He's the man who turned tabletop warfare into RTS mayhem, as Games Workshop's epic sci-fi Warhammer 40K universe rumbles onto the PC all over again with new expansion pack the Dark Crusade. So stap on your marine armour for Relic producer Jonathan Dowdeswell, as we learn a whole lot more about transforming table top into RTS!
So were the team all big Games Workshop fans before the development of Dawn Of War kicked off?
A lot of us were huge Games Workshop fans before coming to the team, others didn't know much about GW before coming on board. But one thing's for certain - whether or not we were fans before we came onto the project, we're all definitely fans now.
What do you think is Games Workshop's appeal then?
Several things, really. First, the universe has such a detailed back-story - people can literally lose themselves in the licence. Second, I think each of the Warhammer 40K races taps into a strong archetype that people can relate to. Finally, I think people really like the dark and heavy nature of the material. Most sci-fi is too clean, utopian and polished, and seems to filter out the darker aspects of life. Warhammer 40K amplifies the darker aspects of reality, making for a great backdrop for adventure.
How do you go about converting a turn-based table-top game into a fast-paced RTS?
We drew more heavily on the fiction than the actual table-top game itself. Our feeling was that the table-top game was just an interpretation of the universe, and that we should let ourselves be guided more by the mythology. When we sat down to make the Space Marines, we read several Space Marine novels and all of the stories in the codices, and tried to capture how Space Marines would fight in real-time. I think most people loved our interpretation.
What proportion of Dawn Of War players do you think are established Games Workshop fans?
We recently ran a small poll on our community site. The final tally showed that roughly half were already fans of the licence, and the other half were unfamiliar or only vaguely familiar with the universe...
Which Warhammer 40K race has it been the most fun to put in the game and its expansion packs?
This depends entirely on which team member you ask. I think most people would say that Necrons have been the most fun. They're a race of metal skeletons that want to devour your soul - how can they not be fun? I've personally had a lot of fun working on Chaos. I'm not sure why, but I've always enjoyed working on them more than any other race.
So why should we be hyped for the Dark Crusade expansion pack?
There's a lot for our fans to be excited about. We're bringing two new races to life, for a grand total of seven playable races, each with its own unique art, personality and military model. This is unprecedented for an RTS. We're also bringing a new type of single player campaign that can be played from beginning to end by any of the seven races. We can't wait to see what our fans think.