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EA to explore 'completely new' Command & Conquer fictions

Victory Games also discusses new live service for F2P RTS

EA studio Victory Games plans to create completely new Command & Conquer fictions.

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While the studio's debut project will be set in the Generals universe and subsequent games will revisit the Tiberium and Red Alert, Victory's long term plan for the RTS franchise includes exploring fresh C&C universes.

Tim Morten, senior development director for the C&C franchise, told CVG: "The Generals universe is where we've started, it was the universe most often requested by fans and also one that we haven't been back to for a long time.

"Over time we're planning to add factions to that universe and explore the Tiberium universe, the Red Alert universe, and then get into completely new fictions, so it's very exciting for us, it's kind of a starting point for a whole new C&C."

In December 2011 EA announced that the next game in the long-running series would be Command & Conquer: Generals 2, and would be powered by DICE's Frostbite 2 engine.

The game's name was later switched to simply Command & Conquer and it was confirmed that it would be a free-to-play title targeted for release on PC later this year, a decade after the original Generals game launched.

Morten said: "You mentioned some of the changes that have occurred over the course of our development and I'll say from a developer's perspective it has been a very fortuitous set of circumstances.

"We've got a new group of people, including some veterans of past series, but we've really got some fresh blood on the team, we've got a brand new engine, and it has taken time for everybody to walk through the mechanics of RTS on Frostbite and to really come up with the ideas that we feel are going to be critical to defining this next Command & Conquer. That history of changes has actually given us the space and time to focus on the gameplay so I think it has had a very positive impact on the product."

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First HD in-game screenshot features the Global Liberation Army

Morten also said the series is to be supported by a new live service that will enable Victory Games to experiment with fresh game modes.

"We've put a lot of effort into building the back end that's going to accommodate this title and future titles in the series. It's a way for us to distribute content to consumers easily and to learn from them by collecting data about what content is and isn't working, and also to really integrate their social experience.

"The live service means that instead of trying to get everything done day one, you know, deadline is here and it has got to go in a box, we instead start with the core, make that as good as we can, and then add to that over time, so it's a really powerful paradigm shift in the way we build the game.

"By the nature of being a live service we've got the ability both to try brief experiments, such as trying out a new game mode one weekend and finding out what people think about it, and to roll out things that we've been cooking up over a long period of time. An example is something we're tentatively calling Domination, which is sort of an adaptation of Capture the Flag to real time strategy.

"There have been some efforts at this in other RTS games including past C&Cs, but our design team kind of incubates the idea, we test it internally, we roll it out to QA and closed beta testers, and eventually try it with an open audience. With a boxed product you could never do that, you'd have to get it right on day one for the launch, but with a live service we can put it out for people to give us their feedback and tune it on the basis of that."

On the subject of whether the game will feature a single player component, as has been requested by fans, Morten said:

"At launch, players will have the ability to play single player Skirmish against AI. There'll also be a co-op Onslaught mode against waves of AI. Longer term we want to start exploring mini campaigns, perhaps even more fully-fledged campaigns. We got the message loud and clear that that is something the audience cares about so we don't want to let them down in any way."

Sign-ups for early access to the beta are now open on the Command & Conquer website. Victory told CVG it plans to restrict the beta to a very small group and "grow it over time."

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