Depending on who you read, real-time strategy is dead, dying or cuddled up in a leather armchair somewhere polishing its war medals and writing angry letters to the local gazette. The genre needs a shot in the arm, and what better franchise to wield the syringe than Command & Conquer, one of the oldest and most successful of top-down tank molesters. At a recent EA showcase, we caught up with Raj Joshi, producer on Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, for his thoughts on base-building, the competition and whether you really can squeeze the full range of options into an Xbox 360 controller.
VideoGamesDaily: Hello Raj, thanks for chatting with us. Do you think this kind of preview event does justice to a game, particularly an RTS title like this one? You don’t really get to experience the feature set in full…
Raj Joshi: I think it works pretty good, getting everybody together for the first time for a hands on on multiplayer, getting into a match and seeing how it comes alive dynamically with many people. We’ve been doing hands-on one-on-one through the single player campaign, and I think that although single player’s very important for Command and Conquer because a lot of people try to do that, I think our game really shines when you have five team-mates, you get to see the three different classes in action and work together with people.
So we’ve had some people play through three to four rounds, I think that’s where people get the real taste of it. It is tough because you need long enough to tech up and really get a feel for things, get well-versed… But I think it’s a good taste. Definitely better than half an hour sitting down with the single player campaign, trying to get through a mission, and trying to base an opinion on that. I think this is a little better than our single player stuff we’ve been doing lately.
VGD: Obviously the fanbase for the core series is huge and passionate, but do you think that the fourth game is one newcomers will get into?
Joshi: I think more so than before, having the mobile crawler, the class choice which hopefully will appeal to first-person shooter multiplayer players, where it’s more focussed. Rather than having all 88 units accessible at once and trying to figure out your path, you pick a class and that kind of determines your play style. Having that mobile base and not having to do Tiberium harvesting will hopefully help people jump in, and not having as many units to control at once. Plus the play style of multiplayer is more like first person shooter mode, where it’s kind of this domination style capturing of control points.
We’re hoping all these things kind of added together will make it easier to get into. It’s not a casual game by any stretch of the information, but I think more casual than, like, Red Alert 3, where the build order was very specific, all the units were very specifically good at one little thing. So that one was very oriented to the micromanaging player.
VGD: The C&C fan community is particularly close to the development team. Does the new game owe much to this relationship?
Joshi: Definitely. One thing, as far as the story goes, is that we’ve really researched everything the community has written over the past 15 years and integrated a lot of their lore into the way we’re wrapping up the Tiberium saga. So a lot of the key story points came from the community as well, and then were bedded back out with the community again.