GZ Interview: Tactical Combat and an Ongoing Online Experience are the focus of Ground Control II

Tactical Combat and an Ongoing Online Experience are the focus
of “Ground Control II”


Louis Bedigian


“The [online]
drop-in feature is something we are very excited about as it allows players to
join ongoing games [at any time].”



I’ll never forget the first
real-time strategy game I played: Command & Conquer.  It was flat (like most
games at the time), didn’t use any polygons, and moved a very slow pace.  None
of that was noticeable at the time though.  All that stood out was that the
game was different, and how much fun it was to play.


We all know what happens
when a good game is released.  Darth Game Developers team up with the Sith to
create a clone army that they hope will be just as successful as the clone


Now real-time strategy games
are everywhere.  That’s not at all a bad thing, so long as they don’t play
exactly the same.  Enter Ground Control II.




Obviously the first thing
you’ll notice is the game’s gorgeous graphics, but get this: the developers
don’t want it to play like a traditional RTS.  Their focus is tactical combat,
not resource management.  As if that wasn’t intriguing enough, they’ve also
developed a unique system that will allow online players to enter a game at
any time.  How does this work?  How is it possible?  Lead designer Henrik
Sebring explains.



Ground Control II is moving away from the
traditional RTS games by focusing on tactical combat, not resource
management.  What has this enabled you to achieve with the game?  What will it
mean to players of the genre who are used to a specific style of gameplay?


Henrik Sebring:

I think the most important thing we address with the game is putting the fun
back into the combat! The player can completely focus on his tactical wits as
it plays a much more important roll than most traditional RTS games. We’ve
also made certain to spice it with tons of action to keep the pacing up,
something that’s usually missing in tactical games.


Do you hope this change for
RTS games will redefine the genre?



Personally I feel that it might be interesting to expand the RTS genre into
new genres. If you mention the phrase "An RTS game" to gamers they (usually)
think of a game where you fight battles with multiple units, harvest resources
and construct cities or bases. But GCII isn’t really about that – We prefer to
call GCII a RTT, real time tactics, since it is really about tactics and not
so much about strategy.





What’s new to the series?  What are some
of the things that will drive gamers nuts with anticipation?



There are a lot of new features in the series but we’ve also changed quite a
few from the first game. Many of the changes have evolved naturally such as
the increased importance of the dropships (huge airborne shuttles that
transports reinforcements to the battlefield) while others are responses to
feedback we’ve gathered from gamers.


I think one thing that is
devilishly cool is the Viron Nomads, one of the playable races in the game.
They have this special ability to meld units together in order to form
stronger and more specialized units. This gives them an exceptionally flexible
force on the battlefield…


How many factions are being planned for
the game?  What are a few of the things that make each faction important and



There are two playable factions in the game – The Northern Star Alliance (NSA)
and the Viron Nomads. The NSA relies on brute force and a more conventional
arsenal. They have a well-rounded force capable of dealing with most threats
in a characteristically brutal way. Large caliber guns, blazing artillery,
warheads and bomb runs is the chorus of the song that their commanders hum.


The alien Viron Nomads on
the other hand have an arsenal more suited for deception, mobility and exotic
weaponry. Alone their organic weapons are not as noisy or as hard hitting as
the NSA but combined with specials such as the Screamer helidyne (which
projects an aura capable of temporary disintegrating armor) they can truly
display awesome power. The Virons are also as mentioned above capable of
melding units together for new unit on the battlefield making them hard to


Nice explosion.



What types of vehicles or
units can you control in Ground Control II?



Staying true to the original Ground Control we have several different types of
units including infantry (snipers, powered armored soldiers, mortar equipped
infantry etc), support vehicles (artillery vehicles, anti-air units, APCs,
engineers etc), tanks (several different types), hovercrafts, helicopters and
finally the dropship, which not only provides reinforcement to the battlefield
but that also can be upgraded and used as a powerful unit causing havoc on the


All in all there are ~30
different units, all of them with a secondary mode. For example the NSA rocket
terradyne is a very offensive unit but in its secondary mode it becomes an
important defensive unit capable of obliterating incoming missiles and
artillery grenades.


How do you obtain more units after losing
some in battle, or to compete with an enemy that is much more powerful?



Reinforcements are brought into the battlefield in huge dropships. The player
can decide what units the reinforcements will consist of. The amount of units
called down depends on the dropship’s cargo bays. There is a small resource
management aspect in GCII. By controlling tactically important locations on
the battlefield (called Victory Locations) and by defeating enemy units the
player receives Acquisition Points that is spent on new reinforcements,
upgrading the dropship and calling down support weapons (air strikes, assault
pods etc).


It doesn’t look good for
this world’s inhabitants.



What are the mission types
featured in the game?



Usually a mission consists of several parts, with different mission
objectives, sewn together to form an exciting mission. There are several
different types of missions that will be experienced during the campaign
spanning from straight offensive maneuvers, ambushes, beach assaults, to
stealthy infiltration missions as the player takes on the role as Captain
Jacob Angelus of the Northern Star Alliance.


How has the multiplayer beta
test been going?



It’s been going really good! We’ve had a huge interest in the beta and so
we’ve received a lot of constructive feedback. The team has really gone great
lengths to listen to the testers and to continuously patch the beta.


Ground Control II will let online players
join an ongoing game at any time for any length of time.  Talk about this
feature, how it works, and how it was made possible.



The drop-in feature is something we are very excited about as it allows
players to join ongoing games. This makes it possible to play the game for
five minutes or for several hours. The feature is perfect for those players
looking for a little more action-oriented gameplay. The game plays out very
well with players joining ongoing games since there is no base building or
traditional harvesting. Players can join in call down reinforcements and
either help out team mates or go in and secure a piece of the map for
themselves. When a time limit is reached (or score limit) a new map loads and
the game continues.


What danger lies beyond
these trees?



How many online players can
battle simultaneously?



Up to eight players can battle it out on the same map. When playing
cooperative multiplayer (playing through the single-player campaign) up to
three players can play.


Do the online game worlds
differ at all from the single-player worlds?



Very little. We’ve tried to make the two as similar as possible. Players
familiar with the single-player experience will be able to directly apply
their knowledge to the multiplayer. Of course playing against a computer
opponent is usually very different from playing a real human. There are
however several more story oriented objectives in the single-player missions…


Thank you for your time.