We got the chance to interview ‘SWAT_OP-R8R’, founder and project leader for the Swat Development Group, which is currently working on a new Starlancer game developed using the FS2 Open game engine. This is a fan-made project, and will be free to obtain once it is finished. We would like to thank SWAT_OP-R8R and the rest of the SDG for their hard work. We can’t wait to play Starlancer: The Sol War….
GS: So, tell us a little about Starlancer: The Sol War and what it was about the original Starlancer that drew you guys to work on this particular project?
SWAT: Starlancer: The Sol war is being developed by the SWAT Portal, a big Lancer community, and the original Starlancer was the first game we ever covered at SWAT. That was many years ago but we still loved to remember the old times and played the original Starlancer long after Microsoft made the decision to close the game rooms. We thought it would time to bring this great game back to life and so The Sol War Project was started. First we the plans for this new game looked a bit different… a different engine and just one campaign… no multiplayer. But fortunately these plans did change very soon an so we switched to a game engine that allows everything that we need for this new Starlancer game. We also decided that we want to tell more than just the original Starlancer story. Since the release of Freelancer in 2003 is known that the war between alliance and coalition did last almost 100 years so we decided to tell a story with 3 campaigns showing how this war actually developed from the view of the alliance. So we practically cover 3 different time lines showing how the war did start, how the alliance managed to win important fights and finally how the Freelancer sleeper ships have been build before the alliance had to leave to the Sirius sector. One of our developers also came up with the idea of a prequel that is meant to learn how to play and to tell a mini-story about what happened in the few weeks before the great war.
GS: How many people are on your development team and are any currently working in the industry?
SWAT: Starlancer: Sol War is a pure fan project and our development team is pretty small. We have a coder working on game engine, a few modelers for the ships and stations and a bunch of mission designers. Many members of the SWAT community already volunteered to help with the voice recording so basically even though we are not many we still can cover the necessary work. It just takes a bit longer.
GS: Which game engine are you modifying for use in the game? Also, are your in-game models being re-used from the original Starlancer or has the team recreated them? If so, which 3d modeling program are your modelers using?
SWAT: We decided to use the FS2open engine as it is still one of the best after all those years and since Volition made the source code public we easily can modify it to our needs. Since the original Starlancer is already pretty old the original ships wont be used as they are. We only use them as a base to rebuild them in a higher detail grade. In the end we want to create a game that looks better than the original one. Well I noticed that we modelers have different preferences as to which tools we use. That is very likely because we have been working on other games before and everyone of us learned to model with a different tool. Personally I don’t see a big problem in that since nowadays you can include the different files in almost every modeling tool.
GS: As this is a whole new game engine, your possibilities are much greater than if you just modded the original game. Is there any chance of walking around your capital ship in first-person before getting to the space-combat?
SWAT: We concentrate our work on the playing and fighting factor. It is not planned to have a sightseeing tour on the Yamato or the Reliant. But cut scenes will give players and impression about those locations. The player mostly will deal with the Starlancer ITAC where he can do training missions, get info about ships, weapons or pilots and plan campaign missions. Even though we have a new engine and basically a completely new game we still try to use elements of the original game so the player can identify with it.
GS: Will your standalone game feature cut-scenes as well as in-game voice acting? If so, will your voice actors come from the team or are you planning to hold auditions?
SWAT: The game will of course contain cut scenes. Those are simply necessary to create a deep gameplay and keep the players interested. And yes we are going to work on voice acting. The SWAT Portal which meanwhile is a big Scifi Game community will help with this.
GS: Will you be implementing support for Force Feedback® enabled joysticks?
SWAT: Of course!!!! That is a must.
GS: Speaking of controller-related items, will you have integrated support for the Track-IR head-tracking system?
SWAT: Honestly we have not thought about that possibility yet but now that you mention it we will see what we can do.
GS: Will there be a co-op campaign option for players to rally and take on the story together?
SWAT: The Multiplayer will cover a co-op mode with the 3 main campaigns and a deathmatch mode. You can play the missions together with friends if you want.
GS: Is an official project website in the works as of yet, and if so, where can our readers find it? If not, where is your project information located now?
SWAT: There was an official website for this project but unfortunately the site was attacked by a hacker. We have not rebuilt it and due to all our other projects (in total 10 Lancer related projects) we have not much time working on it at the moment. Once I have a few days free I will try to bring the official project site back online. For now the project can be found on our forum at www.swat-portal.com. Under ‘SWAT Projects Gallery’ on our main site you can also find screenshots of an early version.
GS: And finally, is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
SWAT: Yes. Starlancer is not dead yet! ^^
You can find the Swat Development Group website here.
Images After the Break!