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Interviews

EndWar

Interview: A game this ambitious takes time...

It's been four-years in the making, but Ubisoft's Tom Clancy: EndWar is finally moving towards the end zone.

The dev has promised that this would be a RTS built from the ground-up for consoles, using voice commands to get rid of any control issues.

Ubisoft's content director, Julian Gerighty, walks us through the progress made since its unveiling a year ago.

First off, why has EndWar been in development for so long?

Julian Gerighty: Four years is honestly necessary for ambitious games on this generation of console. There's a lot of work to be done. If you want to make a BioShock, Halo 3 or something from scratch it's even longer.

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So we started off with Unreal 3 as the engine. But being a first person shooter engine you've got to build on that to make it adapt to the massive type of war game that we wanted. Especially if, in terms of rendering, you want to have only destructible elements and you want to put a thousand people on the battlefield.

Second thing is AI. You want to make those thousand people act intelligently on that battlefield. Not only just because you're going to have voice command, but you don't want them to look stupid either.

This is the first game of its type and I don't think that games on console will be made the same after Endwar. It's kind of boastful, but I really do think that this is a watershed type of game.

What's your opinion on strategy games and consoles?

Gerighty: They're great PC games. If they're developed on PC as PC Games, then they're business opportunities. I hate saying bad things about other peoples games, but when EA ships Battle for Middle Earth on PC and then goes 'okay, that's going to take a team of forty/fifty six months to get it out on 360'.

They can do a really great job in terms of UI, they can great job in mapping the controls and making it accessible, but it remains a PC game. The difference in PC games and console games is huge, even in first person shooters. Think of before Goldeneye - people didn't play first person shooters on console. It wasn't that fun.

People really had to invest time and build it from the ground up for the console pad, for the console screen, sound, for the different environment you're playing in. And this is something EndWar tackled head on. That was the ambition from the start.

What are you doing with EndWar that you couldn't have done last generation?

Gerighty: This current generation has not only more processing power, which is important when you want to do a thousand people on a battlefield that's completely destructible, but what's vitally important is the HD experience.

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Everything is that much more precise and fluid. This game, last generation, would have been 10/15 frames per second. Nobody wants to play that. Even Battle for Middle Earth was about ten frames a second on 360.

You mentioned Mario Kart in reference to the WMD feature (item given to the losing side which causes massive damage, like the Blue Shell).

Gerighty: Absolutely.

One of our criticisms of Mario Kart is that the power-ups are balanced to the point of punishing a player for getting in first place. Are you worried about destroying the balance of the game with this WMD features?

Gerighty: The balance of these games is the win or lose of the games. We've balanced it fairly well, but we're doing two different beta tests - one limited and one much much bigger.

And then a demo where we're going to be able to balance on the results. We're doing a playtest with professional gamers to make sure there are as few exploits as possible before launch.

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