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10

Present At The Birth

Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts (affectionately referred to as an ‘expandalone’ by Relic, its developers) has gone gold. I’ll let its producer, Shane Neville, express his feelings about this:

I think that means he’s happy.

Kieron and I have getting on for 20 years of games journalism experience between us, but neither of us have ever been in the presence of a developer at the moment they finished their game before. This changed last Friday, when we’d both gone out to Seattle and Vancouver to see a splendid bunch of THQ games. (The delay in announcement, incidentally, is simply because there’s a brief pause between a developer reckoning their game’s finished and their publisher giving the final thumbs-up.)

I’m really, really pleased to have been there for it, as it’s one of those unique elements of the games industry guys like me generally never get to experience. It’s several months of several human beings’ lives drawn to one focused conclusion, with something so tangible to show for all that effort. I’m hugely jealous; it must be an incredible feeling.

Details of the birth after the jump…

Frankly, it was remarkably strange to hear Relic were on deadline that day; in the magazine terms we’re accustomed to, deadline means pain and suffering and torment and shouting. In development terms, at least at Relic, it meant a relaxed atmosphere of quiet jubilation, the jovial Shane and various equally lovely colleagues cheerfully chatting to us about British swear-words and fancy dress parties where everyone had to come as Admiral Ackbar. They’d made their game – the finishing touches were to come from the QA department secreted somewhere upstairs, so all they could do was wait. And answer our asinine questions, of course.

Halfway through the day, a table appears in one of Relic’s hallways, covered in empty champagne glasses. An hour or so later, the walls start to shake a little. It’s because Shane is playing Ride of the Valkyries, very loudly.

The champagne glasses aren’t empty any more. People flood into the room from everywhere, smiling and laughing, with us journalists lurking at the back, embarrassed gatecrashers to a party celebrating the birth of a child we aren’t related to. It’s over in a couple of minutes, team Relic retreating back to their various desks to quickly finish up the day’s remaining tasks, before heading out to a well-deserved evening of food, booze and karaoke. A developer I didn’t catch the name of spots me with my camera out, and leans over. “He normally only plays the first few seconds of the song. He only played it all ‘cos you guys are here.”

Congratulations, Relic. Opposing Fronts looks to be a truly beautiful baby, and I’ll be explaining why on Eurogamer very soon.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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