Published on December 21st, 2012 | by simeon0
Company of Heroes 2 Interview With Game Director Quinn Duffy
As our cover story for the December 2012 issue of our magazine, I got the chance to speak with Quinn Duffy who is the Game Director for the pending Company of Heroes 2. I got a chance to play the game at PAX Prime and loved it. The following are selections from the interview, you can read the full interview in our latest issues which is available at Barnes and Noble. The full interview talks about new units, multiplayer, and much more.
What made you decide to use the Eastern Europe front for this version and how much continuity is there from the last game in the series?
In the original Company of Heroes, we covered four months out of the six years of the war so there were a lot of stories left for us to tell. We actually wanted to do an Eastern Front expansion for the original game, but we just couldn’t do it justice with the technology we had. When it came to do Company of Heroes 2, there were two things on our mind. First, we couldn’t leave the biggest part of the largest conflict in human history alone, and secondly we wanted to support our fans with a new game in a new location where we could use our brand new Essence Engine to provide all kinds of cool new tactical features and environmental gameplay.
In terms of continuity, there is no connection narratively to the original game. The new game is a little darker in tone to help deliver on the brutality and ruthlessness of the war on the Eastern Front. However, we were really conscious of the fact that the gameplay in COH was much-loved, and we wanted to recapture that feeling with the sequel. It has the same intensity and drama of the first game, but feels fresh and looks amazing.
What can you tell us about the technological advances using Essence v3.0 allowed you to include in the game?
Lots of stuff! We started with how the engine should be built to help support the creative vision of the game. Its whole job was to make the game look better, feel better, sound better, and play better. But of course, that meant we needed to deliver on the tone and experience of the Eastern Front. We really wanted to make sure we have the best ice and snow of any game and that it not just look pretty, but be part of the gameplay experience. We wanted cold weather to impact gameplay, we wanted new tactical options with our TrueSight system, we wanted the game to run faster, so we can multithread now and put more effort into our visuals and audio to support the gameplay and deliver a really compelling experience.
Weather has played a part in strategy and battles in the first game and in the expansions. What made you decide to use the Coldtech system to make weather an even larger part of the game experience?
It’s more a case of building Coldtech to make the Eastern Front experience more relatable and to deliver on the tone. The Soviets and Germans both spoke of General Winter and he’s really a neutral third team in the experience. He’ll make both sides suffer if players don’t adapt, but he’s really there to illustrate – very graphically – the consequence of choice and sacrifice. That’s a theme that the franchise, and this game in particular, really explores.
Compared to the last game, what was it like casting the voice actors for this game?
Much more challenging to be honest – it’s a case of finding actors who sound Russian and German, but not too Russian and German. We found a great partner in London, England that we also used on Space Marine and we have some great actors lined up. Speech in the game is super critical from a feedback perspective, and for tone so it’s critical for us to get great writing and great actors together.
In our hands-on session, we found the gameplay intense, challenging and honestly, very stressful. How typical is this of the experience you wanted for the players?
I’d be disappointed if it didn’t cause some of those emotions. I firmly believe that intensity comes from engagement with the game, so that’s really a great sign. If players aren’t engaged, they won’t care about the outcomes, they won’t feel the stress, and they won’t play the game for very long.
Where do you see the franchise heading in the future? How likely do you think it would be to see the franchise take on the Pacific theater?
When we kicked off Company of Heroes 2 we took a long look at the creative vision and tried to determine what it was that made the game feel the way it does. Now we have a Creative Vision for the franchise that we could move into any theater of war or any time period. Company of Heroes is set in World War 2, but it certainly doesn’t have to stay there.