When we started to design Conflict: Global Terror we decided that it would be great to use the same special forces team as had featured in Conflict: Desert Storm I & II. After doing two games with these guys we knew them very well and were keen to develop them further. Many Conflict players were also great fans of the characters and were demanding their return.
This time we wanted to do something a bit different. While everyone knew that Bradley was the leader, Connors was the heavy weapons expert, Jones took care of demolitions, and Foley was the sniper, little was known of their personalities. While everyone at Pivotal plays Conflict games slightly differently, many people thought of the characters in similar ways. Bradley emerged as "the mission must come first" leader; Connors as the brash and aggressive action hero; Jones as the worrier; and Foley as patient and cautious, as befits his role.
Having sketched out the characters, we then explored how they would work in a team dynamic. We wanted to show the character discussing what was going on, offering their opinions on events, and generally having a good-natured go at each other. Then to spice things up, we got rid of Foley part way through the game and introduced a new female sniper. Now the team had to deal with the loss of a longstanding member, but also integrate a new member at a time when it becomes apparent that someone was setting them up. All this has enabled us to grow the characters and show them as real people.
Conflict: Global Terror is set in the fall of 2006. Its near-future storyline is based on real events as well as recognized terrorist threats. Early on, the decision was made to focus on terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda. A look at known terrorist groups showed them spread across the world, each interested in their own goals, but also loosely linked to one another. At the same time we spoke to our expert consultants who confirmed that terrorist groups often traded weapons and drugs with each other, and were even known to carry out terrorist attacks for one.
After two games set in the deserts of the Gulf and one in the jungles of Vietnam, we'd pretty much had enough of those environments. It was time to do something more varied and on a global scale. Rather than go for a loosely linked series of defeating terrorists wherever they appeared, we needed to link them together in an overall story arc which would end in a major world-shaking event. To do this we needed a back story that would link the terrorist groups together but also personally involve the team. From this the characters of adouble-agent, and terrorist organizer Karl Mandel, were born.
In the early phases of the game, Mandel appears as a target to be captured. He is to be brought in for interrogation. As the game starts, he's known to be in Colombia dealing with a narco-terrorist group. A high-profile member of the team's organisation is in the pay of Mandel and tips him off about the team. The team is captured by the narco-terrorists, but manages to escape and finally capture Mandel. Unfortunately, this isn't achieved without a price to pay. Foley goes Missing in Action and is left behind by the team. At this stage the team is unaware who betrayed them, but they link Foley's disappearance directly to the traitor.
A series of events unfold that takes the team to South Korea, the Ukraine, Chechnya, North Africa, the Philippines, and finally to the mountains of Kashmir. Along the way the team gets to fight terrorists in the streets of Seoul, at a chemical plant, in a nuclear reactor in meltdown, a jungle base, and at a Korean village and bunker complex. As they do so they discover more about Mandel and find out who has betrayed them. The organization that Mandel and the traitor work for also becomes apparent, and their plans for global destabilization are revealed. The story builds towards its climax with Mandel inciting a major war. At the end it's a race against time to stop Mandel and avert a major terrorist threat.
The back story was designed to fulfill many different but related goals. It had to present an exciting and plausible series of events involving terrorist activities as diverse as holding hostages and planting dirty bombs. It also had to depict terrorism on a global scale, and build towards a dramatic conclusion. And it also had to provide a narrative that would involve the team personally and give them reasons to be out risking their lives. It had to provide stunning game environments and greatly varied mission objectives. Most importantly, it had to be fun!