NOD And A Wink: C&C4′s Producer Explains All

By Alec Meer on August 12th, 2009 at 6:28 pm.

Last week I sat down Jim Vessella, one of the producers at EA LA working on next year’s Command & Conquer 4. In between having our ears blasted by someone testing the building’s fire alarm, which did admittedly add an appropriate sense of apocalypse to proceedings, we chatted about how and why the RTS genre has changed, the split between single and multiplayer strategy, and how seriously we’re really supposed to take C&C’s campy cutscenes. A couple of key facts to know if you’ve not caught any preview details on C&C4 – the traditional base-building is replaced by a mobile MCV that spits out units and turrets, depending on which of three player classes you choose. No harvesting, no building upgrades – just straight-up war, akin to Dawn of War II and/or World in Conflict. Oh, and you’ll gain persistent experience points as you play, which unlocks new units and abilities.

Has RTS failed – is it essential that there is a major change after years of this Dune 2-derived thing?

I don’t think that it’s failed. I think that it’s become a little limiting in terms of what players can come into the genre. I think in terms of serving the hardcore market, that we usually call the classic base-on-base RTS gameplay, we’ve served them pretty well. I think Red Alert 3 was a great game for that type of audience, Starcraft 2 is going to a great example of a game for that type of audience.

But what we found was that it’s really tough for new players to come in and play a game like RA3, especially those who didn’t grow up in the generation of that style, who didn’t go through the days of C&C, Starcraft and Warcraft II. So what you’ve seen is that the market’s just shrunk a little bit and shrunk a little bit and shrunk a little bit…

So what we want to do is try and open it up to a new gerantion of gamers who want to try strategy but are too intimiated to go and play online in a Starcraft II match, cos they’re gonna get Zerged rushed. So I wouldn’t say that the genre’s failed – I’d say that it needs a bit of a kickstart to bring in new players. It just needs to evolve a little bit. I think we’ve seen that happen in other genres as well, over the years.

Is that about today’s gamers wanting things to be easier and more accessible, or is about the genre stagnating?

Personally, I love it when games introduce me to the aspects and mechanics a bit more easily. Sure I love a great war sim that just throws you in there and it’s got all these layers of depth and tactical fidelity and stuff, but I also just love a game that handholds you through the whole experience. When it’s really just about having fun and you get to experience a great story and a great universe, and that’s awesome too.

If you look at the numbers, a lot of people feel that way. They just want an experience where they can get the game and have a great time over a 10 to 12 hour period – and sometimes it’s hard to do that in an RTS. So what we’re trying to do is take some lessons from some of the other genres out there, and hopefully it works out.

Is introducing the new elements, like the roleplaying system that’s similar to that in Dawn of War II or the class system that’s a bit like World in Conflict, something that’s happening as a general, unconscious trend, or are RTS developers actively inspired by each other?

Obviously there’s a lot of “you learn from this game, you borrow from this game” – whatever you want to call it – and you put that in yours. I think that’s great. As a gamer, I want to get a game and I want to have fun with that. If that means that 30% of your gameplay came from this other 90%-rated game, that’s fine. As long as you did something that also added to the value of that experience – you added something new here yourself.

In terms of the progression mechanic, what I’ve always thought is when I get a new RTS game and I try out multiplayer for the first time, all of sudden I’ve got 50 units, 20 upgrades and 30 structures just dropped on top of me. I’ve no idea what anything does, what counters what, what weaposn this is good against. I’m just so intimidated, and I get rushed, and then I die.

So what we’re trying to do is introduce you to things a little bit slower, so that you can learn what everything does, and by the time you’ve put those hours into it you have this big inventory of stuff, and you’re like “oh, I know what all this stuff does, I know exactly where it fits, and now I can start really thinking about the strategy of I can combine this with this and that’s going to great in that suituation…”

Are you confident that the singleplayer is going to representative of the online experience too? You’ve reference Dawn of War II as doing some similar things, but one of the places that did fall down is there was such a hard-shift between singleplayer and multiplayer…

Yeah, the first time you go online [in Dawn of War II], you just get [smacks table and makes squelchy raspberry noise]. It’s a totally different experience. So I don’t think that our transition from singleplayer to online is going to be as drastic as Dawn of War II. Your objectives are going to be very similar in terms of capturing some of these nodes, using your Crawler, building out units, switching between different classes…

A lot of that game mechanic is going to be very similar, from singleplayer to online. Another cool thing is in skirmish, even, you can do a comp-stomp and then that’s going to be very similar to the online experience. I think if you train up in campaign and skirmish then you’re going to fit right into online. And again, with online being such a social experience of 5-on-5 gameplay, you can kinda learn from observing the other nine players on the map, and you can lean on them in the first few sessions. It’s not just you alone in a one on one map, getting rushed.

Are there going to be options for guys who do want the pure, classic, hardcore play?

We are investigating options. We’re not saying it has to be a 5-on-5 match. We’re looking at ways so that players can have 1 on 1 or 2v2; what we might do there is fiddle with how many units you can control, how big the maps are and things like that. We’re going to have levers in there, we hope, for how players can experience that. But the game modes will probably stay the same, so we’re not going to have that classic experience of you each start at a starting point, you build up a base, and then you just attack each other. We’re not focusing on that this time around.

Are you expecting outcry from fans when you say “there won’t be that, the cutscenes are going to be less humorous”?

The Tiberium universe has always tried to be a bit more serious…

Really?

Yeah. We tried. It did end up being campy most of the time…. I mean, Red Alert 3 is blatant “we’re trying to be comedic”. So I think people are going to enjoy the grittier tone of the cinematics. I think it’s kind of a cool contrast to what we just did with Red Alert 3. In terms of the gameplay, since we announced a few weeks ago, we’ve heard the feedback. Some people are really excited about the changes, and some of the more veteran players, the hardcore guys, are a little more wary about what it all means.

What I do want to remind fans is just because we’re changing the formula a little bit and taking out the classic base-building, it doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily removing strategic depth. There’s still lots of options in there in terms of moving around the battlefield, where you build your firebases, how you combine your units and how you combine with other players to push direction. So there is still a lot of strategic depth there, and that’s what we want fans to remember.

At the same time you’ve got to be able to drown out some of the shouting voices on the internet, right?

Oh yeah, it’s great – those are the guys that are really passionate about the franchise, and we feed off that energy as well, even if it is a little, ah, critical at times. So I do encourage them to keep speaking up.

Going back – you generally reckon that C&C 3 and Kane’s Wrath, cutscene-wise, was a pretty serious game? That fascinates me, to the point that I wonder if it’s just my British sense of humour / inability to take anything seriously, misreading it.

We wanted it to be serious, but it just comes off as campy. I think if you look at our announcement trailer for C&C4, I think we get away with being fairly serious – not too much to laugh at in there, unless you laugh at Joe Kucan’s quirky smile or something.

I’m thinking more stuff like that ridiculous cyber-hat he wears in Kane’s Wrath…

Yeah [laughs]. It’s sci-fi, y’know. There’s a very easy line to cross when in you’re in scifi, going from campy to being like Battlestar serious. We’re trying. We do really want to tell a great scifi story, one that has a bit of emotional depth in there, and a good story arc and character arcs. But, y’know. It comes off as campy sometimes – we’re not perfect. In C&C3 it was a little deliberate in a way, we wanted to harken back to what they did in 1995. We were trying to make it a bit more serious, trying to improve, but it made us come off as campy again. As long as people enjoy it, then that’s fine with us.

Have you been able to experiment at all with other forms of storytelling, seeing as you’re pushing against the series’ traditions anyway? Given how much you’re evolving the game in other ways, it seems almost anachronistic to have the hard-stop now-here’s-a-cutscene-and-then-a-mission structure again.

With this one we’re not trying too much different, apart from shooting the cinematics in a different way – in terms of not being those monologues to camera. Y’know, “this is the situation, commander” [wobbles head like a Thunderbird puppet]. We’re trying to get it a bit more like it’s in a film, the scene is evolving and you’re a fly on the wall watching that scene. We get to try something new every time, and that’s what we’re going for this time. We’ll see how people react to it. If people love it, then we might continue that type of storytelling. If people still feel it’s a little too 1990s, then yeah, we’ll try something different next time. I think it’s pretty cool what we’re doing this time though, and it’s going to turn out well.

What are the major lessons learned from C&C3 and RA3?

The main thing from RA3 was that the game was very lethal. You’d come in and you’d have your tanks, you’d come into a battle, and within a few seconds that battle would be over. So with C&C4, we’re trying to pull the lethality back, have battles take a little longer, so players can have time to learn how everything works. We’re putting a lot more visual cues into there in terms of what counters what, by changing effects colours, and trying to get a really solid counter system between weapon and armour types, learning some of the things that games like Warcraft have done. We felt that the affordance, what we call teaching the player visually what’s going on, was as strong in C&C3 and RA3 as we wanted it to be. So we’re trying to double down on that a bit and really make it more understandable for players this time around.

C&C4 arrives at some point next year, and I’m planning to tap out a preview based on the code I saw last week very soon.

Oh, and here’s a bonus retrospective video, via German mag, GameStar:



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72 Comments »

  1. Primar says:

    Although I’m relatively interested in C&C4 and do like the idea of most of the new changes (Crawlers, XP, ‘talent trees’ and such), the one thing I’m mildly concerned about is how it’s going to affect multiplayer games.

    Specifically: if I’m playing a MP match, the last thing I want is to be beaten by an opponent that has access to units/abilities etc that I don’t have, purely because he’s completed and/or played lots of SP games which I have no interest in.

    The whole point behind MP matches is that it’s effectively a level playing field (ignoring intra-race balance) that depends on what you do as a player – you shouldn’t have to feel like you need to complete SP missions purely to be able to play effectively in MP.

    Of course, they’ve not made it completely clear how it’ll work, and no doubt it might change drastically – it’s just me being mildly worried from what I’ve heard about it so far. :)

  2. Jim says:

    Pathetic, C&C has always been about base building and harvesting, they should have made the base building more in depth in my opinion (bring back the gates from Tiberian Sun!). I won’t be getting C&C4 as it seems its soul has been removed.

    Why the big stompy mobile respawning base? What a terrible, terrible idea. RIP C&C

    [/melodrama]

  3. reaper47 says:

    the traditional base-building is replaced by a mobile MCV [...] No harvesting, no building upgrades

    Ewwwwww…

    What’s it with developers thinking they found the holy grail of gamedesign by REMOVING half of the gameplay? Good job, there. The focus group testers will not complain anymore, because THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO JUDGE. This is even a PC game, so the “catering to the XBox crowd” marketing argument doesn’t even work.

    Do they really need the new “gerantion” of kids who are “afraid of Zerg rushes”?

    Dear god, please make this something gamers will remember the 2000s for in shame. Next year a new decade starts. Hopefully, it will come as a new age of games that do not treat quantity as qualities’ evil twin. No “experience” with high-res sugar coating. Give me more. More gameplay.

    And more game journalists making them SWEAT in interviews. You know, like Katie Couric. “Could it be the ‘market shrunk’ because your last game was an unoriginal cash-in and gamers noticed before buying and got Empire: Total War instead?”

  4. DMJ says:

    I always found something rather satisfying about a well-set-up base, planting turrets for optimum killzones and positioning my refineries for efficiency…

    Hmm.

    *goes off to play Stronghold*

  5. Azhrarn says:

    It’s EA, no surprise there tbh. C&C3 was less fun than 2, and 4 will be less fun than 3. In other words, not worth getting.

  6. Serenegoose says:

    Seems interesting. I’m enjoying the flirtation with less base building, more outright combat across the RTS spectrum as a whole, even if my current favourite is still a ‘basebuilder’, in Company of Heroes. I prefer my RTS to actually be about combat, you know? I do hope that with the move away from less instantly ‘lethal’ combat and base building will really make C&C4 an experience I enjoy. C&C3 alienated me because I could never effectively grasp the economy side of the game whilst sending thousands of tanks to die simultaneously. I’d rather look after smaller, squads of more individually important units and get involved in meaningful, rather than rushy combat. If that means the base building goes to give the player enough time to manage that side of things, then so be it, in my opinion.

  7. Xercies says:

    I don’t know, I’m on the fence with the new gameplay…I didn’t like Dawn of war 2 never played World In Conflict so I wouldn’t know. But I do think the RTS gameplay is getting tired. And weren’t people complaining that Starcraft 2 hadn’t changed much…I mean come on which one do you want.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    Wow, I usually feel like a lone wolf bigging up the base building RTS, but they all seem to be coming out in the open now.

    Agree with the consensus, the removal of the base building, particular in a game like C&C, is going to really water down the experience. No harvesting too! Gah! Thank god for SC2.

    Also, “in terms of serving the hardcore market… we’ve served them pretty well,” made me laugh. C&C has always been a fairly lightweight RTS for along time now. Both sides have an awesome unit, both sides build up to awesome unit, whoever has most wins. Not exactly much strategy there. That isn’t to say it isn’t fun, but it certainly isn’t hardcore.

  9. Azhrarn says:

    @Vandelay:

    I couldn’t agree more, basically C&C went from “think what you build” to “spam unit A to win, if enemy has unit Z, spam unit B instead”.

    All about the rush, and not about the strategy. I really regret buying C&C3 and its expansion, although at least Kane’s Wrath had some fun missions in it.

    Even Supreme Commander, spiritual successor to Total Annihilation , games that epitomise offensive base building, gets a sequel without base building in SupCom2.

    I’ll miss those games, and the RTS genre in general, because this move to no-base rush gameplay may just kill it completely. Although StarCraft 2 will have it at least.

  10. the affront says:

    Hardcore players? In C&C? Reeeeeeally?
    The unlocks to learn the game argument is also pretty dumb, as that should be a purpose of singleplayer (ESPECIALLY here, with all the stress on the multiplayer to singleplayer similarity in the OP). So if you’re a somewhat decent player and maybe (I’m reaching, here, this is an EA game and it’s 2009) READ what a unit does before you build it (like, put a text to what it counters in the damn tooltip if you want it easy, OMG INNOVATION) you still get to grind unlocks against scrubs to be competitive. Sounds like a great system… unless you can just go “screw this” and press a button to unlock everything. But yeah, like that’s likely.
    Also interested in how mobile base tactics will work in 5vs5.. depending on their speed I see this degenerating into team gank battles like DOTA, just 5 bases zerging around out-producing any single one they come across.
    All in all sounds like a game for the most casual of RTS player only, so far.

    Anyway, I don’t really care.. will have a look when it’s here, if there’s a demo, and that’s it. The last C&C I somewhat enjoyed was Generals, and even that was only “ok” instead of “great”. C&C3 and RA3 were just re-hashed rubbish with controls and UI feeling like you were back in 1995, and as clumsy. I’m sure people will disagree, but there you have it.

  11. the affront says:

    Azhrarn: SupCom2 without bases? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, INTERNET?! Goddamn it.

    Another game to strike off The List™, then. I’ll miss you, lovely shield generators!

  12. Vinraith says:

    So at the point that the RTS genre just completely descends into pure action gaming, how long will it take for someone to “reinvent” the genre back to its roots?

  13. Jad says:

    …what I’ve always thought is when I get a new RTS game and I try out multiplayer for the first time, all of sudden I’ve got 50 units, 20 upgrades and 30 structures just dropped on top of me. I’ve no idea what anything does, what counters what, what weaposn this is good against. I’m just so intimidated, and I get rushed, and then I die.

    Maybe I’m outdated or lame or something, but isn’t this the point of the singleplayer campaign? Or skirmish?

    I was always more of a SP guy, so maybe that’s where I’m off, but it always seemed to me that the progression was: NewbiePlayer->SP or skirmish against computer until NewbiePlayer becomes OkayPlayer and then goes online to show off his stuff. With BornHardcore(andCaresNothingAboutStory)->straight online.

    Even with purely multiplayer FPSes like TF2 I usually set up an empty local server for my first ever few minutes of gametime to fiddle with my keybindings and make sure the graphical settings and such are correct. Launching directly into multiplayer for a complex, unfamiliar game and expecting to not have a bunch of things to learn? Weird.

  14. Azhrarn says:

    @the Affront:

    well I heard/read something like that around this years E3, but I can’t seem to find it at present.
    A Kotaku article from about the right period mentions nothing of base building aside from a retooled economy, so I could be wrong.

  15. reaper47 says:

    I don’t know, I’m on the fence with the new gameplay…

    Nothing personal, just taking this sentence as an example for another way of putting it:

    There is no new gameplay.

    You can tweak, polish and balance unit combat as much as you want, removing base building doesn’t make it “new gameplay”. It’s the same BS we got with “Deus Ex: Invisible War” and their “focus on meaningful choices” that somehow consisted entirely of cutting gameplay elements from the predecessor.

    If they said, “Hey, we got something completely new that replaces base-building altogether!” I’d be interested to see it, but that is simply not the case.

  16. medwards says:

    I’d highly recommend actually giving Dawn of War II a shot to see what removing the base is like. As an on-and-off again RTS person I have to say it’s sucked me in something fierce. Here’s some pro changes to the genre (that may or may not be in C&C4, just that these are some new directions I see) (obviously these are IMHO):
    - capturing resource generation rather than passive collection with initial investments- this changes several fundamentals… having all your collectors destroyed and thus being crippled doesn’t happen. That doesn’t mean you can’t kneecap your opponents resource generation, just that the barrier to recovery is lowered.
    - Victory points vs annihilation as a win condition. This forces more strategic variety, you can’t necessary keep your units in one cohesive hammer because you’re forced to defend more territory
    - The elimination of bases – Sorry guys, I disagree because of one thing: It moves the focus to the battle. Base-building is sort of a ‘SimCity’ sort of experience that serves the battle, but I enjoy tactical battles and not the min-maxing of a base. in Company of Heroes vs DoW2 I would say the CoH bases were just a tiring distraction. That isn’t to say that other players don’t enjoy it, but I think you have to be fair enough to say that there are other players who think its a rubbish waste of time.

    It’s also worth noting that this may be the RTS equivalent of the FPS shift to regenerative health. I’ll leave the rest of yous to argue about whether thats good or bad.

  17. Azhrarn says:

    Ah found it, sort of.

    http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=214525

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/06/11/supreme-commander-2-supremier/

    No ditching of basebuilding mentioned, but apparently the economy part of the game is getting the axe.

  18. Tei says:

    I like base building, but I will play any game that is fun. DOW 2 was really boring. COH was awesome.

  19. Gap Gen says:

    Red Alert was probably the most serious game in the C&C series. None of the other games quite had the same level of desperation in them, which was what really made the Allied campaign.

  20. Okami says:

    Since I’m tired of base building RTSs (and have been so for quite some time) anyway, this might actually be the first C&C I’ll ever pick up.

  21. Xercies says:

    @Reaper47

    I can see where your coming from but I put new as in new for Command and Conquer not new for RTSs.

    And anyway we don’t know if it will cut gamplay choices, it might make some new ones. You never know thats why I’m on the fence.

    Though I do have to say I wish more people kind of copied the Dawn of War system, lovely base building, great morale mechanic, and also reinforcement which is just superb.

  22. reaper47 says:

    Nothing against RTS without base building.

    I just don’t like the idea of removing gameplay being used as a fix/”improvement”. From my experience, it never worked.

    It might put the focus on battle, but here’s the thing: Maybe I don’t want the focus to be on battle that much in a C&C game. Maybe I’m not looking for a dynamic, hyper-balanced multiplayer experience. Maybe, I’d rather lay out a base, manage resources and build half a dozen tank factories for a final, devastating blow. Strike the maybe, that’s exactly how I feel. And I’m not alone. :(

    Next step I see: C&C4 flops-> it’s not a bad game, it’s piracy!!-> next C&C game is XBox exclusive-> features FPS elements-> get’s marketed like crazy by Micrsoft-> actually sells despite being a shadow of the older games-> other developers watch, take note, repeat last 3 steps without questioning the how, when and why

    It might sound bitter (because it is), but this is exactly what happened to First Person Shooters. It’s sad how fans not liking the game is completely excluded as a possible explanation for why the market might have shrunk. Word-of-mouth is meaningless. Fans aren’t a target group. Depth doesn’t sell. Gamers want action(!!!1). Why? Because, like,… uhm… they want to experience new, exciting, pro-active media sensations in familiar living room environments?

  23. Zaphid says:

    Starcraft 2 will come out,it will be a massive success and suddenly, C&C5 will be going back to its roots with a decent base building ! You heard it here first folks.

    The thing with base building is that it turns your interaction with map from passive into active, especially with peon-based building as opposed to C&C base building off of one queue. You can create tight spots, wall off some parts completely and so on, so in the end, you have way richer gameplay. Also, in your typical starcraft match, you use about 5-10 types of units. Then you have RA3, which has 30 units per side. You still use 2-3 types, however it is really confusing. Hey, I could’ve made AA submarine which changes into bomber! Hey, could’ve created a flying squadron of dead! Hey, both of those are countered by basic flak troopers, which cost 500$ and destroy them in 3 seconds, you cant even retreat without massive losses…

  24. A-Scale says:

    I think the move to a respawn based multiplayer experience is going to be a huge leap forward for RTS gaming. Naysayers be damned.

  25. Azhrarn says:

    @Zaphid:

    StarCraft 2 could be a turd in a box and it would still sell millions of units, if only in South-Korea.
    Those buyers would then probably all buy plane tickets to the US and burn down Acti/Blizz HQ, but it would still have sold like hot-cakes. So that doesn’t mean much as an argument. I agree with your standpoint, but I don’t think it’s that clear cut.

  26. Caleb says:

    Aw crap, the n-th No Base Building real time “strategy”. Wonder which route will C&C4 go, the World in Conflict “just mass tanks and more tanks and send them forward ad infinitum” or the DoW2 “forward a little, kill the aliens, back, respawn, forward again, ad infinitum”?
    Ok, I’m an old styler, and I have to admit: DoW2 was so absurdly SIMPLISTIC and FPS-ish i’ve uninstalled and returned it in less than a week. And put back Dark Crusade in its place.

  27. destroy.all.monsters says:

    Meh. Bought CnC 3 and except for the cutscenes didn’t enjoy it at all. Nor did it make sense when he executed blobde female comandress numero uno – unless it was to prove that he was teh evil or something.

    Terrible writing. Awesome Kucan.

    Sans Adam Isgreen being pulled in to write I will probably pass. Sad that the tiberium universe gets rolled up after what seems like generic RTS games with a CnC skin on it. I expect more of the same.

    If anything they should have just made CnC movies because that would be much harder to screw up than the games. As long as Joe was in them there would be attendance.

  28. Tim Ward says:

    Ask him about the ramp.

  29. Rich_P says:

    @A-scale: agreed. WiC is the most fun I’ve had with pub RTS games precisely because it utilizes a lot of traditional online FPS mechanics: large teams, respawns (in that destroyed units are gradually recycled into new credits), lots of action, mobile support, etc. I’m actually interested in C&C4 since it will have a similar online component.

    Speaking of C&C, I just finished RA2 and Yuri’s Revenge for the nth time. Still the most fun I’ve had with a C&C game.

  30. David Drahos says:

    Ugh the dumbing down of western culture, lets be blunt games that require no thinking sell well because they require little thinking and no strategy. C&C is a RTS (Real Time STRATEGY), without economics and base building it leaves to idiots beating each other with sticks and who ever has the most and largest stick wins. RTS’s have never been main stream because they require thinking, I think the genre is defined by thinking and without it will just become another shooter.

  31. Gabanski83 says:

    I dunno. I’m a big fan of the “turtling” method of play in RTS games; I like defending my bases whilst I crank up the research trees and base facilities. I like building a huge army of ultra high tech death machines, and then proceeding to try to stomp the opposition base into the ground in one blow. I like holding off masses of enemies with turrets, and funneling them down kill corridors.

    DoW 2 was ok, but never really held me. the lack of a base made the game feel shallower, some how. There’s not as much fun or splodes in having a series of small skirmishes every minute or two, which was DoW 2′s gameplay, really. I don’t want little fights. I want massive armies clashing, the threat of an enemy taking out a vital part of my defences, and the desperate scrambles that entail from that.

    I’m not keen on this current trend of “streamlining” RTS games, or stripping out the economic side of the games. It’s removing tactical and strategic options to me (denying the enemy resources, harrassing enemy facilities, finding the weak spot in base defences and giving the foe a nasty surprise, etc), thereby making the game less fun to play, and less interesting.

    The only way I think I’d be happy with the direction C&C4 is going, with removing traditional bases, would be to make the mobile bases as mobile fortresses, extremely well defended yet slow moving behemoths, defending something incredibly vulnerable. And I mean tens of turrets on them, maybe airborne, or giant landcrawlers. Big hulking units, with massive howitzers on them, not the mediocre sized things I’ve seen recently in previews

    I’d prefer to see them develop traditional bases another way though. I’m not sure how, but the economy is a fun element of the battle for me.

  32. ChampionHyena says:

    I vote “good.”

    I’m gonna go make a sandwich.

    P.S. I get my base-building kicks from Dwarf Fortress just fine, sunshine.

  33. Vinraith says:

    It really is like the RTS makers of the world just now discovered tactical wargames like Close Combat and Combat Mission and said to themselves “oh, we can make a shallow high speed version of that and it’ll sell brilliantly!”

  34. Max says:

    I’m glad that they’re going for a more serious feel to the cutscenes. The cutscenes to the original games were campy and silly – but they were never blatantly trying to be so. It was just an automatic result of mixing obscure actors with mediocre special effects and a ridiculous sci-fi setting. Red Alert 2 and 3 went the wrong way by trying to be as ridiculous and silly as they were. It was embarrassing seeing how hard they were trying to be funny.

  35. Gap Gen says:

    I think a mobile base is no bad thing. Think Homeworld, for example. It depends on execution, and if they make Homeworld but on Earth, then this might well be a good thing.

  36. Heliocentric says:

    Homeworld 2 carrier only battle with lose upon capital death.

    You have a fragile base builder, you can deploy turrets, probes fighters. All the way up to an ion cannon frigate, and the carrier is fast and fragile, you also have limited upgrade space.

    Its excellent, but very far from default. Its like how in rome total war i like 1k points battles. Not massive, but personal, and thus more eric.

    I will be watching this game closely.

  37. Heliocentric says:

    Meant epic, but i’m sure it is more eric too.

  38. Cooper says:

    I’ll be honest. I don’t like RTS games much, but I’ve always played C&C (not got RA3 yet) for the camp cutscenes. There good not despite, but because, of that. The nonsense sci-fi and C&C universe has a real soft place in my heart.

    I’m also a turtler. I love building bases, juggling resources and space, getting them warter tight first and then building up an attack force.

    By going ‘darker and edgier’ (eww) and getting all trendy with RTS gameplay, they’ll probably kill the franchise for me. Sure, I’m not their core audience at all. But it’s still disappointing.

  39. Morgawr says:

    IMO, there’s far too much cynicism in this thread. C&C 3 sold really well, so I doubt EA are making changes in C&C4 for financial reasons. Maybe they just want try something new in a franchise that has pretty much been stagnant for over a decade.

  40. frymaster says:

    re: cutscene seriousness… while both franchises are more camp than a row of tents, red alert always had that lollercopter rediculousness to it. It’s not that c&c is serious, it’s just more serious than red alert ;)

  41. Gap Gen says:

    Well, like I said, the first Red Alert gets quite dark in the Allied campaign. None of this pantomime nonsense of the sequels.

  42. jalf says:

    Eh, get over yourselves… CnC has always been a lightweight for-fun series. It’s never been the deepest, most tactical RTS. It’s always been about spamming a lot of units, attacking, and watching the resulting cutscenes.

    So who cares if they remove base building? Honestly, we need a bit of experimentation in the genre. DoW2 took the first steps. Now CnC is moving out of its comfort zone as well. Perhaps stripping down base building can result in a better game when done correctly. And perhaps it’s sort of ok’ish, but just something they have to go through to get to the next big idea, which might actually work.

    At any rate, we’re always complaining about lack of innovation. SC2 is taking a lot of flak (and for good reasons) for basically being the same game with newer graphics and some different units.

    CnC4 dares to step away from the old formula. Let’s see how it turns out. It might be good. So far, I’ve yet to see a CnC game that wasn’t fun. It might not be the deepest, most tactical game there is. It might not be played in tournaments in Korea for the next 15 years. But if their track record is anything to go by, it will be entertaining to play through.

    What more do we need?

  43. Shalrath says:

    Is anyone else here absolutely terrified that the ‘younger’ (than most of us late 20 somethings/30+’rs) generation is known for it’s impatience, inability to learn complex things, and reliance on combat > absolutely everything else? It scares me how pandering modern games are. I have to go out of my way to find 15 year old games for my kids to play, just so they don’t end up as mindless drooling zombies because everything is instant and easy.

    Also: DURN KIDS GIT OFF MAH LAWNS!

  44. We Fly Spitfires - MMORPG Blog says:

    Great interview. Makes me miss Dune 2000 actually :)

  45. karmuno says:

    So, no harvesting? In a game set in a world where the third world war is fought pretty much entirely over one resource, and the right to harvest that resource and put it to use, we don’t get to harvest that resource? I’m sorry, it makes sense for the Warhammer 40k universe to go this route. It would make sense for Starcraft 2 to go this route (although I probably wouldn’t buy it if it did). But the only thing the C&C series has going for it is the base building and the harvesting. I always end up building a base, and then just zerging the opponent. I don’t particularly like zerging, and I don’t really want to play a game that eliminates all other aspects save the zerg rush.

    Granted, the point is to focus on making the combat better, but I think there’s only so much you can do in real-time to make combat itself deep and meaningful, as long as your controlling enough units to make combat interesting in the first place.

  46. pkt-zer0 says:

    Seeing their comments on RTS games being too “hardcore”, it seems the gameplay shift isn’t towards RTT games (which I really like), but rather dumbed-down RTSs (which I really don’t like).

    So, ehh… wait and see. And hope for the best.

  47. Taillefer says:

    I have an idea forming about an RTS with no base building, but still has resource gathering to sustain or repair your troops, or something. It would mean normal map features become natural control points (you’d want to defend a river, because it provides food, etc) instead of silly glowing runes scattered around the map as control nodes. But I haven’t really thought this through properly…

  48. Nutterguy says:

    While I love games like World in Conflict for there instant action, hell for leather fighting, I do think that taking base building out of the CnC Games would be like talking the HEV suit out of halflife.
    If they wanted to fuck with the series they should have spawned off a new CnC universe game, NOT CnC4…

  49. Jambe says:

    I always got a certain kind of “tower defense”-type enjoyment out of building up a good base in an RTS — I remember in Total Annihilation I’d build loads of those plasma cannons and Big Berthas and just watch the carnage unfold… and later on in Age of Empires II I took great pleasure in well-placed walls leading enemy units to watchtowers and such like.

    Calling any of these games “Real-Time Strategy” is pretty stupid, though — it’s all tactics. Strategy is like Civ or Europa Universalis or whathaveyou.

  50. Shalrath says:

    Anyone like the Close Combat series? THAT for me is ‘hardcore’ strategy, and it (in IV and V anyway) doesn’t involve resources at all – except the ‘amount of soldiers’ resource.