"Illusion Softworks has been working on their 1930's gangster action game Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven for quite some time but until just a few days ago they and the game's publisher Gathering of Developers have been operating under a press cone of silence (the game wasn't even shown at last May's E3 show). However, Mafia is finally close to being completed and is scheduled to be released to store at the end of this month. HomeLAN got a chance to chat with the lead designer of the game Daniel Vavra to find out more about their plans for Mafia.
HomeLAN - Why do you think gangsters and organized crime continue to attract an audience?
Daniel Vavra - I don’t think basic low profile killers or criminals are special people. But there’s a certain level of freedom that mob bosses enjoy. They do what they like, they are independent of the system - they break the rules. No one gives them orders, they are the ones who direct and control the world around them. It seems like a very attractive life, but it definitely has a dark side. It is dangerous and people around you may not like it. You may gain everything, but you can also lose everything. Our game shows what life in the Mafia in the 1930’s was like. We are creating a game about gangsters as they really were. Our goal is to make something fresh, original, innovative and enjoyable. We are not trying to use any gaming clichés, and we want to make it as historically correct and enjoyable as we can.
HomeLAN - How did the actual idea for Mafia come about?
Daniel Vavra - The development of Mafia started before Hidden and Dangerous was finished. Illusion Softworks had a brand new team of people in house, and we wanted to create something new, something that will make people get really excited at the mere concept of the game. After some pretty long brainstorming sessions the team were not sure what kind of game it should be - and then, one night, I dreamt of my favorite movies – “Heat,” “Millers Crossing,” “Ronin” and “Goodfellas.” The next day at work, I explained the concept of Mafia -- thirties setting, lots of driving and shooting, one huge interactive city -- everybody liked it. Today we are the verge of delivering something more ambitious, immersive and powerful than just another game we have all already played.
HomeLAN - Did you do any research into the real mafia for use in the game?
Daniel Vavra - Yes, I read a lot of non-fiction books, and watched lots of movies. I was very surprised when I read about what the mafia did during this era. In the 30’s they caused a state of emergency in Chicago and regularly fought with the army in the streets. I couldn’t believe something like that really happened in the civilized world.
We also collected a large volume of literature, photos, and movies on architecture, period clothing, and automobiles in the 1930’s. Buildings used in our towns have been created according to originals and architectural styles of the period; we took photographs of period costumes. Our archives hold several thousand photos. We studied as many gangster movies as possible including the ones made during the forties, such as “Angels with Dirty Faces.” Our designers also read quite a large volume of factual literature.
HomeLAN - What is the storyline in the single player game?
Daniel Vavra - One regular guy gets into a war between two Mafia families. The game follows the life and fortunes of a young taxi driver, Tommy, whose taxi is taken over by a gang of runaway mobsters chased by their enemies. Tommy manages, thanks to his exceptional driving skills, to shake off the pursuers. Consequently, he is offered the job as a driver for Salieri family who controls the gangsters he saved. He initially refuses but when the pursuers find him, destroy his taxi, and nearly kill him in revenge, he reconsiders the offer and accepts the job. The game follows his fortunes in the Family. Tommy narrates the entire story in retrospective.
HomeLAN - What sorts of levels and settings are being created for Mafia?
Daniel Vavra - We have the huge city, plus many real world interiors including a bank, a harbor, an airport, a farm, a motel, a hotel and a church.
HomeLAN - What kinds of weapons will be in the game?
Daniel Vavra - All weapons used in the game are real, with characteristics that are as close as possible to actual weapons (range and rapidity of fire). There are a lot of different guns and rifles, plus some cool weapons including Tommy guns, Colt 1911s, sawed off shotguns, sniper rifles or knuckledusters.
HomeLAN - What are some of the characters that the player will meet and battle in Mafia?
Daniel Vavra - Corrupted politicians, police, gangs of hooligans, bosses of other families, even some ex friends. You can’t rely on anybody around you.
HomeLAN - There has been a lot made of the game's vehicles. How are cars integrated into the gameplay and how hard was it to put in this feature?
Daniel Vavra - It was very hard. We have lot of cars and very realistic physics. It’s not easy to set up everything to be fun and realistic. Cars are integrated very simply – when you want to get somewhere, you have to use car. When you do something wrong, you have to escape in a car. When somebody tries to escape in a car, you have to chase him in another car. There is also simulated street traffic in the city, supervised by the police. Players can also travel by trams and elevated railroad.
HomeLAN - What other gameplay feature do you feel are unique to Mafia?
Daniel Vavra - The thing I like about Mafia is that it doesn’t use a gangster theme to imitate another action shooter with thousands of enemies. Of course sometimes there is more action than there would be in real life, but mostly you are performing real tasks in the real world. It all feels like a regular story usually used in action games. When two people talk, they talk, they don’t just spit mission objectives at you. When something happens, there is a reaction and it does not include gun shooting every time. I hope that we created a believable environment and believable characters.
HomeLAN - What other important features are in the engine being used for Mafia?
Daniel Vavra - Building the huge city and cars, indoor missions and movie sequences were very tough. I hope that we were successful with making the huge city and making the outdoor missions look really good. We had to tweak it a lot to make it happen. The terrain of the city itself has around 100,000 polygons. There are over 15,000 models in the city not including all the pedestrians and cars. We had to fit this into memory and make it run. All the other graphic effects were really simple after that experience.
HomeLAN - Are there any plans for a demo to the game?
Daniel Vavra - No, there are no plans right now - we’ll have to revisit this when the game is launched. It's hard to find a section of the game that will do the whole thing justice and give people an idea of the scope of the game.
HomeLAN - What is the current status of the game's progress?
Daniel Vavra - This game is on target to hit stores by the end of August.
HomeLAN - Finally, is there anything else you wish to say about Mafia?
Daniel Vavra - Don’t try this at home kids!"
Aí está mais um jogo que promete bastante... e que supostamente sai no final deste mês