Meet Ede Tarsoly, the sole Hungarian developer from Elder Games and the man responsible for Meridian: New World. Meridian: New World is a new RTS game Ede is developing that has an emphasis on storytelling and strategy. In Meridian: New World you play as Daniel Hanson, commander of the first expedition to the planet Meridian. It is up to you, and your crew, to discover the dark secrets that Meridian holds. What makes this game unique is the way it tells the story of Meridian and how players are going to be able to interact with the environment and other characters in the game. Combine RPG like storytelling and interaction with intense RTS strategy and you have the recipe for an incredible, and unique, gaming experience. Ede was happy to sit down with me and answer some questions I had about the game and its development process. Me: Is it true that you are the sole developer behind Meridian: New World? What made you want to want to create this game and why are you doing it alone? Have you made other games before this one? Ede: Yes, it is true, although I had some help from a graphic artist friend and two freelancers with the graphics aspect of the game. The reason why I chose to develop Meridian like this is that I wanted my original vision of the game to remain intact. This way I could develop the entire game the way I always wanted to. I have built several casual games, mostly to practice game development, but also to make a living while developing Meridian. Before those, I only had some smaller projects which never really worked out the way I wanted them to, and some bigger ones. Me: Meridian looks beautiful! What engine are you using and what PC specs are going to be needed to run this game? Ede: I’m using Synapsegaming’s SunBurn engine for this game, which is a lighting and rendering engine. Meridian utilizes that engine’s light, shadow and model renders. At the moment it would be too early to talk about the final system requirements, but what I do know is Meridian requires a DirectX 10 GPU and a dual-core CPU at least. Me: Meridian looks like it has potential to stand out from the rest of the RTS games on the market with its strong focus on storytelling. How did you come up with the idea for the game? Ede: I’ve been working on Meridian’s concept for 7 years, of course back then it was not called Meridian, and the story was somewhat different, but the core concept remained the same throughout the years. I have several ideas that I came up with when attending *very* interesting high school classes, and I have been working on those concepts ever since. Whenever I come up with a new game mechanic that I think would sound interesting, I check out my game concepts and see which one could use that idea. The reason why I decided to develop Meridian two years ago is because its concept was the most fleshed out. Me: In terms of gameplay, how does it play differently from other games in the RTS genre like Command & Conquer or StarCraft? Ede: Meridian allows you to equip your units with weapons. Some of these weapons are the standard “laser, plasma, rocket”, others like “Sniper Laser” require good tactics to use well. You also have a commander profile. You collect experience points when killing enemies, researching new tech or constructing a massive economy. Each time you gain enough XP to level up, you need to choose an ability to enhance or a new ability to learn. There are many abilities which can be used in more than one situation, eg. the “Boost Firing Rate” ability, which can be used on military units, increasing their rate of fire temporarily or on a worker unit, increasing the rate of your income. Me: Strategy is a major part of any RTS. What kinds of strategy can we expect in Meridian? Does gameplay revolve around the traditional rock, paper, scissors style of RTS strategy? Is there a base building element and economy system? Do you have a limited resource and soldier pool that you can use? How does it all work together? Ede: I tried to move away from the rock-paper-scissors type gameplay, and even though it’s still part of the game’s mechanics, the weapon equipment options allow for a lot of diversity. There are many viable strategies in Meridian, and how you want to dispose of your enemies depends entirely on you. Let’s say you scouted that the enemy is constructing armored tanks. The amount of options you have at this point are too numerous to list, but a couple of examples: 1. You could research Plasma Cannon. Plasma keeps damaging units for a short while even after the projectile hit the enemy. On top of that, plasma cuts through heavy armor, destroying armored units at ease. 2. You could use your commander abilities to damage at least some of the vehicles and easily take out the rest. If you have enough energy to use such a skill, that is. 3. Placing a couple of units with sniper lasers in the enemy units’ path is also a solution. Sniper laser is not particularly good against vehicles, but units equipped with this weapon can attack from vast distances, so if you place your units well, the enemy won’t even make it to your base. 4. You could construct a couple of Anti-Vehicle Turrets. None of the turrets in Meridian counter everything, so this strategy has the risk of the enemy attacking with infantry or air units next, but these turrets would definitely deal with the vehicle problem at hand. …and many other options. Whichever you choose, the enemy will see what you’re doing and will try to adapt and come up with a strategy of its own. I’m sure everyone playing the game will have their own favorite strategy, my job is to make sure it’s not possible to win by just massing the counter to what the enemy is doing. There shouldn’t be a single counter in the first place. As for the base building, yes, Meridian has this feature, along with the resource gathering of traditional RTS titles. You need to build storages to be able to mine additional resources, you need Power Plants to supply the ever-increasing power demand of your base, and the food cap is actually increased by expanding to a new location, so turtling in your base and just waiting for the enemy to attack – in Meridian, this is simply not an option. Me: You have mentioned that decisions the player makes, and the way the player completes missions, will have a direct impact in the game world. This is something that is not commonly seen in the RTS genre. Can you give me an example of how this works? Ede: Even though this feature does not play a major role in the game, it’s still an extra that I think adds to the overall feel of the game. An example would be a mission where you need to choose between four objectives, but you only have time to accomplish one. For example, if you take out the enemy turret center, the anti-air turrets will shut down and you can receive reinforcements, if you take out the enemy Landing Pad, the enemy won’t have air support, etc. Whichever objective you accomplish, it will have advantages and disadvantages, and these are more or less equal, which means you need to make your decision based on which outcome you prefer. Me: When you say you have a crew, is it something similar to the crew in StarCraft 2 where they essentially served as shop keepers between missions, or something completely different? How are crew members and their opinions of you important inMeridian? What are their functions in the game? Ede: There are four important members of your crew, these are people you can talk to in traditional RPG style. This means you get to make choices about what to say next, and this directly impacts their opinion about you. Sometimes this will be indicated by small things, eg. you read someone’s personal log and see that they were surprised about your reaction to what they said. Other times (mostly near the end of the story) it will make a huge difference whether a character likes you or not. They will or will not stand by you when you need them, depending on your choices throughout the game. Of course there’s also the chance that you offend a character early on and not even all the apologies in the world will get them to talk to you again. Me: Is it true there is no multiplayer in Meridian? Do you plan on eventually creating a multiplayer or co-op element? Ede: Yes, it is true. This is where you need to remember that Meridian is a tiny independent production. Early on in the development I had to make a decision between single and multiplayer. I already had part of the story written back then, so I decided to develop the single-player mode. Like I said, this is a tiny independent production. I simply don’t have the resources required to polish both a single and a multiplayer mode. Me: Are their going to be different factions or classes to choose from? If so, what are their specialties and weaknesses? Ede: There is only one faction in the game (humans) there are already many units and combined with the different weapon types, the total number of possible combinations is almost a hundred units! I need to test all these and try to balance them the best I can, which is difficult enough even with a single faction. Me: Do you plan on releasing the game to other platforms beyond the PC? How will gamers be able to get their hands on Meridian? Do you have an expected release date? Ede: I really wish I could release on multiple platforms. The SunBurn engine is going to be ported to Mac and Linux soon, which would allow me to target those platforms as well, but they don’t have a timeframe and I have no idea if the current code would be even possible to port, which is why Meridian was announced as a PC-only title. I will definitely try to port the game though. It is too early to talk about distribution and release is scheduled for 2014 Q2 at the moment. If you want to know more about Merdian: New World check out the game’s website, publisher Headup Games, or follow Meridian’s IndieDB page. Todd Black Nice job on this Blaine! Looks like a cool game!