My interview with Command and Conquer 4 associate producer Jim Vessella was possibly one of the weirdest interviews I’ve done yet. Not because of who or where it was – I’m pretty familiar with EA’s UK headquarters and Jim was very nice and good-humoured, if slightly hoarse.
Instead, the interview was weird because I messed up my train times and ended up arriving about a half-hour early and, not wanting to be loitering in Electronic Arts’ lobby for ages, I decided to entertain myself for a little bit. Luckily, there was plenty going on in Guildford.
On the downside, I neglected to factor in that I’d have to carry the consequences of my action around with me for the rest of the day, telling games journalists, PRs and Jim himself why exactly I was carrying around a bad smelling paper bag the size of my own head.
bit-tech:Before we start the interview, I just want to apologise for the smell. I...there was a farmers' market between the train station and here...
Jim Vessela: Um, OK. What did you get?
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[Joe opens the paper bag he is carrying and a pungent aroma fills the room
BT:I picked up some Elephant Garlic. And some smoked garlic...it may get pretty stinky in here.
Jim: Wow! That thing is huge! Good thing I like garlic, I suppose. That’s a...lovely aroma.
BT:Yeah. It’s for my girlfriend. She loves garlic. Anyway, we’ve only got a few minutes...I suppose the easiest place to start is with the online connection stuff. Reactions?
Jim: Yeah. So, we announced that a little while ago and, while we can’t really talk too much about how the game will eventually ship, we certainly heard the feedback that people had. I can’t really give you too many details about it at the moment unfortunately, so I kind of have to leave it there. We have heard all the feedback though. We’ll be talking about it more in the future.
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BT:Do you think that the way fans are reacting at the moment could be because they haven’t got all the information then?
Jim: Um, a little bit. We probably could do a little bit of a better job explaining how that particular feature works and why we made that choice. We will be talking about that at a later date though. I really don’t want to promise anything that may change throughout development and give specifics that may be altered and so on.
BT:You say you can’t talk about it, but do you think that the ‘constant online’ and ‘persistent gameplay’ feature-sets will be showing up in more games in the future? Is this the way games are just going to go?
Jim: Potentially. We already see that with MMORPGs, though that’s obviously because everything needs to go through the servers. At the end of the day it is a good way to prevent people from cheating, prevent them from hacking. I think you might start to see some more of that, especially on the PC side. It’s worked well for the MMO market and, while I can’t speak for the rest of the industry, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen. A lot of people are moving that way, even with games like Dawn of War 2 and the way it uses Games for Windows Live. It’s starting to happen.