Thomas Friedmann on Settlers II - TNG

Thomas Friedmann on Settlers II - TNG


It is not every day that an old, popular classic gets a proper remake, so when it does, we pay attention and dig deep to get the specifics.

We recently previewed Settlers 2 - 10th Anniversary Edition and got quite excited about this upcoming remake. We talked with Thomas Friedmann, manager and co-founder of Funatics to get some more information.

Hooked Gamers: Hi, welcome, and thank you for participating in this interview. Can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us what your involvement in the team is?

Thomas: Im Thomas Friedmann, manager and co-founder of Funatics, and project lead on Settlers II 10th Anniversary (a.k.a. Settlers II The Next Generation). To some extent we actually have the team that made the original Settlers II ten years ago: Our lead programmer Thomas Huser was designer and project lead back then, I was in a support and project management role. Between Settlers II and its remake, we also worked on other Settlers games. So you might say weve been heavily involved in Settlers games for a long time.

Hooked Gamers: As long-time fans of the series, many here at Hooked Gamers were somewhat disappointed in Settlers V because it strayed so far from its origins. Is it fair to assume that this 'remake' means that we were not alone in this?

Thomas Friedmann on Settlers II - TNG
Thomas: The Settlers series clearly evolved away from the gameplay focus that Settlers II had. While we were working on Settlers V, we talked to lots of fans in the forums, did polls ... and found that many players seem to feel like you: They kept voting for Settlers II as the best game in the series, and many said they still love Settlers II and really miss the gameplay. So we had fans clamoring for a game which we ourselves also considered our favorite Settlers, and we had the ten-year anniversary coming up ... so we proposed this remake to our partner UbiSoft.

Now we have a fairly good idea of what made (or makes) Settlers II so special: its very clear gameplay focus on building up your village and making sure the transport runs smoothly. That, and its cuddly looks and versatility: You can play it competitively, building the most efficient settlement to crush your enemies with your massive army, or you can just have fun in sandbox mode placing a few buildings, watching your settlers build them and start working there Settlers has always had a large following of strategy enthusiasts, but also relatively many younger players and women, and many of the latter groups say they play Settlers more like a city-building sim and not so much as an RTS. So we had our basic formula: Translate the time-tested gameplay focus onto modern machines so the game would look really good, preserving the gameplay focus on construction and transport, and making sure we had both an easily enjoyable Sandbox mode as well as everything needed to provide for challenging, fiercely competitive multiplayer battles.

Hooked Gamers: Obviously a remake is more than just an upgrade in graphics and user interface, how much tinkering have you allowed yourself to do on the game?

Thomas: Actually we had to refrain ourselves from changing too much this is a remake after all, so we needed to preserve all the aspects that made Settlers II great and be really careful about what we added. Since our lead programmer had designed the original Settlers II, and we still had the old code around, it was fairly easy for us to 'peek under the hood' of the old game to see it work. Once our engine was working, we created a gameplay base version that worked almost exactly like the old Settlers II. We discussed the changes that we wanted to see and that our fans had suggested, and tried them out in the base version. If we didnt like the result, we could easily revert back to the build that didnt have that change in it.

That obviously does not mean that nothing has changed. For example, Settlers II had Multiplayer, but as a hotseat mode with two mice on one PC. The remake has full LAN and Internet Multiplayer functionality with matchmaking, up to six players, and custom-build multiplayer maps. In the game, youll notice many usability improvements in all the menus for example, click a line in your production overview and the screen will center on the next production building for that resource. Control over the military has also been vastly improved, though we kept the indirect control system intact: You can now tell your soldiers to leave specific military buildings (so that they will go where you need them most), and you can upgrade military buildings so you can station more soldiers in that area.