Empire Earth III Interview (PC)

Strategy Informer: Firstly could you introduce yourself to our readers and let us know your role within the Empire Earth III production?

Matthew Nordhaus: My name is Matthew Nordhaus. I worked on Empire Earth: Art of Conquest and Empire Earth II. My role on Empire Earth III is Project Director.

Strategy Informer: We’ve read about some of the main features for Empire Earth III, are there any which you’ve yet to reveal that you would like to talk about?

Matthew Nordhaus: There are parts of the game which are still under development, so it’s probably too early to let very much out of the bag, but the Heroes are something that we haven’t talked a great deal about. I’m very excited by the powers and abilities that we came up with for them, and I think they are going to add a great deal to the game.

Strategy Informer: What factions will we be able to play in Empire Earth III and will they each have separate single player campaigns?

Matthew Nordhaus: There are three main regions: West, Far East and Middle East. Each has its own unique play style and personality. They also have completely unique units and buildings. Within each region there are many ways to customize your civilization, so we are trying to give the player many more meaningful choices. The single player campaigns work differently from previous Empire Earth games, with an evolutionary global conquest mode (World Domination) rather than a series of scripted scenarios. We have many unique events for each region, so there will definitely be a different experience playing Single Player as each of the regions.

Strategy Informer: What can you tell us about the graphical and physics features?

Matthew Nordhaus: The graphics engine has been completely rewritten for EE3. We have added normal mapping to all the units, ambient occlusion to the buildings, a more advanced blending animation system, ragdoll physics for units that die, flinching from explosions, physics based building destruction, a brand new particle system, and increased the polygon count and texture resolution a great deal.

Strategy Informer: We’re sure you’ve got a multiplayer side to Empire Earth III planned? Could you tell us a bit about this and will there be any new game modes made available to fans of the series?

Matthew Nordhaus: We are focusing our efforts to make sure the skirmish game is fun and balanced. Lately we have been working hard to get the pacing of the game just right, and to make sure the different regions play the way we want. It’s not out of the question that we will ship with some additional multiplayer modes, but we are going to make sure that the online MP experience is rock solid first.

Strategy Informer: There has been many RTS games released within the last year that have drawn themselves to the top by providing both unique and entertaining gameplay. What steps are you taking to insure Empire Earth III is an enjoyable game that will leave fans wanting more?

Matthew Nordhaus: World Domination. No one has really done a fully open and free form global conquest before. We are very excited by the prospects that this game mode brings.

Strategy Informer: Do you plan on extending the life of Empire Earth III by offering development tools to your community in order to aid them in creating maps and mods?

Matthew Nordhaus: The file system that was written for EEIII is much more modder friendly than in EEII. We will also be supporting the fan base with information (like EE University, which we did for Empire Earth II). As we finalize the shipping game we will be looking at additional items to help the fans, like Gamebryo exporters for units and tutorials for the editor.

Strategy Informer: It’s said that Empire Earth III will offer continuous free-form gameplay that will allow players to keep units from one battle to the next. This has been done in recent RTS games where units gain experience and can level up; will you be doing anything different in regards to this?

Matthew Nordhaus: Although individual units don’t gain experience, our design approach has been to treat your Empire as a character. It gains experience and gets access to new items (units and technologies). It increases its stats (resources and territories), and even learns new skills; we have a world level tech tree with Empire Wide abilities you can use.

Strategy Informer: With the rise of the next-generation consoles, we’ve seen some popular RTS games being ported to those systems and they’ve played really well. Would you be interested in doing a console version of Empire Earth in the future? If so, which system would you favor?

Matthew Nordhaus: We would absolutely be interested in EEIII on a console. Most of us here at Mad Doc play games on the all the consoles we have access to (as well as PCs). In my opinion, as long as the game is fun and well balanced the specific hardware it runs on doesn’t matter.

Strategy Informer: As a gamer, what's your favorite part of Empire Earth III, what makes you proud to have helped create it and why is it a game people will want?

Matthew Nordhaus: I’m really excited by the World Domination mode. The persistence and 1 to 1 correspondence of the World Level to the Battle Level led to some difficult design choices. We had to think hard about exploits, playability, and scalability (i.e. it has to be as much fun managing a single province as it is managing 30). I’m very proud that the design team came up with simple, elegant, and robust solutions to make this game mode fun.

Strategy Informer: Is it likely you’ll release a demo before the game is released or allow people to help with testing by starting up a beta test for the hardcore fans of the series?

Matthew Nordhaus: Both. We are still working out the exact details, but there will very likely be either a closed or open beta before release, plus a demo right around release.

Strategy Informer: What’s the current release date for Empire Earth III and is it possible we may see a delay in the future?

Matthew Nordhaus: Fall 2007. In the world of Game Production anything can happen, but right now we are firmly on track for a timely release.

Strategy Informer: We've come to our last question, is there anything you'd like to say to the fans of Empire Earth III which are eagerly awaiting the release of this title?

Matthew Nordhaus: This game is a bit of a departure from the first two in the series. I hope the fans will give the game a chance, and not judge it just because it doesn’t “look” like an Empire Earth game. We have kept the core Empire Earth values intact: progress through the ages and conquer the world. We’ve tried very hard to add ease of use, some comic relief, and rock solid gameplay to the list. Everyone here on the design team is a gamer, and we are putting all our efforts into this game to make it a really unique experience.