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Rob Cunningham (ex-Relic, art god) on the RTS genre, HARDWARE, and no Homeworld 3

Lime

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Apr 27, 2008
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A week old, but didn't see any other thread. There's more in the link than the tidbits below, so feel free to check out RPS' interview with Rob Cunningham. For those who don't know, Rob was the co-founder of Relic, and art lead for Homeworld 1, Homeworld 2, Company of Heroes, and Dawn of War 1. He has especially made some great 70's/80's sci-fi inspired concept art for Homeworld 1 and Homeworld 2.

On the state of the RTS genre

RPS: So free to play is one of the things you think will drive the genre forward?

Rob Cunningham: Yeah, there are many things you can do with RTS – the marketplace is huge – but our personal vision is a big map… you could say in a nutshell the vision is Google Earth meets RTS. We want to develop an RTS game paradigm where there’s a very impactive, compelling combat and exploration game on a minute-to-minute basis but there’s also this other layer, a macro game, which takes place over days, weeks, months and it’s all about territorial ownership of a much bigger map.

RPS: So would you say the RTS has stagnated?

Rob Cunningham: There’s lots of innovation happening with it. Look at Kickstarter, things like Planetary Annihilation, I think that’s a lot of fun. Stagnation is a strong word but it hasn’t moved forward as quickly as I would have hoped. There’s a lot of room for growth in the genre, especially in terms of getting it out to a wider audience. It’s not stagnated as much as it’s focussed very much on a relatively small group of hardcore RTS players. There’s an opportunity to bring the RTS paradigm to a much wider audience.

On Blackbird Interactive's HARDWARE

RPS: With so many ex-Relic staff involved, is there a lot of Homeworld’s DNA in Hardware?

Rob Cunningham: Well they’re both science fiction RTS games but the answer to how much of Homeworld is in Hardware is… not that much. In terms of DNA, in the same way parents’ DNA is in their children, you can say Homeworld shares DNA with Hardware in as much as it has similar parents. But that’s where the similarities end. There is an art style that connects them, but the gameplay is very different, the experience is very different, but what will be the same is that sense of epic, immersive story. That connection with what’s happening in the game world. We’ll have Paul Ruskay doing audio and music so we’ll have that DNA in there as well, so from a creative point of view, a vibe, there are quite a lot of similarities, but in terms of the game itself, it’s quite a departure from Homeworld.

On the possibility of any personal interest in Homeworld 3

Rob Cunningham: Any discussion about Homeworld 3 I have no position on, it’s completely THQ’s deal.

RPS: Will you have your eyes on the auction at the end of the month, for those rights?

Rob Cunningham: The correct answer there would be no comment. And basically no. I know there’s a huge Homeworld fanbase out there and people get very excited when we start talking about Homeworld. We definitely want to connect with those guys, but we’re very cautious about actually associating ourselves with the franchise as we don’t own it. We don’t want to complicate matters [for THQ] or upset those guys, they’ve got enough on their plate. We’re coming out with a completely different project. If you like Homeworld, you’ll probably like [Hardware], but this is not a Homeworld game and has nothing to do with Homeworld.

Concept art from their upcoming game. I still think HARDWARE is relegated to Facebook only, unfortunately, but the beta is supposed to launch in March.

 

DocSeuss

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They jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, like most developers, but for some reason, they haven't figured out they should probably jump off. I'm thinking F2P is going to go the same way, but not as much. Those core games, man. They still have a lot of appeal, and people really should give them more credence than they do. :|

It seems really sad to me that, based on the interview, he seems to actively want to avoid Homeworld.

I would kill for an indie version, just like I'd kill for an indie ImSim a la System Shock or Deus Ex, or an indie RTS like Age of Empires or Ground Control. I get the love for 2D platformers and roguelikes and such, and I'm glad the RPG is finally back, but I'd like to see the indies bring a few more genres back from the grave. Started talking with some of the more talented fellow students about it again today. A couple seem keen on exploring the possibility of Homeworld. Hm.
 

Tunesmith

formerly "chigiri"
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If they can produce something with an atmosphere akin to what they achieved with Homeworld, then I don't really care if it isn't Homeworld. They'd be winners in my wallet.
 

KePoW

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They jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, like most developers, but for some reason, they haven't figured out they should probably jump off. I'm thinking F2P is going to go the same way.

F2P is not going away.
 

DocSeuss

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F2P is not going away.

Neither is Facebook gaming, but it's not what it once was.

F2P, ultimately, only works for online esports type games, like Hawken/TF2/LoL. You can't make a F2P Thief. You can't make a F2P Age of Empires. You can't make a F2P Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Well, you can, but they won't survive very long. It just doesn't work.
 

Lime

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I agree with DocSeuss. The decision to go with Facebook as a platform is a terrible idea, as the market is oversaturated by now, "middle-cores" won't pay attention to a RTS on Facebook, while Facebook's update policies are really weird and might break your game.

Second of all, the F2P format for a RTS has so far not seemed to work very well, like what we've seen with Age of Empires Online.
 

j_k_redtail

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Sad that this didn't get many replies. Hoepfully we'll hear more about Hardware. I feel the same way about Relic as I do about the SimCity guys.
 

Bombless

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Oct 2, 2012
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The visuals are basically the beginning of Homeworld, with the giant wheels vehicles in the desert and the hulks in the sand, even the satellite in orbit lol.

Wait and see I guess.

Slightly OT but do we know what happened with the Homeworld license? The sale of the remaining THQ assets happened already didn't it?
 

Nickiepoo

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Nice. Thanks for reminding me about this.

Loved the HW art style and hyped to see it carried over.
 

Jackpot

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This description makes me sad:

Long March Industries (LMI) is a ruthless interstellar megacorporation that owns all rights to LM-27, a mysterious and hostile desert planet littered with the buried wrecks of ancient starships. LMI oversees a galactic gold-rush as prospectors and fortune seekers converge on LM-27 in search of the untold riches buried in its burning sands. In this persistent multiplayer game, players command a fleet of massive vehicles as they explore, salvage and fight for fortune and survival in the world’s first planetary-scale social strategy game.
 

Fafalada

Fafracer forever
Jun 22, 2004
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DocSeuss said:
Neither is Facebook gaming, but it's not what it once was.
FB gaming went through growth-peak-decline in 4 years.
F2P has had 12 consecutive years of growth (and growth itself has been accelerating).
 
Feb 21, 2010
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Gameplay Preview!

Dat music. Dat cutscene-to-gameplay transition. Dat sensor view.
It looks better than I hoped. I had my doubts after that pre-order, buy-the-beta-testing-seat BS, but this raises my hopes slightly.