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Postmortem: Westwood Studios' Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun
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Postmortem: Westwood Studios' Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun

April 4, 2000 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

Overall Tips

With Tiberian Sun, we built the game we originally set out to build over three years ago. Almost all of the new engine features we designed were implemented in the final product, and many more were added along the way. We built a game that is as easy to play as its predecessor while offering up lots of new units featuring interesting tactics. All of this was done while keeping the system requirements low enough to run on most systems: a 166MHz Pentium with 32MB RAM and a 2MB video card.

We learned, or relearned actually, a few more things about making RTS games that weren’t listed above. They are:

  • If the game has Internet or multiplayer capability, build this functionality as soon as possible since it will let you get into the game and balance it early.
  • Don’t shield yourself from reality. If your game supports Internet play as well as LAN play, don’t play only LAN games and assume that Internet performance is acceptable.
  • Keep the story tightly focused on players’ actions and don’t treat the story as a separate entity. Remember that the player is always the main character.
  • Wherever possible, try not to mix disparate technologies (3D visual systems with 2D, for example) that have inherent problems working together. Instead, go back and modify the design
Concept sketch of a GDI Orca bomber.

In the sense that Tiberian Sun was a game with lots of expectations for a sequel, it was a lot like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. No matter how the final product turned out, there would be people that complained that it was too much like the original and others who thought it wasn’t enough like the original. As a company, we set out to deliver what we intended — a fun new RTS game that offers players a slew of new tactics.

Orca fighters escort a transport.

After three years of working on Tiberian Sun, it was a great feeling to finally finish the game and see it on the shelves. No matter how many products you ship, that feeling never goes away. Tiberian Sun broke Electronic Arts’ sales record for the fastest-selling computer game in the 17-year history of the company with more than 1.5 million units sold so far. But best of all, the team is proud of the product they created and can’t wait to get started on the next one.


Tiberian Sun

Westwood Studios
Las Vegas, Nev.
(702) 228-4040

Release date: September 1999

Intended platform: Windows 95/98/NT 4.0

Project length: 36 months

Team size: 25 full-time, 15 part-time developers

Critical development hardware: Pentium Pro and Pentium II machines, 200 to 450MHz dual-processor with 128 to 256MB RAM, Creative Labs sound cards, Windows 95/98/NT, SGI 02 workstations, BlueICE accelerators

Critical development software: Microsoft Visual C++, Lightwave, 3D Studio Max, Discreet Flint, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Illustrator, Avid Media Composer, Filemaker Pro, Deluxe Paint

Rade Stojsavljevic was the producer for Tiberian Sun the expansion pack Firestorm. Before coming to Westwood, he worked on military simulations and adventure games at various small development houses. When he’s not out getting doughnuts to bribe the team with, you can usually reach him at [email protected].

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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