The First MOBA!
Try to imagine a game, a game based upon a popular RTS. In this game, instead of placing buildings and creating hordes of units, you would control a single unit. There would be no structure creation of any kind, though there could be armed defense towers placed in the map at strategic locations. During the game you could perhaps collect power-up items to increase armor, movement speed, weapon damage. This would be an online-only game, fought between two sides. At the start of each game, maybe players could pick the unit they want to control for that game.
No, I am not talking about Defense of the Ancients (DOTA). That was a mod for Warcraft 3 released in 2003. I am talking about Command & Conquer: Sole Survivor, a game released by Westwood Studios back in 1997 (6 years before DOTA!), which was essentially a giant mod of Command & Conquer, released at retail as a standalone product.
At the time, C&C Red Alert had shipped, C&C Tiberian Sun was in development, and Westwood wanted to try a small experimental game based in the C&C world where each player basically control one C&C unit in a massive battle between Nod and GDI. For what it was, the game had its moments, though it ultimately failed to catch on commercially (and was not without design balance issues, though capture the flag mode could be fun). Free-to-play had not been invented by the mid-90’s, and I think most people (including many at Westwood) just didn’t see the point of Sole Survivor as a retail release.
Audio Easter Egg
The game featured music by the legendary Frank Klepacki and had a full sound treatment by the very capable audio department at Westwood. The development team built into the game the ability to swap out the included sound effects and replace them with ones of your own. By way of an example, yours truly dutifully created a set of sounds, which happen to be all electric guitar squiggles, licks and riffs. This stuff was included with the retail CD release of the game, and I’ve collected the samples and included them for your listening … pleasure … below. All the growls, squeals, twiddles and other noises are played on my trusty Yamaha SG style guitar (which is still my main guitar), and recorded through my DigiTech FX pedal. I think I piped this straight into the line-in jack on my PC and used the Windows sound recorder to capture the recordings. It probably took an hour or so to record the lot of these.
As you might imagine, once enabled, the effect was rather chaotic and comical. It sounded like Saturday morning at the guitar store where all the kids try to outdo each other with the new riffs they just learned. 🙂 I’m not sure the audio department @ Westwood were really ever told about the inclusion of this stuff in the game. Sorry guys.