interview of Lankhor Team
Where did the idea of creating a strategy/management game come
from? And why the winter sports theme?
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?
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
>> In what way is the game innovative?
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
- 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?
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?
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?
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?
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
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
>> What problems did you encounter in game development?
And what solutions did you find to get over them?
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?
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 :-)!