World in Conflict Exclusive Q&A - Details on Multiplayer and Working With Larry Bond

Massive Entertainment president Martin Walfisz gives us an update on this upcoming Cold War real-time strategy game in which the US and the Soviet Union go to war.

The Cold War--the arms race that began after World War II and endured for decades--is a rich setting for strategy games. And developer Massive Entertainment, the creator of the Ground Control series, is now working on World in Conflict, a strategy game that suggests what might have happened if the Cold War had gotten hot. The game will let you control the forces of the Soviet Union or the United States in a fictional war for global supremacy during the 1980s. You'll control appropriate weapons and vehicles from that time period on the realistic battlefields in fast-paced, competitive matches by commanding forces with a "specialization" in a specific combat role, such as infantry, armor, or aircraft. In fact, this class-based gameplay will carry over to World in Conflict's online multiplayer modes, which will let you approach the game in much the same way as you would a class-based multiplayer shooter like Battlefield 2. The game doesn't come out until next year, so for the latest details, we checked in with Martin Walfisz, founder and president of developer Massive Entertainment.

GameSpot: Give us an update on the game's development. What aspects of the game is the team working on now?

Martin Walfisz: The game has been in production for about 18 months now. We still have some way to go, but everything is shaping up very nicely.

You'll fight vicious land and air battles in World in Conflict.

From the start, we focused on getting multiplayer right, and it is now very fun and very intense, just the way we want it. There is obviously still some work being done on this side of the game. New features, more game modes, and so on, but presently our focus is on making the single-player experience just as rewarding. A majority of the team is now fine-tuning the story, implementing the campaign flow, and creating all the single-player missions. The single-player campaign is all about taking the player through a range of emotions and experiences. When we see our game testers getting goose bumps and shivers of excitement, we know that we're on the right track. War is truly coming home, and it's a very chilling experience.

GS: Given that the game lets players choose to play with different "specializations," such as airpower, infantry, or armor, how would you say they match up to different personalities of strategy game players? For instance, is choosing the air specialization, which can quickly fan out and cover the entire map, ideal for players who prefer early-game "rushing"? Does the support role seem better suited for defensive players who prefer to "turtle" by hanging back from the action?

MW: The different roles will definitely attract different kinds of players. As you say, air specialization is more attack focused, whereas the support role is in some ways more defensive. However, I don't believe that we can yet typecast players into a specific role. A system like this has never been done in a real-time strategy game before, and I think that, for example, we will see players who tend to play more defensively in traditional real-time strategy games suddenly find themselves craving the action rush of the more fast-paced roles, and vice versa.

GS: For that matter, tell us about who World in Conflict will specifically appeal to, and how. We understand that real-time strategy veterans and multiplayer fanatics will be drawn to the game's intensely competitive gameplay, for example, but how, if at all, will it appeal to beginners or to fans of single-player games?

MW: Well, single-player fans should know that we have a truly fascinating single-player experience in store. We will keep it under wraps for a little while longer, but it will be worth the wait.

Good teamwork and smart tactics can lead to heart-warming scenes like these.

As for real-time strategy beginners, I think that World in Conflict is the kind of strategy game that is easy to learn but hard to master. In our play-test sessions with people outside of the company, such players get the basics of the game within minutes. And then, after some more play time, they suddenly start to realize the tactical depth and the team-play aspects. Seeing a four-man team of new players first working individually, and then after a couple of 20-minute matches realizing that the key is to fight collaboratively, is very rewarding.

GS: We were told earlier this year that the details of the single-player game were being kept under wraps. What can you tell us about it at this point? Any new insights into the story behind the conflict or the theaters of war in which the game will take place that we can talk about at this time?

MW: Unfortunately, we're still not revealing much about single-player. A large part of the missions take place on American soil with Russians fighting US troops. But other parts of the game will be played in other locations. The story is written in collaboration with Cold War specialist and author Larry Bond, so we've gone to great lengths to ensure that all story and political events are plausible.

Arms Race

GS: We understand that the idea behind the game is to get players to jump in and get playing as soon as possible, even midmatch. How has the team been building the game to provide as little barrier to entry as possible? Streamlined interfaces? Special network code?

The developer is focused on making multiplayer matches easy to get into and easy to schedule.

MW: The multiplayer experience is definitely built to support both short and long gaming sessions. Sometimes you only have 20 minutes to play during lunch, so a very important part of Massgate (our proprietary online matchmaking and community system) has been to simplify and speed up the time from launching the game to actually playing on a map. I timed it a while ago, and it took 37 seconds to start the game, log in to Massgate, find a suitable server (through our automatch system), and then start playing, including map loading times. It will take a little while longer if you want to browse through the server list, but with the help of our extensive "friends functionality" (where you can join the same server your friend is playing on), it should never take more than a minute or two to get playing on the server you want.

GS: Any plans to implement any specific options to make multiplayer games easier to coordinate, such as some kind of voice-over-IP chat support?

MW: You bet! One of the keystones of World in Conflict is to encourage and fully support team play, so we have devised a multitude of features to assist teams and clans to fight well together. Without revealing too much detail, I can say that we have four main tools to support this. First, in-game chat, but it also works during load screens! Second, built-in VoIP support that can be fully configured from within the game. Third, intention-based communication tools--for instance, you will be able to understand what your teammates are intending to do without them saying or writing it. And then there's a request system so that you can rapidly ask your teammates for help or give strategic advice. In short, we're doing everything we can to make it easier for teams to coordinate their battles.

GS: How is the gameplay itself shaping up? Give us a rundown of a typical World in Conflict match. Does it always begin with recon and slow buildup of tactical points to commission the highest-level tactical aids, or can players actually succeed by continuously burning through their points to keep the pressure on (or go out in a blaze of glory)? How long does a typical multiplayer match take?

MW: There is never a slow moment in World in Conflict, and the tactics vary as much as gamers do. Some use a very aggressive style, spending all their tactical points early to bring down painful attacks on their opponents, all over the map. This can put them solidly in control of the map. Others play defensively and retreat slowly, seemingly losing ground while they may in fact be saving up for a massive comeback, spearheaded by the tactical nuke. Once it is deployed (with skill and timing), it can initiate a chain of events that turns a whole match around, even very late in the game.

Players can set the match time themselves, so the length of a typical match is up to individual taste. We mostly play 20-minute matches, because by then, everything on the map is typically blown to pieces and the world is on fire.

GS: Given recent developments internationally, especially recent reports of nuclear testing in the world, does the team have any ongoing or new concerns about the game's content, such as the ability to drop tactical nukes on your opponents? Any plans to present this aspect of the game differently, or at least, more carefully?

The battle begins in 2007.

MW: World in Conflict presents a plausible late-1980s "what if?" scenario based on the tension between the US and the USSR. Most people don't realize or remember it today, but during the Cold War, the world was very close to a full-scale war on several occasions. Although recent world events have increased the focus on nuclear weapons, we don't feel that it should affect how we present the history as it was back then. World in Conflict is designed with a lot of care--we work hard not to portray either side as specifically "evil" or "heroic"--but the fact is that the superpowers in the 1980s had nuclear weapons and would have used them if the circumstances dictated that it was necessary. We are not saying that it would have been a good idea.

GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about World in Conflict?

MW: Well, we're having so much fun playing World in Conflict in the office, and I can't wait to hear what everyone else says when they get a chance to try it. We will be showing it at various events later this year, so everyone is invited to come and have a play. Hope to see you there!

GS: Thank you, Martin.

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Discussion

48 comments
reddog832
reddog832

So as far as the single player game goes we dont know we'll just tag something on to the multiplayer bit like everyone else. The usual rubbish. The best RTS is stil dawn of War and its kids

shaunefox
shaunefox

There will be two big RTS games coming out next year Command and Conquer 3: Tiberian Wars and World In Conflict both games look awesome

TruB
TruB

intresting thing is.. dice who made bf2 is swedish.. massive entertainment is also swedish.. im not saying they are all alike.. im just saying they both look good ;)

mach-stem
mach-stem

I'm damn excited for this damn game...I hope it doesn't let me down. I hope I'll be able to fly in FPS, take control of a HIND or Apache, or do random bomber fly bys.. Mmmm, bombing! PEACE

muscrat_01
muscrat_01

Rusy is right, though it tries to turn BF2 multiplayer into an RTS experience; very quick, and tactical ect. Kinda reminds me of CoH. Cant wait to use nukes on enemy control points.

pitosga
pitosga

Doesn't look bad at all. A shame it takes in the 80s, though. I hate the 80s... and the 60s and 70s, for that matter. Just... ugly times. But anyway, this isn't without precedent. For a Cold War gone hot RTS we've got C&C Red Alert, for example. Mighty good game, at the time.

Rusty2004
Rusty2004

hikiera, it's a RTS not an FPS, so it can't be a ripp off. Sorry move along troll.

popdude338
popdude338

i loved ground control 2 can't wait for this one!

Hikiera
Hikiera

Looks like a Battlefield 2 rip-off to me! Not saying it won't be fun to play but... I'll wait until it comes out first.

freek33
freek33

The trailer came out months ago and looked amazing. Very suprised so many of you have not heard of this game.

_Sam_
_Sam_

I don't remember reading anything about this game before. it looks good

VUG-Greg
VUG-Greg

Working for a video game company is always cool. Then when you get to play a game like this it becomes really really cool.

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

Another great strategy game is coming in 2007 (after Supreme Commander). Strategy fans should be thrilled!

princegee4
princegee4

wow great man.i just can not wait to put my hands on it.this is assome.

buzzguy
buzzguy

Can't wait to see what kind of toys, er weapons they will let us use? Air-mobile weapons like Sheridans and paratroopers? Oh yeah! Great time period to play this type of game in...can't wait to see how this one shapes up! Requirements?

MSV-Ghost
MSV-Ghost

Every object, building, unit and prop on the maps can be destroyed. This includes houses, bridges, forests, fences etc. So, basically you can burn down the woods with napalm, blow up the bridges with artillery etc Best regards // Ghost

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

this game looks good, dare i say great, the visuals are awsome, the onlline teamplay looks rock solid, i wonder what the AI support will play like, i'm a huge fan of co op and am very interested. the levels look great, i'm wondering as to the destructibility of them, after company of heroes i need everything to blow up, the particle effects look awsome. the battles look great. this and TC are my reason to go vista and upgrade. hope this will have dual screen support. that would be very nice. SimmySamSam you have no idea what you are talking about fool. i'd like to see a dev struggle to program a decent rts game on the cells it's not worth their time. i love that some one saw that people liked the ground control games, and we want more better quality titles along those lines. i hope this game aviods that games pathfinding glitches.

Bavoke
Bavoke

looks cool :D Bavoke 8)

latin3030
latin3030

I like the "no base" building concept.

Caedus
Caedus

How are they implanting the nukes? I mean, if the USA and the USSR really would've squared off, we probably wouldn't be sitting here: it would be hard to find a spot on this earth that isn't highly radioactive.

refugee0116
refugee0116

A nice game. What will happen if the Cold War turn into hot ?

Zevy
Zevy

Looks very good, with some really nice explosions! Good interview.

X_Killer
X_Killer

After long time we can have good strerategy game

Karl319
Karl319

"SimmySamSam I love rts's but no madder how much you change the weapons or maps it is kind of the same stuff. what companies should do is go to the new platforms like PS3, with mouse and keyboard connection, or Wii with the wii-mote. they would work great. sorry Xbox 360, your not next gen enough..." Friggin fanboys... you make kitty scared, and me sad.

talnick
talnick

i would really like to play this game because it has a what if scenario and i like that. On another note i wish ea would make a red alert 3 god i love that series.

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

Bond, Larry, Bond, yeah like he hasn't heard of that before. this game looks cool, hopefully it'll be cool and we can use a lot of mayhem. Now, let there be Dragons!

SimmySamSam
SimmySamSam

I love rts's but no madder how much you change the weapons or maps it is kind of the same stuff. what companies should do is go to the new platforms like PS3, with mouse and keyboard connection, or Wii with the wii-mote. they would work great. sorry Xbox 360, your not next gen enough...

Dragonstring11
Dragonstring11

Wow, and i thought J.T.F. looked cool (at least until it came out) but this blows it out of the water! Move over CoH!

trusteft
trusteft

Wow, it sure seems like the single player part of the game will suck. I predict 8-12 missions that will be "exciting" , "original", "set to prepare you for the real fighting that takes place online" etc. total let down incoming.

Turisman4
Turisman4

It seems that alternate history games are coming back strong.

Ol_skool_Gamer
Ol_skool_Gamer

Show the rest of the world what swedes can do Massive!

The_General2000
The_General2000

This game is exploring a far more unique setting than COH, on a larger scale, with a greater level of realism. Don't get me wrong, I like COH, but this just seems like it'll be better. I can't wait.

Thorpe89
Thorpe89

Hopefully it will turn out good. ;)

BounceDK
BounceDK

These guys make killer rts games, I'm sure this one will be pretty darn cool too.

Quandry
Quandry

Still anticipating the demo for this. I hope this really stands out among the rts games.

_TheMuse_
_TheMuse_

And now you just triple posted. And no, you didn't even get first. Way to fail at the internet.

dbcruise
dbcruise

Double-post, : ( but still got first.

dbcruise
dbcruise

Hehe, play as the soviets. AKA be poor then have your communist supergiant crumble under its sh^t goverment.

dbcruise
dbcruise

Hehe, play as the soviets. AKA be poor then have your communist supergiant crumble under its sh^t goverment.

_TheMuse_
_TheMuse_

Never been done before? Sorry, but this sounds kind of similar to CoH in what they are doing. And besides that, it just sounds like a generic RTS :/