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Interview

Command and Conquer Generals Interview

What is the basic storyline for Generals?

We’ve reinvented the Command & Conquer franchise with Generals, with a brand new storyline, units and tactics that have all been inspired by the technologies and ideologies of today’s tumultuous world.

Generals spans between present day and 20 years into the future, and offers up a metaphor for today’s version of global warfare. Three very different sides are fighting for supremacy, the superpowers of the United States and China, along with an underground political terror organization, the Global Liberation Army. Each employs very different tactics in their war efforts. For example, the United States places a great deal of importance on human life, and thus has a small, but very capable, ground force among its weaponry. The Chinese, on the other hand, has a massive, swarming army that use their numbers to their advantage. China also has an affinity for fire and uses it in much of its weaponry. Finally, the Global Liberation Army relies on sneaky tactics and being hard to find…thus hard to kill.

What are some of the new gameplay elements we haven’t seen before in the C&C franchise?

I think the one of the most important, and certainly the most obvious, is the transition to a 3D engine, which gives the player even more of an immersive experience and also tense control over the battlefield. Aside from the beautiful graphics, the engine allows us to add some really unique and innovative gameplay elements. One of the big new features we’re adding to the C&C series is your choice of a powerful General. Depending on the General you choose, you’ll use completely different tactics and strategies to defeat your enemy. We’ve added a large number of other game play elements like upgrades, air-to-air combat, different resource collection methods and a new way to build your base. The engine also allows us to add some really spectacular special effects that will impact gameplay, including burning barricades, spectacular super weapon effects, and fully destroyable buildings and landscapes.

How will the single player campaign play out?

We’ve designed a 27-mission single player campaign that will unfold in a seamless, linear story, told in part by each of the three sides. The actual levels haven’t been set yet, so I hesitate to go into specifics, but expect to see some things you’ve never seen in an RTS before.

Have you made any design changes to the basic RTS formula?

For C&C Generals, I think we’ve gone a step further in making improvements to the basic RTS formula. We’re having to find a balance though, because we want people to be able to jump right into the game, but also at the same time, we realize that players always want to be entertained in new and more innovative ways. One of the big changes we’ve made is to move the interface from the side of the screen to the bottom. We did this to open up the number of special abilities we could a*ign to each unit. We’ve also added a unique resource gathering mechanism to each side, and changed the way players build bases. Add these elements to a whole new set of units and the ability to pick which General you take into battle, and you can see the scope of change we’re introducing with this game.

Will the game feature “hero” characters that continue through the campaign?

We actually have a combination of features that are a bit different from the standard “hero” characters of other RTS games. We still have “hero” units in the game similar to Tanya/Yuri/Boris in Red Alert 2 and Yuri’s revenge, but we also have the “General” that you select before each mission. The General will be a battlefield unit, but more importantly, he will provide you with specialized units, upgrades, economic bonuses and unique abilities. With respect to either of these units continuing through the campaign, we’ve got a lot of ideas in that area.

What are some of the units and structures we’ll see in the game?

In designing the units, vehicles and structures in Generals, we’ve drawn inspiration from what we see on a real-world battlefield now…and what we may see over the next 20 years. We’re still finalizing the unit list, but there are a couple of stand out units that we can talk about right now. One of the cool units for the US is a top-secret Aurora Strike Fighter that moves at supersonic speeds to deliver bombs to enemy bases, as well as drones that perform various functions on the battlefield. The Chinese have tank called the “Dragon tank” that spreads waves of flame across the battlefield, along with Hackers who cause havoc on an enemy’s infrastructure. Finally, the GLA is more of a deadly rag-tag army that uses sneakiness as their strength. The GLA has the ability to recruit an Angry Mob of protestors while using their tunnel networks to pop-up just about anywhere on the map. After we nail down the final list of units and structures for each side, we’ll be able to give more details on each.

Where will the game take place?

We’re still finalizing out all the locations, but players will fight on a variety of battlefields across Asia and Europe. Battles will be fought on a variety of terrain, from urban landscapes to mountainous deserts.

What are two or three features in the game are you most excited about?

Of the features we’ve already announced, I like the Generals and the way the three sides are shaping up to be very different play experiences. However, there are some features and solo play experiences that I can’t talk about right now. We’ll be showing and talking about them for the first time at E3 2002. Stay tuned!

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