World in Conflict is one of the best real-time-strategy games ever released... on PC. Now it's coming to the Xbox 360 and PS3, redesigned by Massive Entertainment in conjunction with Sierra's own Swordfish Studios with new content for the single and multiplayer modes. But the burning question remains: how will the controls compare to the mouse and keyboard? We caught up with Petter Sydow, VP of Development at Massive, to find out.
VideoGamer.com: First off, thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions on World in Conflict. We were wondering why you decided to make a port of the game for Xbox 360 and PS3.
Petter Sydow: Having worked on the PC platform for the last 10 years, and with the strategy genre having a much larger presence on the consoles lately, it seemed like a natural next step. The PC as a gaming platform only covers a fraction of all the gamers that are out there, and we wanted to bring World in Conflict to gamers who would otherwise be missing out.
We started to work on a console version of World in Conflict around the time we worked on the PC release, so it's kind of been developed simultaneously. This was very important to us, since we didn't want to just make a mere port of the game. We knew from the beginning that it would need some special work.
VideoGamer.com: One of the big criticisms of RTS games on consoles is that nobody has quite worked out a good control scheme yet. How have you tackled this problem? Is it an issue consoles will always suffer from regarding RTS games?
PS: World in Conflict isn't a typical RTS, so the transition from mouse/keyboard to controller has been remarkably easy. Since we have a very free 3D camera, and because we don't rely on unit selection and macro management, our controls are more similar to FPS controls rather than your average RTS controls.
With that said, there are of course some things that have required a lot of attention in order to get the game to work with the controllers. We designed the controls from scratch and built a completely new interface to ensure that the console experience would be on par with the PC version. Now that we're finally starting to reach the end stage of development, you can really tell that the game works on the consoles, and that's an amazing feeling!
VideoGamer.com: We understand the 360 and PS3 version of WIC will come with new single player and multi player content. Could you tell us what this will involve? When will the extra content be released for the PC?
PS: The 360 and PS3 versions of World in Conflict: Soviet Assault will include the all-new single-player missions that show the Soviet perspective of the conflict. These missions will be included in the regular campaign and will be placed in-between the original American missions.
Multiplayer, on the other hand, will be very similar to what our PC community is playing right now. The only real change is that we've limited the number of players to 5v5, which, in our opinion, is the perfect game size. We've always recommended clans and pro gamers to focus on 5v5 in professional leagues, and I'm sure that console gamers will agree.
The extra content will be released for PC as well at some point. Our goal is to release the new content both as an individual pack of sorts at a lower price - for gamers who've already bought World in Conflict - and as a full release with everything included. The full release will probably be limited to some market areas, but that's still not finalized.
VideoGamer.com: What can you tell us about how WIC on PS3 and Xbox 360 work on Xbox LIVE and PSN?
PS: We've tried to work to the formats' strengths without any complications, so it's going to be very user-friendly without any hassle.
VideoGamer.com: We've heard from a number of developers that multi-platform development is a very difficult task. How is the development team tackling it? How is the team finding developing on the PS3? Will there be any difference between the PS3 version and Xbox 360 versions whatsoever, either in terms of graphics or gameplay/multiplayer options?
PS: Well, it hasn't been easy, but I think it's safe to say that we're tackling it pretty well! The PS3 version has been the more challenging platform of the two, but we've been hell-bent on giving both consoles the same content, and so far we're holding up to that ambition. There are naturally some minor graphical differences, but overall, gamers of either platform are going to have virtually identical experiences.
VideoGamer.com: Have you guys managed to replicate the DirectX10 effects we saw in the PC version?
PS: Yeah, at this point we've managed to replicate some of the effects, but I don't know what features will make it into the final release. Nearly all of our DX10 features are possible to do on the consoles if you give it enough time and resources, so we'll keep on working on them and see what happens.
VideoGamer.com: WIC has been scheduled for a North American release this Christmas. Will European gamers have to wait much longer or will there be a simultaneous release? Will both versions be coming out at the same time?
PS: We're definitely aiming for a global release, but it's too early to say if both the 360 version and the PS3 version will be released at the same time. Release dates have a tendency to be very fluid as unexpected things happen during development, so we'll keep on working and cross our fingers.
VideoGamer.com: Have you guys been keeping an eye on the development of Halo Wars, another upcoming console RTS? What's your take on it?
PS: Well, we haven't been able to play the game, so we don't know much more about it than anyone else. Regardless, it's very interesting to see other strategy games make an appearance on console, and even though Halo Wars and Tom Clancy's EndWar are competitors, they're also paving the road for what could be a new age of strategy games. I'm very much looking forward to see what happens later this year, and I can't wait to try both of those games out!
VideoGamer.com: Can gamers expect a WIC demo on Xbox LIVE and/or PSN? If so, when might that be?
PS: We're looking at it, but it's too early to say if we will release a demo or not. There are a lot of things going into the release of a demo and a lot of people who will have to be in agreement about it, so we'll see what happens.
VideoGamer.com: We've always thought RTS games might be well suited to the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo DS because of the motion sensing controls and stylus controls. Could WIC ever come to the Wii/DS?
PS: It could definitely be awesome, but sadly there's no such release planned at the moment.
VideoGamer.com: Thanks for your time.
World In Conflict is due out for Xbox 360 and PS3 this autumn.