Tag Archives: petroglyph

Thoughts: Grey Goo


Say what you like about game developers in the ‘90s, but they at least knew how to name their games. Look at any list of releases from just about any year in that decade and you’ll find any number of punchy, pithy, interesting-sounding titles. Doom, Warcraft, Civilization  - of course the fact that these games are all classics lends their names a certain familiarity and ease with which they roll off the tongue, but you’d have trouble convincing me that Command & Conquer wasn’t a genius name for the game that popularised the RTS genre. It’s three words and five syllables elegantly structured in such a way that they almost perfectly sum up the product they’re attached to. They’re catchy. They stick in the mind. They’re memorable, so much so that twenty years later just saying them will evoke fond memories of that opening GDI beach assault. They also evoke something that’s been a little bit lost in the intervening two decades; an attitude towards strategy that I wouldn’t exactly call more thoughtful or relaxed, but certainly slower. Starcraft popularised an emphasis on frenetic micromanagement that gradually became dominant throughout the genre, to the point where even the later C&C games aped it (to their great detriment), but there’s a lot of people out there who miss the older, more languid style of Command & Conquer, and would very much like it if somebody made a modern game in that now almost-retro style of RTS.

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Gnomishlich asks

Could I ask your thoughts on Petroglyph Studios, specifically Universe at War: Earth Assault? I’ve always thought of it as ahead of its time, but bogged down by implementation issues. your thoughts?

Oh. Petroglyph. Those guys.

For those not in the know, Petroglyph was formed by the last group of Westwood refugees back in 2003 when EA turned off the life support that was keeping the zombified husk of the studio alive and merged what was left with EA Pacific. Westwood were responsible for a couple of minor PC hits you may have heard of, such as Command & Conquer, Red Alert and all that jazz. In theory Petroglyph were well placed to carry on where Westwood had left off, immediately beginning work on two RTSes that eventually came to market in 2006 and 2007. But it didn’t quite turn out that way.

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