What does the recently announced RTS R.U.S.E. offer with its Poker-like elements of bluffing and wildcards? At a presentation we had the chance to sit down with senior producer Mathieu Girard from Ubisoft to talk about gameplay mechanics.
4Players: Let's talk about the name of the game: What means "Ruse" in French? And why did you choose this title?
Ubisoft: actually R.U.S.E. is inspired by the term "ruse of war". It's an official warfare term depicting an action to lure the enemy in order to gain intelligence or a military advantage. From the Greek Trojan horse to Fortitude operation during World War II, History is full of battles where the ruse made the difference and reversed the balance of power. Sun Tzu himself said that "All was is deception". We've chosen this name for the game as this is exactly the experience we want to offer to the player: being a full strategist, meaning take risk and make the ideal stratagem to win the battle.
4Players: How long is this game in development and who is responsible for the game design?
Ubisoft: The game is in development at Eugen Systems for several years. This French development team is very experienced in strategy game and their latest release is Act of War: Direct Action was one of the major RTS of 2005. We are working on R.U.S.E. together, joining our strengths to propose something fresh in the genre
4Players: Why did you pick World War II as a scenario? Isn't this quite boring?
Mathieu Girard, Senior Producer bei Ubisoft und verantwortlich für das interessante Strategiespiel R.U.S.E..
Ubisoft: Actually, this is the way World War 2 is told that is boring, not World War 2 itself. WW2 is more of a setting in our case. It's indeed a quite passionate field of work for a strategy game as this is the last full total war: a military war with all types of units used nowadays, an information war, a technological war and of course a deception war. So for R.U.S.E., we decided to relive the major battles of this "known by all" conflict but in a new angle, using a "story" in "history". That's why our story mode will be about confrontations between strategist, deception, spying, betrayal&
4Players: During the presentation you talked about a "breakthrough" in real-time-strategy. Could you describe the strengths and fresh elements of the game?
Ubisoft: actually, we are all fans of strategy games. We really enjoy playing everything released in the genre. When we started to work on the game, we strongly thought about the evolution of the genre and the frustrations we can have when we play strategy games today. Therefore we noticed that strategy games were more and more about mouse skills and action per minute than about...pure strategy. Is strategy about creating tons of units a minute to be sent for a rush? Not sure.
We want to try something different and reward the players elaborating a strategy, taking risks and playing cunningly. R.U.S.E. is the game where you can bluff your enemies to lead your nation to victory! To do so, we propose the players to live a full strategist experience in with 3 level of gameplay, all in real time, thanks to the powerful IRISZOOM Engine. At the high strategic level, you are like under the skin of the commander in chief. It's about analysing the overview of the battle, find the potential strategic point of the map, anticipate the enemy's move and use varied deceptions to make him believe things, better know him or to trap him.
At the strategic level, you act as the general producing his units, managing his resources and unveiling the forces of the opponent. Finally, at the ground level, the experience is about placing with finesse the right units at the right place at the right time to win combat engagements.
By the way, our leitmotiv was also to create a very deep but yet accessible strategy game. To do so and have the player enjoying fully what he's doing, we pay a special attention to interface. Indeed, it's sometimes frustrating to have ¾ of you screen invaded by heavy and obscure interfaces. So for R.U.S.E., a lot of work is made to have the interface as intuitive as it can be & only appearing when needed. For instance, if I want to create units, I just have to just click on the "building menu" select my unit drag and drop it and that's it! But if I want to fight, why on Earth should I be confused with the building menus, you know? It is that simple. These are only few examples of the different new gameplay mechanics we are setting up for R.U.S.E.
4Players: What is the target of and how can I win the game?
Ubisoft: Our will is to appeal all the strategy fans among the world. From people who enjoy to face their mind against an A.I during an epic solo campaign to strategists who prefers to measure their skills online against other strategists? We have also the feeling that R.U.S.E. can bring back former RTS players who quitted the genre because of the increasing artificial complexity. To us, strategy games have to be deep but this is not in contradiction with having clear and simple rules. Let's make a parallel with chess: very simple rules, deep mind challenge, unlimited ways of playing.
4Players: What are the differences between the playable factions?
Ubisoft: you have 6 different factions in the game: UK, French, German, Italian, Russian and American. Each faction has its own specific units like it was during the World War 2 but also worked on a different taste depending on the faction you choose. For instance, the British forces are very skilled in Aerial troops whereas the German look as the king of tanks. Our goal was to encourage the players to try them all, find the one adapted to their personal way of playing but also make him discover several different means to strategically win.
4Players: How many cards can a player use in the game and could you give an example of an effect?
Ubisoft: The number of "deception skills" cards is not defined yet. It should be above 10. For each of them, we are doing several tests to measure their impact & coolness on gameplay. We want them to be strong key strategic weapons in the player's arsenal. There is for example a "decryption "card that allows you to know on the applied area, one step in advance, the orders given by your opponent. You can imagine how enjoyable it is in multiplayer mode. It permits you to anticipate the moves of your enemy and use the right unit to counter attack efficiently. You can also opt for the decoy unit card that builds wooden tank in order to frighten your opponent and encourage him to send units to the wrong place& and be trapped. Once again, winning cunningly is to us very rewarding.
4Players: Will there be formations, different groups and all the other classic real-time-strategy stuff?
Ubisoft: There will be not formations as our angle is not about the micromanagement of units. However, R.U.S.E. is a very rich game and we are using some classic RTS stuff that enhances the experience. That's why we propose among 200 different units to manage in the game. To be creative, you need to have choice.
4Players: The game reminded us of a military board game with poker elements. What role will luck play in relation to strategy?
Ubisoft: your comparison with poker is quite relevant. In the Other RTS, you have the fog of war, making you discover the map and the enemies step by step. Our philosophy is different. In R.U.S.E., the information is partial, meaning you see your enemy but you don't know exactly what kind of enemy it is or even if it is a real enemy. It's quite like in the Texas Hold them where you know the flop but not the cards of your opponents...So like in poker, R.U.S.E. is about betting on the power of your opponents, finding the info and bluffing to make you win...Successfully or not. So as for Poker, R.U.S.E. is about strategy. Nothing really linked to luck actually
4Players: You will display the landscape with the new IRISZOOM-Engine. What is the strong point about it?
Ubisoft: The IRISZOOM Engine brings dimension: the battlefields are gigantic, like in real war. In the game, we will for instance relive the landing operation in Normandy. We are not talking about making the battle only on the Beachhead, but on the whole Cotentin area. This new dimension allows also the brand new deception gameplay because you can play with the environment to hide your troops in forest or in town, because you can play with the distance of view of your units and the one of your opponents and of course because you can use your deception skills, affecting them on a whole areas to puzzle the perceptions of your enemy. Finally, the IRISZOOM engine is also a big part of our interface as it allows you to check the balance of power at a glance when you unzoom, and place the right unit at the right place when you zoom.
4Players: Last but not least: How many players will fight against each other online? And when can we expect Ruse to start?
Ubisoft: Up to 8 players will be able to fight online, with a maximum of 4 versus 4. This configuration generates huge strategic battles where deception, strategic moves and cooperation will be the basics of the victory. R.U.S.E. will start when it's ready. As we want to come up with new gameplay experience, testing and balancing are indeed mandatory.
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