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04-26-2002, 01:34 PM
Savage Skies: Randy Greenback Interview
By Shockwave
April 26, 2002

Recently we had a talk with Randy Greenback of iROCK Games about his upcoming Xbox title Savage Skies. Inspired by rock music and fantasy story telling, Savage Skies will give gamers a chance to fly some out of this world creatures in a medieval environment. We spoke with Randy about the game's details and development and are more pumped for this title than ever before.

Tell us a little about yourself and your role on the Savage Skies project.

Randy G: Well, I started my stint in the game industry out at Westwood Studios in Las Vegas about 6 years ago. I moved to North Carolina a couple of years back and now I am a Game Designer at iROCK Games. For the last 2 years or so we all have been hard at work putting together Savage Skies for the various platforms.

For those of us not familiar with the PS2 title currently available, what is Savage Skies all about and where do we fit in during the game?

Randy G: Basically Savage Skies is a high flying action game set in a medieval/fantasy world that features fast paced aerial combat while riding on the backs of dragons, demons, and other whacked out creatures. I'll give your readers the quick version of the Backstory that goes something like this…

A legendary King ruled the world of Savage Skies, but an evil necromancer exacts his revenge on both the King and his empire for casting him out. The mighty empire is laid to waste and chaos ensues since everyone believes the King to be dead. Three new factions emerge to battle for control of the land and the skies. The Virtwyn, Chrysalis, and The Pariah each seek to conquer the other two kingdoms using the might of their trained beasts and the skills of their valiant riders. The twist comes when the player learns that the King was never really killed, but instead his soul has been splintered into three with each piece entering a young beast rider in each of the factions' armies. It is up to the player to choose which faction they will fly for in their quest to destroy the other two Ace riders and lead their Kingdom to victory.

The game was originally licensed by Ozzy Osbourne complete with an Ozzy-filled soundtrack. Now that Ozzy has be dropped from the game, how does the game's music and style still match the original idea?

Randy G: The music in Savage Skies is still rooted in Hard Rock and Metal. In fact Jack Blades, the man behind the music, was in two famous rock bands that you may remember, Night Ranger, and Damn Yankees. He's also worked with Ozzy and many other groups throughout his career. Just in case the music doesn't suit your tastes, on the Xbox we will be supporting the soundtrack feature so players will be able to rip their own CD's and listen to anything their heart desires while playing Savage Skies.

Tell us a bit about the 3 factions of the game and the differences among them.

Randy G: The 3 factions can basically be broken down to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Virtwyn are the traditional good guys, they form under the lead of Anduras, the King's Military Advisor. Their creatures are based on standard fantasy fare including Dragons, Pegasus, and Giant Rocs. As a Virtwyn warrior, the player will be out to stop the Pariah and the Chrysalis threat while protecting the good people of the kingdom.

The Pariah are about as evil as they come and they all bow to Mortalvis, the sorcerer who destroyed the original Empire. They practice necromancy and are bent on conquest, destruction, and chaos. As a Pariah warrior you get to fly demonic and undead beasts while wreaking havoc on your enemies as well as taking the lives of any innocents who end up getting in the way.

Last but not least, we have the Chrysalis. The Chrysalis are caught up in the middle of this great battle between good and evil and are lead by Kalavin and his Hive Mind. They are very insect-like in their mentality and rely on creatures that have been mutated or altered for battle. While playing the Chrysalis campaign the player will get to fly all sorts of insane looking creatures while trying to expand the kingdoms influence, such as a Manta Ray, A giant eyeball with wings, and even a Dragon made out of tar held together with bone plates.
Savage Skies: Randy Greenback Interview
By Shockwave
April 26, 2002

Players will play through over 27 missions, 9 for each faction battling it out for leadership. Does the storyline for each of these factions overlap with each other? Does the order of how you choose to complete the game affect the final outcome?

Randy G: Yes, each of the campaign storylines overlap and sometimes you will find yourself playing a mission from a each side as you go through the campaigns. All 3 of the kingdom's campaigns is basically an alternate timeline in the battle for total control of the land and air.

What sort of challenges will gamers face during the missions of the game?

Randy G: The missions vary from the standard Deathmatch style kill everything frag fests, to defense missions, missions with capture and hold objectives, some find and retrieve levels, and even a unique race mission in the Pariah campaign that drops the player smack dab in the middle of an Olympic style event that ultimately ends with the other two factions being less than happy with the final outcome. Pretty much anything you can do while riding on the back of a Dragon we have put into at least one of the 27 missions found in the game.

Featuring 24 detailed and creative creatures to control, what are some of the different characteristics of each? Can we expect gameplay that is similar to airplane dog fighting?

Randy G: Yes, the gameplay is based on dog fighting, but with living creatures instead of the standard jets and spaceships people may be used to playing with. Each of the creatures handles differently than the next and they all have unique attributes, strengths, and weaknesses.

The creatures range from lightning fast birds that can evade almost anything thrown at them, to massive beasts with firepower that can take out whatever stands in their way, and the rest of the creatures all fall somewhere in between the two extremes. Of course there are obvious advantages for playing with any given creature, and some mission objectives may require you to come back later with a new creature to be able to complete it.

The player is given the ability to perform special maneuvers like barrel rolls, loops, power dives, hover strafing, and snap turns as they ride through the air while fighting their enemies.

Throughout the game we can gain weaponry for both the creatures and the riders. How does the combat system work utilizing both the rider and the creature?

Randy G: Each creature has two inherent weapons at their disposal and these weapons vary greatly between each mount you get to control. The rider also has a few weapons that can be used, their crystal can invoke magic seekers that lock on to enemies and seek them out causing light damage, or they can use the Crystal Power. The Crystal Power effect differs depending on which faction is being played. The Virtwyn get to launch a large missile that detonates on impact damaging anything in the immediate area, the Chrysalis receive an Armor and Health boost, and the Pariah can be nearly invulnerable for a short time after the power is used.

There are lots of powerups hidden throughout the game as well; some of them even work as weapons that can be used to eliminate opponents. Three different kinds of mines, Ice, Spike, and Lightning can be dropped for unsuspecting creatures to fly into them. There is even a Sniping weapon called the Decimator that can be used to zoom your sight in on an enemy creature so you can kill it instantly gibing it while you watch the bloody chunks rain down on the terrain below.

Can you tell us if there were any additions to the Xbox version of the game that take advantage of the console's hardware capabilities?

Randy G: Tons of new features are being added to the Xbox version and we will most definitely be taking advantage of the hardware's capabilities. We are also adding exclusive game content, secret creatures, missions, and gameplay modes to the Xbox version of Savage Skies as well. One of the coolest features being added in my opinion is the ability to play the game using your own music using the Xbox soundtrack feature. You can fly and fight while listening to Bob Marley, the Chemical Brothers, Rancid, Britney Spears, Jay-Z or whatever else you may have in your CD collection. You can even go ahead and play some tunes by the Ozzman himself…

04-26-2002, 01:35 PM
April 26, 2002

Along with intense single player combat, Savage Skies will also take advantage of multiplayer action. Describe the multiplayer options of the game.

Randy G: Multiplayer combat takes place with up to 4 players playing split screen. We have four Multiplayer modes to select from, as well as 14 different multiplayer maps that are unique and not just reused single player maps. The multiplayer modes available are Standard Deathmatch - the first player to the specified kill limit wins, Time Attack - the player with most kills once the time is up comes out on top, Team Battle - Each of the players gets an AI teammate to rack up kills with, and Hold the Soul Crystal - where the crystal hidden in the level must be collected and then held for a set period of time. If the creature holding it is hit or killed then the crystal will be dropped and another player can then pick it up.

We also have a 2 player Skirmish Mode to help players hone their skills so that they can take on the Cooperative missions together, or you can even go up against your friends in one of the VS. Levels and try to complete mission objectives while your opponent tries to stop you at all costs.

What is the estimated total game time to complete the game?

Randy G: Well, I'd have to say about 20 - 30 hours for the average gamer to get through all three campaigns and find most of the secrets we've hidden in the single player missions. I'd tack another 10 hours to that for people who spend time playing the Skirmish and Survival Mode as well as the special Co-Op missions and VS. Missions. If you jump into the Multiplayer modes with some friends then you can extend the life of the game even more. We've worked hard to provide enough gameplay content to satisfy even the most hardcore game junkies.

Will Savage Skies support advanced features such as 5.1 surround or HDTV capabilities.

Randy G: Yep, we will be offering support for Dolby Digital Surround Sound as well as some options for those lucky rich bastards who own an HDTV.

Are there any secrets hidden in the game that we can hope to unlock?

Randy G: Of course! The game has so many unlockable elements for all the gamers to seek out and strive for. We got everything from loads of alternate creature skins to secret characters, some hidden missions, art galleries, awesome gameplay rule variants, tons of multiplayer maps, you name it we got it. There definitely isn't any shortage of rewards in Savage Skies.

If you could create your own creature to take into combat, what would you consider the ultimate beast of battle?

Randy G: My Mother-In-Law… Oh, wait you said Beast of Battle, not Beast of Burden… Seriously though, I think if I were to choose a creature to ride then I would have to go with the Balrog from the Lord Of The Rings movie. Damn that had to be one of the coolest scenes I've ever seen in a movie! Wicked!

What's next for the crew?

Randy G: It s too early to discuss any of our new projects right now, but I can say we have got some great things planned for future games. Stay tuned to our website at www.irock.com for all the latest news and info on any games that we may be bringing to you in the future!

Single Player Action (Video)
Multiplayer Player Action (Video)
Savage One (MP3)
Das Convent (MP3)

Savage Skies GameInfo Page http://www.teamxbox.com/article.php?id=353&p=2&t=i

04-27-2002, 07:32 AM
I will be surprised if this game sells more than 10,000 units.