Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight

An interview with Jim Vessella, Producer, EA LA

You’re making some distinct changes to Command & Conquer 4’s gameplay. Will the hardcore approve?

We think the hardcore players will like the progression system. In terms of being a completionist, I’m kind of that way in games and I like to get everything and unlock everything, we’re going to have certain challenges in there that are really tough that hardcore players can really go after.

In terms of strategic depth, we’re not removing it – we’re opening it up. The Crawler you can kind of go anywhere with, whereas in the old C&C it was all about your build order, which is fun for a lot of people who find the perfect order and just execute that time and time again – see how fast you can get, how fast you can build those power plants up – but it does become predictable, so I think with C&C4 it’s going to be a more evolving experience. People are going to find great strategies, but the Crawler can really vary it up, pulling a fast one on the enemy.

We’re hoping the hardcore player can find a home in C&C4 and be able to really enjoy some of the new things we’re trying, but it is a different game, for sure.

How about the modding community? Are they being catered to?

We’re not disclosing too much about C&C4’s mod support. We’re glad that people have actively been taking the Red Alert 3 mod kit and trying some cool things with that. Right now we’re trying to get the launch nailed down and focus on that, but it’s always a really tough trade-off trying to support the mods, SDK and toolkits while doing the launch as well. Often, as you’ve seen in the past, we’ll sometimes release the tools a little bit after we’ve launched the game and we’ve polished them up so they can be used by our fans.

We don’t have an exact plan, so I don’t have any specific details on when modding is available or how it’s going to work, especially in C&C4 as everything ties into the player progression. We’re going to have to do a little bit of research on that and also kind of ask the community how they think it should work.

The C&C series is famous for having big-name celebrities in its cutscenes. So will Ric Flair be appearing anywhere?

I can categorically say that Ric Flair won’t be back! We’re not unveiling the cast just yet, but we’re obviously delighted to have Joe Kucan back as Kane.

He’s been with the franchise longer than anyone, right from the game’s beginning, so it’s great having him here for what’s going to be the finale of the Tiberium Saga.

Will the Scrin be playable?

We’re going to start out with Nod and GDI and see how the fans react.

How about the Forgotten – humans who’ve been mutated by exposure to tiberium?

They were prominent in Tiberian Sun and we’re going to have a few units in there that can be recruited to your cause. We can go a bit crazy with them as they’ve been affected by tiberium, plus they’ve got a kind of cool little fiction as they’ve been cast away in society, so they’ve got their own agenda and background that we can use in little side stories.

So yeah, we’re going to have more units in terms of the Forgotten than we’ve had in our previous games, which can be recruited by both the GDI and Nod.

Will there be any exploit-ish tactics, like piling Engineers into an APC and unloading them in the middle of the enemy base and capturing everything instantly?

The structures that we currently have can’t be captured by engineers as they’re like fire bases. You can resurrect the husks (vast mega-units that lie dormant on the battlefield), capture tech structures, and so on.

That being said though, we do have some really powerful units – like the commandos – who can do devastating damage to structures, so you could load commandos into an APC and some of our high-end infantry units and drive that into an enemy base.

Actually, the Nod APC burrows, harking back to Tiberian Sun. We’ll see how the fans react to that one, as they can sneak into an enemy base, pop out and spew out all their guys, causing this big firework show inside the base.

Are there any units that can detect burrowing or stealthed vehicles?

The engineers can do that. As long as you have those guys scattered about in your army, you can detect stealth. We also have a few structures that do it too, so there’s a definite counterbalance to the burrowing. But if you get caught off guard, Nod can really take advantage of you.

Sep 18, 2009