Petroglyph Games has been a busy studio lately. Formed and fueled by a group of guys and gals that has been making RTS classics for nearly about twenty years, Petroglyph is no stranger to the genre. They have the hotly anticipated Mytheon making its way towards release, but the Trion event wasn’t about the currently in closed beta testing title. No, at the Trion event we hoped to finally learn some solid details about the studio’s enigmatic MMORTS which had only previously been announced with little more than an acronym to accompany it. We were not disappointed.
Mike Legg, the President and Co-Founder of Petroglyph Games took the stage, told us how they believe they’ve finally figured out how to make a true MMORTS, and then quickly turned our attention to the massive screen behind him for the premier trailer. Set in a not too distant future we learn that the world’s governments have collapsed in the wake of economic disaster, and anarchy rules far and wide. It’s not long before a new power steps forward through the smoke and ash to take control of the mess and restore order. Massive tanks, dwarfing any military vehicles you’ve ever seen, patrol the streets of the torn world and begin to forcibly restore order.
Calling themselves the Order of Nations, the new superpower resembles a fascist regime in terms of how they rule with an iron fist and it’s not long before a resistance forms. As a player and commander you’ll build your own army to take on the Order of Nations. In the trailer we see Big Ben acting as part of the global battlefield, and as London is engulfed in flames we finally learn the game’s title: End of Nations.
What a glorious end it is.
As applause dies down, Mike makes no bones about the fact that he thinks they’re making the world’s first truly massive and epic MMORTS. The three main focus areas of development are persistence, massive scale, and socialization. Persistence is achieved by ensuring End of Nations isn’t about “matches” or competition cycles found in traditional RTS games. Like with any MMORPG, the world of EoN is always on, always living whether you’re playing or not. The shape and state of the world will truly change depending on the actions of its players but there’s never a reset button or starting over. Along with the persistent setting, Mike assured the audience that many of the MMO genre’s staple features will be present on EoN. Guilds, friends lists, auctions and trading, and form of player housing called Headquarters will all be ready when the game ships in 2011.
End of Nation’s massive scale is based on a number of things. The obvious, but not yet really achieved in an RTS game, is the fact that thousands of players will be interacting and commanding their own armies in one world. Petroglyph is touting maps that are larger than any yet seen in the RTS space and they’d better be to support any kind of large population. Secondly, the enemy and battles are massive in and of themselves. The Order of Nations versus the resistance is really a David & Goliath situation with the Order army providing some extremely epic PvE encounters that one might compare to raids from more traditional MMOs.
Legg continued by explaining that players will develop their own characters just like any other MMOG only they won’t be traipsing about the battlefield themselves but rather commanding a huge army. Players will start at level one, gain experience, level up, gain achievements, build and improve their army’s capabilities, add more units, customize their HQ, and so on. Your commander’s class will decide what unit types you specialize in (tanks, strike, artillery) but every player will be able to build their actual army any way they see fit. Mike wasn’t shy in announcing that they already have a massive number of unique units in the game and ready for collection at launch, but more and more will be added after release.
In most RTS games, the gist of play is about match-making, winning or losing, and then repeating the process. In End of Nations the developer’s goal is to take away all the waiting that is typically associated with RTS. There will be a world map interface in place where you’ll be able to easily identify what’s going on and where, where your friends are at and then just drop in and join them. Right in the middle of the ongoing battle. When you need to leave to feed the kids, walk the dog, or whatever it’s as simple as logging off. The game will go on without you, and be waiting when you can come back (though you might miss out on some pretty wicked battles).
Speaking of friends, Mike stressed that EoN will support solo play but that the real focus is on ushering people together to take on massive challenges and working together for common goals. And if it’s your preference, he assured us there will be ample opportunity for PvP as well. However the focus of the evening was on the game’s large-scale co-op PvE. Mike stated that as far as anyone at Petroglyph knew the current co-op player limit in the RTS genre is a whopping two. He was pleased to announce in epic fashion accompanied by an action-packed video demonstration that End of Nations is currently fully operational with fifty-one players cooperating in one map. A number they expect to keep going up as development moves past the alpha stages and the masses start to get their hands on the game.
Mike ended our preview of End of Nations by saying that they’re really hoping their game helps usher in a new era of RTS gaming. Judging by what we later saw in the developer demo, I’d say they’re well on their way towards achieving that goal. Stay tuned for our coverage of the End of Nations demo from Trion Worlds and Petroglyph Games.