Interview With Petroglyph: Making Games With Middleware

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Xsolla had a chance to talk with Michael Legg – president and co-founder of Petroglyph. This is one of the most important studios for the RTS genre. Formed by former Westwood employers this company works on a new RTS game Grey Goo, that takes classical Command & Conquer gameplay on a whole new level. Michael told us about the development process and explained the advantages of middleware solutions.

Tell us a little bit about your studio.

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Michael Legg.

Petroglyph specializes on real-time strategies. Our roots call us back into the Westwood days and the glory of Command & Conquer. Today we’re working on Grey Goo – our new RTS game. It’s a science fiction based RTS. There are three very different unique factions which are fighting against each other. We’ve got a story campaign, skirmish and cool multiplayer. This game takes us back to the roots of the traditional RTS-games. It’s oldschool but I wouldn’t call it hardcore micromanagement. It’s more like a nice Command & Conquer style game. There’s a great balance of economy, base-building and combat.

Have you used your own engine or did you by a different technology?

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We’ve written everything ourselves. It’s our proprietary technology called the Glyphics. The clients and the servers are run by us. We have a whole bunch of our own custom tools and assets.

What do you think are the most important tools for the developer?

We really like middleware solutions. If we don’t have to write it ourselves, we really want to seize this opportunity. We license some sound systems, we’re hooked into Xsolla, we use Scaleform for our user interface. If somebody can make a standalone solution, we don’t have to make our programmers work on it. It’s a huge help. Rock solid middleware saves time and you can potentially invest this time into making your game better. Of course sometimes you do have to write particular code to fit some needs. But we always look for off the shelf solutions.

How long have you been working on this game?

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We’ve been working on Grey Goo for about two years and its coming out early 2015.

How do you plan to distribute your game?

Steam. It will also be available through Grey Goo website. We’ve also got some help from our publisher Greybox. This company will help us host some servers. Our players can host their own games as well.

Do you have Early Access?

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There is Early Access program available. You can sign up and get the access to the game before launch. We don’t have a charged Early Access however. Right now we’re in this friends and family stage. This kind of pre-release action gives us a lot of valuable feedback. We can get the idea of logistics of the game and track all the game crashes. But the most important thing is balancing the whole stuff. We’re building an RTS with very different factions. Each faction has a very customizable technology tree. Early Access is a great way to see what’s overpowered and what’s underpowered.

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