Gameplanet: How do you blend two contrary genres such as action and strategy?
Jan Kunt: For this to work, we knew we had to create a feature that would allow players to seamlessly switch between direct first- and third-person unit-control, and the tactical map. People shouldn’t feel hindered to go from setting waypoints, to flying a Manta in battle, and going back to the tactical map again. Therefore, we integrated a ‘Picture-in-Picture’ window, which shows you the view of the selected unit in real-time while you’re in map-view. By clicking on the window (or the right mouse button), you can take instant control of this unit.
This was definitely one of the major technical and design challenges we had to overcome, but I think we succeeded. As a result, it’s now mostly up to what kind of play-style you prefer. You can stay in the action and give orders via the radial menu, or go for a more RTS-like experience using mostly the tactical map. However, for me, the game really shines when you go for a combination of these approaches.
Another challenge, from a design point of view, was to create a GUI that facilitates both the combat and strategy gameplay.
Gameplanet: How important are the cinematic aspects of Carrier Command, which is at its heart, a strategy game?
Kunt: The game includes two types of campaigns. The first one – the Gaea Mission Campaign - follows a rich story line and the story-telling is driven by in-game cinematics. As such, they are an integral part of the experience.
The second type – the Strategic Campaign – doesn’t include a narrative and is similar to a skirmish mode. Here, the only in-game cinematic are in-game conversations with your crew, when they update, inform or advice you on appropriate tactics.
Gameplanet: How has Bohemia, which is known for its hardcore simulation, managed the transition to sci-fi?
Kunt: To create an authentic sci-fi back-story, we received help from the creator of the ‘Gaea Universe’: David Lagettie. He, together with the Australian novel writers Phil and Didi Gilson, imagined a compelling sci-fi setting, supported by a written trilogy.
The first book – Gaea: Beyond the Son – is already available, and Carrier Command: Gaea Mission follows the story of the second novel, which is due later this year.
All in all, the shift to sci-fi was a welcoming change for most of us. We’re enjoying the creative liberty of a fictional setting, as opposed to Arma, where the goal is to make things like weapon and vehicle models as authentic as possible.
Gameplanet: What’s the most challenging thing about moving into a new genre?
Kunt: The switching between units and the map was clearly one of them. The engine programmers had the difficult task of figuring out how to implement without placing excessive stress on the hardware - keeping in mind that units might be miles apart.
Gameplanet: What new ideas do you hope to bring to the RTS genre?
Kunt: The original Carrier Command was a critically-acclaimed and revolutionary game. It influenced the industry for years. Although there certainly were some great attempts to recreate this master piece, they always focused on just a few parts of the gameplay. Unlike them, we’ve taken the whole Carrier Command concept, built upon it and transformed it into a modern game. As such, you can now control your ‘empire’ at one moment and jump into the Manta cockpit the other - dog fighting the enemy. And, at any time, you can instantly switch to another unit and/or order your units around the island via the tactical map.