C&C Labs News Wire

— Monday, April 28, 2008 —

Posted By: Mike at 12:38:27 PM ET

Lessons Learned: A Review of Kane's Wrath

Senior staff member Blbpaws has written an article reviewing Kane's Wrath, with an eye toward taking the developer's perspective. What went right with the game? What went wrong? What lessons can EA learn from the release of this expansion pack?
Simply put, more time needs to put into developing and testing the game. C&C 3 lacked a proper beta version and Kane’s Wrath, though there has been no official word, seems to be following in this tradition. In short, the development cycle is being consistently rushed.

A bit of digging seems to reveal that the reason for this is purely financial: EA has timed the releases of both C&C 3 and Kane’s Wrath to occur just before the end of their fiscal year (both games released in the last week of March, and EA’s fiscal year ends March 31st), providing a last boost of revenue. For C&C 3, the company proceeded to use the release as a highlight of their earnings discussions with investors[pdf]. In short, pushing the game back even a month would have financial implications for the company (or so their analysts seem to believe—I contend otherwise), as the game is already pushed to the very edge of the quarter. This strategy is acceptable from a developer’s standpoint if the financial benefits outweigh the costs of rushing the game. For the last two games, it’s failed, as the products have been obviously rushed and shipped with a number of issues. This ties in to the critical reception of the game.
I think many in the community would prefer to have future C&C games have a bit of polish added to them before release.  The fans can certainly wait the extra month or two.

Still, there is much to like about Kane's Wrath, as Blbpaws points out in regards to the singleplayer campaign and live-action cut-scenes:
This is a bright spot for Kane’s Wrath and the lessons are generally positive. The end product is much improved over the version shipped in C&C 3. The missions are generally well-designed and creative. Designer Sam Bass’s notion of “the sweep of history” is well-received; there is a lot of explanatory power in the campaign and overall the missions themselves deserve a B+ or A-. Also well done is the integration of the subfactions and missions, for GDI and Nod—the Scrin aren’t really present. The Steel Talons, ZOCOM, the Black Hand, and the Marked of Kane all have more depth as a result of this.


Lessons Learned:
  • Moving away from the type of missions in C&C 3 was a good improvement.
  • Integrate the story and the subfactions to contribute to Sam Bass’s idea of the sweep of history. Try to find ways to include this in future C&Cs.
  • Don’t radically change the course of the AI development, as it’s very good, though occasionally unrealistic.
  • Campaigns need to advance the story more, not just fill in holes in the narrative. In short, compared with the level of information added from past C&C expansions such as Firestorm, the information added in Kane’s Wrath seems just a bit lacking.
Blbpaws goes on to tackle issues including the "RTS as a Sport" concept, the new sub-factions and epic units in Kane's Wrath, and the Global Conquest mode.

The article is, in my opinion, a fair and well-presented assessment of Kane's Wrath.  I encourage you to read the article in full by following the link below.  Perhaps decision-makers at EA will take a look at it as well.
Last edited by Mike on Monday, April 28, 2008 at 4:44:39 PM.