Massive Entertainment are one of stars of the modern PC RTS firmament, with two acclaimed Ground Control titles firmly under their belt and work on the highly anticipated World in Conflict continuing apace for a release later this year. High time then to have a quick retro look to see how the company began its sterling work and how Ground Control ushered in a new 3D RTS era in this Massive-authored peer through the portals of history.
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The Massive Legacy
Massive Entertainment are one of the stalwarts of the modern PC RTS genre with two critically acclaimed strategy games in Ground Control 1&2 behind them and the upcoming and hotly tipped World in Conflict due to erupt later this year.
Although now boasting over a 100 dedicated staff and a suitably vast name, Massive started off as very small company. Founded by students Martin Walfisz and Christian Perez, Massive began life as Novastorm in 1997, with only seven employees who were all high on ambition but low on actual experience.
The First Years
The past is no longer what it used to be
When Massive first began making games, the original staff had virtually no experience as developers and there was much to learn in the beginning. The team spent a lot of time to research development methods through various sources. This also gave way for a temporary side project of Walfisz's: the Game Developers' Resourcium - a website that hosted articles on game development.
Even though the studio had just started to get into development, their ambition was clear-cut from the beginning: they wanted to reshape and revolutionize the RTS genre. Starting off with a series of innovative concepts and ideas the first offering gradually took form. The project was called Genesis: Aperian 7, which was later renamed as Ground Control.
The original Ground Control was a big challenge, both in terms of technical development and design. An important initial milestone was getting a solid demo to showcase their talents to publishers. Being a small start up from Sweden, it was important that the demo impressed the right people and the aim was to display the demo on the Game Developers Conference of 1998.
The team worked round the clock preparing for the event, but were unsure if the demo would run well or if they could even get a machine to run it on. Just to make sure they didn't end up empty handed, software engineer Daniel Ljungberg spent 36 consecutive hours assembling a back-up trailer. Despite Ljungberg's Herculean efforts, their fears proved ahem groundless: the demo ran flawlessly on a borrowed machine in the 3dfx booth, and it was a huge success.
"All of a sudden, you had people gathering around the screens to have a look at Ground Control, and some guys just ran up to us and introduced themselves as producers and handed us their cards," recalls Walfisz. "Some even wanted us to turn off the demo, just so no one else could see it!"