|★ GAMES ★ EDITEURS ★ TARGET GAMES reveals its strategy for the past, present and future|ACE) ★|
|Target Games|Lords of Chaos)||Target Games|
AS the comedian Richard Digance observed recently, if a hurricane hit Harlow New Town it would make an improvement. ‘Concrete' was the middle name of whoever designed the town centre, a geometric mass of the stuff, with post-war school-building aesthetics and a depressing line in sharp corners and bland paving stones.
<< Target Games, with the delightful Harlow in the background
Hard then to believe that one of Britain's most consistently good development houses haven't thrown themselves off a concrete walkway in despair instead of writing a string of great strategy games. Yet Target Games are beavering away on the next potential hit now, a “fantasy, strategy, role-playing game" called Lords of Chaos.
The aim of the game is simple - playing a wizard you must defeat other wizards and reach a portal somewhere on the landscape within a certain number of turns - it is the method of play and the execution of strategy which makes the game cause for interest. For the overriding aspect of the game is magic, the use, selection and potency of spells to defeat all of your opponents.
Nick Gollop >>
There are several types of spells. Creature spells range from the utterly pathetic giant bat, to the ultimate... red, green and gold dragons. Projectile spells such as lightning can be useful in times of crises and close combat; terrain spells like Flood multiply insidiously to make a landscape impassable; more other-worldly incantations such as Subversion do things like turn an opponent's creature to your own side.
Each spell costs “mana" to cast, which regenerates each turn and can be boosted by some of the objects found on the huge scrolling landscape (viewed from above with the creatures displayed in a psuedo-3D fashion). The amount of “mana" needed is dependent upon the level of the spell, the higher the level the greater the drain.
Every creature, even a wizard, has a certain number of Action Points which are used up in a turn by movement, firing and, if a wizard is selected, casting spells.
A wizard will send their creatures off to seek and destroy the other wizards (up to eight, which can be either human or computer controlled and who take it in turns to move) and their creations as well as pick up objects on the ground and in chests. These aid life and are vital for the casting of some spells - notably the dragon spells.
The game ends when the last, surviving wizard (who by this time should have many victory points) makes it to the portal and on to the next level. During the wizard definition section (which, at the moment, is a separate program) the player builds the strength and attributes of a character and chooses spells in return for points.
“The idea of using magic in a strategy game gives an infinite variety of strategies," says Julian Gollop, a founder of Target Games. He is one of the three programmers working on the project - his brother, Nick Gollop, is working on the Commodore 64 version whilst Martin Beadle is embarking upon 16-bit versions.
Julian Gollop >>
<< Martin Beadle
Julian has an intriguing past. He began programming in 1984 for the short-lived Red Shift software before moving on to Games Workshop where he wrote the original Chaos (re-released on Firebird Silver last year) upon which Lords of Chaos is vaguely based. His break came in 1986 with the highly acclaimed Rebelstar for Firebird Silver, followed by the sequel. Rebel-star 2, in 1987/8.
His most recent work, Laser Squad, the first for Target Games, gained yet more acclaim, combining strategy with a touch of action. It was recently published by Blade Software for all major formats.
Julian is programming the Z80 versions and is the ideas-force behind this game. What inspired him to get into strategy games? “A little set of tabletop figures for Lord of the Rings. Five or six fantasy figures - a few hobbits and ores and things like that". In fact, the original Chaos was a board game.
“To create things is good," announces Julian, musing on a suitable philosophy for Target Games - “Get drunk" shouts Martin beadle from the background - “to break the straitjacket of mediocre computer gaming” comes back Julian.
“Lords of Chaos is as good as we can do on 8-bit," he says, “it's fantastically complex compared to Laser Squad". Of course, “the 16-bit versions will be significantly enhanced with more spells and adventurey-type things". There may even be a quest: “to recover a magical staff or whatever".
And what about his hopes for the game? “For it to be liked by the people that play it... to be recognised as something a bit different. If people are playing the game in a few years time. I'd be happy."
Jeffrey Davy , ACE