It has been 15 years since a small Las Vegas Development Studio known as "Westwood Studios" released the Original Command & Conquer PC Game to the public.
This article features a couple links featuring interviews with the developers behind the longest lived and most popular Real Time Strategy video game series that we all know as "Command & Conquer". What are they doing now? And where were you on August 31st 1995?
Taken from the recent interview by Louis Castle. (see link above)
"The basic premise of C&C as a story was a backstory that would create these battles. Since we wanted to make a very structured and ordered group of people battling against a decentralized organization, it made a lot of sense to have established governments fighting against terrorism. Of course, we put out C&C in 1995, many years before our current world situation. But every back then, Joe Bostic, Brett Sperry, and Eydie Laramore, they really saw that the world was going to a place where the next war was not going to be between nations, but was really going to be more of a war of ideology. A war between those who feel like they’re representing the under-class and those who represent the establishment, and the fight against those two. So that was the underpinnings of C&C as a story and it felt like it would resonate with not just today’s world, but anytime in past. You can go back to almost any time in history and have some similar analogies going on."
THE REAL TIME STRATEGY REVOLUTION:
"A game that defined and re-defined a genre." -video game reviewers
(Again, taken from the recent interview with Louis Castle.) "Yeah, sure was. C&C, after Dune II, was originally a swords and sorcery game. It was going to be wizards and fighters and fantasy. It hadn’t been called C&C yet. Brett decided that it should be contemporary because it would be more accessible for people. So once we decided to go contemporary, the decision was to make it feel like you were logging into a terminal, almost like war games-style, and becoming a real commander of real troops. Once we made that decision to go for a realistic fantasy – there were no 3D graphic cards – 2D graphic images were just not going to come across as being real. So we had this big CD that had lots of space, why don’t we fill it with video? And once we knew we were going to fill it with video, we had already done some games where we were shooting in the studio, we said: “Let’s just start filming and build a studio.” The very first sequences that Aaron Powell, one of the lead artists, did, he literally walked back-and-forth in front of a sheet, then chroma keyed out the white, and used his silhouette for the guys on the deck of the aircraft carrier, and that started our whole studio experience.
We hired Joe Kucan who became the director of the film pieces and, of course, played Kane. That was interesting, because we were auditioning for the role of Kane. We were talking to very well known actors – C&C has a rich history of hiring well known actors – and as we were interviewing, Joe kept saying: “No, say it like this…” They would go back-and-forth, and we were watching the tapes, and Brett called Joe and he goes: “I got to tell you, we know who the best Kane is, but it’s you.” He was a little taken aback because he wasn’t sure that it would be good for him to be directing and acting – he’s a training actor and very talent guy. Ultimately, he decided, “Yeah, I’ll give it shot.” Ironically, he’s become one of the best known villains in any media. [Laughs] He’s really well recognised. The guy doesn’t age.
I think it’s very difficult to take anything as complex as a hit franchise and take out one element. People would say: “It wasn’t a success, except for (blank).” But I think you could say it might not have been a success if it didn’t have everything. So, I don’t know that C&C would have been what it was without Joe. Probably not, and maybe without the full motion video stuff it wouldn’t even have been successful as a game. Who knows? It’s very difficult to say. Clearly, it added something to it that I thought was very valuable. Based on what we saw with Generals as a franchise and Red Alert and C&C, the FMVs, the actors, they brought something to the game and to the story that I think was quite enchanting. Until such time that we can do games that look as good as Benjamin Button… and even then you’ll still need actors, but maybe you could go to full CG. But CG characters still feel pretty obviously non-human. So, yeah, I think he had a huge contribution and without him it wouldn’t be the same."
GAMEPLAY DEVELOPMENT AND BALANCING:
Knowing that, when you’re getting close to the end of a game, and everybody in the office is playing it all the time, you know that you’ve got something pretty good, right? -Louis Castle
(Again, taken from the recent interview with Louis Castle.) "At the very beginning we talked about the game in much the same way as a sport, we wanted it to be fair. The original C&C had multiplayer over LAN cable, but not over the internet. In that game, many of the units were very similar, so the balance was a little bit easier because the sides were subtly different, but they weren’t dramatically different. The superweapons were more different than the base units, but the base units; you both had troopers, you both had tanks. Really, Red Alert was the first game where we tried very hard to make those sides as different as possible. I would say it reached its climax with Red Alert 2 and Yuri’s Revenge. With Yuri’s Revenge you actually had three completely different sides, each of which had to be played completely differently to be successful, each of which had very equal balance. When we put it out in the world you could see it was almost equal in the people that were successful in the rankings of which side they chose.
The way we balanced that was we just test the crap out of it. The testers usually figure out all the exploits and they figure out how to maximize each side. So you keep balancing it till you get roughly the same number of people passionate for each one of the sides that they believe is going to be successful. It’s very difficult to do. One of the things that C&C always had were these hordes of units. Putting unit caps makes it a lot easier to balance, but it always felt artificial to us. It was just hard work. It was one of the reasons that the first C&C was so later, it took us well over a year longer than we thought."
These are just summarized bits and bytes from the interviews, but I strongly suggest you check out the links above and read the full interviews and the opinions regarding C&C 4 and Electronic Arts.
HAPPY 15TH BIRTHDAY TO COMMAND & CONQUER!