this year but we still had some questions about the game and luckily we were able to get some answers.
Could you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project?
My name is Bisser Dyankov. As a designer at Haemimont Games I took an active role in scripting missions for Omerta: City of Gangsters, development of the story concept and balancing out different weapons. Prior to Omerta: City of Gangsters I worked on Tropico 3 and 4 and The First Templar.
So we’re curious, how do you go developing something humorous like the Tropico games to something that is so serious? Any chance that El Presidente is hidden somewhere in Omerta?
We as developers love the opportunities to experiment in different genres at least as much as we love to play different games. This is true even when it means we have to venture outside of our so called "comfort zone" of city-builders. We were really enthusiastic to make a gangster strategy sim with turn-based combat.
As for El Presidente, we tried really hard to contain him on the island of Tropico, but his ingenuity is enormous and I am afraid we can expect ANYTHING from the guy.
How did you come up with the concept for Omerta? The game bears some similarities to the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, has the game been influenced by the show at all or was the game in production before the show started?
The Omerta concept was born out of our interest in the Prohibition era and the amazing historic characters that shaped those times. This interest, covering different media such as games, books and noir movies alike, combined with our expertise in strategy/economy management was already a quite promising combination. Add to this our enthusiasm for turn-based combat and you have the concept of Omerta - City of Gangsters.
The Boardwalk Empire show was wonderful addition to our reference titles. There are fans of the show on our team, of course. The production of the game itself started after the show was launched, and in this respect Boardwalk Empire has clear influence over Omerta - City of Gangsters.
In doing the research for the game where there things you found that surprised you? Could you give examples of those and how you incorporated those into the game?
There were quite a few interesting personalities in the era. Some examples include the second female US Assistant Attorney General, Ms. Willebrandt (earlier in her life defending prostitutes pro bono), a.k.a. "First Lady of the Law" , who was a courageous young woman showing exceptional character and determination in a world dominated by men; William McCoy, the "honest lawbreaker" who never drank, and never paid a cent to organized crime; the infamous gangsters of the day like Lucky Luciano and Al Capone, and the nowadays hilarious photo with the ladies, declaring "Lips that touch liquor shall never touch ours."
The Prohibition was really an era of its own, giving birth to some unthinkable feats, and when you compare the cultural differences with present day (like the male pink costumes which were clear sign of manhood) make quite an interesting mix.
What are the various options for upgrading characters in terms of skills and abilities? As well, how will players be able to customize their gangsters in regards to appearance and selection of weapons and gear?
The gang members have their special talents – for example, one can intimidate enemies, others will help friendly gangsters act sooner, a third one may carry a grenade or even better, a fire bomb! More talents appear as the gangsters level up and are left for players to explore.
When a gangster levels up, he gains a new perk - he can be developed as a melee or ranged character, as sniper or support, or a combination of those. The player can assign his weapon of choice to a specific gangster. As the campaign progresses the gangsters will obtain unique weapons, which are extremely effective!
The appearance of each gangster is not customizable, though. Our characters "have character" and they started a fight each and every time we tried to make them change their favorite clothing J
How do police function within the game world in terms of patrolling the streets and fighting crime? Are there any ways for players to bypass the law using their status as a gangster?
In different districts of Atlantic City the police have a different presence - in some districts the law is pretty lax, while in others the cops will breathe down your neck all the time. Gangsters often doing things that involve attract additional police attention. Combining these two factors results in the eagerness and frequency with which the police will go after the player.
If the player has paved his way ahead of time, he will have a variety of options to stall a police investigation. There is always the possibility of getting involved in a shootout with the police, or buying your way out. Calling a favor from a friendly cop or framing a friendly gangster are also viable options, which, in certain circumstances, can help the players progress in unexpected ways.
Sometimes the henchmen will end up in prison, but the Boss has solutions for these situations as well.
What sort of rival gangsters or organizations will players be facing throughout the narrative? Will it be possible to choose whom to side with or betray?
The underground of Atlantic City is very diverse. There are numerous independent operations going on there, which the player will, of course, encounter in the campaign. There are also rival organized crime syndicates, which will both help and hinder the player, as the story progresses. The relationship with those, however, is story-driven and disclosing it will result in major spoilers.
What can we expect in terms of music within the game? Will there be any recognizable tracks or is it a completely original soundtrack?
The soundtrack brings forth the spirit of the Prohibition era. It enhances the overall atmosphere and helps make the game more immersive. The soundtrack is not composed for the game per se, because we did not feel that a current composition can convey the spirit of the 1920s better than the already existing songs and themes which were typical for those times.
How did you come up with the two different gameplay modes?
As mentioned above, the turn-based tactical combat is something that we long wanted to experiment with. When we heard that Firaxis were making a remake of the old XCOM, we realized we were not the only ones who loved it.
The game was recently delayed, could you talk about some of the reasons you decided to push the release back? What factors go into delaying a game vs. issuing a day 0 patch for a game?
Polish, polish, polish, polish and more polish. Oh, did I mention polish?
Is there anything we missed that you think is important?
We won't force you to buy the game. It is your own choice, really. Yet one day you may call us for a favor. And in that day, you better be on the list of those who bought our game...
We'd like to thank Bisser for taking the time to answer our questions as well as Ted for coordinating the interview. Travis Huinker assisted in the creation of this interview.