Minh “Gooseman” Le is is a highly influential developer in the first-person shooter community, best known as the co-creator of the Half-Life mod Counter-Strike. Once CT was picked up by Valve, Le became their employee working on various other projects. After this Le’s next move was moving to South Korea and began working with FIX Korea. Now, Le and his team return with his highly anticipated free-to-play shooter Tactical Intervention. Many are calling it the “spiritual successor” to Counter-Strike, so expectations couldn’t be higher and TI plans to deliver. Open Beta is about to close and the reception’s great. During this busy beta stage Le also took the time to answer a few questions on ours, giving us an insight on the game’s features, the community, issues with releasing it in Australia and more.
On behalf of Capsule Computers I’d like to thank Minh “Gooseman” Le for taking his time to speak with us and giving us such insightful answers.
Please enjoy the interview!
Le: Thank you for your interest in our game. It’s extremely humbling to know people are looking forward to playing our game from all over the world. We will do our best to bring our game to other territories outside of North America as quickly as possible.
Q1. Tactical Intervention is currently in an open beta testing stage – how has the reception been so far?
Le: I’m really happy with how it’s been received. I’ve been playing a couple hours a day and the general feedback I’m getting from players is very encouraging. I think our biggest challenge will be convincing players to TRY it as there seem to be a lot of people who’d rather not give it a shot based on the game’s appearance alone.
Q2. Many are calling Tactical Intervention the “spiritual successor” to Counter-Strike. Would you call this fair? How do you feel about this?
Le: I think this is a fair statement considering I invented Counter-Strike in 1999 and a lot of what I learned from working on Counter-Strike has helped me shape Tactical Intervention. I’m honored that people would view it as a “spiritual successor” to CS and I’m hopeful that CS players will be willing to try our new game, TI.
Q3. You’ve been working on this for what seems like forever. How long has it been now? Has it been tough?
Le: It’s been a very difficult journey. Well over 7 years. A lot of it was due to poor decision-making from a business standpoint. When I left Valve in 2005, I had good set of skills in the game development field and was comfortable in what I was able to accomplish with regards to the actual DEVELOPMENT of the game: ie. programming, content creation, etc. However, it was the level of business experience that was responsible for consuming most of my time. On top of that, the decision to make it a Free2Play game required a CONSIDERABLE amount of work. This is something that we severely underestimated. The complexities involved in developing a backend system that communicated with the game servers and the players in real-time was a real challenge for our team.
Q4. There’s a lot of hype about a certain car chase level, can you tell us about that?
Le: Yes, this level takes place on a long stretch of highway. It involves the Counter-Terrorists escorting a high value target to a drop off point. The terrorists must execute this target and retrieve his brief case containing food supplies for the entire nation of Nigeria. Both teams start off in cars and the action is very fast (as you’d expect) but also very focused on the objective. Once the CTs reach the drop off point, they must escort the VIP on foot to the final destination. It’s far and away our most popular map and even I find it enjoyable even after playing it for more than 200 times. I love it because there are so many ways in which the match can evolve. The dynamics of having the cars and the numerous scenarios that can unfold with cars and players having to get out of cars and resume the action on foot is immensely enjoyable for me. Perhaps the only flaw in this level is that sometimes you get stuck in a car with a player whose driving ability is “less than acceptable,” and you end up wanting to jerk the wheel of the car and jump into the driver’s seat. Though some people find this quite amusing so I’m not sure if this can be considered a flaw as a successful team needs to communicate and recognize their skillsets. Oh, I should note that in this level, NOT EVERYONE has their own car. A car is shared between 3 or 4 players.
Q5. The battlefield has much more variety this time around with a whole stack of new features. Can you tell us about some of these?
Le: Sure, I wanted to add more elements to the level that the players could use to alter the course of battle. Some players aren’t very good at the shooting aspects of an FPS (you know those guys who are always at the bottom of the scoreboard with sub 0.5 kill ratios). I wanted to give them an opportunity to partake in the firefights in a meaningful way so I added elements such as fire extinguishers, propane tanks, dogs, shields, rappelling, breaching charges that blow doors. All of these play an important part in how the scenarios unfold and add a bit of unpredictability to how teams play. It becomes almost like an RTS, but that having been said, the ability to open fire upon your opponents is of paramount importance as the game is purely a shooter at its core.
Q6. While there are plenty of new things thrown into the mix, I’m still getting that classic Counter-Strike feel that I’ve always loved. Would you say CS veterans are going to feel at home with this new IP?
Le: I think so because our shooting mechanics are almost identical to CS. The feel of the guns and the player movement are really familiar to those who’ve played CS all their lives. We have, however, added new mobility features such as the ability to roll, lean, blind fire, rappel, bake a chicken. On top of that, we have game modes that are old favourites such as bombing, and VIP assassination, and of course hostage rescue.
Q7. The environment is much more interactive this time around. How will this effect gameplay?
Le: Oh, I answered this already in 5, lucky me. 🙂
Q8. Are there any other new key features your particularly proud of?
Le: I personally love the ability to heal teammates. Every player starts off with a small medkit that can replenish a teammate’s health. The medkit only has the ability to replenish up to 50 health units. This mechanism was introduced to encourage players sticking together and during gameplay, I think it works very well.
Q9. Tactical Intervention is a free-to-play game. How does that work?
Le: It’s very similar to other Free2Play shooters in that the majority of the game is available to players to gain access to without having to spend money. The amount of “grinding” involved in getting a gun is not as bad as some players think. To give an example, the current (subject to change) price of an MP5 is 1,500 game points/day. In a typical level, an average player gets around 600 gamepoints each level. So by playing 3 levels, you can get enough points for an MP5. There’s also the option to buy an MP5 for 30 days/90 days. I believe we tentatively price the 30 day at 20,000 game points.
From speaking with our publisher, we’ve been assured that they want to find a suitable balance between keeping free players happy and also providing a certain incentive for players who do spend money, which of course, assists us with development costs and new content!
Q10. Exactly how much of an advantage will players who buy things get? How will things balance out with them and gamers playing for free?
Le: I’d estimate around 90% of the items in our store are available for purchase with game points. The remaining 10% of items are cash-only items. The disparity between guns’ performance is not huge. To illustrate this; First I need to clarify a few things. When a player creates an account, he automatically starts off with a basic set of guns: 1 Pistol, 1 SMG, 1 Assault Rifle, 1 Shotgun, 1 Sniper Rifle. We call these Tier 0 guns. These guns stay with the player at ALL TIMES. On top of that, a Player is ALSO given a free Tier 0.5 gun of his choosing. He can choose between an SMG/ Rifle/ Shotgun.
So basically a player’s arsenal will ALWAYS contain 5 various Tier 0 guns, and 1 Tier 0.5 gun.
To explain the differences between each Tier gun
Our Tier 0 Assault Rifle, The Puger M1 (we can’t use real names; bless our poor hearts)
- does 20 damage
- has 20 bullets in the mag
- has rate of fire of 600 rounds/minute
Our Tier 0.5 Assault Rifle, The DayWhoa K1
- does 23 damage
- has 25 bullets in the mag
- has a RoF of 675 rounds/minute
A Tier 1 assault rifle, The Bolt M4
- does 26 damage
- has 30 bullets in the mag
- has a RoF of 800 rounds/minute
A Tier2 assault rifle, The FN FAL
- does 38 damage
- has 20 bullets in the mag
- has a RoF of 600 rounds/minute
Q11. How many modes can we expect in the final game? What’s your favourite?
Le: Being a Free2Play game, we don’t really have a “final” game. The number of game levels and modes will constantly increase. The plan is to have 5 levels prepared when we “release” on March 28, and continually add new levels at a rate of 1 per month.
My favourite is the VIP Car chase mode, but I have some ideas for new ones that hopefully will be equally as enjoyable.
Q12. Mods and level editing have been a popular aspect in the Counter-Strike community, is this something you wish to focus on with Tactical Intervention?
Le: Unfortunately, this is difficult to support with the Free2Play system, so at this point we do not have any plans for it.
Q13. Although you have worked for Valve, you seem to enjoy working from more of an indie standpoint. In your opinion, what are the advantages of being an indie developer?
Le: There are less restrictions in terms of what you can develop. Being a larger company requires a certain amount of accountability to your existing customer base. I think this limits the amount of innovation that developers can pursue in order to satisfy such a large demographic of players.
Q14. Using scope/Iron sights in FPS games these days seems to be a popular trend, but you’ve chosen to stick to your roots with “hip shooting” in Tactical Intervention. What are your thoughts on scope/Iron sight shooting & tactical shooters?
Le: The decision to not have ADS in our game stems from the design principle of allowing players to see what their shooting at without obscuring the player’s view too much. In our game, A LOT of things happen in front of the player and the pace at which they happen requires players to have as much visual awareness of what’s in front of them. I feel this is more important to have than the ability to aim down the sights.
Q15. When can we finally expect to get our hands on the final version of Tactical Intervention?
Le: It’s really hard to predict when we can service our game in the Australian region. Being a Free2Play games require us to have different publishers for each region and as a developer, there are certain responsibilities we must uphold for each publisher. We plan on releasing in North America in March 28 and our priority is to get the game stable and running smoothly before we venture off into another region. Rest assured though, we definitely see that there are players from other territories who WANT to play TACTICAL INTERVENTION, but at the moment are unable to. This is something that spurs us to work as fast and as diligently as we can, so everyone can partake in the madness that is TACTICAL INTEVENTION.
That concludes our interview with Minh “Gooseman” Le. Once again I’d like to thank Le on behalf of Capsule Computers for taking the time speak with us.For more information on Tactical Intervention you can check out the official website here and also the Facebook page here. For even more TI you can also follow the official Tactical Intervention twitter here, or Gooseman himself here. As always be sure to let us know what you think in the comments section below.