In speaking with Ubisoft representative Julian Gerighty, I learned that the development team turned to an unlikely source of inspiration for WMD usage in their real-world RTS: Nintendo's Mario Kart.
"One of the big, big cheeses at Ubisoft is called Serge Hascoet," explained Gerighty. "He's the guy behind Rayman, he's the guy behind hundreds of things. He's a very creative guy, and a little crazy. nope "So we were working on this game, and we found that at the end--one of the problems with strategy games is that when you're dominating, it's no fun for you or [your opponent]. It's just mopping up the one, and trying to avoid being mopped up for the other.
"So we wanted to give it this reversal, and the reversal came in the form of the last lap of Mario Kart."
Mario Kart has always been a game that allowed trailing racers an opportunity to make up ground with koopa shells and other special weapons. Fortunate players can quickly bounce back and forth from last to first, which gamers often describe as "rubber-banding" gameplay.
"When you get that red shell, you know that you can take out that number one driver on the last lap," continued Gerighty. "So on the last lap, our last lap, in the last few moments of the game, you unlock weapons of mass destruction that can take out a huge amount of enemies."
The losing side unlocks WMDs first, and is then allowed to desperately fire off his cache in a last-ditch effort. The leading player follows with a retaliatory strike. The round that I played still saw the winning player triumphant after the brief nuclear exchange, but it did speed up the end-game, and keep things interesting for both sides at that. Plus, it sure looked cool.
"Most of the stories, when [the developers] are discussing games at the water cooler, they come from that."
Check back later in the week for the full interview with Ubisoft's Julian Gerighty, as well as a hands-on preview of Tom Clancy's EndWar (PC, PS3, X360).