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Command & Conquer Producer Interview

/ Sep 6th, 2001 No Comments

One of the more anticipated games for the Thanksgiving sales push should be Westwood Studios‘ first great leap into the world of first person / third person shooters in Command & Conquer Renegade. Set during the time period of the first original C&C game, Westwood hopes to blend cutting edge gaming technology with the nostalgia and depth that the original game offered. For the first time, gamers can experience the Command & Conquer universe up-close and personal as you’ll fight it out on the ground among the structures, vehicles, and weapons made famous in the original C&C. Catch Gaming Illustrated’s official preview of Renegade here.

Gaming Illustrated was lucky enough to catch Renegade’s Executive Producer Dan Cermak in this exclusive interview.

Gaming Illustrated: As a development group, this is very far from anything Westwood has done in the past. Now with the 3D RTS game Emperor out, and with an upcoming 1st Person Shooter, it seems Westwood is branching out from its original, successful formula. Why the transition?

Dan Cermak: Westwood will never stray far from it’s proven, successful franchises, but we are always looking for ways to branch out and do different and fresh projects. We initially conceived of Renegade when we were building the original C&C. Everyone wondered what it would be like to be on the ground and in the middle of the action. That, combined with a great backstory, lent itself perfectly to an action game.

Gaming Illustrated: We’ve heard the ambitious goal of several production members saying that the first and foremost thing you’ve wanted to create is the experience that the gamer has stepped into an epic war. Specifically, what’s going to make this happen (visuals? sound? storyline?)?

Dan Cermak: That’s right. Our primary goal in Renegade is to deliver great gameplay set in the epic C&C universe. Unlike most FPS games where it feels like all the surrounding action is based on what the player does, in Renegade it’s not quite like that. As soon as you step into the game it’s obvious you’ve just been thrown into a C&C war. There are guns firing, planes flying overhead, helicopters crashing, NOD soldiers attacking a GDI building, etc.

Additionally the player is given primary missions, which he must complete to move the story forward, along with secondary missions to support GDI in its war with NOD/ He can complete these missions or ignore them, it’s up to the player to accomplish the missions in the middle of all this turmoil.

Gaming Illustrated: How many missions (and what is the appropriate hours of gameplay) associated with the single-player campaign?

Dan Cermak: There are 11 environments in Renegade, from a snow-covered NOD base to a quaint Bavarian town. Each environment in Renegade is equivalent to multiple “levels” in a traditional FPS. An average player going through the campaign on the first try will probably get more than 30 hours of gameplay. Then, of course, there’s the multiplayer modes.
Gaming Illustrated: Will there be the same kind of cinematic cut sequences we have seen before in Westwood games?

Dan Cermak: We are not using live actors to film the cut-scenes. All in-game cinematics will be pre-rendered using in-game assets or will actually be run in the engine. We’re using a combination of both.

Gaming Illustrated: Is the terrain and landscape deformable like in the RTS versions? How big are the landscapes?

Dan Cermak: The landscapes are huge. Some in-game elements can be destroyed, but the mesh is not deformable.

Gaming Illustrated: Will there be scope for players to design their own maps for single and multiplayer? What about skins/player models?

Dan Cermak: We know how important it is to the community to have tools to customize the game, and we are looking at all of our options right now — map editors, skins, mods, etc.

Gaming Illustrated: Are there naval units?

Dan Cermak: Yes, the familiar C&C naval units return in Renegade, as do all the ground and air-based units. The player will be able to commandeer all ground-based units.
Gaming Illustrated: What does this game offer that other 1st person shooters (such as Tribes 2 and Operation Flashpoint) don’t?

Dan Cermak: Many things set Renegade apart from the other FPS games out there, and the ones scheduled to come out in the near future. Primarily, it’s the deep, rich Command & Conquer universe and the unique tactical situations that this universe allows. It’s also a sense that you’re part of a meaningful epic war. In addition, we are offering a really unique multiplayer mode — C&C mode. In it, two teams of players – GDI vs. Nod – attempt to destroy the other’s base. Each base functions in a fashion similar to a typical C&C base: Harvesters gather Tiberium and take it to the refinery for processing, power plants supply power to other base structures, etc. As part of the game, you can ‘purchase’ different character classes (Engineer, Rocket Soldier, etc.) and vehicles (Tanks, Buggies, etc.) with credits earned from kills or from Tiberium processed from your refinery. To win, you must destroy all of your enemy’s base buildings, or place the ‘end game’ beacon (Ion Cannon or Nuke) in the enemy base.

Gaming Illustrated: It appears that one of the hardest parts of creating a 1st person shooter game, besides the game engine software itself, is the “3 bears” making of the game – it can’t be too hard, it can’t be too easy, and it has to be a challenge but not so much that players get discouraged. How do you achieve that balance, and considering the complexity of Renegade in particular do you think you will achieve that balance?

Dan Cermak: What you’re really talking about is the pacing of the game. The player needs to go through a cycle of empowerment and threat. We are spending a lot of time on trying to create that cycle and retain it through multiple difficulty levels. As we test the product, we’re tracking a huge amount information about the player’s experience (for example chart time vs. health and armor). This kind of information is very useful to see where players get stuck or need extra ammo or a greater challenge. We’re really concentrating on pacing as we polish the game.

Gaming Illustrated: What’s the one thing you love most about C&C Renegade?

Dan Cermak: This has changed over time, the first time I walked inside a Command & Conquer building was a real kick. Then it was running guys down in the Harvester. Then we implemented the Ion Strike beacon, and watching the weather change as the strike built was a kick. I guess it really boils down to bringing the Command & Conquer universe to life in first person.

Gaming Illustrated: Thanks Dan, we really appreciate your time, and look forward to Renegade.

Will Fairway

Will Fairway

Will Fairway is literally the most exciting and electric person to have ever lived, period.

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