Ubisoft have released a short Q&A with Creative Director – Michael de Plate, What follows is an in-depth Q&A on Tom Clancy’s EndWar.
Please give us a short overview on EW. What is the story behind it….?
End War is a full scale wargame set in a highly plausible near-future global war, a chillingly realistic vision of World War III in Europe and America. It is an epic real-time strategy game where you are the commander of the elite forces and advanced war machines of 21st Century super-powers.
Set in the year 2020, EndWar explores the future implications of a number of real world events which are taking place today.
The nuclear deterrent kept the Cold War from going hot for 60 years. In EndWar’s story the missile defence shield cooperatively deployed by the USA and Europe effectively removes that deterrent. Also for 60 years the Western world was united against the perceived threat of the Soviet Union. Without a common enemy, without mutually assured destruction and in a world of diminishing resources, we assume that the 21st Century won’t be so different from the age of hate we saw in the 20th Century. When people start forgetting the horrors of the past they are doomed to repeat them.
I think the following quote by Albert Einstein actually sums up our vision for EndWar very well: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”.
What is the development team background?
We have about 120 team members collaborating on the game now, and we’ve been working on it for over 2 years. We have brought together an international team with members from China, France, England, America, Canada, Romania, Serbia and Australia who have previously worked on games such as Ghost Recon, Rainbow 6, Splinter Cell, Brothers in Arms, Command and Conquer and Total War. It’s a great experience to get to work with such incredible mix of industry veterans and enthusiastic and talented graduates on their first game.
RTS are considering to be inadaptable in console, how are you going to proceed?
I think that RTS is the last genre to successfully move to console because it’s the last genre to be stuck in 2d. By 2d I don’t mean the rendering engine, I mean the gameplay. Neverwinter Nights or Command and Conquer 3 might have 3d ‘engines’ but they are 2d games in that they are designed to be played ‘top down’ And any old school 2d RTS is never going work on console in my opinion, no matter how they remap the buttons.
Our inspiration has come from other genres which have moved from being 2d / PC experiences to being 3d / Console experiences. The difference between Neverwinter Nights and Knights of the Old Republic is a great example of how moving from 2d to 3d enabled the RPG genre to explode on console. GTA is another good example.
So I don’t think it’s about mapping buttons from a keyboard and mouse. It’s about navigating in a real, immersive, full scale 3d world, which is where I think next generation consoles are superior for any genre, especially with widescreen and HDTV.
And I certainly can say that EndWar would not have been possible on any previous generation, including PC. The widescreen, HD, voice command, LIVE experience is unique to next-generation consoles.
The genre is not famous on console so far: What makes EW so special and better than other RTS on console?
Of course I’m biased but I think that EndWar is the most innovative and exciting strategy game to come out since Dune 2, back in 1992.
I think EndWar is the epic war experience that every strategy game and every second shooter for the last decade have been trying to make you imagine with their CG intros. Now you don’t have to imagine, EndWar creates that experience in real time.
Combined with the incredible 3d gameplay, the Voice Command system, the strong online multiplayer component, the apocalyptic World War 3 scenario, the ultimate 21st Century war machines and the Unreal 3 powered graphics I think we’ll offer strategy gamers something they have never experienced before.
I also believe that a lot of gamers who thought strategy games were complex or boring are going to love EndWar. Almost all of the top military games have an element of strategy or tactics which makes them more interesting than pure twitch games. Whether you like GRAW, Rainbow 6, Brothers in Arms or Battlefield then EndWar is going to give you an intense full scale war experience that’s very new.
What are the main researches to create the new weapons & units?
As well as the reference from Tom Clancy, the team has studied hundreds of books, specialist publications and websites to ensure that every unit and weapon in the game is based on real world technology which has working prototypes existing today and which will be on the battlefields of 2020. This includes some advanced technology such as high energy microwave and laser weapons, satellite weapons and soldier exoskeletons.
We’ve also benefited a lot from the expertise of the others Clancy teams. The Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter team in particular were an inspiration and they shared their researches and studies on the future military technology and weapons with us.
Could you explain us the voice command?
We have a rule in our game, which is ‘No magic!’ We aim at making EndWar the most realistic experience of full-scale war ever in video game.n Therefore the voice command system is a central element of EndWar. We believe there’s no more natural and intuitive way to command an army than shouting orders in a micro. This is truly strategy at the speed of thought! The significant technical jump between the past and new generations of gaming consoles allows us to design a highly effective and responsive voice command system which is not frustrating for players. Also the voice command will work in several different languages – including French, German, Italian and Spanish – meaning you don’t need to be fluent in Shakespearean English to have fun with the game.
What about the multiplayer aspect?
EndWar is a Tom Clancy’s game and as such the team is really focused on pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of online multiplayer and community features on consoles.
The Blizzard’s games on PC and their battle.net community site have been key benchmarks for us when designing the online part of EndWar.
Though it’s a bit too early to reveal much of our intentions in terms of online multiplayer content, I can say that one of our most ambitious features is a massive multiplayer persistent online world campaign. Every time you log in you will see the shifting front lines of an entire world at war where everyone is participating in a unified global version of World War III.
Can you tell us one funny/interesting thing that has happened to you since the beginning of the development cycle?
One of the most rewarding things that happened to me is when we did our first play test sessions one of the happy few who had a chance to play an early prototype of EndWar had this comment about the game: “[This is] Command & Conquer meets GRAW, twenty times bigger”. It is always a huge satisfaction and relief for a game developer when you see that gamers understand and like your game.
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