FEATURES: Command & Conquer 10th Anniversary – Interviews – Mike Legg

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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 thought that this was excellent. It’s great to see the community stick together for over a decade.

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?

Yes, many of us are regularly keeping an eye on the sites. There’s a lot of people who’ve been around for so long, and they’ve become friends to us. We also like to hear the reactions to other RTS’s that come out, as well as how everyone thinks we are doing on our games at Petroglyph.

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.

(No answer given)

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?

I had the honour to program some of the original technology/libraries used for Dune 2, C&C, and Red Alert. (I was Lead Programmer on the first Kyrandia, and Joe (Dune 2), Phil (Eye of the Beholder) and I were coordinating and sharing technology.) Joe and Brett did some amazing game play engineering, which made us all addicted to the very first RTS titles.

Additional, my wife Maria del Mar, coded all those cool, custom installers that the C&C games had. The DOS versions really rocked. I know that she is very proud of her C&C heritage, and still has people comment on those installers.

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

This is a tough call, I love them both. C&C is such a classic to me. Red Alert has some much wild technology, very interesting characters, and fun cinematic outtakes. I think the invention of Tesla Coils push me slightly in favour of the Red Alert series.

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

Absolutely! Some much work has gone into both series; it would be a shame to see them come to an end. I believe that they will live on.

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

They had better production quality (and technology) as time went on. I think I liked the Red Alter 2 and Uri’s Revenge production quality the most. The story and cinematic scenes were a blast, as was the game play.

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

There is nothing that I would want to change

6) Although the franchise is now in other hands, are you able to disclose any further details on scrapped Westwood projects related to C&C such as the potential titles – Renegade 2, C&C 3: Tiberian Twilight and Continuum?

My Non-Disclosure Agreement is still in effect. : You’d have to get that information from Louis.

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

This is going to sound cliché, but everyone was very important to the process. Brett Sperry and Louis Castle founded the company intentionally with the name “Westwood Associates”, which then became “Westwood Studios”. They always wanted it to be about our team and not the individual. Of course, Westwood would not have been possible without the vision of these 2, so I’d have to say that they were most important to Westwood.

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”?

I was devastated. It was one of the biggest life-changing moments in my life. After being part of Westwood Las Vegas for 17 years, I ended up not being able to make the move. We (Maria and I) considered it at first, but decided that we could not leave our home, friends, families, neighbours, and local haunts. It was evident that game development should live on is Las Vegas.

3) Is there anything you miss about Westwood Studios?

I drive by the old Tenaya building almost every day when going to and from Petroglyph. Westwood was a huge part our lives for Maria and I. There was actually not much separation between home and work. At home, and away from work, with the crew, we’d often talk about what we were doing at work. At work, we’d often be talking about what we were all going to go do together over the weekend. So many of us at Westwood were extremely close friends outside of work.

For me, the huge gap was filled with the creation Petroglyph. We have a lot of ex-Westwoodians (old cohorts) working here together, and we still keep in constant contact with most of our friends who have moved on in the industry.

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

Yes, it’s amazing how many of us have kept in touch. We always manage to find each other at DICE, GDC, and E3. Plus, we have a private message forum for everyone ex-Westwood. Then, there are the phone calls, the office visits, and the convenience of e-mail. Currently, 24 of us at Petroglyph are from the old Westwood crew, and I would expect that number to keep growing.

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?

There were quite a few of these produced. Barry Green and Karen Gloyd creates some really hilariously entertaining videos. One was a music video based on Joe Kucan (unbeknownst to him at the time). Another was about Adam’s car getting taken for a joy ride, after Barry disguised him self as Adam, raced around, and got pulled over by the police. We still have these videos on our network.

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?

I believe that Brett and Donny Miele were looking into options about this at one time, but I don’t know many more details.

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?

I believe that Chris, Brett and Ted were our top players. There were guys in the Q/A group who were also great at it.

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?

Petroglyph is definitely a new and differently entity from Westwood. When we created it, we all wanted to take the best from Westwood (there we so many good things about it) and carry it forward. We have a great time working and playing together. And, there is a great comradery in the team. We try to make every day as enjoyable as possible, while staying focused and working hard. Our new additions that did not come from Westwood have made this place even more fun and unique – and have greatly contributed to the atmosphere and culture. It’s some much fun (and more challenging) for me to be part of a small company again!

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?

Our goal is to stay as small and focused as possible – with a tight company culture. A small, close team has quick and efficient communication that allows us to iterate quickly. We plan to do our best to eventually be two main teams working on two projects simultaneously, for good business viability. (We do not want to grow large for the sake of growing large.) The goal is not to have to grow above 50 people. We definitely plan to stick with what we feel is our expertise, but we also will continue to innovate and evolve. There are some new, great directions that we will move in.

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?

Currently, this would not be possible. At this point, we’ll be creating only new projects from the ground up.

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

I think this is great. Competition drives innovation and keeps you striving for excellence. There are many of us in the RTS part of the business who are in completion, but also share a comradery for making great games. I’m on an AIAS panel, where all enjoy sharing feedback about each others games. Plus, I love playing great RTS games – it’s fun to see what new innovations that other companies are developing. I would love to see more C&C games from EA – and I bet we will

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

I was not very involved with the community at the start of C&C, but the growing EAW and Petroglyph community has been very supportive of us. The feedback of the fans makes all the hard work and long hours worth it.

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?

Many games move away from this style. We still feel that it is an important component. Joe can elaborate more on this.

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?

We talk about this all the time. There are many possibilities, but I don’t have a concrete answer for this. Next-generation console technology will definitely evolve RTS into a new direction. The growth of fast online connectivity will also advance the genre both on PC and consoles.

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

  • Arrive at work.
  • Walk left or right around the loop and say Hi to everyone who’s in
  • Synch my dev system to the latest in the project Perforce depot
  • Start building the latest debug executables
  • Grab a toasted bagel and a drink from the kitchen (during build)
  • Go back to my desk and code from my task list
  • (Attend occasional meeting)
  • Lunch break with one of the lunch groups
  • Go back to my desk and code from my task list
  • (Attend occasional meeting)
  • Maybe get in a quick game of Ping Pong with Ted
  • Go back to my desk and code from my task list
  • Head home for an hour of Tivo and then sleep

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?

We’re proud to have been part of it. The spirit of C&C will live on. The C&C community and the EAW community both rock!

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