Former Starcraft developers Tim Campbell and Tim Morten recently discussed their goals for the upcoming RTS game from their new studio Frost Giant, highlighting their focus on the essentials of the genre and a belief that RTS as a whole has plenty of room to grow.
"In a lot of cases we've seen companies try to simplify the genre by removing elements or streamlining things, so that you don't have to worry about economy or harvesting," Campbell said in an interview with Forbes. "That's not our approach. We want there to be that headroom of gameplay mechanics, all of the things to worry about, from economy and harvesting to building troops and commanding them out in the field. We want all of that goodness."
Campbell also touched on another pillar of RTS games: the bottomless well of user-made stuff. Custom maps and modes are arguably more important to the Starcraft community than its competitive presence, for instance, and Frost Giant recognizes that and hopes to build a similar scene for its own RTS game.
"That's a pillar for us," Campbell says of user-made content. "We really believe that there's amazing ideas and amazing stories and amazing content that can come out of the overall community. It's definitely an important part of the game that we're building. We really want to make sure that we have a game experience and a toolset that is easily accessible by players to be able to build great content and tell their own stories."
Starcraft is still the poster child for the RTS genre and has had a huge effect on Campbell and Morten's careers, so it's no surprise that they're both hoping to see the franchise continue to thrive. Speaking more broadly, Campbell explained that "we think that RTS gaming in general has a lot of head room and growth ahead of it," and that Frost Giant is more concerned with competing genres than other RTS games. "As far as we're concerned, the more titles and the more players of this category, the better," he says.
To round things out, Morten offered a rough idea of the setting and structure of their game. It's worth noting that Frost Giant's mystery RTS has only just gotten off the ground – Morten hopes to see it ready for launch in under four years, but even that's a ballpark guess – so all of these plans are still very soft. That said, the studio's vision sounds promising.
"Clearly, an RTS game needs to have massive conflict between armies," Morten tells Forbes. "So whatever our setting is, it has to support that. We want factions that are compelling. And I think whether they're symmetric or asymmetric is something that will still be a subject of conversation, but just that each of those factions feels exciting for players to play. The setting that we create, we want it to be broadly appealing. We want a setting that supports strong characters."
There's no telling when we'll see Frost Giant's debut RTS, but for now, these are the new games of 2021 and beyond to be excited for.