Soldat (meaning "soldier" in German) is a Polish 2D multiplayer game for Windows. It is a side-scroller inspired by Liero and Scorched Earth, combined with elements from Counter-Strike and Worms. The game is shareware. Registration unlocks extra aesthetic options, such as colored jet flames and custom interfaces. The latest version, 1.5.0, also includes a minimap and changeable screen resolution for registered users.
Soldat is written and maintained by programmer Michał Marcinkowski, who started working on the game in November, 2001. It is coded in the Delphi programming language using the JEDI libraries. Though Marcinkowski is the primary developer, he works with a few others on the dedicated server and lobby, in addition to a small beta team which aids in testing prior to new releases.
1.0.5b (released August 23, 2002) is considered the first major version of the game[, though several betas and minor versions were available in the months preceding its release. ]
Since then, the game has gone through many changes and additions. Weapon balance is often a main focus of new releases. The significant release changes were "startup" modifications in the M82A1 Barrett, M72 LAW, and Combat Knife, as well as minor bugs with flags and maps.
1.4.2 added many major features. These included a completely new lobby system to replace the aged and unreliable original system (see the forums for problems), an option (registered only) to scale the resolution interface for a cleaner view, a minimap (registered only), BattlEye - an anti-cheat system, and many bugfixes. 1.4.0 was originally intended only as a bugfix version 1.3.2, but was bumped-up to 1.4.0 due to the addition of the many new features. The newest version was released worldwide on August 11, 2007.
1.5.0 is the current version of Soldat, the first release to be handled using public beta testing. In addition to a long list of bug fixes, major new features in this version include lobby chat, in game radio commands, TeamSpeak2 integration, and animated GIF scenery.
In Soldat, the player controls a small customizable soldier who possesses jet boots. These boots allow the soldier to fly for a relatively short time, before needing to automatically regenerate their fuel. The amount of flying possible at a time, and fuel regeneration rate, both depend on individual maps. The game is normally played over the Internet or a LAN, but it is possible to play offline against bots. There are a variety of game modes to choose from, ranging from the popular free-for-all (DeathMatch, RamboMatch, and PointMatch) to the team-based (Capture the Flag; sometimes in the CTF mode the "black team" (Michal Marcinkowski team) is on-line, Infiltration, TeamMatch, and Hold the Flag). In some modes holding or defending a flag is the primary goal, where in others it is simply to obtain the most frags, with minor objectives (for example, PointMatch sports a yellow flag which doubles its bearer's points). The most popular game modes are Capture the Flag and DeathMatch.
For all game modes, the basic objective is to kill enemy players. Upon spawning, the player is presented with a large arsenal of weapons to choose from. A few frag grenades are also supplied by default and more can picked up from boxes found on the ground ("GrenadeKits," respectively). Jet boots are used to move around the map, which typically consists of 2-3 levels/floors, or disorganized, floating boulders. Some servers enable temporary-lasting power-ups that grant multiplied damage (Berserker), invisibility (Predator), a flamethrower along with temporary invincibility (FlameGod), or Cluster Grenades (which temporarily replace regular grenades with three of more powerful, modified versions) or even a Bulletproof Vest (effectiveness of the vest depends on the distance from the firer of the bullet, and the vest slowly decreases as it soaks up damage, disappearing after absorbing a certain amount of damage, though there is no time limit). Health crates (known in the game as "Medikits") are available in many locations for healing injury back to 100% no matter how much a player is injured. Upon death and after waiting for a server-specified amount of time (on average 5 seconds), players respawn and may choose another weapon—this cycle repeats for the duration of the map, unless Survival Mode is enabled (in which case a spawning system similar to Counter-Strike is used). After a certain allotted time (on average 15 or 20 minutes), the map changes and scores are reset as players continue in another round. Players can chat with each other throughout matches (and to their own teams, for cooperative team-based game modes).
Most games are fast-paced and chaotic. Bodies often explode in a spectacle of blood and body parts, sometimes being hurled clear across the map. Besides its ragdoll physics, the game's engine, written in the Borland Delphi programming language, employs realistic concepts such as momentum and gravity. Fall damage and recoil are also taken into account when Realistic Mode is enabled, and supply crates, dropped weapons, and grenades realistically tumble down steep hills; another effect is the flag's realistic waving as a player runs with it.
There are ten primary weapons and four secondary weapons to choose from. A total of any two weapons may be held at any given time. Players can drop their current weapon and pick up others from defeated enemies. It's also possible to create server-specific weapon mods.
Soldat aims to balance every weapon so no one is better than the rest while each maintains individuality. The choice is largely dependent on the type of map, preferred tactics and weapons choice of the other side.
Much tweaking has been done to try to achieve this but there is often disagreement within the community. In the past, the Barrett M82A1 sniper rifle has been a notorious source of complaint from players for its ability to kill in a single bullet, along with its 10-shot magazine and scope ability (even though these portray real-life characteristics of the actual weapon). Recent versions have included measures to curb overuse of the Barrett, including "bink" (a Counter-Strike term which lowers accuracy when hit by gunfire), an increased power of other weapons, and, recently in 1.3.1, a startup time similar to the one present on the M72 LAW. The XM214 Minigun has also been criticized for supposedly lowering Frame rate on slower computers and its ability to let Minigunners unfairly "surf" across the map, given its tremendous recoil. With more recent releases, other weapons are being challenged as well. Contention over balance is so great that an entire section of the official community message board is devoted to discussion about the weapons' game balance.
Soldat is one of many games in which bunny hopping is possible. A player can travel much faster if he or she skips along the ground via frequent leaping, and often players who do not bunny hop are left behind. However, even when bunny hopping, a basic maximum speed limits horizontal movement. In addition, leaping before thrusting substantially boosts horizontal movement, as the leap gives horizontal push while the jet boots must only manage the player's vertical ascent.
Maps in Soldat are 2D arenas, most being tailored to fast-paced gameplay. DeathMatch maps are shared by the DeathMatch (DM), PointMatch (PM), RamboMatch (RM), and TeamMatch (TM or TDM, for Team DeathMatch) gamemodes, whereas Capture-the-Flag (CTF), Infiltration (INF) and Hold-the-Flag (HTF) have their own sets of specialized maps.
Every map consists of numerous textured polygons carefully positioned in relation to one another. Unlike Liero, a major inspiration of Soldat, landscape is non-deformable, though it can be interacted with in other ways. Scenery, such as bushes and sandbags, may conceal players and aid in camping and sniping. Polygons can be given special attributes to simulate lethal death pits, icy terrain, health-regenerative platforms, and more. Weather effects (snow, rain, and sandstorm) are used on some maps. Some servers enable the powerful stationary M2 turret specified by particular maps (usually CTF and INF) which players can man.
There are several known programs for mapping. The original map editor program is MapMaker 1.2, by Michal Marcinkowski himself. It has a unique control scheme that includes using the right mouse button to navigate the map and the control, shift, and alt keys combined with the left or right mouse button to perform functions. Another popular Soldat mapping program is Soldat PolyWorks, which has a different control scheme and a much more complex interface.
The new lobby server indicates that there are often 600 servers and 2000 players online, with a record number of lobby requests at 71459 per day. The whole number of players has not been counted but the official Soldat Forums have over 9450 registered members. Map editors are also available. Many Soldat players have developed and distributed their own programs for use with the game. These include, but are not limited to, map editors, weapon editors, statistics programs, mods, server-side statistical webpage-plugins (such as U13SSS and Zitro-stats), and auto-join applications. There are many fan webpages serving a multitude of purposes and tastes, mainly different clans for the official tournaments the game's community sponsors.
As the Soldat community has grown, so has the popularity of "R-mode," or the sub-gamemode "Realistic Mode." In v1.3.1's R-mode, the weapons are more powerful, and have a recoil, where the cross hair slowly moves upwards with each successive shot. There is a realistic field of view, players sustain damage when they hit the ground at high speeds. This emphasizes the need for proper tactics more strongly than the standard game mode, sometimes regarded as requiring more skill.
In addition to Realistic mode, there is the option to enable Survival Mode, a sub-gamemode where all players spawn together at the beginning. In most realistic servers, survival mode is paired with realistic mode. These servers are referred to as R/S (Realistic-Survival) servers. When a player dies, they must wait until the round is decided, then every player spawns again to start the next round. This game mode also provides a break from the normal non-stop action and more intensive battles. R/S mode games usually consist of short length battles between two sides in Capture the Flag mode.
Around the time of Soldat v1.3.1, most[who?] R/S matches developed a certain "gentlemen's rule" that a player should not "Capture the Flag' unless the opposing team is defeated. Because this is an unwritten rule, it is confusing to most people new to R/S servers. "Capping" or "Running" in an R/S server is usually considered bad etiquette, because it effectively defeats the other team without having to kill them. In more popular servers ran by R/S clans, capturing the flag is a legitimate tactic, as the game mode is still "Capture the Flag", not "Team Deathmatch", which only involves eradicating the enemy team. On the other hand, killing the other team and capping the flag in the few seconds remaining before the round ends, is called a doublecap, earns the team 2 points instead of the normal single point and is accepted in most servers, although many have implemented anti-doublecap scripts to prevent it.
Advance mode may be combined with the other game modes, e.g. for R/S/A mode, or it can be active by itself. In Advance mode players start the match armed only with secondary weapons. Primary guns are progressively unlocked as a reward for frags. With its forced low-tech phase and limited weapon choices, advance mode is the often considered the most tactical Soldat mode.
Game Archive and Review sites
- SFD (Soldat Files Directory) - A place for all files, maps, mods and media of Soldat.
- SoldatHQ Maps - Largest and Fastest growing Soldat Maps database on the internet.
- SoldatHQ Servers - Soldat Lobby with Player Searching. Can act as a Backup Lobby.
- What I Do: Michał Marcinkowski's blog
- (eC) EnEsCe's Official Website (Developer Blog)
- Interview with Michał Marcinkowski
- Turkish Soldat Community
- Brazilian Soldat Community
There are several leagues, for several game modes, where Soldat clans can participate:
- TNL (The Next League) & TPC (The Pwnage Cup) - Active CTF League, playing in seasons
- SCTFL (Soldat Capture The Flag League) & SRL (Soldat Realistic League) - Intercontinental CTF Leagues