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BFME2 360 Community Summit - Peter Moore and Louis Castle

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Thursday morning everyone met for coffee and donuts at Tully's, a coffee shop across the street from the hotel, then town cars took us to the Microsoft Xbox campus. We were surprised not to see large Microsoft signs outside the buildings by the street. Standing outside in the parking lot, the only indication it was Microsoft was the food service van! We went inside and waited in the lobby while our name badges were being readied. They said full access even though they were missing the magnetic strip that would have opened the ubiquitously locked doors. They looked very cool though!

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Film crews and attendees watching the interviews

Once armed with our badges, we were escorted into a room with colorful swirls painted on the wall and a large flat screen TV front and center. This is where Peter Moore and Louis Castle were to be interviewed and where we would get our first look at the new game in action. We took our places at the sofas and chairs, got the first of many free soft drinks of the day, set our recording devices to ready… and watched as the film crews also set up. (Three film crews filmed the events that day).

Peter Moore's Interview
Peter Moore is Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Interactive Entertainment Business, Entertainment and Devices Division, responsible for Xbox and Games for Windows. In his previous position at SEGA, he oversaw the launch of the SEGA Dreamcast. During his interview he fielded questions about the state of gaming around the world, interactivity with computers, his excitement regarding the first RTS for the 360 (yes, BFME2!) and also a question about his tattoos. The unedited discussion is available here. Just a note - I recorded the event with my Ipaq 2755, which did a pretty good though not perfect job.
Peter Moore

Louis Castle Louis Castle's Talk
After Peter left to attend another meeting, Louis Castle took the floor. Louis Castle, Vice President of Creative Development at Electronic Arts, was co-founder of Westwood Studios, which released the successful Command & Conquer franchise. Louis gave a talk on the history of RTS games, both for the PC and the console, all leading up to the uniqueness and difficulty in bringing an RTS to the console. It was interesting to see screenshots of the games over the years and how the graphics have dramatically improved.

Louis then focused on Battle for Middle Earth II for the 360, and discussed how it differs from the PC version. As a player of the PC version, this is what I was waiting for! He discussed the interface at great length, and how the team at EA was able to transfer all the gameplay over to the 360 version. They decided on a 3-level system for the controller/interface, so that an absolute beginner at BFME2 and the 360 would be able to pick up the controller and have a full, fun game, while at the same time maintaining the depth of the game and offering advanced options for the experienced gamer.

The three interface levels are:
Basic (One button to rule them all!)
  Selection & movement - Press A
  Build - Press A
  Attack - Press A
Advanced (triggers)
  Sweeps, types, drilling down
  Waypoints, formations, aggression
  Unit abilities
Abstract (combinations & UI navigation)
  Give commands to units or buildings off screen
  Shortcuts: grouping, casting spells, VOIP

Louis then gave a short demo of the single player campaign, showing how easy it was to work the controller to play the game, and also how it was now possible to swoop right down on top of the action. His entire discussion can be listened to here.

Next we each got to take turns at one of two 360's set up in the room, just to get a feel for the controls, so we wouldn't have to spend valuable gameplay time later in the day learning the basics. Much more on the game and the controllers will follow!

Up close to try the controller!

Next - Xbox Live Tour