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Interview with the Designers of Kohan: Ahriman's Gift
by Garret Romaine
November 12, 2001


ESC Magazine gave Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns a high score — 9 out of 10 — when we reviewed it back in May 2001. It was a fresh look at the RTS world, and it made a big impression not only here but worldwide. Because it was such a successful intro, an add-on wasn’t too hard to predict. Sure enough, less than a year later, producers Strategy First and TimeGate are back with more. The new release, called Kohan: Ahriman’s Gift, sounds like it’s even better than the debut title.

Not long ago, we got the opportunity to submit a list of questions to the main brains behind the game, lead designer Ian Klimon (IK) and designer Steve Hemmesch (SH). Sure, they’re mostly softballs, tossed nice and slow and underhand. But it’s not hard to cut these guys a little slack. After all, it looks like K:AG is going to be a heckuva game …

What improvements have you concentrated on for this release?

SH: We mainly focused on improving the fun factor of the game and increasing the amount of tactical and strategic options available to players. We wanted them to have greater unit diversity and as many "fun things" to discover as possible.

Are there any new adversaries to contend with?

SH: We have added some monster types to the game which should put up a tough fight. One example would be the Giant Wasp, which not only overcome their prey by swarming in large numbers, but deliver a debilitating poison attack as well.

Are there additional soldiers or fighting men?

SH: I won’t give away the details, but there is a new front-line unit for each faction, new elite support units, and many new technology units that can be found in multiplayer games.

Have you added any Kohans?

SH: More than 20 Kohan heroes have been added. There are many extraordinary and fearsome Ceyah heroes to support the campaign and an array of new powerful and noble heroes for each of the other factions.

Are there new technology upgrades?

SH: There are more than 30 new technologies that appear in random multiplayer games and in each of the three campaigns. These range from new units such as the Mercenary, to powerful armor upgrades like Wasp Chitin Armor.

Is there a level editor for Kohan?

SH: Kohan: Ahriman’s Gift will be shipping with a fully functional editor and documentation explaining both how to edit your own maps and create entire custom campaigns.

Any tweaks to the gameplay?

SH: Refining the gameplay has been an ongoing process and has been covered in KAG. The primary changes in KAG are reflected by the introduction of units that excel in specific roles and promote the use of new strategies and counters to those in Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns.

What is the maximum number of Internet players possible?

SH: Eight players in a single multiplayer game. An unlimited number of games can be hosted simultaneously.

Have you had to add servers or otherwise react to a crush of online players?

SH: Kohan doesn’t need servers to run multiplayer games. Our multiplayer architecture is built on GameSpy’s player matching code. So each game host acts as the server for his game.

Are the graphics still 1024x768?

SH: Yes, the graphics will be 1024x768.

Can the gamespeed be set with a stickier bit? It has to be ratcheted back to 400 percent each time you start anew.

IK: Currently there are no plans to change the way game speed works in Kohan: Ahriman’s Gift.

Maps were a bit repetitive. Any changes there?

IK: In KAG, we’ve included three innovative campaigns and 40 new multiplayer and scenario maps, including the new Team Deathmatch map type and some of TimeGate’s own Tournament maps.

What's the plot of Ahriman's Gift? What inspired it?

SH: Ahriman’s Gift brings the players into the intrigue surrounding the characters that were Darius Javidan’s primary foes in the KIS campaign Cycle of Destruction. The story revolves around the awakening of Roxanna Javidan, her rise to power within the Ceyah, and her ultimate goal of bringing about a new Cataclysm. It also touches upon the events from her past that continue to haunt her in the present. We also have two side campaigns that explore actions and events going on in the world of Khaldun at roughly the same time.

Our inspiration came from a desire to explore the other side of the Kohan coin, the forces of evil that players fought hard against in the first game. We wanted to provide more insight on the Ceyah, their ties to each other and the Dark Master, Ahriman.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge preview shots.


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