What happens when you mix one part artist, one part producer, and one part co-owner of id Software? Kevin Cloud, a guy who knows a lot about first-person shooters. We recently got a chance to chat with Cloud regarding his latest project, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. From our brief hands-on time with the beta, ETQW looks ready to make some waves in virtual battlefields soon. Besides revealing details on ETQW’s gameplay mechanics and setting, Cloud shares his thoughts on what makes a great mod, the mysterious QuakeCon ninja, and hints at a broader beta in mid-April.
GR: Tell us how Enemy Territory: Quake Wars fits into the Quake universe.
Cloud: There are two things to keep in mind with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. One thing is that its gameplay is derived from Return to Castle Wolfenstein Multiplayer. Its team play and its character classes and its objectives - and those types of game systems are sort of the origins of what you’ll see in ETQW. We’ve taken Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, and now evolved that into Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.
Way back with the objective based gameplay - we still had that sort of asymmetry of combat. You’ve got one attacking team, with a mission, and one team on defense. We really wanted to extend that out and see how far we could push that by having these two very different teams. And we thought the Strogg universe - the Quake II universe - was the perfect place. Quake II is sort of my game that came up with a lot of the story elements of that. And the Strogg universe - you know it’s my baby - we were really familiar with it - we were really comfortable with it - and we got excited about what we could do… taking that universe and bringing it into this type of gameplay. So that’s sort of how it came about.
So the storyline: Quake II had the Strogg battling earth and this game is a prequel to it. This is where the Strogg first invade Earth. It’s set in 2065 and so it’s not too far in the future. You have this alien technology facing up against these sorts of conventional weapons that creates the asymmetry. And then the Strogg characterization - in terms of what they’re like and types of weapons - often pulls from things from other Quake universes. You’ll notice the nail gun and the lightning gun. These are things where for us as Quake fans - whether we’re working on Quake or playing Quake - we wanted to see what that would feel like if we brought that into this universe.
GR: In terms of differences between the Global Defense Force (GDF) and Strogg, can you tell us about how they’ll truly differ in terms of gameplay mechanics? You know, besides that the GDF have rifles and the Strogg have an alien version of the same gun.
Cloud: Sure. So let’s look at something just on a fundamental level. We all know what humans need. They need health packs to make them feel better and happy and they need clips of ammo to fill their guns. This is what supplies their army. For the Strogg, they live off of Stroyent. And so you’ll notice that in the case of the GDF, Medics will provide health and the GDF Field Ops will provide ammunition. For the Strogg, the one character class - Technician - provides Stroyent, and that Stroyent is used to supply both health and ammo.
When the weapons are used on the GDF side you basically fire, you run out of ammo, and reload another clip. For the Strogg, the Strogg are actually pulling from the Stroyent source. And so what ends up happening is that their weapons will overheat. But when you’re pulling from the weapon ammunition, you’re pulling from a central source. So you’ll often have two weapons that are using that same source of ammunition. You can also transfer your Stroyent health into your Stroyent ammo, or back and forth. You’ll take a penalty for doing so, but you can actually move that back and forth. So that makes a pretty big difference in terms of how you approach the combat. Things like that. So on a fundamental level, the weapons are different in that way – which is a pretty big difference.
So even if you’re talking about the Lacerator or the AR Rifle - they are very similar in concept. Strategically, they play out pretty differently. Also, just if you notice, all the Strogg weapons have projectiles - large light sources - even in the case of something like the rail gun as opposed to the sniper rifle. Sniper rifle is a much more kind of a covert [weapon]. It doesn’t have this big blast that the rail gun does. So they’re similar weapons… both long ranged weapons. You can use them for sniper shots. But if I’m up in the hills as a Strogg with a rail gun, I’m not gonna stay hidden very long right? Because I’ve got a big huge projectile coming out - this beam of light - that the GDF doesn’t have to deal with. And the differences extend out.