First two questions
It's interesting that you chose to add vehicles in the game, since the original Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory was basically vehicle-free and came out as an excellent class-based infantry game. What were some of the risks vs. rewards you feel you took by adding vehicles to the Enemy Territory franchise? Was it a desire to satisfy player's demands that pushed the decision, or a genuine belief they'll make the game better?
We definitely believe our vehicles make ETQW better. Adding vehicles certainly has risks - you can end up with wildly unbalanced combat, or two or three completely separate battles all happening in the same area because the aircraft just fight the aircraft, the tanks just fight the tanks, and the infantry just shoot the infantry. Another problem with vehicle combat in some contemporary games is that when you jump into a vehicle, all that really seems to happen is that your avatar is replaced - instead of being a player on foot with a machine gun, you become a tank with greater mobility, fire-power and armour. The result is that you just feel like a gimp for fighting on foot – you feel like you’ve got decreased mobility, fire-power and armour.
We’ve solved this in ETQW by designing the vehicles with specific combat roles. The physics system goes further than simply emulating ‘rigid bodies’ moving snugly over smoothed ground. Instead, it heightens ETQW’s team play potential by allowing off-road driving, rock hopping, air stunts and vehicle jumps – all of which reinforce ETQW’s goal of providing specialist vehicles to provide great team play. ETQW’s vehicles can be thought of as an extension of the character class system – each vehicle offers basic transport, but more importantly can be used to augment the player’s battlefield role, giving them access to unique routes and combat tactics. This way, we tie the vehicles into an overall rock-paper-scissors dynamic – nothing’s effective against everything, everything’s vulnerable to something. Also, the vehicles are there to support the infantry so they can achieve their tactical objectives, not to own them outright.
We wanted to maintain asymmetry between the Strogg and GDF team by realistically modelling the Strogg and GDF’s differing approaches to vehicle propulsion. The GDF use fairly traditional combustion engines, augmented by ground-effect rotors and fast jets. GDF’s vehicles feature a wide-array of anti-personnel and anti-armour weapons, some featuring stealth technology, or providing re-supply and re-equipment capability in the battlefield. Conversely, the Strogg rely on their use of alien technology, including gravitonic repulsion, heavy walker pneumatics, bosonic orb and plasma weapon technology. Because of their propulsion types, they each feature advantages and disadvantages compared to the GDF vehicles. For example, The Strogg Hornet is powered by four gravitonic repulsor engines, allowing it to pull-off some insane moves, but the heat generated makes it an easier target at high altitude for the GDF’s lock-on LAW missiles (carried by the GDF Soldier, and used in the GDF SWARM Anti-Armour Missile Turret).
How major are the differences between Strogg and Humans going to be? Is it going to be something totally wild, with no direct 1:1 comparison - like StarCraft? Or more something along the lines of WarCraft III? Pardon the use of RTS games for comparison.
ETQW’s character class structure is similar to Wolf ET. Both the Strogg and GDF feature infiltration, assault, defence and support roles. However, a significant goal for the game is that the GDF and Strogg don’t just look different, but more importantly, play different. All of their tools, abilities, weapons and vehicles reflect their different technology and culture, so their asymmetric capabilities dictate different approaches to combat.
An example of the gameplay asymmetry between the teams is the Medic class. The GDF has a traditional Medic, much as in Wolf ET. The GDF Medic’s role is to revive and heal team-mates and call for supply station drops the battlefield. He has advanced communications equipment that gives him vital data on the status and location of his team-mates, but he’s also a strong combat class, equipped with a configurable assault rifle that can be used in both scoped and grenade launcher mode. Over on the Strogg team, they’re kept alive by the Technician class. The Technician is also a “life support class”, but the Strogg’s reliance on Stroyent for food and fuel (derived from human organic matter) means that the Technician can replenish both health and ammo. The Strogg Technician can also stun GDF players with his Bioelectric Pinch bomb, and then extract Stroyent directly from them by using his Stroyent Extractor Spike. The Technician can even stroggify GDF troops that have fallen in the field, creating a ‘Strogg Spawn Host’ that allows his team-mates to get back into combat right at the front-line by taking over the stroggified GDF corpse. Playing Strogg Technician is a completely different challenge to playing GDF Medic.
This asymmetric gameplay mechanic extends right across the game. The Strogg and GDF teams are balanced against each other with that rock-paper-scissors cycle of dependencies and vulnerabilities between the various classes, weapons, vehicles, deployables, base structures, items, abilities and character advancement rewards to offer gameplay depth and variety. It shows up in lots of ways: aside from their models and texturing, this asymmetry is also immediately noticeable by their appearance and animations – the GDF’s body language is standard tactical military, like a SWAT team, while the Strogg are more animalistic. The game’s animations aren’t just immersive eye-candy either, they were designed specifically with team play in mind; each character’s complete weapon and tool load-out is represented visually, with supporting animations that ensure you always know exactly what your team-mates are doing.