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Interview

Command and Conquer Renegade Interview

LoadedInc was fortunate enough to catch up with Dan Cermak, Producer of Westwood’s upcoming C&C based first-person shooter, Renegade. We’ve been looking forward to Dan’s feedback on Westwood’s jump into the world of FPS with the famed RTS franchise, Command & Conquer so let’s advance.What has been the biggest challenge in trying to faithfully transfer the RTS world of Command & Conquer to a FPS game?The biggest issue is capturing the scope of the RTS in a FPS game. C&C is about tank rushes and attacks across huge maps while trying to manage an economy at the same time. We have worked very had at preserving the feel of a character in a bigger battle. We want the player to feel like he is one man in the middle of a war. Part of that is bringing across the rules from the original game. If you take out a Hand of Nod it impacts the infantry reinforcements, if you take out the refinery it affects overall reinforcements (and the harvester will come after you if it can).Do you think we’ll start to see more cases of established franchises crossing over to different types of gameplay? We have seen the FPS move to third-person with the Heretic/Hexen series being an obvious example but my question relates more to diverse gameplay styles such as RTS games to FPS or vice-versa.It’s all about getting the right hook. Warcraft tried to expand into a different category but didn’t make it. If a company can find a strong creative center for a game, they can make it work. In our case, we have a huge and diverse universe to work with along with some very strong characters (Kane & the Commando). Makes it a lot easier. I don’t think you can shoehorn in a concept, Renegade was such a natural progression that it was under discussion right after the original Command & Conquer shipped.When this game was initially conceived, which group were you trying to target – C&C fans, FPS fans, or both? It started out with the FPS fan because the game was more central character based. Over time we moved to the C&C fan because we found that in order to portray C&C down on the ground, you had to create the ongoing struggle between GDI and Nod. This automatically changed the focus of the game to the war.How do you think Renegade will appeal to a hardcore C&C fan that may not be a big fan of FPS games?It should feel like they’re down on the battlefield. Imagine getting to drive those vehicles you ordered around the map or entering the Hand of Nod in order to plant explosives, very powerful reinforcement of familiar images.There is a bit of a learning curve getting used to the controls but we are supplying a tutorial, help with the beginning missions and other means to improve game play for the novice FPS player (auto-aim, for one example).On the flipside, how are you appealing to the Quake and Unreal fans of the world?Single player offers a high action element (Quake and Unreal players in Renegade tend to shoot first and figure out the objectives later but it still works). The environments are huge and varied and we offer exploration, varied enemies, lots of weapons, and a large number of enemies on screen. On the multiplayer side we have C&C Mode, which takes the experience to another level. We have added a simple strategic layer where the bases are tied to construction of advanced characters and vehicles as well as the economy. The game follows a simplified set of C&C rules and from all our feedback appears to be highly addictive and has many layers of tactics.Considering that both types of gamers will be buying this game, how do you ensure in the design of the game that you don’t turn off one group to appeal to the other?

A player does not have to know C&C to player Renegade but knowing the rules gives you some advantages. A C&C player will take out a harvester or the Hand of Nod because they know they benefit Nod but the non-C&C player does it because it is an objective.With the C&C having a tactical lineage, are you trying to incorporate tactics into Renegade? If so, can you give us some examples?

We have set up a system of secondary and primary objectives, the primary objectives must be completed in order to advance to the next level. Completing the secondaries gives you tactical advantages or simply helps out GDI. For example if you take out the Sam Sites protecting the Naval Gun in level 3 you will get an Orca strike on the big gun, in addition the destruction of the big gun will allow the Gunboat to coordinate an attack on
the Nod Base, so when you enter the base there will be GDI units dropping from helicopters to help you out.On the shooter side, will there be alternative ways in approaching situations in the game such as stealth vs. going in with guns a blazing?Yes, you can approach many situations in a stealth mode, Havoc has a silenced pistol and the ability to walk almost silently. Most people prefer the guns blazing though.Can you tell us about the multiplayer options for Renegade? We are focused on C&C mode – two bases going head to head with the goal being the destruction of the enemy base. Rules of C&C apply – players can purchase advanced characters and vehicles; income comes from harvesting and kills/destruction of enemies, vehicles, and buildings. The tactics here are pretty amazing, I have seen a Nod base get attacked by 2 Mammoth tanks, backed with 5 engineers repairing them as they take damage. Nod responded with Flame tanks and flame-throwers, it was quite a battle.In reading your latest .plan entry, you indicate that the last level of the game is currently being worked on. After this is done, what is left before the game is considered finished?We really are just polishing levels and adding as many MP maps as possible.

When do you expect the game to go gold?

February

Can we expect Renegade to be an ongoing series of FPS games from Westwood?

Can’t talk to that as yet, we are too focused on getting the game done.LoadedInc would like to thank Dan Cermak for his time in answering our questions and Cliff Hicks, Online Communiity Manager of Westwood for his help in arranging this interview.

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