Relic is best known for their back catalogue of impressive PC RTS games like Homeworld, Dawn of War and Impossible Creatures. Now that they've been ensnared in THQ's talent trap however, the company's set it's sights on the console world and The Outfit, an action-focused WWII third-person shooter with strategy elements, marks the developer's first foray into Xbox 360 territory.
We sat down with The Outfit's lead designer Jeff Brown and producer Adrian Crook in Vancouver last week (it's a hard life) to talk about the game, it's RTS origins, the next-gen of consoles and whether the world really needs another WWII title.
How long have you both been at Relic and which games have you worked on previously?
Adrian Crook: This is my first game at Relic - I worked at EA a number of years ago. I worked on Reboot for the Sony Playstation and the original Sled Storm for the Sony Playstation and also worked with my own company for a little while and we did a game with the Ministry of Sound called Modern Groove: Ministry of Sound edition on PS2.
Jeff Brown: I've been here for four years, I worked on Dawn of War for a little while during the figuring-what-the-hell-it-was-going-to-be-phase, previously I was the lead designer of Munch's Odyssey for Oddworld for five years. I also worked on Abe's Odyssey, was the lead designer on Pitfall 3D at Activision and I designed a whole bunch of 16-bit games back in the ninties: Demolition Man, Izzy's Quest among others. I worked on some games I don't even want to talk about - I worked on a port of a 3DO game to the Jaguar, that was one of my first gigs in 1993 which sold like twelve copies.
How long has development been going on with The Outfit then?
JB: We started January 10 last year, I remember it well.
Was it designed from the ground up as being an Xbox 360 game?
JB: Yes, absolutely. We'd been in discussion with Microsoft about what their new hardware was going to be and through a congruence of events, we'd been kicking round an idea for a game internally here and Microsoft approached us saying "Hey, we've got a new 'box coming out and we're interested in new concepts" and THQ at the time had signed Company of Heros and Dawn of War with us - they didn't yet own us - and said "We'd like to do something new with you guys. Maybe you guys could do a console game so you can get into the console business too?" This is Relic's first console game.
If you had to squash everything about The Outfit down into a sound bite, how would you describe it?
AC: Probably, the tiniest sound bite, "The freedom of total destruction." The longer description - third person action game, World War II all that kind of thing, but really "The freedom of total destruction" encapsulates the fact that you can destroy anything in the world and you can utilize your Destruction on Demand feature to call everything in on the fly, those are probably the biggest features in the game.
Although there're definitely some RTS elements in it, would you say The Outfit's primarily an action game?
JB: You guys saw the action level - it's evolved over a period time though. I would say when we started it was fifty percent action and fifty percent strategy - now it's about eighty percent action twenty percent strategy.
Relic are renowned for the their RTS titles so what was the impetus to do your first real action game?
AC: Well, I think this is a multi-prong answer. Number one, I think it suits the Xbox 360 market a little bit better, having a more action-orientated game and number two, we're console guys - I've never worked on a PC RTS. I came here to work on this project and Jeff's always developed console games, aside from having spent some time on one or two of Relic's RTS games before this, so this is what we love.