Whilst Joe was out at GamesCom getting treated to a live demonstration of End of Nations, we had Greg put together an interview for Pretroglyph's Joe Bostic to help round things off:
Strategy Informer: Will your armies be persistent a la what has been done in Company of Heroes where units become more skilled the more battles they’ve been in?
Joe Bostic: Your army in End of Nations can be thought of much like a collection of miniatures for a tabletop wargame – you collect many and decide which to bring into battle according to how you plan to meet the challenges of that battlefield. Your units can be buffed and equipped with enhancements, but they don’t gain experience as individuals. As the commander, you gain experience in combat and this enhances your power as you level and also unlocks new abilities that can enhance your units in the field. Collecting rare units is also part of how you become more powerful as you go from battle to battle.
Strategy Informer:Are you concerned that with the number of players and the scale of the action that the system requirements may limit the player base?
Joe Bostic:End of Nations uses battlefields of varying sizes that can accommodate different numbers of players. For battlefields that are tailored for PvP or invitation-only group play, the number of players on a battlefield is predefined, so there is no performance risk there. For battlefields that are public – anyone can join and leave at any time – the system requirements are maintained by tracking the number of players on the battlefield and when a threshold is reached, a new “copy” of that battlefield is silently created.
Strategy Informer: Is it possible to not directly take part in the fighting but become an important/powerful player through the gathering and trading of resources with other players?
Joe Bostic: It is possible to become more powerful through trading and collecting. The main result of this is to acquire rare (aka, more powerful) units as well as manufacturing more powerful consumables such as ammo. However, there isn’t a separate levelling path for pure “traders” or “gatherers”. Gathering and trading supports the main game path of levelling up, but does not replace it.
Strategy Informer:Will the fight against The Order of Nations ever reach an end point? If so would the game then change to the fight for the balance of power between players?
Joe Bostic: The conclusion of the fight against The Order of Nations is not preordained. Will the player’s defeat the Order of Nations? How will the players influence the progression of the conflict? These and other questions will only be answered after launch as the game’s story and content progresses. However, players who have consumed much of the PvE story content will have many other goals to chase after. These include achievements, trophies, rare unit collection, and player verses player battles where success grants titles and rewards.
Strategy Informer:You describe the game as having hundreds of missions that players can do alone and with others, will there be “end game” missions for players that reach the highest level and unlock all their available units.
Joe Bostic: There will be missions that high level players will be challenged with. These missions likely will be very difficult and require multiple players to cooperate as an army to complete. These will unlock rare units and give the player bragging rights (trophies to display at their Base HQ). There is also the player verses player “meta-game” which pits player factions against each other. Player can fight for honour and rewards each season of the meta-game. The meta-game repeats indefinitely.
Strategy Informer:How will you keep mission objectives fresh and fun when you are dealing with dozens of players fighting on the same map?
Joe Bostic: When players are fighting on the same map, often the missions do not overlap. The public battlefields are large enough that one player often does not conflict with another. In those cases where players are fighting in the same area, they can help each other so that missions are completed faster, they can take turns, or explore nearby content in much the same way that MMOs handle multiple players in the save vicinity. End of Nations employs a technique where multiple virtual copies of a public battlefield will be created according to how crowded the battlefields become. This is designed to ensure that players never get overcrowded.
Strategy Informer:Will mission variety range the way they do in a traditional title, such as one mission has you establishing a base, while another gives you a set group to work with.
Joe Bostic: There will be many mission varieties in End of Nations. Some examples include penetrating enemy defences to destroy secret outpost or enemy leader, clear out a region so that allies can arrive, escort friendly units to a safe area, defeat challenging enemy “boss” units or defences, destroy enemy supply lines, and assist allies in a raging war zone to achieve victory. Although many missions can be completed solo, some are quite difficult and would tend to encourage players to group together. Whenever grouping is desired, the player will usually be grouping with other human players although in some battlefields, there are allied (computer controlled) that will assist the player. As you can imagine though, the best cooperation and effectiveness in combat comes from cooperation with actual human players. (Ed: Also note, this game does away with traditional 'base building'. There are some static structures you can place during missions, but your 'base' is the persistent headquarters.)
Strategy Informer: While it’s been revealed that a player’s main base cannot be attacked will you be able to take over sectors that you’ve won from The Order of Nations and compete with other players for control of these free sectors?
Joe Bostic: There is a meta-game where players can align with a faction and team up with other players in order conquer territories – kind of like the game of Risk. As the territories are captured, the player gains perks with the ultimate bragging rights and rewards going to the players that win an entire meta-game season. End of Nations has a dynamic content character such that battlefields can become available according to world events. Sometimes this can be from player actions (such as through victory in the meta-game), but also can be due to changing world state and story progression as the Order of Nations tries to exert control over the world.
Strategy Informer:Will the player vs. player content have a match-making system or will you opt for something more organic like sectioned off areas for different level brackets?
Joe Bostic: Player verses Player will use both a matching system (pits players of similar skill level together) as well as a bracketing system that uses battlefield point load out limits such that players will be teamed up with and fight against players of similar power and skill. Players will also be able to form groups prior to entering PvP battles in order to allow staying together when the battle starts.
Strategy Informer:Will there be guild/clan support when the game is released?
Joe Bostic: Guilds and clans will be supported at launch. Sometimes we refer to these as “alliances” or “brigades”. The details of features that guilds will support is still under development.
Strategy Informer:We are seeing with a lot of newer titles, especially on the PC that have a heavy integration of social networking, is that something you guys are interested in doing, is it planned?
Joe Bostic: We are planning to add certain social features such as friends status updates (see what your friends are saying), notable events tracking (see what your friends have been up to), and viewing of your friend’s base HQ. These social features extend to guild mates and even strangers to some degree. For example, if you meet another player on the battlefield, you can “inspect” them to see their Base HQ and see what their recent activities were. From that point you can decide to chat with, group with, or invite as friend/guildmate, the other player.
There you have it folks, the four-one-one on End of Nations. As you can probably tell from our preview, we're quite excited about this game, and it will be interesting to get our hands on a playable build. Stay tuned.