Rick Goodman GameSpot Video Interview 2 Transcript

July 22, 2003 by GameSpot

My name is Rick Goodman. I’m lead designer on a game called Empires: Dawn of the Modern World which is shipping this year, Christmas season.

Empires: Dawn of the Modern World spans 1,000 years of modern history, from the Middle Ages up-to and including World War II. The game includes, covers seven of the mightiest civilizations during that period of time.

Our last game, Empire Earth, taught us a lot about the process of making RTS; and our next game, the game we’re working on right now, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, is similar in the sense that it is a historical real-time strategy. But with that common root in mind, that’s where the similarity ends. What we want to achieve in this game is the ability to focus, focus on a more narrow time frame and make it a more robust game in the time frame that we’re covering.

So we went out and asked gamers what time frames, what periods were most fun for them; and they told us, according to our surveys, that the Middle Ages and World War II were some of their favorite time periods. So thats how we home down the scope for the game that we’re working on now. And by homing down the scope to merely a thousands years in time, which is still quite an epic span of time to cover, we’re able to do a lot more in that period of time, make it much more realistic, make it much more historical and make it more fun.

What we believe is that we’re building a game for a trained audience, which means that people are used to certain ways and conventions for how RTS works; and what we tried to do is make the game more deep, more interesting and more exciting in many ways, but not necessarily changed the way gamers are used to playing a game. So you will see a lot of very familiar interface proposals for you during the game.

What we done is made the game much more deep, much more interesting and much more surprising, actually. Those are the things that we think are going to make the game very exciting for players; not complexity and not new UI conventions.

Well I think veterans and casual gamers alike are going to like our approach on Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, where we are actually covering seven unique civilizations. One of the things that people told us that they really wanted in their next RTS, or the next historical RTS, was that civilizations that are actually based on real civilizations, with historical units and technologies and strengths and weaknesses that were culturally correct and accurate on a civilization by civilization basis. And they didn’t want one set of units that were shared amongst multiple civilizations.

So we gone to extraordinary lengths to make that every units, every civilization in the game were completely different, from their technology trees, to their economies, to their special abilities, to their weapons and soldiers. So this means that each time you play and you pick a new civilization, it’ll be like playing a different game.

The game includes two basic play modes we call Action and Empire Builder; and their designed for two very different audiences.

The Empire Builder mode is designed primarily for the Single Player audience, because we surveyed our customers and they’ve told us they often like to play many multi-hour games that last a long time, with many different AI’s. This is a Single Player experience that [harken?] back to the days of Civilization. So we created a mode that plays very much like that. And in that mode, resource gathering is a little bit slower than action mode. It’s more important that you expand and take over many resources on the map, and the resources don’t run out, so [liken?] your success to how much land you own and how much territory you control. Thats important to the Empire Builder player.

In addition to that, we have Walls and Towers that play a very important role. So you can have sieges and there’s very opportuned ways to defend yourself against rushes, so that we honed down the rush for the Empire Builder. And it becomes an Empire Building style of game with this particular type of mode, which will appeal to this great mass audience that likes the style of game.

The Action mode is entirely different. It’s designed for a different audience, the audience I call the Pro Gamer, the gamer who likes to play multiplayer and particularly like to play it online. They’re often ladder ranked and they like tournaments.

A typical Pro Gamer would like to play about 30 games in a day, that way the Pro Gamer could move up the ladder quicker by finishing more games. A Pro Gamer typically likes to rush, they like to find new ways to Age up as quickly as possible and to rush players as quickly as possible; and the game is much more designed for a quick conclusion, so you can end the game in 20 minutes, 30 minutes, at 40 minutes at longest. It’s not necessarily about territory control, so for example, resources diminish very quickly, so it requires you to be thinking very carefully about your next move. And if the game lasts a little bit long, you need to move to a new resource areas along the map, so it’s more dynamic in that sense.

Walls and Towers are very weak, so that you don’t have opportunities to have large sieges and there’s turtling in that game. It’s much more fluid and much more action packed.

Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, scheduled for release later this year.