Command & Conquer News: Tim Orton Interview
Hoo boy, I certainly didn’t expect to find this when I woke up this morning. VG247 have run a piece with a video regarding the upcoming Command & Conquer. They spoke with senior development director Tim Orton, and got some answers regarding how the new thing will work.
While I am somewhat hesitant to give more attention to EA’s necromantic efforts to keep this franchise going, I did find the video interesting enough to do some commentary on what is shown and what is said. So I’ll be going through the video to see what it has to tell us.
0:06 – “The new Command & Conquer consists of four main pillars” we hear Orton open with as we zoom out on a screenshot containing an electrified satellite dish and eventually the rest of the base. Okay, that definitely looks very C&C, I’ll give them that.
0:11 – “The first pillar is Frostbite“. This is the game engine that they’ll be running, and Orton says it’s “really a whole new engine for real-time strategy. It brings cutting edge graphics, and gameplay.” Which I guess is good? I’m not big on the graphics side of things normally, but I will agree it looks pretty. Certainly more interesting than earlier screenshots suggested.
0:16 – The style of these vehicles reminds me a bit of the Empire of the Rising Sun from Red Alert 3. Not quite as exaggerated, but there looks to be some of the same lines in those tanks as the Tsunami tanks had. Also in the picture; what looks to be the Angry Mob unit from the original Generals. So I’m guessing the GLA [future Wulf spoiler: it is indeed the GLA] or a similar terrorist faction will indeed be in the game.
0:21 – Well, that ruined dictator statue is surrounded by very GLA-like vehicles, and those tanks… is it just me, or do they look like something the Orks would put together? I am unable to find any close matches, so perhaps I’m stretching, but that’s the vibe I’m getting here.
0:23 – “The second pillar is live service” he goes on. “The game won’t have everything in it the day we launch, but it will grow over time as we add new game modes, new missions, new generals.” That does make a certain amount of sense for a free-to-play game, but I guess this means there will be no single-player campaigns available on launch. In the screenshot in the background we see a battle between the sleek tanks from earlier, and some green tanks that look to be from the Generals China faction [future Wulf spoiler: That would be the EU faction in the sleek corner and the Asia-Pacific alliance faction in the green corner], considering there seems to be an Overlord tank in the back, and the tanks and aircraft have red stars on them.
0:36 – “Third pillar is: This is the full scope of a packaged-good RTS, so we’ll have three factions, we’ll have Skirmish, we’ll have Deathmatch, we’ll have Co-op. All of that, but in a digitally distributed model.” So he’s basically claiming they’ll be as good as any pay-up-front RTS you can get. Or at least, include all the same things. I have stated before that multi-player is not my thing, but for those who are interested, I guess this is good news. I am curious about what he means by co-op. Just team matches, or is he talking about when single-player campaigns launch they’ll have a system similar to Red Alert 3? It is EA’s style to shove co-op into everything, so I’m going to assume both. The RA3 co-op was actually pretty fun though, so we’ll see.
0:52 – “And last, C&C heritage. So we are staying true to the core mechanics of RTS. It is base building, unit building, resource gathering, combat. We’re not taking anything away from the formula that made all of the last Command & Conquer series so great.” This is at the very least a dig at how shitty C&C4 was, and perhaps a hint that they’ve decided to pretend it doesn’t exist. Either way, it makes me smile.
1:12 – And onto the moving pre-alpha footage we go. Of course, this is just footage of someone else playing, it’s not something VG247 got hands on themselves, unless I missed something. Construction animations look pretty decent, and it seems to be a GLA base we’re getting to see first. Building an oil derrick. I assume they’re sticking to the old C&C formula of a single resource, so everything will translate into ‘credits’. I’m okay with that.
1:17 – A truck with a nuke strapped to the back of it. Classic GLA. That design though… at least in Generals there seemed to be some attempt to make the bomb trucks look inconspicuous. That thing would stand out everywhere and anywhere.
1:19 – “The first three factions“. So they have plans to add more. Would that be like a separate module, or could we have like, GDI fighting the EU, or something like that eventually? Not a huge fan of that idea, if it turns out to be the case. Also, that EU construction crane could maybe do with a bit more detail before release.
1:21 – The EU faction will be the high-tech guys, similar to the USA of Generals, or the GDI of Tiberium. While they look to have taken style points off the Empire of the Rising Sun from Red Alert 3. 😛
1:28 – The Asia-Pacific Alliance sound to be essentially the same idea as China from Generals. Reliance on large numbers to make up for the EU’s high-tech advantage. And in the footage we see that the resource piles from Generals make a return, and the EU have a fancier version of the USA Chinook.
1:31 to 1:45 – Really only seeing footage from the EU and the GLA, even though he was talking about the APA. And we see the large EU tank being built, and it honestly reminds me of a Mammoth Tank, even though the turret seems to have a rail gun of sorts. I guess it’s good that they’ve kept the bit where units announce their arrival when construction is complete.
1:46 to 2:03 – And yeah, the Global Liberation Army. Still terrorists relying on dirty tricks and SCUD launchers. We see a SCUD platform be set up and then later the missiles strike. I’m not sure I’d call it finesse, or stealth action, but I suppose he just means they can’t hold up for long in a straight-up fight, as in the original.
2:10 – Talking about how they went from being Generals 2 to this “broader platform“. They’ll add new factions over time, and will eventually pull Red Alert and Tiberium stuff into the mix. And maybe even completely new ‘fictions’, as he calls it. Depending on how they implement this, I might not be completely opposed to it. Like, will it have the free-to-play multi-player platform as a base, and then you can purchase single-player campaigns to play as they release? Will they be reasonably priced? Can you just rent access, if you feel certain you can complete it in just a few days and won’t play it again? Will the campaigns also be free-to-play? There is potential here, and the platform approach is interesting, but we’re also dealing with EA. Which means they’ll most likely cock it up somehow, and we’ll end up with a big slurry of suck.
2:36 – Confirmed that they’re starting with just multi-player, but he says there’s still the Skirmish mode available for single-player action. While I’m sure that’s good for practice, I am not sure how many will play Skirmish repeatedly just for the sake of it. Do people do that? I don’t know. And apparently there’s a co-op mode called Onslaught which seems to be basically Horde mode done in RTS. All the players team up versus waves of CPU controlled enemies. I might actually see myself trying that, if I can be bothered to download the thing at all. I seem to recall they had something like that in Starcraft 2 as well.
2:52 – “Over time” they plan to add single-player campaigns and “story-based content“. Okay, again, using this as a foundation to put more C&C stuff out in various might work. Since it’s EA pulling the strings I’m not sure it will. Will they get competent writers for these stories? When are they coming out? Will they be free-to-play? One-time purchase? Rentals? Whatever the case is, I think I’m gonna wait for reviews before actually giving them any money for new stuff.
3:08 – So they wanted to take 30% of what was already there and keep that intact, make 30% in the same vein and then 30% will be completely new. What about the final 10%? Is it a secret? Is it evil? Is he just bad at math and meant to say “a third”?
3:40 – The Generals 2 bit of the game will be set 10 years after the original, which was set 10 years after it launched, which was 10 years ago, so that would be now and the new one is 10 years in the future. Anyone confused? Certainly not me.
3:50 – “It’s modern warfare“. D: I know what he means, but I still wish he hadn’t said it like that. Even though I liked the first Modern Warfare.
3:55 – “There will be some units that have lasers“. Hurrah! If they add Plasma as well, maybe we’ll see an XCOM mod. … will this ‘foundation platform’ even support mods?
4:03 to 4:10 – Not sure what kind of infantry can destroy buildings that fast without rocket launchers. I think it’s the Angry Mob again, throwing molotov cocktails. A couple of tanks won’t be able to stop those. There’s still just EU and GLA footage though… there was that one screenshot of the APA.
4:11 to 4:29 – A lot of urban warfare. The destruction engine actually looks quite good, with debris being strewn around everywhere, but is it persistent, or will it fade away after a short while? If it doesn’t then the ground would get really cluttered.
4:30 – Aha! Finally onto the business model. “Command & Conquer will be completely free to play.” And it will support transactions for “various types of content you can download“, such as generals, customisation options (which I assume will be skins, colour-schemes, insignias, etc) and convenience options like exp boosts (pretty standard these days). Now, buying new generals is something I expected all along, but the main issue I see is that C&C have never been the best regarding balance. So I fear that some, or all, of the generals up for purchase will just be flat-out better than any of the free ones you get. If that happens, it would seriously hurt the multi-player scene to have to buy certain generals just to stay competitive. Though I’m sure that sounds like a great idea in the EA board-room.
4:55 – Closed beta is starting “this spring”, so thank you for being specific there. I do have to question whether what we’re seeing now is actually pre-alpha footage, or just regular alpha build. Though I will admit I am not completely sure on the difference at this point. Developers seem to use the terms interchangeably.
5:05 – They’re planning to go open beta later in 2013, depending on closed beta feedback. So that could still be pushed back, is what I’m hearing here. I… don’t particularly care, as it’s not like there’s a shortage of good games until whenever it launches.
5:16 – “It’s going to be a continually evolving process.” Well, if that’s how they’re thinking about it, I guess the open beta will technically be the launch then, and they’ll just add more stuff and fix bugs, balance issues and such on top of that for as long as they’re able to keep the thing alive.
And there we go. That was basically everything worth noting that I could see. Even the final pieces of footage only showed EU vs GLA. Considering all the different matches they showed, I guess the APA aren’t ready for display yet? And when they are, is that when it’s a proper alpha build? Geeze… alright, that was certainly a thing. I can feel more sighs building up. This didn’t exactly light my fan-fires, but maybe I’m just too cynical for that at this point. The perks of growing older.
Posted on February 27, 2013, in Games, Thoughts and tagged analysis, Bioware Victory, Command & Conquer, EA, Generals 2, interview, Tim Orton, VG247, videogames. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.