Q&A: EALA commands and conquers the 360

Senior producer Mike Glosecki debriefs GameSpot about bringing the acclaimed strategy series to Microsoft's new console.

While the Wii and PlayStation 3 launches hogged headlines last week, another next-gen console was also the subject of some major news. On November 16, Electronic Arts announced that Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars, already announced for the PC, is in development for the Xbox 360.

The announcement made waves, because C&C is one of the most storied series in the real-time strategy genre. It has also, with the exception of a few last-generation console ports, been primarily a PC franchise. Some have taken the 360 version as another harbinger of doom for PC gaming, while others have assumed it is merely an attempt by EA to cash in on the rising popularity of the next-gen platform.

To Mike Glosecki, the senior producer of Command & Conquer 3, the reason for the 360 C&C3 is simple--it will further prove that RTS games on consoles aren't just feasible but are actually fun. This was the approach taken by EA's Los Angeles studio when it brought The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II to the 360 in July. While the critically acclaimed game hasn't been a runaway success--selling less than 150,000 copies as of the end of September--it has done well enough to convince EALA that an Xbox 360 C&C3 is a good idea. Glosecki talked with GameSpot about the process of bringing the famous franchise to a next-generation console.

GameSpot: So what motivated you to bring the Command & Conquer franchise to the Xbox 360?

Mike Glosecki: We paved the way for Command & Conquer (C&C) with our recent release of The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II on the Xbox 360, which was widely acknowledged as the first "RTS on console done right." Our innovative new control system made the RTS experience accessible to a whole new audience. Now it's time to build on that foundation with Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars (C&C3). With its fast, fluid, and fun RTS gameplay, C&C3 is a natural for the console. We're improving everything about the console RTS experience. We've made the control system considerably more accessible and powerful, improved frame rate, eliminated lags and hitches, pumped up the graphics, and upgraded the underlying technology in a number of other ways.

For those that aren't familiar with C&C, it's worth a quick introduction to the franchise and the game: C&C is about controlling large armies of futuristic tanks, aircraft, and infantry on the battlefields of the future. The series is known for fast-action strategy gameplay, a great single-player campaign with a rich story, and terrific online multiplayer. C&C3 offers all of that and more.

GS: When can we expect to see the game on store shelves?

MG: The game will be released in 2007.

GS: How will the console version differ from the PC version? Just in the controls?

MG: I'll start with an overview of the game, then discuss some of the differences between PC and console.

C&C3 is set in a dark future where tiberium--a toxic self-replicating crystal of alien origin--is slowing taking over the Earth. Tiberium is both a gift and a curse. It is the ultimate resource, solving all of humanity's energy problems. But it is also the worst ecological catastrophe in history. It has been the catalyst for a series of devastating world wars that split the human race into two powerful factions: The Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod (Nod). GDI is an alliance of advanced nations similar to the UN of today, while Nod is a virulent new form of superpower--a stateless hybrid of terrorist organization, religion, and corporation.

When you fire up C&C3, you'll get to play as GDI, Nod, or the yet-to-be-revealed third faction in the epic single-player campaign or in Xbox Live multiplayer matches. You'll get to build and control large armies made up of high-tech soldiers, tanks, and aircraft. You'll fight epic battles in a variety of cool settings. In order to win, you must harvest tiberium, using it to construct sprawling bases that in turn produce troops and vehicles. You must build up the most powerful army that you can and then use it to crush your enemies. All of this happens in a fast and fluid real-time environment in which your opponents are also building up their armies and constantly attack you. It is the ultimate high-energy RTS and is extremely addictive to play.

The story is told through full-motion video sequences (a combination of live action and CG) and is woven into every aspect of the single-player campaign--in-mission objectives, conversations you overhear on the battlefield, intelligence database entries that flesh out the gameworld, and other ways as well.

All of this is common to both PC and console. For console specifically, we have the new controls and game UI. We'll also be introducing some new multiplayer game modes--conquer, siege, and capture the flag. In conquer mode, you build your armies up to a set point limit before the game starts and then defeat your opponent in a "no reinforcements" fight to the death. Siege is a "turtling" mode where a wall of energy is put up between the players that keeps them from attacking each other for the first five minutes of gameplay. Capture the flag features a flag hidden in the middle of the map, and each team that returns the flag to their base gets a point, with the winner being the first player to five points.

We'll also be bringing back a couple of great modes from The Battle for Middle-earth II--capture & hold and king of the hill. Capture & hold is a Battlefield style of play in which there are five points in the map, and the team that controls those points for the longest period of time is the winner. King of the hill features one point to hold in the middle of the map. This makes for some very intense fighting and was one of our most popular modes from The Battle for Middle-earth II.

GS: What's planned for the multiplayer portion of the game?

MG: In addition to the new multiplayer modes described above, we will also be implementing support for the Xbox 360 vision camera. This is a cool new video chat system that launched on Xbox 360 in September. You'll be able to look into the eyes of your opponents before a match--in the game lobby--and then see and talk to them as you are playing the game itself. You'll also get to experience our cool new "winner's circle" feature. At the end of a match, the winner gets his own central video window to tell you how badly he just dominated you. This provides extra incentive to win.

GS: What's the single biggest challenge when bringing a PC RTS to a console?

MG: Up to this year, there was no question that the controls were the biggest challenge. We believe we've met that challenge with the console control system for The Battle for Middle-earth II. Our big challenge moving forward with C&C3 is to refine those controls based on our own observations and on user feedback, to really evolve them into the best RTS controls. We've been successful thus far by finding ways to not only improve the controls, like our shortcut systems, but by also improving the responsiveness of the controls. These improvements are already in the game today and will only get better was we approach launch next year.

GS: Many game-industry watchers figured that EALA would bring C&C3 to the 360 only if its first 360 real-time strategy title, The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II, did well on the console. According to the NPD Group, the 360 BFMEII sold just under 150,000 copies as of the end of September. Is that considered a success?

MG: There is a tremendous audience for both The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II and C&C worldwide. The Battle for Middle-earth II received various press accolades and favorable reviews, and we were pleased overall with the consumer response. Notably, The Battle for Middle-earth II was number three on the charts for Xbox 360 in the month it shipped and is still in the top 25 overall for the platform year to date in North America.

Given this, we believe that strategy games have a place on the Xbox 360, and the genre will continue to grow on all next-gen systems in the coming years.

GS: Many PC purists feel that there's no place for real-time strategy games on a console. How would you respond to those charges?

MG: I started as a skeptic but became an instant convert when [EALA vice president of creative development] Louis Castle first showed me the new control system. The system actually made sense and was easy to pick up and use. Now, looking back at the finished product, The Battle for Middle-earth II, I believe that we've proven that there is a place for RTS games on console. For those that are still skeptical, I say go out and try playing The Battle for Middle-earth II on the Xbox 360 by downloading the free demo that we have on Xbox Live Marketplace.

GS: Previous attempts to bring RTS games to consoles have fared poorly. Why do you think C&C3 will succeed where others have failed?

MG: I believe that we will succeed mainly because of our focus on making a control system that is both easy to pick up and use and one that feels native to the console system. We are not trying to emulate a mouse and keyboard on the Xbox 360; rather, we are focused on innovating how you access and give orders to your units and structures.

GS: Do you feel that, given the processing power of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, more real-time strategy games will be ported to next-generation consoles than before?

MG: Absolutely. I think that we've opened the door for many developers by showing that it can be done and done well. There certainly are no real hardware barriers; both systems are capable of running a very rich-looking and terrific-playing high-end RTS game.

GS: Why do you think Microsoft won't support 360 gameplay with a keyboard peripheral? Wouldn't that make things easier for both developers and players?

MG: I can't answer for Microsoft, but from my perspective, it is the right decision to stay with the controller for console games. Our game is designed to be played in your living room, and I don't think the keyboard is part of that experience. Our team strongly believes that the console controls are easier to pick up and learn for new players and that an experienced player could play as well as or better than a player using the keyboard. You also get some control advantages with the Xbox 360 version. Rotating the camera, for example, is so easy to do on the console version that you find people doing it all the time to get the best view of their army, and this key advantage becomes very noticeable in C&C3's city environments. I strongly believe that some day we will be able to play a console RTS vs. a PC RTS and that the world will be surprised when a console gamer is beating all of the best PC players.

GS: Does EALA have any plans to bring RTS games to the PlayStation 3?

MG: We currently do not have plans for a PS3 RTS game, but bringing an RTS to the PS3 is certainly a possibility in the future.

GS: Does EALA plan on consistently making RTS games for both the 360 and the PC?

MG: Determining which platforms to develop strategy games for will continue to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Many factors are taken into consideration when making this decision, and in the case of C&C3, we believe that it is a perfect fit for the Xbox 360, and we look forward to having new C&C fans as well as longtime fans experience the series on the next-gen platform.

GS: If C&C3 is a success on the console, might we see older C&C titles being made available for the 360, perhaps on Xbox Live Marketplace?

MG: I wouldn't rule out the possibility, but nothing is currently planned for this.

GS: EA seems to be very keen on releasing episodic content for its 360 games on Xbox Live Marketplace. Can we assume C&C3 will be updated by premium content?

MG: We are currently looking at the types of new content that we can provide for Xbox Live Marketplace and will keep you posted.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Did you enjoy this article?

Sign In to Upvote

66 comments
s0ck69
s0ck69

lord of the rings is an awsome game on the 360 anyone saying the control scheme doesnt work well has obviously never played it or took the time to figure it out rts games may well play better on pcs but many people are more than happy to play them on there 360 s

kujel
kujel

I bought BFME II for the 360 and thought it had the best console RTS controls I had ever seen. The story wasn't bad and the game play was just as good as any PC RTS. I am going to get C&C3 on my 360 because I know if it is for that system it will work (that is a problem I have had with PCs for years, it's so hard to be sure if it will work on your system or not). I have waited years for them to return to the Tiberium universe for years, in fact I was just commenting about I would like it if they would make another game in that universe a few weeks before I spotted the headline about it. I am so glade they got the guy who played kain before to reprise his role, no one else could do it the same, and the live action videos were a must. I also have generals which I have to say was full of anti muslim prooganda (the GLA was made out to be way worse then any real terrorest group really is, come on they don't attack their own people the fund their war on the west). I really wish they would tell us who is this new mystery group though. I hope they answer some questions from Tiberian Sun: I think kain made a deal with the Tasadis (the krystal ball with all the information), why does he want to spread Tiberium across the earth and is Tiberium an alien terraforming technique?

Lonelynight
Lonelynight

If you want to play this game go buy a Good PC (I said this because a lot of 360 owners tell me to buy a 360 if I want to play games like saints row gears of war dead rising etc etc and console fanboys says that they don't want to spend 2000$ on a pc every year but a HDTV also cost alot and a good pc doesn't require 2000$ PS screw EA

GANGSTA287
GANGSTA287

look at the little kids trying to make this into a 360 vs PS3 board....

_Sam_
_Sam_

I hope it turns out good

ramin2100
ramin2100

that was shoking news its awesome no need to upgrade ur agp monthly play C&C3 live and have fun and fun and fun..... thanx GS for this news. Necromancer R over&out

Chariot17
Chariot17

ps3 fans grow up and accept defeat this game is coming to the right system so stop hating!!!!!

mike_mgoblue
mike_mgoblue

Xbox 360 is the Best videogame console EVER!!!! I would like to thank EALA for their exclusive console support for the Xbox 360 when it comes to Real-Time Strategy games like Command & Conquer 3 and The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth. I also can't wait to play Halo Wars for the Xbox 360! 2007 is going to be a GREAT year for Real-Time Strategy games on the Xbox 360!!!!! Command & Conquer 3 and Halo Wars!!!!

Meej_Xyooj
Meej_Xyooj

yo my men!! what's the point of bringing C&C 3 to X360 anyways........ what's up with that?? X360 doesn't have the right controllers...............hell is wrong........!!!!!!!!!!!! C&C is bestest on PC...... I go with WII and PS3, i don't like X360 but i like Vista though X360 suck, it's too big.......... I prefer C&C on PC

muscrat_01
muscrat_01

:lol: Uber Micro C&C Style versus a gamepad :lol: Bah Console RTS is a joke. No modifications, paying for new maps, nasty controls. Screw C&C 3 anyway. Supreme Commander, and Medieval Total War 2 are a perfect couple.

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

the rts thing on console might take a little getting used to

trusteft
trusteft

MS, MAKE AND SELL A KEYBOARD (EVEN WITH JUST 20 KEYS OR SO) AND A MOUSE FOR THE 360! It would make the console perfect for anyone thinking about abandoning PC gaming, well, at least with me.

Bloodhawk_DX
Bloodhawk_DX

I can't wait for this title to be released! The thought of a Command and Conquer game on the X360 is just too delicious. As long as they get the controls to work smoothly I think this game will be a success. I have no pun against PC gamers but I get a kick out of how many are bombing this game just because it's on a console. Who cares!? It's also pending on PC... just get it for your PC and stop crying like a bunch of preteenagers.

sancezz
sancezz

YAY! Now my computer won't have to crash and burn when to try and run this game :D.

holycrowbar
holycrowbar

GrimBee "Do you think you will be able to play online with people playing it on a pc? As in, if i got the game, and when xbox live anywhere kicks in, could I play against someone who is playing on a pc, or an xbox 360? That would be sweet, as it would open out the potential oponents alot more" That would be pretty sweet, tho I think PC players would have an advantage of higher resolution screens (on higher end systems) and especially the mouse and keyboard control. Nothing beats having so many buttons at your disposal.

Mooshu92887
Mooshu92887

Battle for Middle Earth on the 360 was.. alright. But it still fails compared to PC RTS games. This was the "BIG" announcement EA said they were gonna make about C&C3? Don't make me laugh...

piecake
piecake

COME ON red alert is like one of my favotie games of all time and battle for middle earth was good not great on the beautiful xbox 360 i really really am looking forward to this game next year ohhh and its a shame really to the ps3 owners ahh well the choice was theirs!

XJRockcrawler
XJRockcrawler

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

colonel_j2020
colonel_j2020

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ricsuave
ricsuave

GrimBee Do you think you will be able to play online with people playing it on a pc? As in, if i got the game, and when xbox live anywhere kicks in, could I play against someone who is playing on a pc, or an xbox 360? That would be sweet, as it would open out the potential oponents alot more =========================================================== Good question. I didn't get FFXI for the 360, but were 360 players able to play with PC players on that game?

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

it would be nice to make this a live anywhere game so pc gamers could spank the console gamers, but i doubt the game will be that good, just look at generals, EA doesn't want to make a great game, just a game good enough to sell on it's own name. when was the last time EA didn't make a franchise game, yeah that's my piont they never do anything new, or dare i say great, they just bought dice so now battlefield can look forward to getting the same treatment as the C&C games, a horrible one. people seem to forget who is making this game it's not westwood one of the best devs ever.

GrimBee
GrimBee

Do you think you will be able to play online with people playing it on a pc? As in, if i got the game, and when xbox live anywhere kicks in, could I play against someone who is playing on a pc, or an xbox 360? That would be sweet, as it would open out the potential oponents alot more

muscrat_01
muscrat_01

Damn straight jehuty360 and placksheep! I recommend anyone to hookup a gamepad or 360 controller to PC, and try RTS with it. Then try saying a mouse is worse, or the console version will be a sucess. On that note hook up a gamepad to any PC FPS and give it a go. Thank the lordy lord for the KB/M

jehuty360
jehuty360

ah excellent, EA have provided themselves with a scapegoat for when they undoubtedly f**k cnc3 up!!! "development went into both versions equally and cost us the time and effort to make the pc version and overall game as good as it could have been" nice one!!

Sagacious_Tien
Sagacious_Tien

Interesting. I wouldn't mind a Pikmin style game on the Xbox 360.

placksheep
placksheep

RTS and FPS games will never control as precisely with a controller rather than a mouse keyboard combination. I don't know how many times I've read that "a controller could even work better". It's total bull crap. Your thumbs on two analog sticks pales in comparison to the range of motion possible with your entire hand on a mouse. The reality is, someone playing a RTS with a controller would get stomped by a gamer using a mouse and keyboard. Of course we'll never know for sure, since MS is too afraid to even offer the option. One day a third party hardware company (like Red Octane) will break down and make it happen, and it'll settle it once and for all.

darfvader
darfvader

w00t now i can play cnc wether if im in the living room or in the bedroom.

peyo6700
peyo6700

it s awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! now i wont neeed to buy a new video card!!! tk ea and tk to my powerfull 360 play bfte 2 its awesome its a greaaaat game

muscrat_01
muscrat_01

Yes cherrybomb257 this joint devopment has definatly killed the exitement. djtim_3000 is right on the money! Joint development of a great PC title turned multiplat kills it. Deus Ex 2 anyone? Theif 3? Here comes the 'more streamlined' aka consolised gameplay and mechanics. Screw C&C 3 People! Long live SUPREME COMMANDER!

djtim_3000
djtim_3000

I entirely agree with both Muscrat_01 and cherrybomb257. Any PC game designed with 'casual' gamers on consoles won't be able to compete with proper PC RTS's like Dawn of War, Company of Heroes, World in Conflict and Supreme Commander. And whats with dumbing down the Multiplayer for the PC version? I remeber back in the day PC only C&C had capture the flag but now its 360 only. WTF!?

cherrybomb257
cherrybomb257

Totally agree, Muscrat_01. My excitement for this game has officially gone down the toilet.

solidzman
solidzman

Command And Conquer, the rts game that started it all. cant wait

JiveT
JiveT

I remember a bunch of people loving the Red Alerts that came out for the Playstation. Its a genre a lot of console players arent familiar with at all but once they try it they get hooked. I don't like how unwieldy and confusing these games have become with the huge mass of armies like in that LOTR game. I hope this one is more like the old fashioned stuff where it was easier to figure out what was going on onscreen.

muscrat_01
muscrat_01

*spits* Thanks for nothing EA. History tells us the PC version is always strung down a notch, coutesy of the console development. Why didnt they wait to port it.

groovus
groovus

THANK YOU so much again for porting this game!!!! :) I can hardly wait....I loved BFME II on 360...and it sounds like they really are improving the formula for RTS+a controller. I just wish I could play Company of Heroes with a sweet @$$ 360 controller...that would be heaven. HEY RELIC.....port that one to 360!!!! Holy F-a-roni...would that ever PWN!

rbop
rbop

Nice. I didn't fall in love w/ the LotR RTS, but I'll give it another shot. I've always liked the C&C series. There's no way that PC RTS players will ever stop playing them on their comps, but this can bring some console users into the fold. More variety can only be a good thing for the 360... especially when the interview doesn't mention the PS3.

PSP360Gamr83
PSP360Gamr83

i cant wait i have played evey game in the C & C series, its probably the onyl reson i stilll play games on a pc. when this comes out my life would most likely be complete lol

Enterprise-E
Enterprise-E

All i can say is there bet not be so much as a glitch in the PC version since they are obviously catering to console casual more than us loyal fans. And who ever said if it sells more on the console then it is the better version is competely wrong. Most PC games that turn into a console port turn out to be nothing but a rehashed version of the PC. I have nothing agianst the console but RTS + Console = FAILURE!

avamarine
avamarine

Chubbums: "RTS game being ported from PC while the PC version is still in development as well, will have half the dev team split in two leading to a high possibility of both versions becoming lackluster." Obviously this person has never heard of Electronic Arts. Or XBox 360. Or how the XBox 360 is easier to develop for than oh, some other system that i won't mention. Or the fact that Command & Conquer is running off the same game engine as Lord Of The Rings:BFME2. Or that they will implement the same control scheme as BFME2 for the XBox 360.

VegetaMaelstrom
VegetaMaelstrom

I'm just hoping that the "yet-to-be-revealed third faction" won't end up being only available on Marketplace as a download for the 360 owners and free for the PC crowd. Considering that EA is involved, some features will be stripped from the game and offered as shady microtransactions on the day of release.

Terran499
Terran499

Just bring it to the PS3. You already got 3 C&C game sfor PS!.

mirautaj
mirautaj

'ericroadifer' Don't be silly! If the console version sells more, it must be better than the PC version. At least that's what game publishers wants you to think..

ericroadifer
ericroadifer

When will the lies end? The control scheme for a PC rts is just too robust to be effectively mapped to a controller in a way that a top console player could defeat a top pc player. The pc player has so many keyboard shortcuts that allow him to build his base, resouce gathering, and army at much quicker pace. It is like playing a platformer on the PC with the keyboard, it gets the job done but a standard controller works so much better.

erikers
erikers

williamwu1985 "this is major news? all 360 game is already on pc, stupid console. how can 360 play RTS" Wrong little kid. It's a pc game that went to 360. You act like all 360 games go to pc, when in reality it's the 360 that's taking a lot of their games FROM being PC only. And if you want to know how a 360 can play RTS then go look at the Lord of the rings RTS on 360 and read the review on the controls. That way you can get rid of your ignorance.

supergamer1289
supergamer1289

NICE, i want this game but my computer cant run it. Well, now my 360 can!