I was part of the team that created Dune II and Command & Conquer games which started the RTS genre. Before that, I was a big fan of tabletop wargaming. Ask me anything about the start of the RTS genre, Dune II, C&C, Westood, Petroglyph, or even about old-school wargames.


I couldn't answer your quesions about Victory before, but I can now. The game is released as a Kickstarter project. Check it out at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/petroglyphgames/victory-1

Comments: 251 • Responses: 84  • Date: 

Silverkuken24 karma

If you could buy an ion cannon strike for 10$ and strike it towards the EA headquarters would you do it?

JoeBostic9 karma

HAHA. No. I have friends who work there and I don't think EA is evil. It has a corporate atmosphere, but that comes with any company that is large and been around a long time. I'll admit that there is an appeal of small developers -- the whole root for the underdog aspect.

sledge0720 karma

Command and Conquer was the first PC game I ever played. Amazing games back then. Thanks for being part of that.

JoeBostic17 karma

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I had a great time programming it. C&C was lots of fun even before it was complete. Our test department would start up a game to test one particular aspect and before you know it they would start playing the game to win against other testers. "Hey, did you test the rocket launchers against all the different enemy targets?" "Oh, no. I forgot, but at least I won the game we played!"

sledge073 karma

Hell yes. So I have to ask, what the hell happened!?

JoeBostic2 karma

Well, sometimes I would have to sit down in the playtest area and watch them play in order to get the info I needed. Mostly though after reminding enough they would do proper testing.

purify27 karma

Why did Westwood sell to EA? They kinda killed the Red Alert series. :/

JoeBostic5 karma

Westwood was owned by Virgin Interactive, then sold to the Viacom/Blockbuster/Spelling conglomerate, and then finally sold to Electronic Arts. With each of these sales, it wasn't something that Westwood really had any control over. For the most part, the ownership change didn't have a day-to-day impact on the studio. The big impact was when EA decided to consoladate their studios to LA which resulted in the Westwood office closing.

Sojoez6 karma

Studios should have rights over the IP's, not the publishers.

JoeBostic8 karma

As a developer, I won't argue with that, but publishers seem to have a different opinion. :(

Speak_Of_The_Devil1 karma

If you were to develop your own game today, would you work with EA again?

JoeBostic3 karma

Sure, if the opportunity made sense.

KillerBeeTX7 karma

The RTS genre has been slowing considerably lately. Tower defense games seem to be the RTS-lite in today's market. The huge rise in consoles has also contributed to the decline of RTS games as they almost always lacking in their console offerings (mostly due to control constraints).

Where do you see the RTS genre in 5 years? Do you think RTS games are becoming a thing of the past?

JoeBostic9 karma

It does seem like the game-playing population has reduced attention span than it had in the past and that seems to be contributing to the greater focus on tactical combat and tower-defense-like games. Maybe this is due to the nature of the Internet, Youtube, Twitter, news-bite type world we live in where attention deficit is the norm and maybe it is partly because gamers are getting older and have other work/family obligations that compete with the player's time. The RTS genre has fragmented and I suspect various aspects will still be alive and well in 5 years, albeit in their own niche. I hope RTS genre will still have a niche that caters to the game player that wants challenges to the mind rather than twich (aka, Actions Per Minute rating).

fisheramike6 karma

Did you ever meet Tanya in the videos for Red Alert 2? She was real hot!

JoeBostic10 karma

Yes and Yes.

Lamcia6 karma

What has happened to the old-school RTS genre?

Today, we're flooded with turn based strategies, but there're really few RTS that one can call oldschool, i'm a big fan of RTS genre, and i'm also deeply disappointed in you, petro, after universe at war, i thought you'll bring RTSs to the 21st century, and instead, you're giving us another arcade-ish strategy EOW.

Any plans over there for giving us, RTS maniacs, more goodies?

Also, we need more music from frank klepacki! :)

JoeBostic3 karma

I'm a fan of the old-school RTS formula as well, but the nature of the game industry is that developers are reliant on what the publishers want to be created. The developer can come up with game ideas, but the publisher (and the marketing department) tends to have final say on what game is developed. We are still pushing for old-school RTS game development and if you stay tuned to Petroglyph, you just may see that be released.

freschism5 karma

Hi Joe. My name is Frederik Schreiber, and im the Game Director at Interceptor Entertainment, working on rebooting some of the classic Apogee Titles. I visited you guys and Matthew in 2011 and spent a day around the offices checking out End of Nations, and had a great talk with some of you. Thanks for that! It was a blast! Now for the question - The original first batch of released screenshots of Tiberian Sun showed a bit different game than the final product. First of all, the minimap was angled in 3D, and some of the explosions looked better. Was all of this taken directly from ingame, and cut due to performance issues, or was the shots mocked up for PR purposes? Also, the first screenshots from C&C showed some great elements that never saw the final game, such as GDI Infantry walking through water, a Construction Yard with a NOD logo on top, as well as angeled hovercrafts. Were those aspects in the game in earlier versions or were they mockups for PR purposes as well? :) Thanks for reaching out on Reddit Joe - Westwood studios is one of my favorite studios of all time, and we still regularly play C&C 1 and Tiberian Sun in Multiplayer here at Interceptor, almost every week.


Frederik Schreiber, Interceptor Entertainment

JoeBostic6 karma

Oh, I'm pretty sure those screenshots were part real and part mockup for PR purposes. In those days the lead time for screen shots meant they had to be provided before all the real artwork was completed, so the artists made their best effort to fake it as real as they could. Sometimes they got it wrong.

That reminds me of a funny story about how the art department got ahead of the game development. As we were in the latter stages of making C&C we got the proofs back for the game box. At the time we had designed, but not yet implemented, the Ion Cannon. The box showed an in-game screenshot of an Ion Cannon striking a target. We looked and the box and said... "hmm. So I guess this is what the Ion Cannon is supposed to look like. We better hurry up and code it. Let's keep the box proof as a guide so we make sure to get it right."

freschism2 karma

Thanks for the Reply Joe! What a cool story :) I always wanted to know whether those screenshots were actual gameplay or polished for PR purposes. I also have fond memories of the first footage of C&C, showing the Tabbed view, with "Tactical" as the gameplay area. What was the idea behind this concept, and why did you decide to scrap it? :)

JoeBostic1 karma

I don't remember the details of a tabbed view, but game UI is always changing. Countless mockups are created and many actual implentation variations are tried before the final UI that is shipped with the game. It seems like a waste of effort, but every game goes through this process, no matter how experienced we get in making games. The footage you saw was probably based on some early mockups or discarded implementations of UI.

JoeBostic1 karma

I remember someone saying, maybe it was Steve Tall who also was working on C&C, who said... "Hey, they must have time traveled to the future to get that screen shot of the Ion Cannon. Why didn't they also get a copy of the source code as well. That would save us a ton of time and effort." :)

JacopKane5 karma

Should we wait for a new Empire at War around the release of the new Star Wars episode? It fits to marketing also. WIN WIN.

JoeBostic5 karma

Now just call up Disney product development division and tell them to get right on that. We would love to create another Star Wars game.

songho5 karma

What is the best RTS game in your opinion?

edit: Also how difficult is it to "balance" an RTS game?

JoeBostic6 karma

It is so hard to say "best" since each game is different. There was something pure and appealing about the original C&C. It was just polished enough, having learned from Dune II development, yet not overly burdened with features that came in later RTS games. This may just be the appeal of nostalgia though.

JoeBostic2 karma

Regarding balance. It is hard because it isn't just a matter of theory and spreadsheets. It takes lots of game playing and then minor adjustments and then more gameplaying. The more special features the RTS has, the harder it is to balance and the more likely there is some tactical exploit that could be discovered after the game is released.

bfoster684 karma


This is bill foster from back in the day at Westwood Associates and the Early days of Westwood Studios. How are you sir. The original C&C was a blast to test and he is right.....It became a bragging contest on who could beat who :-)

JoeBostic4 karma

Hi Bill. Nice to hear from you. What have you been up to? Another fun aspect during C&C development was the company-wide multiplayer games we held in the evenings. During those games it was not so much about testing, but more about having fun (and some macro-level balancing).

stefansundin4 karma

What role do you think open source can play in game companies? What do you think about Id Software releasing the source code for their old games, and if you could go back, would you release the source code for the classic C&C? What do you think it would take for companies like Petroglyph and EA to open up the source code for their old games? Thanks for the AMA!

JoeBostic3 karma

I think it is great when developers release the source code for older games. I learn quite a bit by seeing how others approached and solved problems. If I could release the source code to C&C, I would, but I can't as I don't have the rights to do so. As a developer we don't have a say in whether source code gets released. It is up to the publisher to release the source code since they own the rights to it.

JacopKane4 karma

What do you think about Relic Entartainment? After Westwood currently the only creative RTS publishers are Relic E. and Petroglyph in my opinion.

JoeBostic3 karma

Relic was inspiring for Petroglyph and we almost did a project with them in the early days. I enjoyed their games, especially Homeworld.

SeeisforComedy3 karma

I read this as 22 year old game developer that had been developing games for 20 years. Upon further inspection I feel much better about myself.

JoeBostic2 karma

LOL. I can see how it might be read that way. I'm quite a bit older, believe me. :)

JoeBostic3 karma

If you are interested in game programming, expect lots of quirkiness that programmers can really appreciate. Here is one example.

In Red Alert, we wanted guard dog units to fly through the air when attacking infantry. This was problematic as the only tech we had that supported flying through the air was with bullets/rockets. So, being clever programmers, we decided that just as the dog unit decided to attack, we would destroy the dog unit and then create a dog "bullet" (the image was of a dog with front and back paws outstretched like superman). Once the dog "bullet" hit the target, we would recreate the dog unit at the target location. All worked well except the testers would complain that if the target unit died before the dog reached the target, the dog unit would be gone for good since bullets self-destructed if the target ceased to exist. We fixed that by detecting if the target was destroyed before the dog "bullet" arrived, the dog unit would reconstitute itself on the ground at the current location of the dog "bullet". All was well until we shipped the game. It was then that we discovered a surprising side effect. If the target was destroyed by a nuke explosion (bullets don't get destroyed by nukes as the thought was they just disappear automatically as is their nature), the dog "bullet" would reconstitute itself as a dog unit and appear amidst the rubble of the nuke completely unharmed and ready for action. It was pretty hilarious to see a dog sitting there unharmed and ready for action amidst the smoking rubble of a nuclear explosion!

Another interesting side effect was that there was a bug such that if a unit was destroyed but a new unit was created just at that same instant and happened to use the same index number as the destroyed unit, a dog "bullet" heading toward the first unit would redirect and head toward the new unit (it had the same index number and so from the bullet's perspective, the target just moved to a new location) and the dog "bullet" would fly across the map to hit the new target. Sometimes in Red Alert you could see a dog just flying across the map like superman!

eldylanos3 karma

The first RTS I ever played was C&C. Specifically the first one. I was wondering how you guys got the funding to make a game about the epic struggle between the GDI & NOD forces. The production value of that game was off the hook!

JoeBostic3 karma

Westwood wasn't independent at that time, so we had funding from the parent company/publisher. They didn't have any trouble funding us since they had seen Dune II and were happy. What was interesting was all the computer generated sequences and real actors that occurred between missions. This was something new and was quite expensive, relatively speaking. I heard it took about 1.5mil for the interstitial sequences in C&C. That was a mind-blowing figure back then.

NickCagesApiarist3 karma

Holy crap you guys made Star Wars: Empire at War! I loved those games! Thanks for that! Were you or are you at all a Star Wars fan? And did getting to make a game in that universe give you any sort of special satisfaction?

JoeBostic8 karma

I'm a big fan of Star Wars (Han Solo shot first!) and it was great fun making Empire at War. We got to visit LucasFilm and Skywalker ranch and even have access to the Star Wars oracles in LucasFilm that must approve any addition to the Star Wars universe. We passed the test and several ships and ground vehicles we created are now part of the Star Wars lore. You can't get much more Star Wars geek than that.

Hapoel883 karma

Just like to say thanks for Command & Conquer, especially Red Alert 2, which was the first RTS I have ever played.
Why do you think the amount of quality RTS games that have been produced in the past few years has been so low?

JoeBostic3 karma

It is all about the public demand as perceived by the publishers or more accurately, by the sales and marketing departments of publishers. Publishers like to have developers build games that are like games that are currently selling well. This is like a self-fulfilling prophesy. When the popularity of RTS genre rises, more and more publishers will jump onto the bandwagon. It is just the nature of these things it seems.

KWiP11233 karma

IT professional with a passion for video games here. I have dabbled with programming, but don't really have any serious experience. Any advice on getting into the industry?

How did you get into developing? Not so much as a career, but how did you build your repertoire?

JoeBostic4 karma

Hope you can break into the industry. It is a lot of fun. I'm not sure how relevant my career building advice would be. When I got into the industry there was no formal education path in existence. It was just on-the-job training powered by self-motivation and passion. I learned programming by checking out a book from the library (there was no Internet to speak of back then). My first "game" was an artillery-like game programmed on a data terminal (in a weird and very limited language used to build screen forms for data entry) in the late hours of the night while running payroll reports for local casinos. Today, getting training from formal education like Digipen or SMU Guildhall or others is one way. Starting out as a game tester and working your way up through a game company's ranks is another. If you want to be a programmer, you have it much easier. Almost any computer degree will get you into the industry as programmers are the most in demand.

PawnShop8043 karma

Big fan of C&C games!

What was your favorite game to work on?

JoeBostic5 karma

Game development is fun on every project, but I would say that Dune II development was the most interesting. Dune 2 was inspired by elements of other games such as Populous, Civilization, Military Madness, Herzog Zwei, but for the most part it was a new formula. There is a lot of adventure in creating something so different that what currently existed.

nekronuke2 karma

If there was one project you could go back in time, and do differently, which would it be?

JoeBostic8 karma

Maybe Dune II. Anyone up for Petroglyph creating Dune III? There is that pesky Dune licensing issue getting in the way, but it is fun to think about.

NikkoTheGreeko2 karma

How is this NSFW? I expected boobs and got nerds.

JoeBostic2 karma

I wondered that too. Who controls these things anyway?

TheEvilBlight2 karma

Could you tell us more about the UI changes? There was old-school 1995 sidebar UI, then the more "conventional" UI that came with Generals and some of the Red Alert games. In short...why?

Also, there were some fun elements in the Dune series that could've been ported to earlier C&C's: The use of carryalls to rescue and return repaired units, the active environment (sandworms, though visceroids are somewhat like it...)

Could you comment on C&C Renegade as well? Or was that a different department?

JoeBostic3 karma

As I remember it, the UI moving from the sidebar to the bottom of the screen was to open up more screen "real estate". Technically, it might not have actually revealed more of the tactical map, but it was more cinema-like aspect ratio and felt like you could see more of the battlefield. It also made it a bit easier to fit certain UI aspects such as the "unit tray" on screen when it can be oriented horizontally that was possible with the UI moved to the bottom.

teac52 karma

Any plans to post more adventures on www.miniquest.com?

JoeBostic1 karma

Oh, I wish. I didn't think anyone was still looking at that site. I actually have several adventures that are still just pictures and videos in directories on my HD waiting for me to find the time to write them up. Maybe, I should get to that.

Xanlis2 karma

any chance for a new Dune RTS Game ? :(

JoeBostic2 karma

I wish. The licensing hurdles required to use the Dune universe is probably extremely difficult.

brent30002 karma

How far did development on Renagade 2 actually progress?

And do you think the FPS form of C&C has a lot more potential if it had more time to grow and advance? or do you think its FPS roots were too deep for it to branch out to another genre?

JoeBostic4 karma

Renegade 2 was actually playable and was showing great progress. I think it had great potential, but for one unfortunate event. Every so often, corporate executives would fly down to Westwood to examine the games we were working on. They would give directives on changes to the game and even decide if a game should be cancelled or not. On one such visit the executives played multiplayer game of Renegade 2 as one team and our game testers were playing the other team. Our testers thought it would be real funny to insta-kill the executives at every opportunity. The result was quite unpleasant for the execs and shortly thereafter the project was cancelled. <sigh> There is a good lesson to be learned here.

Speak_Of_The_Devil2 karma

What is the secret to "Kane" (Joseph Kucan)'s immortality? He looks the same as he did 20 years ago.

JoeBostic3 karma

Some say it is the affects of Tiberium. Others say it is liberal use of anti-aging cream from the Home Shopping Network. However, I think it is because Kane was cursed to wander the Earth forever as punishment for some horrible deed in the distant past. We may never know.

lost2knight2 karma

I am a big fan of the new Battle for Graxia, formerly Rise of Immortals, MOBA from Petroglyph. I realize that RTS and MOBA games a more player vs. player focused but with such interesting lore and world building in many of these games there seems to be an almost stark lack of story modes. Again, I do understand that these game will, and probably should, focus on PvP but in your opinion do you think there will ever be a larger push for more story driven modes for these genres.

JoeBostic3 karma

It seems that the more a game is oriented toward PvP, the less focus it puts on story. Although I'm not a big fan of reading pages and pages of story text in a game, I like the balance between gameplay and "story" that single-player campaigns have. Such as with the older RTS games where the primary focus was on the single-player campaign.

JacopKane2 karma

What would you do if EA will offer you (with Petroglyph) to return to development of C&C series?

JoeBostic5 karma

It would be very interesting indeed! I might here the cosmic wheels of the universe click into balance once again if that happened. Metaphorically speaking.

qvrjuec2 karma

Sorry, I have to ask this, but... Did you do any work on NoX? I love all of the other games that Westwood put out, but NoX has to be my favorite game of all time.

JoeBostic2 karma

No, I didn't do work on Nox, but I loved it too. It felt like a third-person first-person-shooter game if that makes any sense. It was quite fun.

Slornie2 karma

Which of Petroglyph's games are you most proud of, and would you like to revisit any in future (e.g. for a sequel)?

JoeBostic5 karma

I would love to make a game that expands upon just the space combat from Star Wars: Empire at War. I think there is a lot of innovation and fun in that kind of game.

hebekie2 karma

Did C&C Tiberian sun have everything Westwood actually wanted to add? Tiberian sun is probably my favorite game from the series, the atmosphere is great and the story is amazing. But was it actually, fully finished and polished like the team wanted? Have a good day :)

JoeBostic2 karma

Not everything we wanted was able to make it into Tiberian Sun. In hindsight I would have had fewer features, but more polish on the features we kept. Either that or get more time to polish the game. There was considerable pressure to release the game as it was running longer than intially planned.

VodkaBottleSpinna2 karma

Is there any way to get a set of those kick-ass GDI and Nod pins made for the game these days?

Also, thank you for C&C - I can't begin to count the exams I've gotten bad grades on or the hours of sleep I've squandered playing your franchise. Thank you.

JoeBostic3 karma

I wish. I still have some of those pins. And a GDI wallet. And a piece of Tiberium. And a Kane bobble-head. And a C&C ring. and a bunch of other miscellanous swag. Not sure what to do with it but keep it around for nostalgia's sake.

Alexastor2 karma


JoeBostic4 karma

Almost all publishers prefer to run MMOs internally. MMOs are more "service" than "product" and publishers are best suited to running a service more so than a developer.

Parture2 karma

Do you remember that old Kali network we use to play Tiberian Dawn on back in 1995-1997? Bosco, NOCHANCE and Bill were the top 3 ranked players usually. I am Bosco. My favorite game was Tiberium Twilight because instead of just throwing a bunch of units at your opponent, you had to be more strategic with limited resources.

JoeBostic2 karma

Oh, I remember Kali quite fondly. We have one of the developers of Kali working for us now -- Brian Hayes. I used Kali to play Descent. It was one of my favorite games. Something about the 3D battlefield and the zen-like state one had to get into to become really good. Over Kali, you had to anticipate where the opponent would be about 3 seconds in the future and fire toward that anticipated location in order to score hits. It was insane! But quite fun.

sickethunder2 karma

Are you an active gamer yourself? What have you been playing recently?

JoeBostic5 karma

I have shelves full of games and more Steam games than I dare to count, but funny thing I had this hankering to play Ace Combat 6 again so I found the game, dusted it off, and fired it up on the 360. There was just something about that game that was quite fun and I'm not really a big flight-sim fanatic either. Hmmm.

Polite_Werewolf2 karma

If there was a zombie outbreak, what would be your zombie plan?

JoeBostic6 karma

First, place down a refinery/power plant combo and then a few turrets around the perimeter. Then some Nod bikes or Humvees for mobile perimeter defense. After that it is a matter of building walls and larger units to keep the bigger zombie mobs in check before initiating a massive counter assault. Stealth tanks can come in handy here, but nothing makes zombie gibs better than a Mammoth Tank.

TheEvilBlight2 karma

I was going to go with four GDI Guard towers to shred the infantry. As long as there are no zombie bazookamen firing from outside the Guard tower's range...

JoeBostic2 karma

Oh yes, GDI Guard towers. Clearly the wisest choice when defending against a Zombie apocalypse.

chesh4202 karma

Is there really no interest in making games like Kyrandia anymore? These were some of my favorite style of games as a kid. C&C was also another amazing franchise! Have you ever been surprised at how modders took to Renegade? I was surprised to see it still had such a cult following still to this day (I know this is an EA title, but still part of the franchise).

JoeBostic4 karma

It doesn't actually surprise me that Renegade has been heavily modded. This is a testament both to the modability of the game, but also because the game was a lot of fun. I also liked adventure games like Kryandia. I still can remember fondly the puzzles from Monkey Island 3. That reminds me. While Mike Legg (working Kyrandia) and I (working on Dune II) would be working very late at night, we would occasionally hear faint whispering in the dark empty halls of Westwood long after everyone else had left the building. We could never track down exactly where it was coming from as it stopped when we got near only to resume sometime later. We called it the "Westwood Ghost". Maybe the ghost was trying to tell us something about Kryandia and Dune II?

chesh4202 karma

Any chance of your new studio trying to resurrect games of this genre? With the success of the remake Leisure Suite Larry 1 campaign on Kickstarter, you've got to think that people (usually in their late 20's to mid 40's) still remember and love games like this. If the Lounge Lizard can get revived, I'd hope that some other old classics could too.

JoeBostic3 karma

I think it is a possibility for sure. The way kickstarter is resurrecting classic games is encouraging. I'm looking closely at this method. Not having to relay totally on a publisher to fund game development would be nice.

brent30002 karma

Does Petroglyph have any plans to bring RTS to tablets like Win8/RT? Is it a platform your considering?

JoeBostic3 karma

I can't give any details yet, but we are looking into possibly developing games on tablets.

teac52 karma

Can you tell us something about C&C Continuum and Westwoods C&C 3?

JoeBostic3 karma

I worked on C&C Continuum. It was going to be an MMO set in the C&C universe. EA decided to focus on Earth & Beyond rather than Continuum. Westwood's C&C3 was going to be different than how the actual C&C3 turned out as EA essentially restarted the project from scratch when they finally decided to fire it back up.

arminko2 karma

Hi Joe. Thank you and your team mates for shaping my life by creating the C&C series. I became a software engineer because of buying a PC in 1996 in order to be able play the TD and RA1 and trying to understand the mechanics behind it. As I was always extremely passionate regarding Tiberian Sun I wanted to ask you, how far the planing for it's sequel (Tiberian Twilight?) has gone? Would the story maybe have had considered the story of Cabal?

Thanks Joe. For the Brotherhood :-)

JoeBostic3 karma

Westwood got about half way through development of C&C3 before the studio consolidation that shut down Westwood. It was just at the "green light" phase -- where production really begins and the game details and story get fleshed out. At the point of Westwood closure, development on C&C3 essentially stopped. When it was finally restarted at EA's LA studio, it retained pretty much nothing from the original plan. I'm a bit fuzzy on the original story details as I was working more on the tech side of C&C3 at the time, but even so, at that stage it would have only been in rough outline form.

Klingzog2 karma


JoeBostic3 karma

Sorry to hear of the difficulties you've had getting into the industry. The economy is likely a big part of that. However, you picked the right career skillset -- programming. Programmers are the hardest to recruit and command the highest salaries. I have great respect for artists and the talent they have, but there is quite a bit of competition in that area. Designers have it the hardest of all. Everyone and anyone can be a designer, in theory.

slasher_142 karma

Could you tell me how close you came to releasing the Dune 2 add on pack before it was shelved and then turned into C&C?

Can you talk about what things you had in that pack? Improvements, new units, etc?


JoeBostic2 karma

I don't recall any talk about releasing an addon pack for Dune 2. I know we did (or rather outsourced and managed development remotely) the games Dune 2000 and Dune Emperor, so I suspect ideas for adding to Dune were part of those projects. We did do the movies for those projects since at that time Westwood had a full studio for making game videos with live actors.

payne0071 karma

I really enjoy "map-making", that is, using the map editor provided by certain games such as StarCraft to produce my own custom maps.

It requires designing, polishing, PR and "programming" skills.

Is it approximately the same type (or set) of skills required for a "game developer" job? To what point would it differ?

JoeBostic1 karma

Those kinds of skills help with entry into the game industry as a junior designer. It depends on the kind of game, but typically map-making is the first level job as a game designer.

Sojoez1 karma

Whats the ETA on End of Nations?

A more serious question about Universe at War though. Was it your intention to make the final campaign (Masari) a map domination (is that what its called?) style game? Or did you have more in mind but where you being pressured by time/money?

JoeBostic3 karma

We are always pressured on time/money it seems, but I don't recall that specifically for Universe at War. Regarding EoN, we just make the game, it is up to Trion to run the "service" (aka, the live game) so it is up to them to determine when is the best time to release it to the public. There is probably lots of marketing thought put into that decision that I am not privy to.

nightrider951 karma

Hi Joe, been a fan of C&C since I was a five year old kid from middle east. My biggest brother and I still play Red Alert to this day. :) Its really good to hear and reply to you . Now when I have grown up , Ive decided to make old school type games in near future and bringing those old times back. I wanted to ask would you in near future make a RTS based like Command & Conquer. In these days of gaming industry, violence and stupid FPS have taken over the story driven good gameplay games. :/ As you said in one of your comments about the Turn based stragety games are common now, we need the old timers back. :-)

JoeBostic1 karma

Well, we are fans of the old school type RTS games, but I can't reveal our development plans just yet. Maybe you'll see a game like that from us in the future. I have high hopes.

MiniRat1 karma

I just want to say a quick thanks. Years ago you made a usenet posting on (I think) comp.ai about having to disable the turning circle for wheeled vehicles because although it worked and looked good it interfered with the gameplay.

That was the first time I remember seeing someone explicitly spell out the idea that accurate simulation and fun gameplay are not synonymous. Sure sometimes they coincide, but former does not automatically lead to the later.

I'm now a game developer myself and that pearl of wisdom has helped me over design issues many, many times. Thank You!

JoeBostic3 karma

Glad to hear you are in the industry now. It is quite true that game development is often more about what you DON'T implement than what you DO and realism isn't the most important aspect.

EnigmaxxLife1 karma

I've really been wanting to ask someone in the industry this question. What degree would a company be more interested in, a computer science degree or a video game programming degree? Or just anything thing video game related like video game science or video game design?

I'm trying to decide on my university and the degree I get is what's going to be my deciding factor.

JoeBostic1 karma

I can't speak for all game companies, but the order of degrees you mentioned that I would list, from most flexible and in demand going downward:

  • Programmer that can do many things (from database, graphics, AI, systems, bug-fixing, etc). These degrees can get you a job even outside of the game industry in a pinch. This is a traditional software engineering degree.
  • Programmer trained to work only in the game industry. As long as the training didn't short change too much the more general purpose skills that a traditional software engineer degree gives.
  • Designer. Almost always, we want designers who have already had experience in the industry and also in the particular area of the industry that we have need for. It's tough for game designers. To get experience you need to be hired, but to be hired, you need experience. A catch-22 situation. Many designers have gotten around this by starting in the test department of a game company or becoming modders of existing games to get independent experience to show. Sometimes programmers become designers. Sometimes writers become designers. It is so varied.

I have no idea what a general "video game science" degree is.

WTFisTHis0981 karma

What was your favorite game that you and your team developed?

JoeBostic3 karma

Probably Dune II because of all the new challenges it presented. We couldn't look at existing RTS games for guidance.

Armavir1 karma

any interest in iOS games?

JoeBostic1 karma

It would be great to develop for iOS and android and we are looking into it. We have one iOS game (Coin a Phrase) we wrote as more of an experiment. We learned quite a bit and are now looking to do something more substantial and interesting. Nothing to announce just yet thogh.

desi83891 karma

What real locations were inspiration for the setting of Tiberian Sun?

JoeBostic2 karma

Well, Westwood was located in Las Vegas (as is Petroglyph) and the landscape around here looks very much like the terrain of Tiberian Sun. The particulars of each map were created from the imagination of the designers, but I think the overall terrain look and feel was inspired by the landscape we saw every day.

desi83891 karma

Thank you for your response! I'm assuming the general Nevada area was a big inspiration as well - especially the empty deserts and all too? Either way, thank you for the information as this wil be useful for a personal project, Tiberian Genesis.


JoeBostic3 karma

Liked. Cool.

zstraigh1 karma

How did you break into the games industry? I realize the industry has changed drastically since the first RTS games were released, but what is one piece of advice you could give an aspiring developer like me who wants to make a career out of a passion like game design?

JoeBostic2 karma

My experience breaking into the game industry probably doesn't relate to the state of the industry now, but it was somewhat interesting. I almost didn't get into the industry at all due to an accident!

I was doing payroll report processing for local casinos -- a boring job that often required long hours of just sitting and waiting to feed another box of paper into the high speed printers. During that time I would tinker with the terminal control language and make simple games on the data entry terminals. It was harder to do than it sounds as the language was just barely powerful enough to do screen forms for data entry. Anyway, I applied to Westwood. I didn't hear back from them so then applied to work in the Aerospace industry (making rockets, drones, etc). Westwood lost my resume as it fell behind a desk by accident!

Just as I was starting to get responses to get interviews in the Aerospace industry, Westwood called. Apologized for losing my resume and asked me to come in to interview ASAP. I did. They hired me straight away and that is how I got into the industry.

CaptianxAnarchy1 karma

Describe your average day

JoeBostic1 karma

Since starting as a programmer+designer (these roles were often held by the same person in the early days of game development), my typical day has changed quite a bit. At first, the average day was 10% meetings and 90% game programming. Once becoming a company founder and moving into management the ratio is mostly reversed. Although instead of programming, I'm working on design. The nature of the meetings has changed over the years as well. As management, the meetings revolve around business issues, project planning, marketing, and high-level game concepts.

jclark43211 karma

I am currently a student, going for Software Engineering. However, I am thinking of switching to Applied Mathematics, with a Software Engineering minor. Do you think this is a sought after combination of knowledge, or should I stick with Software?

JoeBostic1 karma

Either way it sounds good to me. Programming is all about applied mathematics through the medium of software engineering. You can hardly go wrong with either choice.

shooshx1 karma

Why are you located in Las vegas? Isn't it hard to find programmers that are willing to work there?

JoeBostic1 karma

Why are we located in Las Vegas? Why wouldn't we be located in Las Vegas? :) Actually, Las Vegas is a great place as a general city. The "Strip" is so far away from Petroglyph it isn't even visible. The town is 24 hours, has great food, great entertainment, lots of recreation opportunities, etc. Also, much lower cost of living than Washington or LA and no state tax. If you are young and single, Las Vegas is a great place to be.

Serously, the reason Petroglyph is located in Las Vegas, is because this is the city where we were all located in when we started the company. Our families, friends, and houses were all here first. It was a natural choice of city to locate the company in.

fogseller1 karma

Do you have "Balkan" roots?

JoeBostic3 karma

Yes, maybe. I can only trace back (on father's side) to the American Civil War. Specifically back to the losing side of the war so all family records were lost prior to that point.

bassplaya71 karma

Thanks for making one of the two games that got me into PC gaming! (the other being the original AoE) What aspects of Tiberian Sun did you work on? Also, what do you think of the more recent games?

JoeBostic2 karma

I was primarily the lead programmer on Tiberian Sun. That project was much bigger (more staff working on it) than in previous games we did, so there was less need for the lead programmer to also be a designer.

The more recent RTS games are interesting. I was particularly intrigued by World in Conflict. Probably because it reminded me of tactical wargames. Homeworld was fascinating too, although I think the 3D aspect of it made it more difficult to approach.

Kicken1 karma

Is there any game idea/element that you always wanted to see realized, but has never been done? Maybe something you tried in a game before, but didn't pan out as well and was removed, or something that you want to do that wasn't technically feasible?

JoeBostic1 karma

There isn't any one particular game idea that stands out as being unfulfilled. However, there are probably a million of them. Game design and programming is all about sifting through countless really good ideas and focusing on the very small portion of them that work well together given the resources and time allotted to build the game. At first, it is natural to think that adding more great game features to a game would make it all that much better. The more features, the better the game. In practice, it turns out to be quite different. The best games seem to have fewer features that work very well together. If there is a lesson here, it would be "keep cutting down on the game ideas until you just can't cut any more."

GI_TastyBacon1 karma

What kind of information can you share on the new title coming out from Petroglyph, Victory, other than that it's WWII? Is it going to be a RTS, or something else?

JoeBostic2 karma

I'm not allowed to say. :) We have a team working very hard on prepping for release all the information you would want, but they asked me not to say anything early. Sorry.

JoeBostic1 karma

I can now reveal the information page on the game Victory:


honestduane1 karma

What advice would you give a long time non-game developer who is interested in getting into the gamedev space for the first time?

JoeBostic2 karma

Follow your passion is a bit trite, but true. On a more practical level, there are a few ways to get into the industry. From most successful to most difficult, I would rate them in this order.

Become a tester at a game company and then work your way up the ranks. This is for someone who wants to be a designer or producer. This path is quick to get into the industry, but designers and producers aren't in high demand.

Become a programmer. This takes more upfront investment in time and money (schooling), but results in the highest demand. Programmers are the most in demand and command the highest salaries. Even in times of economic downturn, programmers can work in many different industries whereas a designer or producer is far more limited.

Become an artist. Game development always needs artists, but unfortunately, there are a TON of artists.

Game schools are a good way to get training in game development and can jumpstart entry into the industry. We've hired people directly out of game development schools.

honestduane1 karma

I'm already a software developer, and I have prior experience as an SDET as well. I just have no experience in the "game" space. I'm currently studying 3d art on the side, as my other half is a Lead 3d Artist for a MMO company.

JoeBostic1 karma

The things that game companies want from software developers (I presume you mean programmer) are experience with then language they program in (usually C++). Experience with working as part of a team. Ability to follow programming guidelines and standards (as programmers are all working within the same code base, there needs to be consistency).

If you have all that going for you, start applying for companies that have openings. Expect to move to game industry heavy areas of the country such as Washington, LA, Austin, but there are a few companies scattered all over too.

JacopKane1 karma

What was the inspiration elements behind the Tiberium Universe and maybe Red Alert spin-off?

JoeBostic1 karma

The gameplay inspiration was from a combination of Populous, Civilization, Military Madness, and Herzog Zwei. However, if you mean the backstory, it was a collaboration from several sources. For example, check out the movie Monolith Monsters and you'll see where the idea for Tiberium came from.

nightrider951 karma

I heard you guys are making a WWII RTS. Im excited to see some info on it. I wanted to ask about the story of C&C . I saw that Kane's character was derived from a biblical version of Cabel and Kain the two sons of adam. :| How did you guys thought it would fit in and the development process? Heck of story that still amazes me . :)

JoeBostic2 karma

The actual background of Kane's character is a bit mysterious. By design. Kane is a bit more than just a normal human being and most legends have a kernal of truth....

Regarding the WW2 game Petrogolyph is making, you can follow the information announcement on the facebook page. I'm not at liberty to say anything about it in advance of the marketing plan.


AssBandito881 karma

I have a big question about the soundtrack for the original C&C. Who composed the music? I really enjoyed it cos it reminded me of early NIN for some reason.

JoeBostic2 karma

Frank Klepacki is the talent behind C&C music and all the music at Petroglyph as well!

see_prus_prus1 karma

Just wanted to say I grew up with the Dune II (my biggest problem with Dune 2 was that every time i was explaining it I had to sound out D-U-N-E cause everyone thought i would be talking about Doom 2) and the C&C franchise all the way up to C&C 3 and it's expansion.

I remember loving all the tricks to cheese the AI out I employed in C&C and Dune. Mainly in Dune II I would love to hear your insights on this one "exploit" I managed to use. I'm a coder as well so im assuming Dune II had some priority updates going on for what only was on screen versus off-screen to save cpu time. As such if a unit I had was getting chased I only needed to keep my unit at the edge of the screen and keep the chasing unit off-screen and he would out-run them :)

In command and conquer I remember reading in the manual sandbag walls could be run over by vehicles but this was never implemented in the game. A funny by-product of that is that on particularly challenging levels I employed the "bag-em-in" tactic of snaking a line of sandbag walls from my base to the entrance of theirs and sealing them in while I took my sweet time preparing a massive army. This would cause some serious slowdowns if I let them pile up too much but I could see their turrets turn to a move assignment then turn back as there was no path and they would be doing this every second or so.

Its funny how much I tangentially learned of AI and other game dev systems by trying to figure out ways to exploit the systems in games I played.

But aside from C&C and Dune II did you work on Nox? Nox is by far one of my favorite rpg's of all time and the game I dream of making has HEAVY influences of it including Nox's line-of-sight system employed in it. I even made a small scale version of that system in a project a couple years ago (old screenshot of it here). It's awesome whacky action multiplayer (wizards, warriors and conjurers killing each other in a soccer game) and great single player campaign made for one of the most under-rated rpgs of all time. Would love to hear anything I can about the dev behind Nox!

Thanks for everything you have worked on, its been a big influence on my life!

JoeBostic2 karma

Oh, Nox was great, but that was from the Irvine studio (aka, Westwood Pacific) and I didn't do any development on it. You are right about the AI in Dune II. Units that were off screen had lower priority processing. It was one of the many coding tricks to keep the performance up to acceptable levels. There was another "exploit" so to speak with walls in Dune II. Just surround the refinery with walls and the carryall would transport your harvester to and from the spice field!

Pritchy961 karma

Hi Joe, First of all I'd just like to say I'm a MASSIVE fan of the Command and Conquers, one of the first games I ever played was the ps1 version of Red Alert, thank you for an amazing experience!

As a beginner programmer, I'm interested in what you think the single biggest challenge in making an RTS is, specifically from a programming point of view?

Is there anything you can tell us we don't know about any cut content from any of the CNCs? That kind of thing really interests me!

JoeBostic2 karma

Thanks, and glad you are pursuing the programming career. Programmers are in the most demand in the game industry. The challenge as a programmer depends on the size of the team you are working on. If a small team, then it is most important to be a decent programmer in lots of different areas. This allows you to jump around from system to system as needed during development. On a large team, the being an expert in a particular area is most important -- such as database, graphics, artificial intelligence, etc, but even in that case, being able to jump to different system to help out is very valuable. If you were wondering, we still use C++ predominantly although C# for tools development is becoming more common.

samkoebrich1 karma

Did you have any role in the direction of the cutscenes of games like RA, RA2 (Yuri's revenge especially!) etc... Some of them were just so bad. Even as a kid I found them laughably bad, although the great gameplay was enough to make up for it. Did the staff at Westwood laugh about these too? Did someone tell the actor that played Yuri to constantly appear constipated?

JoeBostic2 karma

Oh those cutscenes. Yes they were so Cheesy and Campy. That is what you get when you have high hopes and ambition for cutscenes, yet not the skill to do them well. The result is pure Camp. Joe Kucan (aka, Kane) directed the videos, but he came from a theater background and was still new to film directing. The movies in the later games turned out better as both the directing and acting improved. Still, the campiness of the early game videos are part of the charm of those games. I don't think we could have pulled that kind of campiness off if we were actually trying to be campy. It was a fortunate combination of opportunity and low-skill that resulted in just the right amount of Camp.

Elephiant1 karma

90% of the games I play are RTS games. whenever I play another game I often switch to RTS again.

  • What is your favourite game genre?
  • What are the keys to a succesfull RTS game you think?
  • what are the hard (challenging) parts of making an RTS?
  • what are the most fun parts of making an RTS game?
  • what are the less fun parts of making an RTS game (Do they exist)?
  • what is/are your favourite RTS game(s) (from all existing RTS games)
  • what playstyle (in an RTS) do you like or use
  • how awesome is Mike Legg?
  • what is the favourite food of a Petroglyph employee?
  • how many people at Petroglyph like Santa?

and for everyone at Petroglyph: Keep up da awesomeness! :D

JoeBostic3 karma

  • Favorite genres: RTS, RPG, Sim
  • Succesfull RTS games needs the right balance between long-term thinking and short-term reaction time in a setting that is both intrgueing and compelling. Mostly. I wish there was a magic formula that worked every time.
  • Balance is hard. Deciding what great features to NOT implement is even harder. Too many features can ruin the focus of the game and there is only so much time available as well.
  • The most fun part is the balancing and polishing that occurs once the main game features are up and running.
  • The least fun is creating the technology infrastructure that the game needs to get up and running. Although, that part is fun too.
  • I'm partial to C&C and Dune II obviously, but I also liked World in Conflict.
  • I like the strategy of RTS combat, as long as it doesn't move too fast. I also like the base-building aspect of RTS games in those games that allow it.
  • Totally awesome.
  • I don't think there is one dominant food, but we do run out of Diet Coke alot. Is Diet Coke a food?
  • All the Nice ones. Not so much the Naughty ones.

leavesfrozen1 karma

Saboteurs were my favorite units in Dune II. What was your favorite unit/strategy?

JoeBostic1 karma

There was a little known feature of Dune II that I was fond of using. If you happened to completely encircle your refinery with walls, the carryall would transport the harvester to the spice field and pick them up again when full and repeat the process indefinately. It was marvelous, yet it seems almost no one knew about it.