Company of Heroes Maker Has an Idea for Making a Console RTS Work

Relic Games won't share specifics, but says it has a "plausible solution" for real-time-strategy games on consoles.

While it doesn't expect the controller to suddenly usurp the keyboard and mouse's position as the best way to play real-time strategy games, Relic Games has come up with what it calls a "plausible solution" for making the genre work on consoles.

"There was always a talk of strategy games on console," Relic game director Quinn Duffy told Eurogamer. "We were just like, 'Oh my God, how do you do that?' We think we came up with a plausible solution, which I'm not going to talk about. There's some stuff that's been back burnered for years because we wanted to see how technology, the market, control and touch emerged. Hopefully we will be positioned to adapt to some of that."

Relic is known as one of the preeminent developers of real-time strategy games on PC, having developed the Company of Heroes, Homeworld, and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War series. It's developed a pair of games, The Outfit and Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, for consoles, but neither was a strategy game (though The Outfit did contain some strategic elements).

Consoles have historically been a difficult place for strategy games to establish a foothold. Halo Wars stands out as one of the few strategy games to enjoy much success on consoles, but it's also been five years since it was released without any word on a sequel, save for Xbox head Phil Spencer expressing interest in eventually making one. Spencer has also said he expects RTS games on consoles to see a resurgence during this generation.

Duffy doesn't foresee an RTS coming out that allows console and PC players to play against one another because of the advantage PC players would have, but he does see many of the existing elements of RTS games working on consoles. That said, he noted, "But not in the same way. There would need to be some changes."

"The things I love about Company of Heroes on the presentation side would translate, no problem. But the tactical squad control and cover, those would be harder to mechanically translate to a control pad, " he added. "It's exciting. We've got an idea."

Lest you begin to think this is evidence that Relic is already working on an RTS for consoles (seeing it work on Halo Wars is a dream of mine), Duffy shot down the notion. "It's not an admission that we'd ever want to put it on console, but we think we've found a plausible way of doing it," he said.

Relic is currently at work on a standalone expansion for Company of Heroes 2, Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies (pictured above). It's due out on PC on June 24 and introduces new U.S. and German forces.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
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Discussion

88 comments
oflow
oflow

you could easily control an rts game with a controller, especially with voice commands like in End War.

I dont know why it would be so difficult.  You can use a controller on MMOs (TERA) that have a lot more buttons/bars than an RTS l and it works fine.

Yeah it probably wouldnt have the esport level micro ability, but its definitely very doable.

The_Last_Paladi
The_Last_Paladi

You know, I'm surprise Nintendo hasn't used their WII U technology for RTS.  I could see the pad being really good for something like this.

Ervaine
Ervaine

RTS on consoles is a disaster waiting to happen .

Just keep it to PC .

3dmatrixgamer
3dmatrixgamer

Simple solution "Make a damn KB/m for consoles and port all RTS, MOBAs and MMOs".

Halloll
Halloll

RTS do work for consoles, ever heard of Pikmin?
 and Age of Empires 2 had a decent port on the PS2.

JRD1912
JRD1912

I dont get why they just dont allow the consoles to accept mouse and keyboards.  Just do it already!  And dont be dicks about it, and make proprietary bullshit.  Even if its largely limited to RTS, or typing in information its worth it.

zerofrust
zerofrust

Anything involving the kind of macro/micromanagement on a map a RTS require doesn't sit well on a controller because of the limited controls. All they are going to accomplish is get an over simplified gameplay like most RTS attempt on consoles. Same way i don't attempt to play fighting games with a keyboard, i don't picture an engaging RTS without a KB/M set up.

But hey good luck with that , they might find their audience by streamlining the experience.

grenadehh
grenadehh

How about you work on balancing COH2 first. Also - this is why SmartGlass is a good thing. Except that you're looking at the tablet and not the TV, so it's silly.  Even with Kinect selecting individual units would be undoable. What you could do......kb/m support, just saying.

brande77
brande77

There have been various RTS on console over the years, the main problem imo is not the gamepad, but the type of player behind the gamepad. RTS can't compare with the madden/dude bro shooter market.

DefconRave
DefconRave

If they allow to pause during combat to issue orders, it could work. Wouldn't be pure RTS anymore though.

barleybosh
barleybosh

Company of Heroes would play great on console because of Squad Control, and the Unit Cap.


However, selecting individual small units like in Command & Conquer 3 is a pain in the ass, but not so much a pain in the ass that I wouldn't have fun playing the game.


Also, there is something charming about being able to go head to head with someone who is also on a controller.  It's still fun to not be ultra competitive, you know.  I remember playing my first one on one match in a 2 player small arena, and we were both noobs and it was damn fun.

Barighm
Barighm

Don't know why they always say they don't work. I thought C&C played just fine on my Saturn and PSX, and Halo Wars was pretty good. Do they mean sales wise? Well, that's probably not a controls issue.

pa_amb_tomaquet
pa_amb_tomaquet

that is a genre you don't see on counsels too much unfortunately.  I really think command and conquer 3 did a good job porting it onto ps3. I also have warcraft 2 on the ps1, it was also easy to play. I hope there is more future for RTS on Playstation 4.


Zloth2
Zloth2

I don't know, it scares me a bit when he talks about how 'some things will have to change.'  If this works out then those things WILL change for all RTS games in the future.  Because, if you don't, you can't sell it on console and you leave millions on the table.

On the other hand, we barely see any RTS games now because they are impossible to do on console.

So, would it be better to have lots of games but with "some changes" or would it be better to have fewer games but without these changes?

monstachruck
monstachruck

do it do it do it PLEASE do it!  I would love to play an RTS in the spirit of End War or something similar on the Xbox One!

Freedomination
Freedomination

Its one genre where the nintendo controller might be useful. Not that i expect anyone to actually make an RTS for nintendo

oflow
oflow

Maybe actually getting the Kinect to work to control RTS games would be a good use for it?

oflow
oflow

Please make it happen Relic.

007nikster5
007nikster5

Time to hear PC players bitch and whine!! Strap in!

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

RTS has a pretty definite formula, but there is no reason why a real-time, strategy game has to depend on KB-M interface. I've always felt direct control of individual units has very little to do with strategy; it's appeal lies elsewhere. By streamlining controls away from micromanagement, I can envision games that have more strategy and less management. If this is what Duffy is talking about, I'd be very excited.

Matcam89
Matcam89

The command and conquer as well as the Halo Wars games worked well on console. I only really disliked the low unit counts.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I am both intrigued and worried. Relic may have a previously unexplored but interesting idea, but I don't want RTS games to lose their finesse because they need to fit whatever restraints the controller adds.

Darth_Aloysius
Darth_Aloysius

This has reminded me of just how terrible Supreme Commander II was on console...

High-Res
High-Res

The solution is to pack the Game with a Mouse & Keyboard that works with the game! If Atlus can afford to pack games with 50 Page collectible art books than surely someone can find a Mouse & Keyboard combo for like 8 bucks!

DarkJedi8_basic
DarkJedi8_basic

Battle for Middle Earth 2 was actually pretty decent with a controller.  I enjoyed the hella out if it.  That was the exception to the rule. Most of the posters are correct, can't beat a KB & Mouse for an RTS,

jeager_titan
jeager_titan

Controllers and RTS? no. just no. Still hopeful for the steam controller to fill the gap.

Kunakai
Kunakai

I'm still confuddled as to why the heck they haven't just implemented mouse/keyboard support on consoles, even if only for select games/genres. The Kinect could have potential for managing battlefields too. 

3dmatrixgamer
3dmatrixgamer

@Ervaine and the disaster had been happened back a decade ago when Blizzard ported StarCraft on N64. Lol

vampyricxx
vampyricxx

You can use mouse and keyboard on ps4 for dc universe online. So I'm sure it could be allowed

vampyricxx
vampyricxx

I thought supreme commander 2 did an awesome job on the 360. The graphics and unit count were lowered but the controls were smooth and surprisingly good

burtonboy05
burtonboy05

@oflow That was my thought too, perhaps voice recognition? Using the screen as camera to point at various points on the screen? Who knows but I'd be most interested.

Kickable
Kickable

@007nikster5 PC fanboys you mean.  just like there's console players, and then console fanboys like you.

Zloth2
Zloth2

@Unfallen_Satan  I don't think it's the individual units that are the problem - it's selecting multiple units.  You need an accurate pointer to be able to rubber band a bunch of units or control-click them.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@Matcam89 I seem to remember an earlier Red Alert game on PS1. Was any C&C games directly ported to consoles? I just watched a Halo Wars gameplay video, I like the work they put in to streamline the controls.

oflow
oflow

@jeager_titan Worked for EndWar and RUSE so I dont really see why people think its that big a deal.

buzzmac
buzzmac

@Kunakai because then the Console would become a cheap PC and that would hurt both Sony and Microsoft's profits on their regular PC business.


If the damned voice command on any of the systems worked flawlessly, it would be most natural to have real time strategy with the controller being conversations with advisers and generals and barking commands at them. But none of the current implementations of voice command are good enough to be used that way.

monstachruck
monstachruck

@Kunakai If you haven't tried Tom Clancy's Endwar for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, I highly recommend it if you want to try a pretty well-developed strategy game for console.  It utilizes a very tuned-in  voice command system that would be brilliant if implemented with the kinect.

High-Res
High-Res

@Kunakai The XBOX & Ps3 Pick them up, they work for typing and stuff. I think they just need to make it XBOX Compatible (I.e. one of the Green Lights Syncs for Keyboard , One green Light Sync for mouse). Maybe the console makers are afraid if they did this and enough Publisher's put support in their software they wouldn;t be able to sell so many $60.00 controllers? I dunno, it befuddles me.

007nikster5
007nikster5

@Kickable @007nikster5 woah speak for yourself. Want me to send you the specs to the PC I built? I don't remember the last time I played my consoles. Just saying PC players like to bitch. like you

grove12345
grove12345

@Zloth2 @Unfallen_Satan nope. you dont need any pointer with a console RTS. in fact get rid of the pointers. Console RTS should shy away from KBM configs

Kickable
Kickable

@007nikster5 @Kickable well you sound like a console fanboy.  they often say dumb sh.t like you do.  it's petty fanboys that do the bitching over things like this, no one else.

007nikster5
007nikster5

@Kickable HAHA its funny how much i agree with you. So what is your point in all of this? I was just saying to prepare for fanboys to bitch and whine and here we are lol. Good one!