PC Interview

Command and Conquer Renegade

Ferrago.co.uk chat to Westwood's Dan Cermak on C&C's departure from the RTS genre...

Luke Guttridge talks to Dan Cermak and the Renegade team at Westwood, regarding the highly-anticipated move into the first-person perspective for the C&C world. Read-on to find out much much more...

1. The most exciting element of Renegade I've witnessed to date seems to be the palpable sense of a real full-scale war going on around the player as he undertakes his mission objectives. What will the player experience to create this impression?

In developing Renegade, the idea is to constantly give the player the sensation of being right in the middle of a larger conflict. Consequently, the mission structure and game design reflect this. A player may encounter an area where a GDI Mammoth Tank is squaring off against a squad of Nod minigunners and rocket soldiers, while a Nod Light Tank is getting ready to fire on a group of GDI soldiers. And you get the fun of navigating thru all of this chaos, lend a hand if you want, and get to the power plant to complete your primary mission objective.

This larger war will provide the player with the opportunity to address and complete a variety of secondary mission objectives. The player isn't required to participate in them to progress through the game, but completing them might provide them with some sort of bonus that could help them along in the game, whether it's data on a future mission, additional power ups or weapons, or even a vehicle that Havoc can enter and drive.

2. What sort of missions will the player find themselves undertaking? What effect will the outcome of these missions have in the grand scheme of things; how will the story and action change as a result of the player's actions?

In general, there will always be a primary mission objective, something that the player must complete to move the story along. This might require the destruction of a Nod power plant in order to slow down enemy production or blowing up a Nod communications center. So in that regard, the story is pretty straightforward.

Keep in mind that just like in the RTS game, there's always someone "upstairs" controlling the action in a sense. So while the player is focusing on completing the primary mission, this "voice from above" might interject a secondary mission objective for Havoc to complete. He doesn't have to, but completing the secondary missions more often than not will provide some benefit for Havoc that he can use in his current mission, or later in the game.

Here's a perfect example: Let's say Havoc's on his way to take out a Nod base. Along the way, his superior, Gen. Locke, tells him a Nod Apache helicopter is making life tough for his forces and asks Havoc to lend a hand. Havoc takes out the helicopter and the helipad. For helping out, along comes a GDI Chinook and drops off a Humm-Vee that Havoc can jump in and drive. So in completing a secondary mission, the payoff is added manuverability, armor and firepower.

3. Artificial intelligence must play an important role in combat with the enemy; what kind of cunning strategies will our foes be employing?

The AI is very powerful. They will use the cover the surrounding terrain will offer and will learn from your actions in that if you jump out of a window they will learn that they too can jump out the window. The AI uses audio and visual cues to determine where you are and how best to respond. For example if you use your suppressed pistol to create a ricochet the AI unit will normally come to where the bullet hit (since they can't hear the muzzle fire) and start looking around. You can use this concept to draw them out at times. But often they will be on defend mode and will not move from their assigned area. Also their actions will often be determined by their weapon type. Flamethrower and Chemical Weapons units will close to attack and can be very aggressive.

4. I hear you can drive vehicles in Renegade. Tell us a little about how, what and when. Strategically, at what point in a mission might a vehicle be required, and for what purpose?

As long as a vehicle is unoccupied, Havoc can jump in, whether it's GDI or Nod. Havoc can commandeer a variety of land based vehicles, including tanks, APC's stationary gun emplacements, and buggies. I'm not sure that the vehicles are ever "required" for a mission, so much as they can facilitate it. After all, it's a lot easier to navigate a crowded battlefield if you're inside a tank or Humm-Vee than it is on foot. You drive the vehicle from the 3rd person perspective using the keyboard and mouse.

5. Will the game feature any element of team-based combat, as I imagine this might enhance the sense of a 'real' war still further.

In the single player mode, there is some element of cooperative game play in that you can enlist the help of some NPC for support. There will be certain parts of the game where reinforcements arrive with the specific intent of helping Havoc complete a mission. Other times, Havoc can be made to ask an NPC to come with him on his mission.

In multiplayer, the C&C mode makes the concept of team combat essential, in that the goal is to destroy the opponents base and protecting your own at the same time. Teams will have to consider assuming different roles when playing…

6. Multiplayer Renegade appears to have several particularly innovative options. Tell us a little about these.

The final game will include both standard and team deathmatch modes, as well as a CTF (Capture The Flag) mode. Renegade will also include what we've come to call "Command & Conquer" mode. This mode will be patterned after the RTS game, in that your team's goal is to destroy the opponent's base, while defending their own. We've actually created scaled down versions of C&C maps, and each side's bases have access to a local Tiberium patch. It is also possible the bases will be connected underground by a series of tunnels.

The gameplay dynamic is just like the RTS game; harvesters will go out and collect Tiberium and take it to a refinery for processing to generate cash. Additional cash can be generated by C&C crates and possibly a trickle of funds coming from Tiberium already stored in the Refinery Silos. The game is character class driven so as teams accumulate more cash, they can "buy" into higher classes with better weapons. There are four Ranks (Grunt, Officer, Special Forces and Boss) and four Classes (Minigunner, Heavy Weapons, Specialists and Engineers). Each Character provides a specific primary weapon and Health / Armor values. In addition all characters have a pistol and at least 1 timed C4. Also the player may opt to spend his money on vehicles.

When structures are destroyed, however, purchasing can become more expensive or no longer available. For example, losing the power plant will increase the cost of all items, also if a GDI barracks is destroyed, the source for new GDI infantry units dries up and the player can only become a Grunt level character in one of the four classes (Minigunner, Heavy Weapons, Specialists and Engineers). If a GDI vehicle factory is destroyed, no vehicles can be acquired. As in the original C&C you can pound a building from the outside with heavy firepower or if you can get inside the building and find its heart (the Master Control Terminal, or MCT) you can blow the whole building with a few C4. Easier said than done however, since sentry guns protect them. Finally, if you've got enough money, you can acquire an "endgame" beacon that can be planted in a base (Ion Cannon beacon for GDI, Nuke Strike Beacon for Nod). If it cannot be disarmed in time, game over.

7. What sort of environments will Renegade cover? How faithfully have the buildings, terrain and vehicles of C&C been recreated?

The game storyline will unfold in a variety of environments; snowy mountains, beaches mountaintop chateaus, civilian villages and on cargo ships, just to name a few. We have every building and vehicle from the original C&C. We used the original models as our guide to developing them for Renegade.

8. How many missions will feature, and will they be permeated with the legendary Westwood cut-scenes?

With a game like Renegade, the concept of "missions" can be a bit misleading. The story unfolds in 11 different areas, all of which contain a substantial amount of depth. Keep in mind that in completing the primary missions, Havoc will constantly be asked to aid in secondary missions that he can choose to complete. Even if the player decides to only complete the primary missions, they'll really be tested to complete them in a hurry.

9. If Renegade is a success how will future additions to the C&C series fit in with it, how will Renegade blend in the with the overall story?

Renegade actually takes place at the same time as the original Command & Conquer. At some point, Havoc will even have a little encounter with Kane. As for future additions to the C&C franchise, that's something we're constantly evaluating, although there's nothing to discuss at this time.

10. Any plans for expansion packs or sequels as yet? How will Renegade be supported after release?

As of yet, there are no plans for expansion packs or sequels for Renegade. We do have plans to support the product with editing tools at release or shortly thereafter, but I can't comment on specifics at this time.

11. What weapons will the player find at his or her disposal? Tell us a little about the weapon balance of the game.

We have everything from a suppressed pistol to the Personal Ion Cannon. Each character, vehicle or building can have armor and health. We have a series of different warheads and armor types so that we can have different interactions. For example, a flamethrower will work very well against infantry and moderately well against vehicles and buildings. C4 will work well against an MCT but not as well against the exterior of the building. We have a little bit of everything including homing rockets used by the Stealth tank, the pump shotgun, portable Obelisk module. Over 19 first person weapons, 3 kinds of C4 and 2 beacon types make up the total weapons list.

12. The graphics that I witnessed were very impressive, tell us a little about the underlying technology and the subsequent design advantages it allows for. What system will Westwood recommend to run Renegade smoothly?

We started looking for a specific technology 4 years ago. We were interesting in something that allowed us to create expansive environments and allowed the user to enter and exit buildings at will. This was not available so we had to create our own technology. We haven't really set the final minimum spec. as yet but we are very scalable.

13. Finally, what elements of C&C Renegade do you hope and expect fans of C&C and first-person shooters will relish upon release day?

Above all, I think that both C&C and action gamers will appreciate the concept of being involved in a greater conflict, we literally put you in the shoes of the original Commando, it is as we say "C&C up close and personal". I think it's going to be cool for the C&C player to actually enter the Hand of Nod or drive a GDI Mammoth Tank. For the action gamer, I think the backdrop of a larger conflict, where there's so much going on around you, could prove to be an interesting alternative to skulking down corridors.

Thanks for your time, Dan. Good luck with completing Renegade and the launch...

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