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Three Moves Ahead Episode 34 – The EndWar show

October 13th, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 7 Comments · Design, Podcast, Three Moves Ahead, Ubisoft


Ubisoft’s Michael de Plater joins us for a fanboy grilling from Tom Chick. Why EndWar worked, its relative success and why Bruce never got to actually play EndWar for very long.

Apologies in advance for Michael’s sound. His plug-in mic was not working for some reason so he talked to his laptop. Through a tin can. From the distant future. While in a submarine. Fighting robots. He’s that good.

Listen here.
RSS here.
Subscribe on iTunes.

Michael de Plater’s rap sheet
Tom’s great EndWar column
Tom’s review of Brutal Legend – yet another game he thinks is an RTS


7 Comments so far ↓

  • Primemover

    Herzog Zwei!!! A blast from the past. That game was awesome and was so far ahead of its time. It was an RTS before the term was even coined. Too bad its developer is no more, I think it would have done well if re-done today.

  • Ian Bowes (spelk)

    Enjoyed the show folks, since I’m another of Tom’s Endwar fanclub members I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the development of the game, and how it fits in to the RTS genre. Personally I’d go as far as saying its on the cutting edge of RTS on consoles, and it is clearly the way forward. A big thanks to Michael de Plater for his participation.

    However, I have to disagree with Tom on the comment that you can’t play Endwar without a headset on the console. Because that’s exactly what I did. And the gamepad controls for the game are also a major step forward in terms of usability, as much as the voice commands are. They adopt a similar style selection process as did Stormrise, but whereas Stormrise went all esoteric with Whip select, which cluttered and bogged itself down when you had many units in play at once, Endwar kept it simple and elegant, and flipping between units was a breeze, and issuing commands involved pointing the view towards an enemy icon on the screen or a checkpoint in the distance, and selecting it. It was perfectly usable, and often at times of intense combat was the preferred mechanism to issue commands.

    I played a lot of Endwar with my brother, co-operatively, in the skirmish mode, so me and him against the AI enemy. Its the way we enjoy teaming up our forces and taking on the best the AI has to offer. However, we had a communications problem, whereby we couldn’t communicate properly and issue voice commands. Theres a mike activation button you press to cut out party chat, and the voice recognition software takes the order, but for the life of me, we couldn’t get it to work. So with that disadvantage it was decided we’d still need to communicate in party chat and we’d drop the voice recog stuff, in favour of continuing with our co-op gameplay. I enjoyed the voice controls during the single player campaign, and I did miss them in our co-operative play, but they didn’t hinder our ability to play the game, and the game certainly is very playable with just the gamepad mechanism.

    So, heres where I thought Endwar let us down, the majority of my play was in co-op skirmishes against the AI, and during those you couldn’t tweak your troops, any experience they’d gain, would be lost in the next skirmish. So its nice to hear that Endwar 2 is in development, and I hope that there will be a co-operative campaign mode where we can nurture our troops TOGETHER, across missions. We played the skirmishes to death, and played the DLC maps as well, but I always felt we missed out on the unit upgrading part of the game, and I wish there was just a way to have that within the co-operative play experience. I’m not a massive competitive player, so taking my troops online against the throbbing masses of publics isn’t something I’d want to do particularly, and that seemed to be the only way to get to the unit nurturing mechanism.

    I like the slower paced, higher tactical control Endwar affords you, I like the modern realistic setting, I like the voice comms control, I like unit level perspective on the battlefield, I like the balanced combined arms mechanism and the importance of map control and additional command strike powers, plus who doesn’t enjoy the intensity that WMD’s bring to a conflict? Endwar is a terrific title, and it deserves to earn a milestone status in the evolution of the RTS genre, but on the consoles in particular.

    Halo Wars had a mention, and for me, Halo Wars exemplifies everything that is traditional and almost mundane about the RTS genre on the consoles, I think we should be moving well away from that model, and pursuing the novel designs presented in games like Endwar and Stormrise.

    Enough Endwar gushing from me also, but I’d like to throw in a bit of information about a little known game just released by Slitherine, its called History – Great Medieval Battles[1], and although its available for purchase and download for the PC at the moment, in February 2010 its due out on the consoles (Xbox 360, PS3, DS). Its a WEGO phase based tactical strategy game set in the Medieval period, but aspiring towards Total War in the graphics department. However, it plays out more like a wargame, on a map sub-divided into squares, and self contained units. It also incorporates Slitherines “Legion” RPG-like unit customisation and progression. Worth a look see, especially since it will be nice to see how it adapts for the consoles.

    [1] http://www.slitherine.com/gbm_overview

  • Paul

    I really enjoyed this episode even though I have no interest in playing End War outside of perhaps trying out voice commands. Still, highly engaging talk. It was nice to have more than two people on the ‘cast again. ;)

  • skshrews

    Great interview

    It is always interesting to hear the logic behind game design decisions.

    The voice commands issue raises the point of how improved touch screen technology and voice recognition might open new interface options for games beyond the “old” keyboard/mouse system.

  • Lizard Dude

    Sacrifice and Brütal Legend have something else in common: Tim Curry’s voice!

  • Erez

    Just wanted to mention, this isn’t on the Three-Moves-Ahead “front page”

  • Miss47

    We have a bonsai elm on our back porch. ,