SS: A lot of 4X and turn-based strategy games of all genres tend to reach a point in the mid to late game where gameplay becomes more about micromanagement and tedious mop up of your opponents than about having fun. What steps have you taken to keep the player engaged and interested in the later stages of a game?
LS & AW: Itís our goal to keep the games as exciting as possible in each phase. Each class includes powerful end-game skills resembling a nuclear option to make enemies bow down in submission. In a free-for-all game, enemy AIs can join forces and gang up against you in a last ditch attempt to thwart their impending annihilation. The game features high level exploration sites and monster dwellings reserved for late game uncovering.
Also donít forget Age of Wonders has always been a game heavy on combat. The map is fully malleable and the end game might show a lot the towns in ruin and the countryside corrupted by blight or high-level magic. Subsequently the final conflict might focus on a couple of remaining developed hot spots. But beware; alignment is now fully dynamic. Scorched earth tactics might provide short-term gain, but will most likely work against you over long term.
SS: Out of all the improvements and elements youíve added to Age of Wonders 3, which aspect of your game do you feel stands out and is going to be the most exciting to players?
LS & AW: Age of Wonders 3 has so many systems, which all have seen improvement, from the added depth of the tactical battles, to more variety in location on the world maps, to new domain system. In the end itís all about how these systems work together. As itís such an overarching feature Iíd go pick the new leader classes which really are at the root of the new Age of Wonders experience, where the player is able to be a leader of a fantasy realm that is an extension of his own character and provides great variation in game play as RPG character classes do.