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Mark Skaggs stories on Generals and ZH development
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Supreme Banshee

Joined: 15 Aug 2002
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:09 pm    Post subject:  Mark Skaggs stories on Generals and ZH development
Subject description: This hammer is heavy!
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A fan art mimicking a potential remasterization of Command & Conquer Generals has actually inspired Mark Skaggs to share some stories about the development of Command & Conquer Generals and its expansion Zero Hour. For those who don't know, he was the executive producer of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, Generals and Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth games.

He has shared stories that he wouldn't share if he was still working at Electronic Arts. Here are some snippets:

CnC Modder: 1) In another post, you mentioned that the Marketing Team wasn't keen on having the name "Generals" without "Generals." But there were some leftovers of some sort of sub-factions in the original Game pre-expansion, including things like Chinese Secret Police, American Tank Command, and Chinese Red Army. Do you recall when and why the decision was made to scale these back to three factions until the expansion pack?

Mark Skaggs: 1) It was really more the EA execs who wanted the generals in the game. Marketing wanted the C&C branding and then they thought the game sucked and tried to kill ZH. That was a mess! As for faction choice, unit choice etc it was a matter of what we could get done and how they all fit together.

Vanguard: Different is one way to explain Generals. Why go from no generals to having generals in ZH? Also why remove the POW system? Oh oh oh, why does Twilight Flame seem to be so... laggy for something that doesn't have a lot of stuff on it. When there are other 8 player maps that run fine it seems to do the opposite. Also why did we get rid of the demo reel water?

Mark Skaggs: During the development of the game, EA execs kept calling out the fact that the game was called "Generals" but there were none. I always answered that the player was the general. They actually suggested having a "general" walking around the battle field giving commands.

The rule of thumb at the time at EA was that expansion packs sold to about 30% of the existing audience so we liked to loosen up the rules a bit and give existing players more fun, wacky, new variations and game play. During development, the team came up with the idea that we could retune different units and troops a bit to create new variations in the sides (kind of like the different countries in RA1) and the idea of different "Generals" for each side was born. They worked out great because when you and a character, you get to add lots of personality. They worked out great.

Also coming into play on ZH was the fact that the team was now very experienced at using the super powerful engine and we didn't have much engineering time available (devs were on BFME at the time). So ZH was a combo of that limitation and the idea that we could create a great experience with content rather than more engineering.

ZH broke the rule of thumb and actually the combo with Generals pushed Generals to being the best selling PC game in NA that year (beating out Sim City which was launched shortly before Generals).

Vanguard: Hmm, honestly while I love ZH I felt like it wasn't really CNC, I mean it is because there are pieces that kinda fit into the two different time periods of RA and TD, and Generals seems to fit between the two so nicely, I just never quite understood why everything changed so drastically. I saw some of the Alpha coding for VGen and it seemed to be much... cleaner if that's what I would call it. So many limitations are put on us modders. Like I added something like 15 new colors to the game for the player to choose from and now suddenly loading bars for the new colors shoot off the screen but the crash report for both WB and the game are lack luster to say the least. Or I need new DAMAGE types. SAGE is really worried about ALPHA'S and for whatever reason a lot of your FX are based on ALPHAS.

Mark Skaggs: It wasn't originally planned to be part of C&C.
Remember that when we were making the Sage engine, we had to make trade-offs on time and features. We also didn't really realize how much it would be modded or how long it would last. I'm psyched every time I see people talk about modding it and wish we could have kept up mod support and community support in general for it. In those days, the idea of supporting a long term vibrant social community around a game wasn't something EA bought into. Westwood did but when EA bought Westwood, it became impossible to have a team support a game that was already launched. Any effort in that area had to come from Devs donating their nights and weekends, or from the community.

There is a lot of text from Mark Skaggs there with some bits on Red Alert 2, Yuri's Revenge and BfME as well. Fun time guaranteed! Read the whole thing here.

Key Words: #News #Generals #ZeroHour #RedAlert2 #YurisRevenge #BfME1 

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AA Infantry

Joined: 29 Aug 2015

PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i remember them saying the lead guy of generals was a starcraft fan or something. thats why it had builders and a bottom bar. EA seems to love to slap franchise names on their games. C&C generals to get C&C fans to buy it, tiberian twilight to make fans think they were getting a proper C&C sequel only for it to be trick to get more money out of a failed arena game designed for the asian market. that failed Generals 2 "Command & Conquer (previously known as Command & Conquer: Generals 2)" to try to net more C&C fans than just generals fans lol.

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Supreme Banshee

Joined: 15 Aug 2002
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Generals 2, not the original Generals.

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