FEATURES: Command & Conquer 10th Anniversary – Interviews – Frank Klepacki

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Section A – Community
1) Firstly, what is your reaction to the strong community support for an event such as the C&C 10th Anniversary?

I think it’s fantastic that it’s still going strong after all this time. It just goes to show how a game becomes a true classic.

2) Kind of related to question 1. Do you still follow the C&C community at Petroglyph, checking out what the sites are up to?

I certainly do, I have been active in keeping in touch with the community when I can.

3) What was your favourite aspect of working with the C&C community? Was it working with the fan site webmasters directly, arranging chat sessions, that sort of thing.

The coolest thing about it to me is that it’s like it’s own culture.

4) Do you think the C&C community as you remember it ever had high and low points, if so what/when were they?

(No answer given)

Section B – C&C Games
1) For those who worked on the original C&C, how does it feel to know you had a hand in creating what most people would describe as the game that defined Real Time Strategy?

Feels awesome. I’ve really embraced it and accepted it as such. In the beginning, I was really surprised how well it was received, and even more shocked how well the music went over. I never would have thought back then that a soundtrack to a game could have that much of an impact.

2) Do you favour the original C&C storyline or the Red Alert universe?

I’ve always like the Tiberian stuff a bit more. : I really enjoyed the units in TS Firestorm.

3) Following on from question 2, do you hope that EA will continue either of the 2 storylines?

That’s all up to them.

4) From a personal point of view what C&C game do you think was the best one produced?

They all have their great moments. It’s more about what mood you’re in I think. But there’s no denying how addicting the first one was.

5) If you could travel back in time what would you go back and change in any of the C&C games?

The in-game soundtrack to Tiberian Sun – needed more rockin’ tunes mixed in! Wasn’t my choice… Made up for it in Firestorm 😉

Section C – The Westwood Years
1) Who was the most important person or people at Westwood?

Everyone was important, and we were like a big family. Louis Castle definitely sparked my interest in the industry. I saw how he and Brett started out before they even had the full company. Paul Mudra was pretty much responsible for me getting my start in creating music for games, for Westwood, by allowing me the chance to prove myself. I’ll certainly never forget that. Chris Yates always shared words of wisdom that helped me in my early years. Chris, Paul, Andy Bagdanov, and myself, even used to have a Westwood rock band and we’d jam on the weekends. Ahh the old days!

On a more personal note, I met my wife Jennifer there 8 years ago! So I would say she was pretty darn important! hehe

For me, there were people that were a big part of everyday Westwood culture through the years that I’ll never forget, like the late Rick Parks. He was the nicest guy, you could hear him laugh down the hall, and his art was astonishing. I would always walk past his office just to peak at what he was working on everyday. Then there’s Mike Legg who always brightens up a room (and still does at Petroglyph!) Joe Kucan of course, always with a crazy remark. A typical day passing Joe’s office was (me) “How’s it going Joe?” (Joe) “I might live.” Gary Freeman, always with the blunt sarcastic humor. Brett Sperry and Louis Castle were always in the mix and very passionate with their visions. I can’t tell you how many times Brett told me “It has to be NEW and FRESH…” that phrase is permanently etched into my skull! Louis was like a bolt of lightning around the office. He’d be in and out of offices so quick if you blinked, you missed him. Haha Judy at the front desk, always with a smile and bubbly personality. My audio homies Paul Mudra and Dwight Okahaha, I definitely miss working with those guys. I could go on and on. Of course everyone from Westwood that came to Petroglyph were extremely instrumental and I love continuing to work with all of them as well, it really feels like not much has changed other than being a bit smaller of a group!

2) Describe the feeling you first felt and the thoughts going through your mind when you found out that Westwood was going to be “consolidated”?

Half of it I was prepared for, the other half my heart and everyone else’s just dropped. It was a whirlwind that didn’t really seem real until you saw boxes in front of everyone’s offices as we all began packing. Then it hit like a ton of bricks that it was truly the end of an era.

3) Is there anything you miss about Westwood Studios?

The people, the environment, the cool parties we had. I used to miss Westwood being smaller as we got really huge. But I sort of got that wish now with Petroglyph!

4) Do you still keep in contact with many of the former Westwood team? If so who?

We all kind of keep in contact form time to time still. We had a great bond and what makes that so special is that you just don’t see that from a lot of big companies in general.

5) One movie that Westwood released to the C&C community was where ‘Havoc paid a visit’ upon hearing Renegade was going to slip. This was perhaps one of the best and most entertaining movies outside a C&C game we had ever seen. During the Westwood days were any other similar movies or side projects created?

Seemed like there was a funny movie every year, usually just internally shared whether they were played at anniversary parties or other events. I usually had to have a hand in it providing some sort of audio or music.

6) On the Subject of movies, the early C&C community were always wishing for a C&C Hollywood blockbuster to be created. What were Westwood’s thoughts on this, and would it of been a legitimate option if the budget and time was there to create one?

(No answer given)

7) Part of the development process involves the developers playing the games themselves to test and iron out bugs in the game. During the internal multiplayer testing, who, out of all the Westwood staff, was the best Command & Conqueror?

(No answer given)

Section D – Petroglyph
1) It has been evident in the past that Westwood was indeed a great company to work for, balancing humour and fun with the seriousness of having to work to meet deadlines. Has this changed in any way now that Petroglyph has formed, or is there still the age old atmosphere that you had at Westwood?

It’s a bit different as it is a new time and a new focus, but I think that essence we had is still here. It’s like we’re pioneering all over again in some ways.

2) Petroglyph has already shown itself as a major player in the RTS market with Empire at War, and other games companies have expressed this. What could we expect from Petroglyph in the next 3-10 years in terms of both a business approach, and in terms of games development?

(No answer given)

3) Relating back to the C&C Games question of scrapped projects. Is there the potential in the future, for Petroglyph to revive any of the scrapped projects, even if they were to be under a different name?

(No answer given)

4) How do you feel about competing against possible C&C products, considering you helped build the franchise?

Competition is always healthy!

5) How do the early days of the Empire at War/Petroglyph community compare to the days of the C&C/Westwood community?

I’m just excited to see that the rallying has begun already and our project isn’t even out yet. That just goes to show what faith the community has in our team knowing where we have come from. And that’s a great thing!

6) Real Time Strategy as we know it has always followed what is known in the gaming industry as the “Rock, Paper, Scissors” system. Do you ever see RTS games breaking away from this mould or is it a vital element of game play that is essential to any RTS?

Bottom line is it just has to be fun, and hold the players interest.

7) Where do you see the RTS genre in another 10 years time? What direction do you see it heading, and what innovations could you see re-invent RTS as we know it?

Hard to say – it seems like each company puts their own spin on it as it progresses. I think we’ll just keep seeing that. For example, there are a ton of different themed chess boards and figurines, but it’s still a game of chess no matter how it looks 🙂

8) Give us a quick a summary of your daily routine at Petroglyph.

I say to myself “Mornings suck!” as I get my morning coffee before work. I walk in to work, and say “God I love this place.” I sit down at my desk and think “I can’t believe I’m still working on Star Wars! It don’t get much better than this!” If it’s a normal day, I either work on sound effects or music, or try to balance some of my implementation. If it’s a crazy day, I’m getting flooded with emails and knocks at my door saying “Frank we need this as soon as possible!” At the end of the day when all is done, I reply… “That was left-handed!”

Section E – Closing Comments
If you would like, Do you have any final thoughts about 10 years of Command & Conquer and is their anything you would like to pass along to the community that have followed you all these years?

I’ve said quite a bit amongst the community lately on all of this: but I’ll close by saying it’s been a great 10 years, and here’s to 10 more! To all the fans, you guys rule! I’m fortunate to be in a situation where the music I’ve done for the series has had staying power with all of you, and for that reason (and for the reason that I simply enjoy it) I continue to put out new tunes on my own CDs to keep the spirit alive. Kind of funny that I spent a good part of my life while working at Westwood, also pursuing record deals with various bands, and the whole time all you guys were right under my nose digging the C&C tunes. That’s when I decided I needed to keep that going, and for that I thank you all for being so supportive! With Petroglyph on the map now, I think we’re all in for some exciting new days ahead!

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