Tripwire Interactive's multiplayer shooter Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 recently received a free update to enhance the WWII, Eastern Front action. The update saw new content introduced ( including a new battleground and smoke grenades) along with gameplay tweaks and fixes - at the time of the update's release, Tripwire's VP Alan Wilson was on hand to take us deeper into the new additions and also discuss RO's future and other projects the studio has in the pipeline...
We guess we should get a bit of background to kick off with - what is Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45, and what's its history?
Alan Wilson: Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 is a standalone PC FPS based on the Eastern Front, giving the player access to a stack of infantry weapons and armoured vehicles. It is more heavily realism-based than many, aiming for a level approaching tank sim for the vehicles, while keeping the fighting very intense. It is built on the Unreal Engine 2.5, delivered both over Steam as well as being available in stores now. In its first incarnation, RO was the UT2003/UT2004 mod that won nVidia's "$1,000,000 Make Something Unreal" contest, which gave us a free Unreal Engine licence and enabled us to make the full game. But not a cool $million, or I'd be writing this from our office in the Caymans.
How did you decide on the new content that you've added in the latest free update for the game - why select these features over other potential additions?
Alan Wilson: All the new features are a combination of those items that we think the game needs next, plus items selected from comments and suggestions from the fans on the forums (redorchestragame.com). The new map is aimed to appeal to those who wanted more vicious, blood-thirsty and fast-paced infantry action. In general, we have a plan for the next 12-18 months of all the things we want to add - and that gets modified slightly as we see the players' reaction to each update. Don't go asking for cross-hairs or health-packs, though. That ain't going to happen :) But if there are ideas you think would fit well, then come and tell us - get your own weight behind the ideas you like!
Smoke grenades: have you simply been able to add this weapon in, or have you had to tweak game balance at all to incorporate them?
Alan Wilson: The smoke grenades were an interesting one as far as "balance" goes. We did think we'd need to re-look at some of the 13 maps already released. However, as we play-tested them, it became apparent that no changes were needed initially. What the smoke grenades do is to open up other tactical options for players. Where one team has managed to stalemate the other, there are now more options for breaking out of that stalemate. All those times when one team has managed to pin the other team back in a corner - smart use of smoke can dig you out of the hole. But of course, we'll be looking for the general reaction to how they play. The joy of Steam: it is very easy for us to make updates and then distribute them quickly, if we need to.
Is the new Lyes Krovy map based on an actual historical battleground? What particularly appealed about recreating this battleground, if so?
Alan Wilson: Lyes Krovy is one of those "apochryphal" battles. Which means it isn't an exact battle from the annals of history. The units concerned were in the right place at the right time and the Soviets did punch through the forests on their way to the Baltic. The key to the research on this one was to find a fight that gave us a good close-quarters battle - and this fitted the bill.