Exclusive interview: Cold Winter

As you go through the game, you can combine seemingly random and useless items to create weapons. Can you explain a few examples of this? Also, is discovering these weapons necessary for progression?
The classic example is the Molotov cocktail - collect bottles, rags and petrol as you work your way through the levels and you can create Molotov cocktails in the combined items menu.

These are effectively contact grenades that don't have a timer - land one of these in a group of three bots and they're going down very quickly.

Another good example is the sticky motion-sensitive mine - collect Plastique, a motion sensor and some glue and you have a bomb that can be glued to ceilings and used to kill any unsuspecting bots that walk underneath it. Very effective.

Combined items are never necessary for progression - any interaction with the menus is optional and at the player's discretion. We felt this was important to make the game as accessible to the widest range of players.

Why was the decision made to provide players with an inexhaustible supply of health? Surely this defeats the object of this type of game being that you are, effectively, invincible?
You have to play the game to get a true sense of how this works, but it really doesn't change the fundamental play mechanics at all. In other shooters it's not after the fights that you die but during them, and this is equally true in Cold Winter.

It's gunfire and damage during firefights that'll kill you, not walking around after the smoke has cleared and the claret dried. Having an unlimited medical kit does nothing to change this as all we're doing is allowing the played to recover health after the firefight, not during it.

You certainly can't stop in the middle of battle and heal yourself - this is the sure road to oblivion - so, in reality, all we're doing is removing what we consider to be one of the frustrations and potential disconnects often seen in shooters.

This being the wandering around for ages looking for an essential medical kit that you need to complete the next fight and that isn't there because you used it/ran over it 15 minutes ago.

By removing this we're ensuring two things: that the player is always making forward progress and not wandering around corridors looking for something that may not exist, and that the player never, ever, has to quit to the front-end to load a saved game because they can't progress without a medical kit.

We're basically removing frustrations - we're trying to reward the player for good play, and not beat them around the head when they make a mistake.

Also on the subject of difficulty, will the game not be made even easier by the way the game saves your progress after each gunfight?
Again, this itself doesn't make the combat any easier, it just means you do not have to play the same 15-minute stretch of game over, and over again whenever you die.

If the player completes and enjoys a section of game and then dies five minutes later, we see no reason to make them play the whole section over again. This is punishing the player for no good reason.

As I said before we want people to keep making progress in Cold Winter - penalise them a little when they die, sure, but know why they died and then allow them to make progress.

We want people to remain on a high throughout the play experience, not feel frustrated and inclined to quit.

What's Cold Winter's best feature? What will it offer gamers that cannot be found anywhere else?
It's got to be the overall feel of the game. Fundamentally, everything we talk about, such as the physics, weapons, AI, controls, regular saves, the combat - all of this adds up to making the game feel just right - compelling and enjoyable.

Everything else is the dressing - it's the core satisfaction you get when you pull the trigger of a weapon and take a bad guy down that keeps you coming back for more time and time again.

Why can players only carry two guns at a time? And why no dual-wielding?
The two-weapon decision was an easy one for us. Although we have over 30 weapons in the game, including all manner of rockets, grenade launchers, rifles, sub-machine guns, sniper rifles and pistols, we felt that forcing you to choose between two weapons was a key decision because it prevents hoarding and makes you focus on the attributes of the weapons you are using.

Given that we've spent a lot of time balancing each weapon so that it has its own properties, strengths and weaknesses, this really forces the player to think long and hard before throwing a weapon away and picking up another.

It actually increases the player's enjoyment of the weapons currently carried, making the decision to sidestep to another a more interesting one.

As for the dual-wield, although a very accessible game, Cold Winter is also very tactical and we felt that adding a feature such as this not only makes the game feel more Rambo than we'd like, but the additional controller complexity would simply detract from what we planned to be a very slick and easy to access input system.

We think we made the right choice for the player here, which is all we've been trying to do for the past two-and-a-half years. Hopefully you'll like it. Cold Winter is out for PS2 on 3 June