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PC Games (Games) Real Time Strategy (Games) Entertainment Games

Rick Goodman On Building Empires 20

Posted by simoniker
from the one-brick-at-a-time dept.
Thanks to Empires Heaven for their interview with Stainless Steel Studios' head Rick Goodman regarding the PC RTS title Empires: Dawn Of The Modern World. He discusses why the game will become a trilogy by using expansion packs ("One of the compromises I think you make in Civilization 3 is, to cover that [large of a] period of time, you can't cover any one period very in-depth"), and the circumstances that led to his split with Age Of Empires creators Ensemble Studios, which he co-founded ("Ensemble wanted to do their next game in a year, and I told them that I wasn't the kind of guy that could do a game in a year and I should probably go off and take whatever time I needed and let them take the time they needed.") He concludes by discussing the difficulties of development: "One thing you learn [in the industry] that most gamers don't understand: that game development is a series of compromises."
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Rick Goodman On Building Empires

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  • Good for him! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dolemite_the_Wiz (618862) on Sunday January 04, 2004 @08:36PM (#7876733) Journal
    It's about time that SOMEONE is willing to put their foot down and work for a company that wants to put out a quality title instead of another gaming quantity factory.

    I'm looking forward to this game.

    Dolemite
    _______________
    • Re:Good for him! (Score:3, Informative)

      by sandalwood (196527)
      Empires? It's already out.
    • No, Rick glosses over the fact that everyone at Ensemble pretty much hated him and his management style. Ask anyone that's worked at Ensemble on the first title about Rick and they'll roll their eyes. Don't get me wrong, Rick is a good developer, but he rubs people the wrong way.

      Not to mention that Ensemble Studios themselves is a development house that puts out quality rather than quantity. Eh, why bother wasting my breath when you don't even know that the game is already out...

  • by KrinnDNZ (453679) <krinndnz@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Sunday January 04, 2004 @08:45PM (#7876828) Homepage Journal

    Goodman mentions that


    "it's very hard to appeal to everybody. Part of the way we did this was we divided the game into an Empire Builder and an Action mode to try to target those audiences more carefully than perhaps other games have done in the past. And I think that was a wise thing to do."

    as he speaks of balancing the game between novices and expert players. However, this brings up a question that he dodges later in the interview(the third page, specifically), about where RTS games (and by extension, games in general) are going in the future.

    He doesn't talk much about the decision to divide the game into two different styles, which is a shame. What about the future of games that, in the process of play, change from one style to another ? Let's take a current example - the Army game [americasarmy.com]. It has an FPS part, and what they're calling an RPG part. Would a game where you did both of those things, then shifted more towards the RTS paradigm as your character ascended in rank, be marketplace-viable? What would you tell a developer who wanted to make a game along the lines of Elixir's Republic: The Revolution [eidosinteractive.co.uk] - only that it was an adventure game until you became a political big wheel, at which point it turned into a nation-building strategy game somewhat like Civ/Capitalism, with an intrusion of FPS in the Rainbow 6 style when ninjas attempt to kidnap the president ? Are these games inherently a bad idea, or has their time not yet come ? Final Fantasy-style minigames certainly wouldn't cut it - but I think that that shows that there have already been some tenative pokes at this.


    Personally, I think that a game that's capable of moving between genres in response to the player's actions is a spectacularly good idea, but is it? And for that matter, if it is, what about implementation?

    • by AuMatar (183847) on Sunday January 04, 2004 @08:59PM (#7876925)
      I don't think it would work, for multiple reasons.

      1)Writing a game is hard. Its hard to write a good FPS. Its hard to write a good RTS. To do that, you'd have to write BOTH of them well. Not easy.

      2)The fan following of genress don't overlap. I'm an RTS fan. I despise FPS games. I don't find them fun, and I prefer a challenge of out-thinking opponents to twitch combat (truthfully, I find twitch combat monotonous and dull). There's FPS people who would hate the economy building of RTSes. The number of people who would like a hybrid, even if done well, is small.

      3)Different games for different moods. Even those who like both FPS and RTS usually play one or the other depending on their mood. They don't want to break out of their RTS to FPS.

      4)Dumbing down. Part of this is due to #1, but games that attempt to do both end up doing 1 (or both) poorly. A dumbed down RTS or dumbed down FPS. This annoys fans of both genres.

      5)Multiplayer. Most games of this sort are multiplayered with roles. This means some (many) people don't get to play the role they want. That isn't fun. And dealing with other players is a headache- trust me as someone who has experience in PvP MMOs. Communication and teamwork are damn hard to get right. Besides sometimes you just want to play solo- not much of an option in those games.
      • Anyone remember battlezone (or was it just battlezone 2). Not only could you control your units from an RTS point of view, but you could also run arround, jump into vehicles, etc Wasn't a bad game really.
    • Let's take a current example - the Army game. It has an FPS part, and what they're calling an RPG part.

      The best FPS/RTS blend I've seen is Natural Selection. [natural-selection.org] It's a free mod for Half-Life that you'll probably like. All but one of the players on the human team are playing a complicated FPS - but there's a commander giving orders with an overhead RTS interface.

      It's immense fun. But because so much is going on it can be very difficult for FPS players who just want to shoot stuff. Because the commander is tr
  • by devphil (51341) on Sunday January 04, 2004 @09:10PM (#7877017) Homepage


    EE is without a doubt one of the most fun RTS games I've ever played. Start off in the prehistoric era and finish up in postmodern nanotechnological warfare. The fact that the maps can be truly gigantic makes for some neat changes in strategy (even modern aircraft need refueling, etc).

    • EE is without a doubt one of the most fun RTS games I've ever played. Start off in the prehistoric era and finish up in postmodern nanotechnological warfare. The fact that the maps can be truly gigantic makes for some neat changes in strategy (even modern aircraft need refueling, etc).

      I agree, empire earth is by far my favorite game. It's one of the few games I can stand to play single player, and the multiplayer is excellent.
  • Absolutely true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EvlG (24576) on Sunday January 04, 2004 @09:47PM (#7877278)
    "One thing you learn [in the industry] that most gamers don't understand: that game development is a series of compromises."

    No game ever shipped without compromises being made. Otherwise, the game would still be in production. The key is identifying the smart compromises to make, and executing on them well.
    • "No game ever shipped without compromises being made. Otherwise, the game would still be in production."

      Perfect Obvious Example: Duke Nukem Forever
  • The way I like to look at designing games is that you start with your fundamental ideas, and build walls and limitations around that. Games are nothing more than a set of rules in a given world, and these "compromises" give your creation its shape and form.

    By any chance does anyone know someone at Stainless Steel? I'd really like to get a job there...: http://www.creathcarter.com

    Just thought I would try.

    • By any chance does anyone know someone at Stainless Steel? I'd really like to get a job there

      Heh.. who wouldn't? Judging by your website, you might actually have a shot though.. Why not just make your own game?
      • Hey, I really appreciate that. Thanks very much.

        After posting I had the thought of "urk, blatant self promotion seen in a negative way"... Hope it's not modded down. ;)

        As for making my own, there are several games on there that are downloadable and playable. None are finished, all are just fun experiments, but it's close.
        I can't make my own entirely though because I lack funds and income to feed myself. Otherwise that would be a dream come true.

        Cheers!
  • Whoa...looks like the copywriters are playing a little too fast and loose with history here..."After WWII, the U.S. went on to become the unrivaled superpower of the world."...The game looks great guys but there was a little forty-year conflict called THE COLD WAR that happened after WW2 and prior to American "unrivaled" supremacy.

"Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberrys!" -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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