After creating the best selling Star Wars: Empire at War, developer Petroglyph Games are working hard on their own sci-fi RTS property, Universe at War: Earth Assault. The game, to be published by Sega this fall, will have three unique races, cool battles and multiplayer that will allow PC and Xbox 360 owners to play against each other when the Xbox 360 version is released in early 2008. FiringSquad got a chance to chat with Petroglyph creative director Adam Isgreen to find out more about their plans for the game.
FiringSquad: First, how did the idea come about for Universe at War: Earth Assault?
Adam Isgreen: The idea started with a desire to make a game about an alien invasion of Earth, and more to the point, one about Aliens with massive war machines that were doing it. It was very Ogre-like, if you remember that Steve Jackson tabletop game. Originally, we had humanity fighting back against the aliens, but as we developed the game’s ideas further, we realized that not only does every game on earth have humans as a faction (and typically winning), but in wanting to push a lot of faction diversity, modern-day military is just… too conventional. They’ve been done before in many games and we didn’t want to be conventional with our factions and game play ideas.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the main storyline for the game?
Adam Isgreen: The game starts on the 3rd day of the Hierarchy’s invasion of Earth in September of 2012. The first few missions are from the point of view of the U.S. marines, which gives you a good idea not only of what’s happened in the U.S., but to many nations all over the globe. Once you get to see how screwed humanity is, you launch into the Novus campaign, then the Hierarchy one, and finally you play the Masari’s story. It’s 22-25 missions in total, which is mostly linear until you get towards the end of the entire campaign.
There’s a lot of drama in our game. We had a strong desire to create interesting and compelling lead characters, not beat the player over the head with back-story, and tell a story that went beyond just blowing up each other’s bases. Every faction in our game has issues that are hampering them, and part of the fun is watching how they work around or against those issues to their benefit, or peril. During our recording sessions, one person in the studio even cried when we got to recording a certain sequence. That I didn’t expect, but we certainly do have our share of tragedy in this game. If we can get players that emotional over our story, we accomplished our mission drama-wise.
Of course even with the entire story, there are lots of things to destroy, escort, defend, sabotage, and escape from, so the player will have their hands full. This is an RTS after all, and you need to make a great game with fun missions. To that end, we’ve tried to give the player very diverse things to do in the campaign, since they can just go blow each other up in multiplayer and skirmish any day. There’s a nice assortment of missions and objectives they’ll tackle through the campaign, with locales ranging from farmlands, to pyramids, and even to some very exotic locations that you may not expect from the setting for the game.