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EndWar Interview

Interview: Defining RTS for consoles

EndWar creative director Michael de Plater knows RTS like the back of his hand. His CV includes the likes of Creative Assembly and the Total War franchise. At Ubisoft's recent Ubidays event CVG sat down with Plater to learn more about how his team intends to make a console RTS that actually works.

You can check out the EndWar announcement, along with first screens and CGI trailer here.

Tell us how EndWar will redefine RTS on a console. Some pretty big claims came from the conference.

Michael de Plater: Yes there were, but I think it's not even a case of redefine because I don't ever think it's been defined. This will actually define RTS on console. We are to the RTS genre what Knights of the Old Republic was to the RPG genre, or what GTA was to action-driving.

By designing the game from the ground up as a genuine immersive 3D experience designed for a console - what Halo was to the FPS - that's how we're taking the genre onto console.

From a control point of view, how will EndWar differ from the likes of Command & Conquer 3 on Xbox 360?

Michael de Plater: We haven't looked at the conventions of PC RTS games at all. The game's we've looked at have been tactical shooters where you give squad mates pretty simple commands like Brothers in Arms. Use the d-pad to select and press A to send them there. It's got to be that easy to issue the orders.

Additionally it's very easy to group guys. You select multiple units by pushing up on the d-pad. There are no modifiers and no tricky combos to learn. If you can give a squad an order in Rainbow Six or Ghost Recon then you'll be able to play EndWar.

Plus on top of that you've got the voice command that lets you shortcut or give high level orders to your whole army. You could literally start a game, give the command "All units attack" and let the AI push forward an assault the enemy. You could then drop in and manage squads or micromanage right down to the level of each unit.

How will the game recognise a player's voice?

Michael de Plater: We have different configurations for different accents and we're using a third-party middleware company and you can configure the game for US and UK voices. But it's pretty good at recognition. We've had people at Ubisoft testing it with French accents, German accents and whatever.

Our benchmark when we started was to be better than SOCOM and four or five years on from that the software has advanced and the machines are more powerful so we can dedicate more processor time to the recognition. We've just lifted the quality of voice recognition higher.

Tell us about the massively multiplayer plans?

Michael de Plater: We really don't have a strong separation between single and multiplayer game modes. Any game mode is playable in single, co-op, skirmish etc. The big multiplayer feature is what we're calling our Theatre Of War, which is a massively multiplayer campaign.

When you go online you can see a top down view of the world, the front lines, where the current battlefields are and then dive into a battle. Your result is recorded, as are all of the results from all the games around the world, then we accumulate the results and update the map so the front lines of World War III constantly shift. Everyone will be participating in this huge persistent campaign. We're planning to launch an open beta later in the year that we're real excited about, so people can get a taste of what we're trying to do.

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