World in Conflict is an immersive mother of a real-time strategy game, making players team up tactically to solve objectives in small skirmishes, eschewing micromanagement of all kinds. Ed Zitron managed to get Massive CEO Martin Walfisz to drop the bomb on the game...
Martin Walfisz: We were thinking about our next strategy game in 2004, and realised we had a really great idea in World in Conflict.
We'd done the science-fiction setting with Ground Control, and so we thought we'd do a contemporary war setting. We thought about basing it around World War II, and more modern combat, with terrorists and the Middle East, but those are both overdone.
Then somebody suggested the two superpowers - the Soviets and the USA - and the more we started talking about it, the more sense it made as a great 'What If?' scenario. It really lends itself well to a strategy game, as typically you want to have at least two equally balanced factions - and with the addition of NATO, it was fairly easy to skew them to be equally powered.
I'd say in terms of visual style WIC is all authentic. We have quite a few military buffs in the company, and the art team got heavily involved in researching materials. We actually sent teams to Russia and America to get us photos of various museums and monuments to make the whole thing as authentic as possible.
Walfisz: The single-player was the last big hurdle in production. We knew that we wanted to take the gameplay mechanics that really worked in multiplayer and build a developed story around that. What makes it varied is the story we've built around it; each mission has a different but small part of the overall story to it, and I'm really happy how we've succeeded with it.
We introduce different types of units gradually throughout the campaign, giving the player something new to try as the missions progress... We had to consider how ambitious the single-player campaign was going to be - and in the end we chose the more ambitious path.
We had allies fighting other battles near you to create the bigger war around you - the kind of Call of Duty feel of being a small part of a big war, without making the player feel that they're unimportant to the story.
VERY HIGH GRAPHICS ABILITY
Walfisz: I think that graphics effects players differently depending on each person. Each gamer has his own level of how bad graphics can be before he ignores a game, and the better the graphics, the larger the audience we can potentially grab. I love the graphics - they really add a sense of immersion to this war that's going on around the player.
THINGS THAT EXPLODE
Walfisz: We've been saying for 10 years, from our first design document for Ground Control, that the explosions must be amazing. It's something we've really put effort into in all of our games, and our effects manager is just brilliant at doing effects. He loves that stuff. He's literally blowing shit up.
Although sadly, we didn't blow up any nukes in the name of research. I know we did blow up a few firecrackers though. The effect of Hollywood means that we've had to exaggerate explosions to make the games look like what they'd expect from a movie, rather than what it may actually look like in the real world.
Walfisz: In Half-Life you're Gordon Freeman, and in World in Conflict you're the faceless Parker. We had help from Ed Zuckerman, an Emmy-Award-Winning Hollywood writer, who really helped add depth to the story, especially the characters, who worked closely with our writers to develop the story and characters that people would both like and dislike.