Star Wars: Empire at War
Author: Stevie Smith
LucasArts and Petroglyph are shaping up to bring us quite possibly one of the best real-time PC strategy titles seen since, well, the likes of Command & Conquer. A mighty claim, but with developers Petroglyph packing ex-Westwood crew, who are we to say that this isn’t a distinct possibility? We’re GamersHell, you’re curious, and LucasArts are prepared to give up the info. Let’s talk Star Wars: Empire at War.
1) Hi Dave, before we start things off, can you first tell our readers who you are and outline your role in the Star Wars: Empire at War project?
Hello, I’m Dave Silverstein, the assistant producer on Star Wars: Empire at War.
2) Developers Petroglyph consists of many ex-Westwood employees, how have their prior experiences with the likes of seminal classic Command & Conquer helped shape and mould the emergence of Empire at War?
Having worked on the C&C and Red Alert series has been of tremendous help with developing Star Wars: Empire at War. First, it allows Petroglyph to avoid repeating mistakes or taking the wrong approach to solving a problem since they’ve already dealt with the issue before and know what works and what doesn't. Secondly, developing Empire at War let them start afresh without having to deal with legacy code. This combination of game development experience combined with the freedom to create the game from scratch is very powerful. And, most importantly, Petroglyph is passionate about RTS gaming and greatly enjoys Star Wars. Combined, these serve to mold the development for Empire at War.
3) The Star Wars gaming franchise has produced a distinctly hit-and-miss track record over the years, though more recently titles such as KotOR and Battlegrounds have certainly weighed in as big hits. What will Empire at War offer players to successfully raise it above its Star Wars brethren and the gaming industry as a whole?
We certainly want Empire at War to be a hit! Our game has many great things to offer and yet will be open and accessible to a wide audience of game players. Some of our unique features are discussed below and others in later questions.
Empire at War has what we call a persistent universe. The galaxy is shaped around the actions you choose to take in your conquests, and you can go into battle with whatever forces you build. Those forces will be with you for the duration of the game until you lose them.
We are also making the game more appealing to a wider audience. Strategy games can be hard for a lot of people to deal with because there are too many things to remember, keep track of, learn, and do before the player can get to the action of the game. Empire at War allows the player to much more quickly build up their economy, bases and forces so they can get into combat faster and be able to have more fun.
We also have over 40 planets in the game to fight over, a variety of ships, units, heroes and vehicles to choose from, space and land combat, and much, much more!
4) A certain scaled yet husky-voiced Darth Vader appears on the sample movies for the game, can you indicate at which point in the Star Wars timeline Empire at War will be set?
The game begins a few years prior to the start of Episode IV, continuing through to the events of the movie.
5) Also, with the inclusion of the revered asthmatic galactic villain, and also that of hermit-loving Obi-Wan, can we expect to enjoy the appearances of any other classic Star Wars characters throughout the game?
Certainly, but stay tuned—we’re not revealing which ones just yet.
6) Depending on which side a player chooses to adopt, be that either Rebel Alliance or the Empire, would you outline the general mission objectives for each on a given in-game scenario?
Generally, RTS games take the player through a linear path in the storyline going from mission 1 to mission 2 to mission 3, etc. We have more of an “open sandbox” style of play. What this means is that you are actually playing through the story in any manner you choose. Basically, as missions are presented, you get to choose which ones to take and when to do them. Some missions and major events are designed to help you stay on track, keep you engaged and moving through the story (we don’t want players to get lost in the sandbox!), while others can be done at your discretion and may help you out along the way. But you don’t need to do all of them in order to win.
7) The game’s progressive RTS interface will not see players relying on the more traditional resource management approach, but rather it will have them evolving through the securing of planetary trade routes. Would you elaborate on this for us?
Well we’ve done away with the tedious “droids chopping down lumber” approach we used in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. That is not to say we’ve done away with resource management; in fact, Empire at War offers a ton of gameplay depth to explore in many different ways.
In a typical game session, you will need to manage your income and expenditures of galactic credits as you expand throughout the galaxy. These credits are provided mainly through planets under your control. On a more basic level, the more planets you own, the more income you will get to use to purchase new things like X-wings or Star Destroyers.
If you’re really into economic gain, we have that covered too! Each planet provides different levels of income and has certain advantages or disadvantages depending on which side you’re playing. Trade routes might modify the amount of income, too. There are also other ways to get credits in the game that can really make a difference in how you expand the influence and control of the Empire or Rebel Alliance throughout the galaxy.
8) Using the likes of Darth and Obi-Wan as selected hero units sounds eminently cool, but how exactly will they substantially influence on-screen events when, after all, they are still but a single unit amid a massive conflict?
Heroes will affect the battles as much or as little as you choose. Heroes have different abilities and can contribute to combat or your economy in different ways. Some heroes might help increase economic gain when stationed at certain planets or fighting in space or on the ground. They might make certain types of troops more effective when they are present in a battle as well. Each hero contributes differently, and you choose which heroes you want to bring into battle and when to use them.
9) Are there any plans to port the game over to the console platforms, or will Empire at War remain a PC exclusive title?
There are currently no plans to port SW EAW to consoles at this time. However, we’re still investigating our options.
10) Shameless plug time: In fifty words or less, outline to GamersHell’s readers exactly why they should opt for Empire at War over other incoming RTS titles?
Where else can you use the Death Star to blow up planets?
Well, that’s my money on the table!
Many thanks to Dave Silverstein for filling in the gaps so thoroughly regarding the onrushing arrival of Star Wars: Empire at War. It promises much, it presently looks as though it could deliver, and people do love Star Wars. It’s one to watch out for.
I’m so proud of myself here. A whole article and not one cheesy Star Wars quote. Impressive…most impressive. Doh!
Stay tuned to GamersHell.com for our in-depth review