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How Dawn of War II risked it all to push a genre forward

Extra campaigns

“We were originally planning on more. As we did more and more though, the amount of investment that it took to do that progression, war gear, leveling and all that, was high. So rather than make an RTS game that was like every other RTS game that came before, we had to make a choice.

“We narrowed the focus down to the Space Marine campaign and tried to make that as good as we could. The other reason we went with the Space Marines was the story of Chaos and corruption is more compelling from their point of view, and also for a lot of reasons that are going to be obvious when you play Chaos Rising.”

Flesh Hooks

“What I loved about DOW2 was what we did with abilities, especially the manipulation ones, so there are a few heroes in the multiplayer game that are potent. Like the Warlock with his warp throw. Another ability that’s similar is the Lictor’s flesh hooks. Both of those involve manipulation of the enemy, which is a really tactile, tactical thing to do. You basically do the Scorpion “Come here!” fatality. No other RTS thing has that, and it was the one thing that brought the biggest smile to my face.

“In Chaos Rising [DOW2’s expansion, due out in March], the biggest thing people are going to see is what we’ve done with our environmental destruction, which in a word is catastrophic. In a good way.”

Deadly Accusations

“Well, it’s really kinda Darwinistic out there and the best game survives. So if progression and more focused combat out there is the way other RTS games are going, then that’s really based on the merits of what’s out there.

“I don’t think base-building RTS games will ever really die. It’s like saying FPS games will die. It’s a core staple of video games. But what the RTS game genre does need to do is to continually evolve, unless it wants to keep selling to the same audience over and over again. So we want to sell to that audience and to more, and continue to grow. Which I think is what we are doing, to be honest.”

Total War

“There’s a big difference in where you put the camera and what sort of game you end up building, and I personally like the Total War series. Medieval is one of the ones that stands out to me. The RTS games that we make though, I believe, are superior from a competitive point of view when it comes to the multiplayer. And that’s really facilitated by that escalation of warfare, where you start out small and then getting out more and more units onto the battlefield until you have a bigger fight happening.

“What happens in Total War’s scale of warfare is you start off with a large force and whittle it down. What I find, and I have played multiplayer games of Total War, is that you end up with a complex game that becomes less interesting over time.”

Friendly Competition

“The thousands who play multiplayer, based on what they say on the forums, might not like it, but they keep playing. We invest a lot of effort into making our players happy and a lot of those guys who are loudly complaining are going to buy the expansion.

“What it comes down to is that they’re passionate, they really care about the game, and they usually lock onto one or two issues and then zero in on that and they get upset. As aggravating as it can be to read, it does come from a good place for the fans. They supply good and constant feedback. And I do read most of it. As for Games for Windows – LIVE!, the part that’s hardest for me to bear is the connectivity problems that stop the playing, and that’s something we’re fighting to solve.”

Feb 19, 2010