After our “where did RTS go?” discussion with Pat Pannullo, former Tiberian Sun designer and current Grey Goo Lead Designer, we got a hands-on play session with the upcoming RTS. Grey Goo – conveniently “GG” – seeks to bring the genre back to its more “beer and pretzels” origins of the 90s and early 00s.
The game still hosts a very real potential for a competitive scene, but it's specifically built to be an input-simplified RTS; the team wants to avoid the complexity of StarCraft – a game that uses heavy unit abilities, structure abilities, macro, micro, and meta play – and instead bring the focus back to core real-time strategy mechanics, the meta game, and epic battles. The resulting product is a game that scales to high competition just as well as it scales to casual LAN play (and Grey Goo does offer LAN), giving players a clear arc of progression if the desire to compete increases.
Command & Conquer may not have been the definitive “first” game in the RTS genre, but it was a milestone in gameplay and mechanics that paved the way for future titles. The 90s and very early 00s saw the rise of “strategy” as a genre, with RTS championing its market dominance. In a very similar fashion to the present-day flood of MOBAs, early RTS and campaign strategy once comprised what felt like the majority of popular titles.
Command & Conquer was just a small piece of that. We saw the arrival of Age of Empires, Age of Mythology, Empire Earth, Shogun: Total War, Ground Control, and the sleeping giants that spawned a decade of games – Warcraft and StarCraft; campaign games also grew, with large thanks to Civilization, Rise of Nations, Galactic Civilizations, and Hearts of Iron; city builders like Zeus, Poseidon, Caesar, Settlers, and Pharaoh also carved out a niche in the overarching “strategy” marketplace.
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