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Interview: WH40K: Dawn of War

Relic give us the post mortem on their sci-fi epic

Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War is Relic's epic strategy outing, which places you in a future of never-ending conflict.

Born out of Games Workshop's splendid table top battle system, it's a game which has been one of the brightest stars in the PC strategy firmament this year.

Now that Dawn of War's finally finally drop-shipped in onto gamers' desktops, we joined joined Jay Wilson, Dawn's lead designer for a post-mortem on how the game went and the future of the series.

When we interviewed you back in May, you said that you've "worked really hard at capturing the excitement and carnage" we'd expect see in an RTS based on Warhammer 40,000, and the game certainly has some of, if not the, most ballistic, carnage-packed battles we've ever seen. We're guessing that you're rather pleased with how the fighting, and the game in general, has turned out?


Wilson: We are extremely pleased with how the game has turned out. I still have a blast watching the battles play out. Even when I am getting trounced by some of the better players on the net, it's a blast to see all the carnage.

What's it been like working with a license compared to creating games using your own IPs?

Wilson: Working with the amazing Warhammer 40,000 license really allowed us to focus on the RTS aspects of the game, and bringing new ideas to the genre. The only difficult part of the process was narrowing down the game to four races and the units we chose. We would have loved to put them all in.

Talking nuts and bolts, what does the single-player campaign consist of, and what's in the multiplayer package?

Wilson: The single-player campaign consists of 11 missions played from the perspective of the Blood Ravens Space Marine chapter. You are brought to the planet Tartarus to repel an Ork invasion, but as the story unfolds, you realise that there is much more going on than just Orks.

What does Games Workshop think of Dawn of War?

Wilson: Games Workshop has been very supportive and incredibly helpful with the development of Dawn of War, and I think just like us, it's ecstatic with the way the game turned out. It's really one of the few times Games Workshop has been able to see its own universe put into motion.

How instrumental did the beta test prove to be in defining content for the game, and can you tell about one or two of the major changes that came about as a result of the beta?


Wilson: The beta test was an extremely important part to polishing the game. The sheer amount of feedback we got allowed us to refine a large number of details in the UI, balancing and flow of the game. Having an automated crash reporting system really allowed us to clean up the game in a short amount of time. The beta test was tantamount to the games stability. We hope to continue improving the game based on users' feedback post release.

The animation in the game shows some very gruesome scenes... Which are your favourites?

Wilson: I am definitely a fan of the Bloodthirster. His kill animations are some of my favourite by far. The sheer brutality of him picking up a Space Marine and drinking his blood as he squeezes the life out of him is a lot of fun to watch. I also love the way he wades into a battle. You can hear your opponents groan when he shows up.

Can you tell us how morale works and its impact on battles?

Wilson: Each infantry squad within the game has a morale meter much like their health meter. When the morale meter reaches zero, that squad becomes broken. Different weapons in the game do different types of damage. Sniper rifles and flamethrowers do large amounts of morale damage. When a squad is broken, their effectiveness in battle is greatly reduced, and they are easy to kill. We never take control away from the player though, so your squads will not turn and run.

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