Dune 2000: Behind the Scenes

Six years is a long time to wait. Can the update of the RTS classic Dune II possibly measure up? The new title's producer tells us what he knows.

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Dune II arguably established the real-time strategy genre back when it was released in 1992. Well, Westwood is giving the franchise another whirl with the spring release of Dune 2000 - an update of the classic title.

GameSpot News spoke with Dune 2000's producer Lewis Peterson to find out what went through the team's mind when it confronted the challenge of an update.

GameSpot News: Is Dune 2000 planned as an update to the original Dune II (the same game incorporating today's technology) or as a whole new game?Lewis Peterson: A little bit of both! Our intention with Dune 2000 was to take the classic hit Dune 2 and update it for the new millennium, taking full advantage of the many technological advances since its release in 1992. We wanted to preserve the gameplay experience that caused people to fall in love with Dune 2, while at the same time allowing both old fans and a new generation to enjoy this experience through an entirely new lens, if you will. GSN: What new additions from the Dune novels or movie can we expect to see? Peterson: With Dune 2000, we've gone to great lengths in the mission briefings and cutscenes to bring the player into the Dune universe. Every member of the team is a fanatical Dune fan of both the movie and the books. (We had continual debates about points of accuracy as we went through the game and scripted the movies - what is the correct interpretation of Shai Hulud?) Dune 2000 (like its predecessor) doesn't follow the story of Paul Atreides, but rather describes a conflict set in the Dune universe. GSN: The setting of Arrakis is limited considering most RTS games now contain several kinds of background tile sets. How do you intend to diversify the look of the different missions?Peterson: I strongly disagree that the setting of Arrakis is limited. I think that Arrakis is the ideal setting for an RTS. The setting of Dune 2000 is incredibly diverse, even though it takes place on a desert planet and there is technically only one terrain set. We've taken advantage of this to create an extremely rich tile set full of unique tiles, incredible details, and photo-realistic looks and feels. The result is a recreation of the Dune environment that people will want to spend a lot of time with, exploring all the subtleties we've worked into the terrain. GSN: Dune 2 featured three playable sides whose differences were most apparent late in the game when the technology trees were made fully available. Will Dune 2000 further differentiate the three sides or keep them mostly similar as before?Peterson: We have preserved the same units as Dune 2, so much of the feel of the way the houses play will be similar. Each side shares a number of common units; however, we have implemented a slightly more complicated combat model to give us additional variables we can play with to balance the houses and allow them to feel different

We didn't want to interfere with how the original product played. GSN: Will the game use an existing graphics engine, a unique graphics engine, or share the engine of C&C2: Tiberian Sun?Peterson: We created a brand new engine for Dune 2000. Obviously, we used the experience we gained in creating C&C and Red Alert, but we wanted to make sure that Dune didn't feel like we were simply taking the C&C engine and slapping new graphics sounds in to create Dune. The entire team working on the project is very passionate about the original product and the Dune universe, so we wanted to make sure we did all we could to make this product special. GSN: Since Dune 2000 will contain three sides rather than two, balancing will be difficult. How will you achieve balance and multiplayer stability?Peterson: Very carefully - attention to how we are setting up the strengths of each side and lots of play balancing. The bottom line is, we won't release it until we feel confident that there will not only be a good balance between the three sides, but also that there is not a dominant strategy that can be exploited by people.

GSN: Besides its obvious retro appeal, what will make this game compelling in an already overcrowded RTS market?Peterson: A few things....The Dune universe is such a fantastic setting - it is a wonderful world to create and we know that people will have a great time immersing themselves in this compelling universe. One of the strengths of Dune 2000 will be its simplicity. While many games are relying on more and more units, and faster and faster gameplay, Dune 2000 remains a pure strategy game. Two words - carryalls and sandworms!

GSN: Thanks Lewis.

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