In development for about the past 6 years, Renegade X is an impassioned tactical first-person shooter which takes place in the Command and Conquer universe. On top of all that, it’s going to be completely free! A singleplayer demo showcasing the project’s current state and allowing the studio to push forward development was released in early 2012; it drilled up a large amount of excitement, particularly amongst old-school gaming fans. The full game with multiplayer – the real meat of the game – is planned for release in February 2014. We spoke with Totem Arts Founder Bilal Bakri and Lead Artist Robin Nielsen.
Strategy Informer: How would you summarise the game in your own words?
Bilal Bakri: There are two teams, the GDI – Global Defence Initiative, a UN international military – and the Brotherhood of NOD – an ancient and secretive society with a kind of messianic leader known as Kane. Players will be able to join GDI or NOD and fulfil different roles in the game. The way it translates to gameplay is that there are two different styles of play. The GDI are much more a slow and strong heavily armoured team whereas NOD suit a more faster stealthy hit and run method of attack. They’re two very different teams that play asymmetrically, but aside from that we think it’s fairly well balanced.
The objective is to destroy the enemy’s base while protecting your own. Both teams start off with three to five core buildings. Each one has a specific role; for example, the war factory which allows the construction of vehicles. As soon as a building is destroyed it no longer functions on that team and cripples a part of their capabilities. Destroyed buildings cannot be rebuilt so players need to adapt their strategies as that happens. There are also some buildings which can be captured that offer advantages such as bonus credits or revealing the enemy players’ positions on your radar.
The game takes place around about the time when a substance called tiberium comes onto the Earth. It’s a very valuable and yet poisonous and deadly substance used as the main resource in the game. The GDI want to rid the world of the tiberium, which is really a toxic substance poisoning humanity, whereas the NOD believe that tiberium mutation is the key to the next stage of human evolution so they’re trying to further the spread of that. NOD have a lot of beliefs mixed in with biblical prophecy and their leader, Kane, is the archetypal charismatic cultist leader who almost seems invincible.
Strategy Informer: How does the resource management side of things work?
Bilal Bakri: Everyone on the team has their own independent supply of credits which can be used to purchase vehicles and special weapons. The main way of gaining them is using a building on each team called the refinery. A vehicle called the harvester goes from the refinery to collect resources and then when it gets back it gives credits to everyone on the team. You can also gain credits by collecting drops on the map or earning them by doing beneficial things in the game for your team such as destroying vehicles, sniping, repairing buildings, etc. Players can also transfer credits between themselves.
Since tiberium is so important in the game one popular strategy is to try to destroy the opponent’s harvester so it doesn’t get back, or destroy the enemy refinery altogether which will stop the enemy team from having a constant stream of credits. Making sure the harvester comes back safely is very central to the game.
Strategy Informer: Could you tell us about the class system in the game?
Robin Nielsen: For both sides there are four free classes and then nine classes which you have to pay credits for. All the classes are unique, but some of their functions overlap. For example, the engineer, who is free, has a basic repair kit, while the technician, who is purchasable for credits, has an advanced repair kit, proximity mines, and more explosives. You also have snipers, chainguns, anti-armour classes, stealth soldiers, railguns, chemical weapons, etc. Both teams have a few classes that are unique to them.
Strategy Informer: What are your favourite experiences with the game so far?
Robin Nielsen: We had a match where we were in the biggest tank we have in the game – the mammoth tank – and we drove around and just gradually stomped across the whole map and destroyed everything we came across. So there are definitely those kinds of special moments you can have in the game. I also really like the flying vehicles – the apache helicopters, orcas and chinooks – they’re really great to fly and also really fun to fight against. There’s a great moment in the trailer where an orca is having a battle with a guy on the ground who’s just shooting at it with his pistol.
Bilal Bakri: It’s also the fear factor. When you’re playing online you can’t predict what people are doing. You can be a guy running on your own carrying a nuclear strike beacon and you’re all the time hoping that there’s no mines, that no-one’s going to see you and so on. Then when you put the beacon down you have about 40 seconds before the nuclear strike comes down when they could disable it.
There are moments when you feel like you might not make it but then you come back from having half your base destroyed to win the match and those moments are very empowering. You feel like as an individual you can potentially have a big effect on the outcome.
Strategy Informer: What is it about the C&C universe which appeals to you so much?
Bilal Bakri: A lot of us growing up were C&C fans. We actually started this project when a lot of us were in our late teens. Originally the game was a remake of a C&C game called Renegade which was released in 2002. The problem with that game is that it had subpar single player and therefore wasn’t exceptionally well received, and because of internet speed limitations at the time a lot of people couldn’t really enjoy the multiplayer.
Even back then the game featured a lot of the mechanics which we’re now building upon; it was far beyond the capture the flag and deathmatch style of gameplay dominant at the time. Although it didn’t do well in terms of sales, people are still playing the game today. It had a strong community, total conversion mods and a constant player base that’ve now been playing for 10 years. We think this style of game is a hidden gem and that if it’s updated, modernized and recreated in a good modern way that we’ll be able to attract the attention of a lot of classic PC gamers. In fact, just releasing the trailer I think we’ve been able to do that.
Strategy Informer: Who do you think your game is mostly appealing to?
Bilal Bakri: I feel like there’s sort of a lost generation of gamers. A lot of games these days are tablet games and casual games. People in their late twenties and early thirties who were gaming in the 90s and early 2000s can’t find the games they want anymore. Those are mainly the people who’re coming to our forums to see what Renegade X is all about. Our audience aren’t so much Call of Duty players; they’re people who are more into these more traditional types of games like, Counterstrike and Battlefield, which were first released ten years ago or more.
Strategy Informer: Your game is completely free. Not even free to play, but just plain free! Presumably a lot of that is to do with the C&C license which is owned by EA.
Bilal Bakri: Yeah, we started off as an Unreal Tournament 3 mod, so the game was always going to be free. When we started off we got the permission from EA Los Angeles to make the game and they helped us out in many ways. They advertised the game on their website and they helped to test the game. I think it’s mutually beneficial, the more people who’re exposed to our game the more people who’re exposed to the C&C franchise. Obviously for us the benefit is that everyone on the team is working on a quality game which they can add to their portfolio.
Strategy Informer: What kind of plans do Totem Arts have for the future?
Bilal Bakri: It all depends on how well the game is received. The core members of the team really want to do something after Renegade X. There are a lot of really talented people involved in the project and a lot of it has to do with the direction in the industry, there’s so much talent around right now. Go to IndieDB.com and you’ll see many indie games which really look phenomenal. I feel there’s a generation of gamers and developers that are still looking to make ambitious and spectacular projects and sometimes in the large production companies there just aren’t the openings for that.
Strategy Informer: Thanks very much for your time!
Renegade X is scheduled for release on 26th of Feburary 2014 – the 12th anniversary of the original C&C-themed FPS which inspired it. You can find more about information at the game’s official website http://www.renegade-x.com/