Summary: Today we have a rare and special glimpse into the upcoming Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, courtesy of this interview.
FiringSquad: First, why did EALA decide to return to the classic C&C universe for its next game, rather than a new Red Alert game as was previously announced?
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: Even though it’s been years since the release of Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun, we’ve never really left the Tiberium universe – we’ve been working on the next chapter in the Tiberium series in one form or another for a very long time. We’re very excited to revisit this popular Command & Conquer universe and it is my personal favorite. A great many people on the team are passionate about Command & Conquer – we have three generations of Command & Conquer fans working on this next game.
FiringSquad: What's the toughest thing about bringing back the classic C&C setting after several years and making it fresh for both fans of the series and new players?
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: You’ve put the finger on the most difficult challenge we’ve faced: Making a game that is fresh but familiar, that has the innovation and new features you’d expect from a state-of-the-art 2007 RTS game but is also a Command & Conquer game at heart. I think we’ve found the right balance. Command & Conquer 3 is built on fast, fluid, and fun RTS game play, a terrific single player experience with 38 missions and a rich story told through the FMV cutscenes (will be familiar to fans of the series), and innovative new multiplayer modes that turn RTS into a spectator sport. People who have never played a Command & Conquer game will get a chance to experience the fast and furious gameplay and the deep story that have inspired millions of fans throughout the years. Those who love Command & Conquer will feel like they are coming home.
FiringSquad: The GDI and Nod conflict is of course the centerpoint of the C&C universe but you are also bringing in a new alien threat as a third playable faction. Why was this decision made?
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: The foundation for the alien presence was put into place during Tiberian Sun – we got a definite clue in that game that the universe was bigger than just GDI and Nod. And it feels good to be finally opening up the fiction and taking the storyline to the next level. There are also game reasons to introduce a new faction.
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: Engineers can actually capture the hulks of destroyed mega-units like the 40 foot tall Nod Avatar walker, the hulking GDI Juggernaut artillery platform, or the Scrin Annihilator Tripod. This introduces a cool dynamic: You assume a degree of risk when you deploy these massively powerful units. If you lose the battle, your enemy might capture the hulks, repair them, and you may well face your own units in combat.
FiringSquad: What are some of the team's favorite new units to use in C&C 3?
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: A few of the team favorites: GDI’s Juggernaut is a large walking artillery platform that can bombard structures from a distance. Alone it’s powerful, but combine it with the spotter in a sniper team and you can call in artillery strikes anywhere on the map. Nod’s Avatar Warmech is awesome with its ability to pick up weapons from other units and use them as its own. And the Scrin Annihilator Tripod is cool – it’s great to watch it engage three targets at the same time with three different beam weapons.
FiringSquad: The game returns to using live actors for the title's cut scenes and boasts an impressive cast list. How hard was it to film these scenes and then make them seem fairly seemless when incorporated into the game?
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: The cast in Command & Conquer is amazing – featuring Josh Holloway, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Ironside, the return of Joe Kucan as Kane, and more. The actors truly add a depth and dimension to the story.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the game's graphical features and are there any plans to release a DirectX10 patch for the game at some point?
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: We’re very excited about the improvements we’ve made in the graphics for Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars. In particular, our graphics engine has specularity for terrain and units, a new shadow system, new water, upgraded lighting, a real-time post FX system that allows us to create a mood and sense of place for each environment, and other major graphics features. We recently implemented a new terrain system that makes the game environments look incredible. We also have a new particle system that lets us create amazing pyrotechnics, smoke and haze on the battlefield, and weather effects. Finally, over the course of the project we have made several efforts in optimization to ensure that the game looks awesome while staying at a high frame rate. All of these improvements apply to both the Xbox 360 version and the PC version. As for DX10, we’ve thought about releasing a patch but in order to give players some incremental benefit but we really feel developers have to build for DX10 from the ground up.
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: We start with a game that is balanced well, has enough depth in each of the sides to allow robust early, mid, and late game dynamics, and plays fast with no hitches or lags. You need a great foundation in place before you can even entertain the idea of appealing to competitive gamers.
FiringSquad: With all these pro gaming features is EA planning on a major C&C 3 tournament at some point?
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: We haven’t made any announcements about a specific tournament, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted. You can always visit the game’s official site for more information www.commandandconquer.ea.com.
FiringSquad: How does the Xbox 360 version differ from the PC version and will the console port be released around the same time as the PC release?
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: For the Xbox 360 specifically, we have made some significant upgrades to the control and game UI system that we introduced in The Lord of the Rings, Battle for Middle-earth II. Based on user feedback and our own observations we’ve not only found ways to improve the controls, like our short-cut systems, but have also found ways to improve the responsiveness of the controls. We’ve also introduced a new feature called cursor magnetism which acts as a sort of aim-assist, making it easier for you to select and control your units while in the thick of the action.
FiringSquad: Will there be any mission editors and mod tools released for the game at some point?
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: We’ll be releasing the world builder (editor) with the game and we’ll be working on a Mod SDK after release.
FiringSquad: Are there any plans for a beta test or demo for the PC version before its ship date and if so what will they contain?
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: We haven’t announced anything, but we’ll keep you updated with any news.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Command and Conquer 3 at this time?
Mike Verdu and Michael Glosecki: Our team is extremely excited to be working with the Command & Conquer series, - many of us have been fans of the game series since the original Command & Conquer. The PC version is in stores March 28 and the Xbox 360 version will follow in the coming months. We hope you enjoy playing this game as much as we enjoyed making it – it’s been a real privilege to bring the next chapter of Command & Conquer to life.
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