Articles: Red Alert 3 Community Summit 2008: Part 2: Adding Depth to the Game

Adding Depth to the Game
Presentation by Greg Kasavin, Producer

Of all the presentations, this one was clearly my favorite. I was deeply impressed with Greg’s very evident forethought. Essentially, he—and a few people working with him, I assume—aimed to complement the storyline and gameplay with better in-game interactions. Greg showed us a detailed document that had an in-depth background on each unit. For each, it featured a thorough description, an inspirational picture (not a picture from the game, but a picture from the internet that aims to convey the character of the unit), some background—often humorous—and lines of dialogue.
In this last area, the team has made very noticeable strides. Greg played a few clips for us to show us some of their new work. For example, the Allied main battle tank, rather than being the typical American/Allied unit from Red Alert or Generals (the obvious example is the typecast Paladin, with its bland lines such as, “We fight for peace”) actually comes across as a believable character. In this case, the tank’s driver is obviously a battle-hardened Brit who has a more informed, pragmatic, experienced, and decidedly-unromantic perspective on war. There were some other clips played from infantry and other vehicle units, each of which revealed some thought put into the character of each unit. While Greg Kasavin was clear that he knew full well that it was the gameplay that would make or break the game. I for one was impressed by his understanding of how other things, such as increased unit depth and characterization, make a good game much better.

Greg Kasavin presenting about adding depth to units


I’ll make two side comments that are relevant to Greg’s presentation but also have broad significance in RA3. The more light-hearted tone of the game definitely shows itself in the unit characterizations. For example, a few of the Soviet units were quite humorous in their responses; the V4 Rocket Launcher, when ordered to retreat, said something along the lines of, “Yes, turn around—we don’t want to end up like the V3!” I have no objection to such witty lines, as long as they are done well (and these were, though perhaps they will be come repetitive and tiresome with time, though there were a sizable number). Greg Kasavin’s background in writing is definitely an asset to the team. I’d like to see more people with those sorts of backgrounds find their way to development teams. People of that sort complement the pure game theory types well and add a spark of creativity and another layer of depth to the game.
Since I was impressed by the presentation, I went up to Greg afterward to ask some questions and I came away convinced that he had obviously thought about the importance of unit characterization and that they were making a good effort to do it well. I tried to press him with some atypical questions, but he articulated his thoughts well. I noted for example that the unit responses he played for us were longer than in past C&C games, something that can be confusing if a player clicks a few times rapidly. He explained that the team had kept this in mind (he mentioned the name of someone working with him on it, but I cannot quite remember it) and that the longer responses were rarer, but more interesting, so those were the ones he played. Also, he noted that they were generally the retreat responses, with the thought being that they would be played less often in succession. The team’s effort definitely showed here and I hope it shows in the game as well. 
Greg taking a question from the audience