End of Nations Interview: “RTS Games Can Be Really Fun. Try It Out.”

While I’m a fan of RTS games, the genre has been stagnating for several years. End of Nations, the upcoming free-to-play MMORTS being developed by Petroglyph and published by Trion, seeks to change that with its introduction of persistent-world MMO elements.

End of Nations has an overarching game board, similar in some ways to Risk, that is affected by every individual battle. Players earn and unlock new units, abilities, and super weapons as they play, much like an MMORPG character unlocking new skills.

At E3 2012, we had the opportunity to chat with Chris Lena, Senior MMO Producer at Trion Worlds, about End of Nations. Check out the interview, below.

Game Front: How did the partnership with Petroglyph come about?

Chris Lena: “We were always interested in making an RTS game, and Petroglyph is one of those companies that has a pedigree in the genre. These are the guys who came from Westwood Studios, so people who worked on the first RTS games ever — Dune, Command & Conquer — so it was a great fit for us. There’s a lot of history with the people as well, a lot of relationships that have been built over time.”

Game Front: What has you most excited about End of Nations?

“I’m most excited about this idea of being able to play a strategy game, an RTS, with a large number of people in a living world. I love MMORPGs; the connectivity you get with other people, running into people, building a reputation, and I think an RTS game plays to that so well. Recognizing people, who they are, their names, the interaction, and just the crazy things people are going to come up with — combinations of units, things we never thought of. We want to release it into the wild and see what happens.”

GF: What kind of customization will the game offer?

“Every individual unit can be modified — the armor, the damage, the area of awareness, the radius… But the most exciting part, for me, is that you can create a loadout of units before going into battle. So that kind of customization of your loadout is really interesting — combinations of units, and not only combinations of your own units, but maybe you and I play a lot, so we create loadouts that work well together. Then, consider that with a team of four people. Or even with 28 people. There’s a lot of interesting challenges there.”

GF: How many people can play on the same map?

“The biggest maps we’re launching with have 56-players, so that’s 28 vs. 28. So that’s seven teams of four, since they’re broken up into little squads. Really big map; a lot of different objectives to keep people spread around the map. It’s a very different kind of gameplay.”

GF: Since the gameplay focuses on micro-managing units, are you concerned about lag being an issue?

“Well, I can’t control your internet connection. But we’re making the game on a client-server model, which is similar to other MMOs out there. It’s not like a game where we’re connected to each other, where if your machine lags, I get slowed down. It’s limited based on your connection.

“We’re in alpha right now; our server is in Dallas, and we have people from Russia and Germany playing in alpha every day, and so far the gameplay has been smooth.”

GF: Are there any plans to make an eSport out of the game?

“We’d love to. But one step at a time. We feel like we’re biting off a lot that hasn’t been done before. We’ve learned a lot of lessons. Number one is we want to create a really great RTS game that’s well-balanced and allows for a variety of things to do, figure out what people like, and then we’re going to look at eSports for sure, and we take that very seriously. We’re in talks with people right now; what are the features we want… We really want to do it right if and when we do it. So, not at original launch.”

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