February 1st, 2008
This month we take a look at the award-winning multi-player online game Arthic, by Sodigital. The game leverages the latest Flash Player 9 featuring gorgeous 3D graphics, large game areas and cool effects and cut-scenes. You will be able to impersonate different characters in the game, join or create a team and jump right into the battle.
We interviewed Tomasz Piesiak from Sodigital to learn all the details behind the creation of Arthic.

Q: Can you introduce our readers to Arthic Online?

Arthic is a flash multiplayer game based on science fiction story line. Due to great graphics and gameplay it seem to start new era in browser games. Thanks to community system Arthic is becoming one of the best of kind. We think that is why we get nominations in several categories in Browser Game of Year contest.

Q: How many people worked on this title, and how long did it take?

The beginnings of Arthic were very though. There were 3 people on start and project has been terminated for few months. In September we have gathered 10 people crew and we ve code game in 4 months and till this day we are still working on improvements.

Q: Please tell us about the background story

The action take place on the planet named Arthic - a place where all warriors come to fight for their fame and fortune. Those great team-fights are taking place in different parts of planet. Every winning team climb up in the hierarchy of the best warriors.

Q: What are the main objectives of the game?

Player has to defeat opponents. This simple rule is the core of game. Of course there is also advanced RPG system, team play mode. Beside this sodigital goes into community games so you can find this aspect there as well.

Q: Tell us a bit about the game modes and characters available in the game

Arthic has two game modes. First one is QuickGame, available without registration. The second one is FullGame. In this mode player is able to save all his achievements.

There are 4 characters:

  • Marine: human forces with basic weapons: Machine gun, Grande
  • Guarg: extra terrestrial conquerors with incredible shields
  • Ninva: galaxy amazons, silent and dangerous
  • Kegar: huge, strong creatures that were Guargs slaves

Q: Let's say I am completely new to Arthic. What are the steps I should follow to start playing?

Well good idea will be to read support or quick help tab. You will find there all needed info. For starting you will need to log in. Then you can create a team or join one that already exist and you are ready to fight. In case of problems you can chat with other players with a feature rich very chat system.

Q: What are the basic requirements to play Arthic?

A computer with Internet connection and a lot of free time. Some people spend 8 hours per day playing. Oh and don't forget about Flash Player 9 plugin...

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background? When did you start developing games? What were the first projects?

Sodigital has started as a small company in 2003. On beginning we were working for international creative agencies with status of AS experts. Very soon we have realized that creating web sites wasn't exactly what we wanted to do. We have started to thinking about making our dreams which was game development. In 2007 we had some small budget for creating our first project: Arthic.

Q: Can you name one or more games that influenced you the most for this project?

Scorch and Worms. We've tried to pimp those old school games.

Q: Was Arthic developed in Actionscript 3? If so what were the advantages that you have found over AS 2.0

Arthic was developed in Actionscript 3.0. First version was written in AS 2.0, but we decided to re-write it from the beginning. The first reason was obvious: AS 3.0 is modern, fully object-oriented language, with well designed libraries. It's easier to have a nice, clean and flexible code. They did very well with migration, each method is where it should be. Also the new event system is now a very good tool compared to the previous version. And the last but not least, we predicted that AS 3.0 would have been more efficient than AS 2.0. We could push our ideas a bit further (for example physics in game) that we could before.

Q: As the Flash IDE evolves its internal editor becomes a pain to use, any recommendations for an external editor?

Each of us uses editor of his own choice. We work on two screens and that's what we recommend :) On one screen we have Flash (in most of time used only as compiler), and on the second one we have the editor. We use UltraEdit or Vim, but we recommend anything that has ActionScript 3.0 syntax highlighting :).

Q: The main game window has an impressive size, what optimizations did you use to keep everything smooth?

The main emphasis in optimization we have put in the physics engine, where the huge amount of data is being computed, so this is the place where we can gain the most. We use several techniques to make collision detection as efficient as possible. Also each object is placed on the board in individual DisplayObject instances. Then we can just update it's position and rotation, which is faster than drawing everything in one DisplayObject.

Q: What were the most challenging phases during the development?

The most challenging phase was probably balance of characters, so that each of them would be equal to others :) And about programming probably network communication and good synchronization of data, which is needed in the game and on the page as well. Although the game is turn based, we have solutions that allow us to send data to others more in real-time style.

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enlarge them.

click thumbnails to
enlarge them.

Q: Was the game completely planned before starting the development or did you add new ideas as you were working on it?

Yes and yes. Before we have started we have had design book with everything wrote down. However while we were coding we have had o lot of new ideas so we have implemented them as well. Also the beta tester suggestions were implemented, so in last month game has changed a lot.

Q: The game uses a lot of gorgeous 3D graphics and cut scenes. What are your favorite modeling software?

For 3d graphics and animation we mainly use 3DSMax and Adobe software. For organic modeling in cut scenes we used also Zbrush3 and this can be our favorite modeling software. Also for modeling we sometimes use free and open source like Wings3d.

Q: What were the main influences for the game graphics?

The story of Arthic is quite cruel. We tried to make graphics which invites players to the fight. I think we've managed to make complete of original designs: futuristic website, attractive interface, realistic maps and original characters.

Q: Are there any difficulties in using pre-rendered 3D graphics in Flash? (size, performance...)

The main problem is the final size of the file. Each new animation increases file size significantly. That's why we decided to limit movements of the characters, and to use some other techniques in order to have more options without bloating the file size. In some cases we are using Flash possibilities (changes of alpha, colors, using filters etc) or to achieve more realistic shooting (depending on angle) while using only one model: we divided the file so that we can rotate one part. In our opinion the effects are very good :) But we cannot wait for Flash Astro with 3D support!

Q: Could you briefly describe the server infrastructure used for running the Arthic Online backend?

The server operating system is Linux running on 4 x CPU 2 GHz, 2GB RAM.

  • 1. SmartFoxServer PRO
  • 2. MySQL
  • 3. Apache 2 + PHP 5

Q: Talking about the multiplayer side of the game, how did you develop the game logic? Is it all on the server side?

We decided to put as many as possible of the logic to the client side, so we can keep bandwidth as low as we can, and not overload the server. During the game the only data sent to the server are actions of active player (move, use of skill, end of turn, chat messages etc). Extension sends this data to other players and that's almost it. Everything else, all simulation of the world takes place on the Flash side. All players use the same algorithm, based on the same data. The Server is responsible also for generating results of the players after the game, and updating their data (experience, statistics...).

Q: The audio production is also of very high quality. Was the soundtrack originally composed? What are your favorite sound/composition tools?

Tracks was composed by Terry Devine-King, but not especially for Arthic. It was hard to find enough good composer this time, but we hope future projects will have their original tracks. For all audio effects we used Adobe Soundbooth CS3.

Q: Can you tell us about future developments of Arthic Online and/or other incoming projects?

Of course we will continue our work with Arthic however there are new challenges before us. Sodigital has plan for 3 games so we won't have much free time. Would be nice if we have got a chance to move one of original PC titles into world of Flash.

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