the team
Val d'Isèresupport

Exclusive interview of Lankhor Team

 >> Where did the idea of creating a strategy/management game come from? And why the winter sports theme?
The idea came to me when Dungeon Keeper was released. At that time, management/simulation games around, like Theme Park, were all very nice but fairly dull. Dungeon Keeper was also a 2D game but there was more freedom of camera movement, which better suited games with relief environments - like we use in Ski Park Manager.

I came up with the ski sports angle because there are similarities with a theme park management game that I particularly like. At the same time the atmosphere we have created is original and the gameplay has been adapted to the Ski Park environment. A ski resort, after all, is very much like a theme park - there are shops and leisure facilities, etc. Only the ski runs replace the loop-the-loops.
 >> Is it not difficult to make the leap from racing games to management games? Isn't there a fundamental difference?
You know, without including Vroom and all its adaptations, we have developed no less than 5 Formula 1 games in the last few years. It did us good to make the switch. We had never made a management game until now and it's true we had certain doubts about making a totally new game with 8 people in less than a year.

However, we think we have reached our objectives. We can offer appealing visuals as well as a simulation engine that is strong enough to retain the player's attention permanently throughout each game.
 >> In what way is the game innovative?
If you compare Val d'Isère - Ski Park Manager with other games of the same kind, it is very different for several reasons:

- There is considerable freedom of construction. This stops the town resembling an American town where all pathways, runs and ski lifts are parallel and perpendicular to each other on a grid. Space and openness are obvious features of mountainsides - and we reckon that the freedom to build in Val d'Isère - Ski Park Manager is in tune with these aspects.

- Characters are represented in 3D, which makes it more lifelike. Both the animation and the location have a lot of detail for this kind of game, especially when you consider the number of characters being managed.

- We feel the simulation engine is well adapted to complex management problems like those experienced in a ski resort. The player is free to do what he wants and then has to face the consequences on holidaymaker satisfaction - be they good or bad.

- The management of the weather is fairly advanced for video games in general. There's sunny periods, haze, variations in temperature and wind. There's also snow, of course, which either does or doesn't fall - this makes snow machines and snow packing essential. What's more, our avalanches are based on the actual physics in this domain.

- Lastly, we believe we have created a simple enough interface that enables the player to control an immense resort without having 10000 windows on-screen to contend with.
 >> What makes the game a good game?
We reckon we will attract players as divers as those for Roller Coaster Tycoon. We offer the chance for beginners to create their own ski resort in an open-ended scenario without constraints and we are also giving simulation addicts a whole host of parameters to get their teeth into, as well as varied scenarios with different difficulty levels. Believe you me, managing a resort spread over several square miles with dozens of runs, ski-lifts and hundreds of other buildings is not as easy as it might appear.
 >> What did you draw on for inspiration?
Like I said, there's Roller Coaster Tycoon, which is a very good game. The graphics are a little bit dated now of course, but there are complex management and construction possibilities. We tried to emulate this in Val d'Isère - Ski Park Manager (but not the graphics of course ;)).
 >> How did you manage to fine-tune the game?
We played and played and played. I don't think there is a miracle recipe. You've got to get to know the game with your eyes closed and put yourself in the player's shoes to predict how they're going to react.
 >> Who was the development team made up of?
There were 8 of us - 5 programmers and 3 graphic artists. On the programming side, one of us took care of the game simulation engine, while another took care of character management. There was someone looking after mountains and weather and someone else looking after construction, landscaping and building graphics. Finally, someone took on the development of the interface and player actions. On the graphics side, we had a man on characters and machinery, another on buildings and ski lifts and another on interface and other buildings.
 >> You chose Microïds again to publish this title. Why?
We had already worked with Microïds on Warm Up! It was a good experience and I think it enabled us show them our development abilities. We took a bit of a risk producing a game that was technically new to us in less than a year, but Microïds had faith in us.
 >> What problems did you encounter in game development? And what solutions did you find to get over them?
The main technical problems we faced concerned character development as well as construction. We decided to leave the player a lot of freedom to build and this was only possible after some long hard thinking about the way it would all fit into place. Sometimes several months went by before we could start coding parts of the game, as we had to calculate every conceivable feature and find the right algorithms in advance.
 >> What are you proudest of in this game?
That we have managed to create a game in a totally new style for us, with a skeleton crew, and in a relatively short time. Above all, we are eager to see what players think of the game. Obviously we hope they'll like it :-)!
- Microïds © 2002 -