Interviews

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Pt. 1

Interview: Mr. Splash Damage talks Strogg

Tucked in between a supermarket and kebab shops lies Splash Damage, the up and coming developer behind the brilliant Id Battlefield-beater Enemey Territory Quake Wars.

And tucked in between the kitchen and rigged-up testing room lies lead designer and founder Paul Wedgwood, CVG friend and man with the most finely-groomed goatee in Kent. We set down with Wedgwood to find out more about the upcoming Stroggified shooter.

The obvious question is why has it taken so long to get Quake Wars out the door?

Paul Wedgwood: The first thing to bare in mind is that it is a brand new title so it's not based on another game and it doesn't share assets from Quake 4. Although it does have some of the Doom 3 backend rendering stuff the entire engine is completely new.

Zoom

We had a year of research and development where we decided what was going to be the technical direction for the game. We knew that we wanted to build a pure multiplayer combat game from scratch. Ordinarily when you make a multiplayer combat game there are some compromises made because you take a single-player game, start cutting back on the physics, graphics and everything else to make it work across a network.

With Enemy Territory: Quake Wars the goal from the very beginning was to build everything so that it would work across a network. So knowing that everything was going to be networked meant that we can have so much more stuff going on; we can have crazy physics, lots of advanced projectiles, just a hell of a lot more happening.

If we built every map so that it was desert and the physics system wasn't too advanced and all you had to do was capture flags then probably it would be a two year game. But with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars every asset in the game has been built from scratch and that includes the terrain rendering, the megatextures, the networking and so on - so that's really a huge challenge.

When Splash Damage finished Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory we only had between six and ten staff - we were a very small company having been a mod team originally. Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory was our first commercial game project and so we weren't like a 40 man company that was ready to build a AAA title straight away, it took some time to get that together.

What have you figured out and changed over the last year?

Wedgwood: The most significant focus has been on map uniqueness. This is the notion that there is a plot, the Strogg invasion of Earth in 2065 which is a prequel to the Quake series.

We wanted each of the maps to be a critical turning point in that invasion, so for example in Quake 2 we know that the humans lead a retaliatory attack on Strogg by using the slip gate technology that they reverse engineered. So we have a map where the GDF have captured the slip gate technology and the Strogg are trying to get it back and destroy it.

By having a plot inspire the map's existence and kind of justify its existence means we need to have a unique objective at the end of the map. It has to have a series of objectives that has unique and distinct geometry. So you can see from sewer that the beginning of this map is nothing like the beginning of Valley, and the end of this map, although it's a destruction objective, the geometry and interiors are completely unique and different.

Talking of the objectives, how complex do the tasks get in later maps?

Wedgwood: Firstly there are 12 maps that have four campaigns, so each campaign has three maps. There's a North Africa campaign, a Northern Europe campaign, a North American campaign and a Pacific campaign. They all take place in geographically distinct locations. The objective actions are always consistent but the geometry that surrounds the objective is completely different from map to map.

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