Interview with Rick Goodman

Making Empires

Socvazius: So what made you decide to spread out such an expansive game of the Empires trilogy into 3 smaller packets, instead of one big lump like with Empire Earth?

Rick: Well, thatís unofficial. Thatís one of the directions that weíre currently looking at. As I told you, when you get to the end of a project you stop thinking tactically and start thinking strategically about what is you want to do. So I canít really comment on whether thatís what customers are asking for today. But I can talk about why that idea is pretty exciting to us, as gamers. One of the advantages that the system [of a trilogy] has is that I think that people like the ďall civilizationsĒ aspect. There is something about EE [Empire Earth] and Civ 3 that is really appealing to gamers. And we think that is a really neat concept; and real time is, too. But one of the compromises I think you make in Civ 3 is, to cover that [large of a] period of time, you canít cover any one period very in-depth.

So it seems to me that [one way] to cover that [large] period of time and still be able to cover it in-depth is that you could divide it into 3 smaller steps. Because I think that you canít do it [perfectly] in one game, in one giant leap. But it seems to me that you can do the whole thing together by creating a game and a series of expansion packs to follow. So by the time youíre done, you can deliver that entire holy grail to gamers and they can have it all. Itís a concept that probably canít be done in one step. [It would] take 5 or 6 years [to develop] and people couldnít wait that long.

"So we see that there are tradeoffs. One is an epic game Ė people do like epics Ė but itís not as precise as one that is very precise; but that one isnít as epic."

Socvazius: In contrast to the huge length of history that Empires: Dawn of the Modern World and Empire Earth covered, have you ever considered doing a game on a single time period; such as the Napoleonic Wars or World War 2?

Rick: Every day. Between projects, thatís one of the questions that we always ask, because weíre very aware that there are a tremendous number of compromises that we make in our games to make them epic in scope. And people online, when you come online to talk to them, they know that the game isnít perfect and they bring up all these issues, and these issues are all completely valid; they are [valid] because we have such a long scope [in our games].

If we were able to delve into one time period, weíd be able to resolve all those issues people had. People want big sieges, excellent formations; and when you look at those things, theyíre great. But siege warfare is only a part of our game, so if we focus our energy to perfect siege warfare, it doesnít help our WW1 and WW2 game. Formations are the same; very important in a certain period of time, but not so much later. But why not add oil later in the game because that was [historically] important? If you focus on changing resources like in Rise of Nations, and that doesnít effect the early game [itís a trade-off]. There are hundreds of decisions like this where we simplify because weíre looking for things that effect the whole game. If we did one [game] on the Napoleonic Wars, I think weíd have the best strategy game about that era. We would be able to do that, and it would be very detailed, but we see that there are tradeoffs. One is an epic game Ė people do like epics Ė but itís not as precise as one that is very detailed, but not as epic. The downside [with less-epic games] is people that might say, ďwell, I donít like Napoleonic games,Ē and you donít get them to buy your game.

Socvazius: You work to get a wider range of people interested in your game.

Rick: Yeah, and there are no easy answers in this industry. Itís all a bunch of compromises, and thatís why itís a really challenging industry [to be in].

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Empires: Dawn of the Modern World is a game by Stainless Steel Studios and published by Activision.