Summary: The Empire Earth III is about to hit trilogy status. JCal finds out what the developers have planned for the third installment.
FiringSquad: First, Mad Doc Software took over the Empire Earth series with the expansion pack for the first game. How does it feel to lead the development of this RTS game through the years?
Mathew Nordhaus: Very satisfying. EEIII has always had a loyal and devoted fan base, and it’s been great to work with them through the years. It’s had its ups and downs, and they are tough critics of the game, but in the end it’s been a good relationship and I think has made the game better. For me, personally, I’m excited about where we have taken the franchise over the years. When I look at EEIII and think about how much the game (and game technology) has changed since 2000 it’s astonishing.
FiringSquad:When the time came to develop Empire Earth III what were the developer's main goals?
Mathew Nordhaus: We wanted to make something completely different from what had come before. EEII was, in some ways, EEI but more. More epochs, more civilizations, more units, more buildings. For EEIII we have focused on keeping what worked best about the previous games, while at the same time making the game easier to understand, to learn to play, and to look at (with our gorgeous new graphics engine).
FiringSquad:We've heard that the new game won't have as many epochs to deal with as the previous games have had. What can you tell us about this change and how it will affect the gameplay?
Mathew Nordhaus: In many ways, it shows our focus on quality rather than sheer quantity. Even though we have fewer epochs we have created three completely different regions (unique buildings, units, techs, powers, nothing is shared). This means each time the player levels he gets almost all new units and art…unlike EE2 where many of the models were shared. It also lets us, as designers, give the players different gameplay options as you advance. In one you might get gunpowder, and ranged units become more dominant. In the next you get air power. We’ve tried to make each advance a substantial one.
FiringSquad:We’ve also heard of the new world domination gameplay for Empire Earth III. Can you tell us more about this and how hard is it to create this kind of Risk-style mode?
Mathew Nordhaus: It’s completely easy to play, just start a World Domination game! You will immediately be dropped into a province (think “country”) on the globe. You have to fight your way out of your starting area before you can spread across the globe, and even after you have spread your tentacles into all the corners of the world, you may still have to battle it out on the ground, as you get drawn into conflict with the AIs who also have World Domination on their mind.
FiringSquad:What can you tell us about the new factions in the game and how you are organizing them for this third incarnation?
Mathew Nordhaus: There are three high-level regions: West, Far East, and Middle East . There are basic styles of gameplay for each one: the West tends to be tech-heavy, the Far East builds lots of disposable units, and the Middle East are hit-and-run raiders. But within those broad categories there are many different ways to play each region. I can choose to specialize in Early Western Ranged units, building many archers and pumping them up with techs, or I can go Sword, or even cavalry. And that’s just West, and just early! There are many, many different paths available to the players.
Mathew Nordhaus: For me, it’s the Lightning HERC, and the Robo-soldier. I can’t say too much (because I want to leave the readers wanting more) but I will mention their special powers: Lightning Sphere and Jump Jets!
FiringSquad:We've also heard that the game will have missions that will be more than just "blow the other side up". What can you tell us about that?
Mathew Nordhaus: There’s a wide range of interesting diplomacy options that you have available to you in World Domination (and Multiplayer Skirmish as well). “Native Tribes” are small AIs that only inhabit a single map, and they can be crucial to your conquest of the globe. Often they will ask for your help: Rescue our princess, defend our city center, etc. When you come to their aid they reward you with resources, units, or just their undying loyalty. This can be very useful later in the game when the big bad guy invades and your armies are somewhere else…
FiringSquad:What multiplayer modes will be put into Empire Earth III?
Mathew Nordhaus: At this time we are focusing our efforts into making sure that basic MP gameplay will be rock solid and balanced. We will be implementing Ladders, Random teams and arranged games. It’s not out of the question that we will add some other modes for MP (or SP), but right now we want to make sure the games that people play are fun and balanced.
FiringSquad:We've heard about the new graphics engine that the game will have. What can you tell us about the graphical features and art styles and also if the game will support DirectX10?
Mathew Nordhaus: We support normal mapping, ambient occlusion, a brand new particle system, detailed shadow model, full screen anti-aliasing, much higher texture resolution and more polys, Shader model 3 support…too many buzzwords to mention. Suffice it to say the game looks great. When we ship we will require DX9.0c.
FiringSquad:What is the current status of the game's progress and when will it be released?
Mathew Nordhaus: We are currently on track to ship in Fall of 2007
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