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Interview: Let's hunt some ork!

Exclusive: Relic gives us the inside scoop on its latest PC RTS, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War

We've reached an age now where embarrassment and self-conscious issues have become less of a deal, so a bit like no longer being ashamed of hanging out our fat beerguts on the beach while lots of fit women walk by, we'll freely admit to playing, and thoroughly enjoying, Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game in days gone by. Which means that we're rather looking forward to Relic's forthcoming RTS take on WH40K's futuristic warfare.

Now self-confessed fans that we are, we thought we'd nab hold of the developer to quiz it about its strategy game. Answering questions is producer Jonathan Dowdeswell.

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So, what's Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War all about, briefly?

Dowdeswell: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is an RTS game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, which is basically a very cool sci-fi universe 40,000 years in the future.

What are you key goals for the game?

Dowdeswell: Our biggest goal for this game is to create a battlefield experience like you've never seen before in an RTS game. The game is set entirely on the front lines of combat, so we've worked really hard at capturing the excitement and carnage you would expect.

How heavily involved is Games Workshop in the development process, and how have you found working with the Warhammer 40K licence so far?

Dowdeswell: Games Workshop has been great to work with, and they've been involved from day one. They've always agreed with us that we're creating an RTS game set in the universe they created, not simply recreating the tabletop game on a computer. This has given us a lot of freedom and liberty to do what we do best, which is RTS games.

How are you going about recreating the WH40K universe and atmosphere in Dawn of War?

Dowdeswell: We're using four races from the universe in the game, with very accurate digital re-creations of units from each of those races. In terms of atmosphere, we've really been inspired by the images and artwork Games Workshop creates. Generally, these are always of a squad of Marines, Orks, and Eldar etc. either already in combat or with guns raised against an enemy.

In what ways does Dawn of War diverge from the normal RTS model?

Dowdeswell: Dawn of War features a new primary resource model in which control of strategic locations on the map determines your capacity for building your army; but aside from that it is a familiar RTS through and through.

How difficult is it to come up with new concepts for the RTS genre?

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Dowdeswell: As difficult as any genre. We have great designers in-house who have great vision about how to further the genre. For this game we just chose some of the ideas that seemed to fit.

Is base building a part of gameplay, or have you avoided that and gone for the "base already built, here's the units" style?

Dowdeswell: Base building is definitely a part of gameplay. This is an intrinsic part of the RTS experience. But the focus of our game is on visceral frontline combat.

Which races from the WH40K universe are you actually including in Dawn of War, and could we get a brief bit of background on each?

Dowdeswell: We have four of WH40K races in Dawn of War: Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Eldar and Orks. Take a look at the official Dawn of War website as there are very good descriptions of these races there.

Can you tell us about some of the more unusual units and structures that are available to each race?

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